July 30, 2021
In this column just over five years ago, I wrote about the new nine holes at Plantation Lakes Golf & Country Club in Millsboro. It was a welcome addition to the Cape Region public golf course inventory.
Designed by the late Arthur Hills, the well-regarded course architect, the original design called for 18 holes spread throughout the over 2,000-unit real estate development annexed into Millsboro’s city limits. Construction on the golf course came to a recession-caused halt after six holes were completed, but by 2015 the next three holes were finished.
With continued success in selling the housing units of Plantation Lakes, the developers moved forward with the construction of the remaining nine holes. Now open for play, most of the new holes wend their way through what is currently a massive construction zone, with dozens of homes in various stages of completion adjacent to the layout.
The new holes make up the back nine on the scorecard and begin near the location of the temporary pro shop of 2016, since replaced by a beautiful new clubhouse.
The par-72 course’s yardages range from 6,661 from the black tees to 4,589 from the red tees, with USGA slope ratings from 139 to 112. Eight different tee combinations use either one or two sets of tee locations. I recently used the blue tees at 6,233 yards/135 slope and enjoyed the experience.
The par 4 tenth hole’s construction preserved a uniquely shaped tree that golfers must decide how to evade during their tee shots while avoiding the marshland beyond it. My shot from the 287-yard blue tees nipped a leaf but was otherwise undisturbed when it landed in the fairway about 50 yards from the green.
The par 3 eleventh hole’s green sits on an elevated mound. Peering from the blue tee box 141 yards away, a player has to take it on faith that there will be a place for his ball to land if it clears the massive bunkers in front.
The 348-yard par 4 twelfth hole’s green features the most swooping terrain changes I have seen on any Cape Region golf course. I guesstimate the elevation differences can be as much as four to five feet, making putting from the “wrong” green section a difficult challenge. This dovetails with what General Manager Brian Fedish said about the overall design: “Since the golf course is not all that long, the course’s main ‘defenses’ are the greens.”
Fedish is mostly correct. From the blue tees the par 5 yardages range from 481 to 510 yards long – short enough for long hitters to try to reach the greens in two stout shots, but manageable for mid- to short-iron third shot approaches for not-long hitters. Nonetheless, four of the par 4s range from 409 to 454 yards long, enough for mid-handicap golfers to accept the likely bogeys those yardages can produce.
Mounding throughout the course can block sight lines and otherwise cause a significant amount of guess work for approaches to the greens, especially the first time playing the holes.
As for the greens themselves, Fedish said their goal is to “offer some of the firmest, fastest, smoothest greens around.”
They ran fast and true, and again a bit of foreknowledge would help in deciding how to approach them. Several of mine finished a yard or less just off the greens into medium-length rough, because the ball bounced more than I planned. That should happen less often in subsequent rounds, now that I know what to expect.
Several holes’ designs sometimes appear visually intimidating from the tees. As Fedish said, however, “there is an abundance of fairway grass that awaits.” Repeated play should alleviate most of those initial concerns.
I normally depend on my Bushnell Neo GPS watch and use my Arrcos Caddie app as a backup. Unfortunately, the Arccos system currently recognizes only the original nine holes, and my Bushnell watch kept referring me to The Peninsula golf course several miles away.
Arccos representatives said they are still waiting for Apple and Google to catch up with new data images. In the meantime, the Visage Touchscreen GPS in the carts were very useful. Fedish knew about the Arccos/Bushnell issues.
There are some long gaps between greens and tees, much like many real estate-related golf course layouts. Plantation members and annual pass holders may walk the course after 3 p.m. if they like, and on cart path only days others can also walk it. Otherwise, carts are mandatory, and are a welcome break from the summer heat.
Plantation Lakes is an active participant in Delaware State Golf Association tournaments. Two such events took place in 2020, and a Frozen Friday competition took place last February. The DSGA’s 2021 Mid-Open and Mid-Amateur Championships are scheduled for October 4, 2021. The First Tee-Delaware also conducts junior-oriented programming at the club.
In addition to daily play options, annual golf passes are also available. Among other benefits, the annual pass expands the normal lead time for tee time reservations, includes discounts on shoes, apparel, balls, and equipment, and also provides discounted access to the club’s HDGolf Simulator. Contact Fedish at bfedish@ theiconteam.com or 302-933-8072.