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Baywood Greens: As Close To Augusta National As A Public Facility Has Ever Come

By Jay Mankus, Contributor

LONG NECK, DEL - Technology! A word synonymous with the internet, e-commerce, and one of the greatest economies this country has ever seen. In Long Neck, Delaware, Rob and Gail Tunnell of the Tunnell Companies have used every ounce of technology possible to create Baywood Greens: a 27 hole golfer's paradise!

The technological advances implemented to build Baywood Greens create a Longwood Gardens presence, a world renown garden in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. The Tunnell Companies along with Golf Course Architect Aulten Clarke designed 8 bridges, 2 tunnels, 60 vast bunkers, and 350 mounds which spread out over the first 2 nines. Over 200,000 flowers adorn the Woodside (holes 1-9) and Waterside (holes 10-18) Courses.

Just imagine how many flowers will be added to the final 9 holes, a total of 750 acres, once it is completed in the next few years. Of these 200,000 flowers, several thousand decorate 3 timbered bridges on the 14th, 16th, and 18th holes, a newfangled idea which resembles the hanging gardens of Babylon above the water's edge.

Another feature Baywood Greens' offers is National Park like Scenic View Signs which overlook majestic vistas of 27 acres of water, over 100,000 plants, shrubs and trees, and two wild flower hazards that form a sea of colors on the 7th and 9th holes. On the 603 yard, par 5, 5th hole, I saw a limo cart pass me filled with tourists who had cameras and cam-corders.

Though the limo cart looked more like a mini-tram from an amusement park, the latest technology has allowed Baywood Greens to establish an upscale public golf facility which I never dreamed possible!

Large Grecian shaped columns extend over one hundred yards, forming the practice facility which shoots golfers into a coliseum like driving area filled with target greens. The practice entrance is guarded by an ornamental horticultural paradise which surrounds two winding putting areas while hiding a sand and chipping area off to the right.

Meanwhile, a state of the art swimming pool with an island in the middle is available for free to the family members of those who play golf. Baywood Greens is not Augusta National, but after using all of their facilities, you will be amazed that this is a public course.

Storm shelters every 2-3 holes are elegant gazebos with patio furniture fit for kings and queens. Bathrooms facilities on the Woodside and Waterside Nines are exceptional, nicer than most of the trailer clubhouses often found on new upscale public courses.

Even the maintenance building to the left of the 3rd tee is dressed with the same splendor as the other buildings at Baywood Greens. Although the future clubhouse is still under construction, the pool clubhouse serves as an ample fill in until construction is complete.

If you have never heard of Baywood Greens, you will in the future since 18 holes are now open with 9 more to follow! Although Baywood may never host a professional tournament, you could transplant this course to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and it would become a top 10 course there overnight!

According to Golf Digest's September 2000 edition, Greater Myrtle Beach was rated the 9th greatest golf destination in the world. If my opinion is accurate, Baywood Greens will become a must play for visitor's to the Delaware and Maryland Beaches in years to come.

Chesapeake Golfer, a magazine which serves golfers from Maryland, Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Virginia, first wrote about Baywood Greens' commitment to excellence in an October 1999 article. This article states, "Baywood Greens sets a new standard for public courses to follow!"

Two of my playing partners agreed, calling Baywood Greens, "the prettiest course they had ever seen or played." These are words from two retired seniors who are members of an exclusive country club in Virginia, yet spend their summers playing public courses up and down the Atlantic coast.

Enough said here, let's go to the course. As players reach their cart, a golden foil logo of a heron on a smooth hunter green paper serves as Baywood Greens' scorecard. While elegant on the outside, the inside is very resourceful with yardages to the left and pictures of each hole on the right. Meanwhile, the back of the card gives you an overview of where the course meanders through trees and around water.

One of the first things you notice as you look at Baywood Greens' scorecard is that this is a course for beginners. While most golfers will elect to play from either the Gold-6,983 yards, Black-6,491 yards, Green-6,088 yards, or Yellow tees-5,136 yards, beginners can enjoy this par 72 from only 3,539 yards at the White tees.

Most of the holes from this tee are 200 yards long with the 3rd hole playing the longest at 272 yards and the shortest a meek 90 at number 6. Non-beginners will all be envious of these tees which often avoid most of the 12 water hazards on the Woodside and Waterside Courses.

Nonetheless, golfers who use the White tees will appreciate the beauty of the obstacles they don't have to negotiate.

Beside the obvious need for finishing touches along the banks on the par 5 16th hole and tidying up of the rough to the left of the 17th fairway, the dreaded "carts on the path only". rule can damper the spirits of a wild driver, on and off the tee!

Meanwhile, the only imperfections at Baywood Greens I found were on the scorecard. The picture diagrams of 3 holes to the right of your scorecard were off slightly. Two of the holes were significantly off, the 10th and 17th holes.

Both appear on the scorecard as gentile doglegs. However, both are severe doglegs. The 410 yard 10th hole doglegs over 45 percent at 150 yards while the 415 yard 17th doglegs nearly 75 percent at 100 yards from the green.

While you can hit a short iron over the trees which protect the dogleg on the 17th hole, unless you drive the ball long or left on 10, you will be left with a punch shot under mammoth trees to a green almost completely surrounded by sand. Since typos can be fixed, Baywood Greens has nothing to worry about except for continuing to satisfy customers by grooming an already awesome course.

As you play the first five holes at Baywood Greens, you can't help but see the careful attention paid to details. Bent grass tees, fairways, and greens give way to a silk-like first cut, often called the apron or collar. Generous sized fairways are surrounded by a consistent player friendly rough.

On either side of the rough, gentile mounds help hide the appearance of cart paths or simply flow into the contour of the land. Just beyond the cart paths lie fine manicured gardens filled with azaleas, elegant flowers, and exotic plants to spruce up the backdrop of wayward shots.

Some holes even have a white picket fence which separate these gardens from the golf course. Your score isn't enhanced by bad drives at Baywood Greens, but at least you are rewarded with breathtaking views on your next shot or shots.

The panoramic setting these details create can also be distracting. As you look at each hole glamoured with a different combination of trees, twists and turns, water or marshland, and shrubs and flowers, it's hard to believe you are actually playing golf in this setting.

The beauty of each hole is somewhat numbing, causing you to focus on what's left or right, not down the middle. Therefore, since you surroundings are so beautiful, the actual design of Baywood Greens can be overlooked.

For example, the tree to the right of the second hole and directly behind the fourth green is ingenious. By clearing out all of the trees from this area, this one tree hangs above a sea of sand which creates a spectacular visual site from both holes.

Two large ponds which border this sand form an uneven figure eight, adding to this spectacle. Meanwhile, players on several holes at Baywood Greens have to avoid strategically placed fairway bunkers and enormous greenside bunkers like the one that separates the 2nd and 4th green.

According to Head P.G.A. Professional Brian Barrows, Baywood Greens has 3 signature holes: the 223 yard par 3 6th, the 425 yard island fairway par 4 14th, and the 515 yard par 5 16th.

However, it is likely that after a round at Baywood Greens you will probably think they should have 6 to 9 signature holes. I would have to add the 538 yard par 5 7th, the 392 yard par 4 9th, and the 425 yard par 4 18th to Brian's list.

The sixth hole at Baywood Greens has been the talk of Delawarians since it opened two years ago. Three sets of elevated tees give players 3 different holes. From the tips or middle tees, most players will be worried about carrying the tidal marsh, a 180 yard carry or so from either 223 yards or 217 from the black tees.

A large donut shaped bunker guards the right front portion of this green, but a generous fairway left of this bunker allows players to roll balls onto the left of this green.

From the left tee, players will face shots anywhere from 170 up to 217 yards. From this elevated tee, the marsh comes into play more than any other tee. Since this tee is aligned with the back bunker, any ball hit to the left of this green must carry a longer portion of the marshland.

The marsh flows toward the green then bends back around to the far left of this tee. Overcompensating will be common here, the thought of this marsh will cause many players to bail out right into the donut bunker or just beyond it.

Players who use the Gold and Yellos tees have the good fortune of riding over the hazard before they tee off. However, the doughnut or uneven O shaped bunker stares these players in the face. Trees to the right and water to the far left still can come into play for struggling golfers. This is one hole you have to play at least 3 times to appreciate each angle these tees provide.

When I think about the 14th hole at Baywood Greens, words can't describe how beautiful this hole is. The original design called for a dogleg to the left par 4, where a large pond would create a dogleg around this water. Instead, the origin fairway was narrowed to make room for an island fairway in the middle of this body of water.

To beautify this hole, a timbered C-shaped bridge decorated with flowers on either side embrace this magnificent structure, while adding a safe means of transportation to and from this island. Looking back toward this island fairway from the 14th green is even more beautiful than from the tee and much less intimidating.

The par 5 16th continues the theme which began on the 14th hole, a bridge draped with flowers hanging over the railings just above the water. The bridge on 16 which connects the tee area to a fairway hugged by water and sand along the entire left side, is aesthetically pleasing enough to host a wedding ceremony.

I know this sounds crazy, but this bridge could serve as a gateway to a rose garden, it's that attractive!

Anyway, the 16th is one of many holes at Baywood Greens that rewards great shots and penalizes players for failing to execute long carries. Since the 16th is only 515 yards from the tips or 473 yards from where most men will hit, a good drive will leave a relatively short second shot for a par 5.

However, the green is surrounded by water on 3 sides. Therefore, any player who wants to say they hit a par 5 in two, must challenge the water and sand which falls off into the water down the left side. Obviously, the further you carry the sand, the less intimidating your second shot will be.

Regardless of your score here, you will learn how much sand and water you can cut off on a drive for your return visits to Baywood Greens.

Other features that golfers are raving about are the meadows of wild flowers on 7 and 9, the tee shot from the back tee on the par 5 7th over the marsh to the left of the 6th green, and the 3 island tees on the par 4 18th hole.

If the flowers on 14 and 16 impressed you, then the hanging gardens along the edges of the bridge that stretches over 50 yards across water will leave you in awe! Even after one my worst rounds in years, the site of this bridge will bring me back as soon as my schedule allows me to return.

Baywood Greens, get there before your friends do! Better yet, move there into one of many new homes being built along the course to save travel time. Whatever the cost, get here and play this course. You won't be disappointed!

Baywood Greens
R.D. 1, Box 291
(the official clubhouse entrance will be off of highway 24)
Long Neck, Delaware 19966
Phone 1-888-844-2254
Fax 1-302-945-4032
PGA Professional Brian Barrows

$56 Monday - Thursday
$68 Friday - Sunday & Holidays

Jay Mankus, Contributor

A former golf standout at Concord High School in Wilmington, Del., Jay Mankus graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Recreation & Parks Administration. Before graduating, Jay spent time as an intern at a golf club in the east suburbs of Cleveland specializing in golf course maintenance and design.

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