Home » Course Review

Jonathan's Landing: Golf in 'lower, slower Delaware'

By Kiel Christianson, Equipment Editor and Senior Writer

MAGNOLIA, Del. - Despite being Delaware's capital, Dover is pretty easy to overlook, sandwiched as it is between historic Wilmington inthe north and the beaches in the south. This quiet quadrant of "lower, slower Delaware" has its own allure, however, especially if you happen to bea NASCAR fan or a player of the ponies or slots. Golfers who want to turn agolf trip into an activity-packed vacation could do worse than the 27 holesat Jonathan's Landing and a luxurious room at DoverDowns Hotel.

First, Tee It Up

Jonathan's Landing is a 27-hole facility featuring bent grass from tee to green. The clubhouse is designed to invoke the historic Port Mahon Lighthouse, and even has indoor hitting and teaching facilities in the basement. One of Jonathan's Landing's nines - The Cape Course - is a short(2,637 yards from the tips) semi-executive layout with six par-4s and three par-3s. The 18-hole Pointe Course is where most of the real fun lies, though.

At 6,617 yards from the championship tees, the Pointe Course is no pushover, especially if the wind is blowing any where near as hard as Craig Stadler ona stairmaster. The front nine is memorable for the intimidating number ofwhite stakes lining either side of many of the fairways. One usually associates the adjective "tight" with tree-lined fairways, but here the tightness derives from the ever-present OB.

"You need precision and local knowledge on that front nine," Craig Coffield, Director of Golf, warns. At 400 yards shorter than the back nine, the front's main defenses are those same white stakes, and extremely undulating greens. Possible pin placements are only a small percentage of the available putting surfaces, meaning that sloppy approaches can result in any number of infuriating three-putts.

While not overly difficult (par of 71, 70.0 rating, 117 slope from tips), Jonathan's Landing offers the ambiance of a seaside links along with a few very memorable individual holes. Copious wetlands traversed by sturdy plankbridges serve to soothe the savage slicer's breast. And the 4th hole is thereason that the savage might need a bit of soothing. Running from tee to green on this 208-yard par-3 is a four-foot deep gully, directly down the center of play. If you're going to miss the sprawling green, there is a tinysafe spot front and left of the putting surface. Players that have them is fortune of finding the gully will be lucky to escape with a double bogey.

The best stretch of holes is Nos. 9 through 12. At one time the 469-yard 9thwas the longest par-4 in the state. No. 10 (591 yards) and No. 11 (519 yards)are two par-5s that really test your driving capabilities. Water comes into play on the third shot on No. 10, and guards the front left of the green at No. 11.

According to Craig Coffield, the tee shot on the 405-yard 12th is "the toughest on the course because it requires a hard fade around a marsh if you're hitting driver." If the big stick stays in the bag, however, awell-struck fairway wood is required to leave anything less than a long ironinto the green, which is tucked way back into the marsh. This green complexis perhaps the prettiest in central Delaware, as long as you're not stomping around in the muck trying to find your ball.

Despite a certain discontinuity between the front and the back ("It feels like two different courses," says Coffield), and easy scoring if the wind is co-operating, Jonathan's Landing offers a solid round of golf at a very reasonable price. The course's proximity to Dover Downs also makes it the perfect choice for golfers looking to get in on some action off the course.

Second, Put Your Money Down

Dover Downs is the epicenter for action in south-central Delaware. Live and/or closed-circuit horse races can be found here everyday, along with 2,000 slot machines and 240 elegant guestrooms, and a half-dozen options for food and libations. The hotel opened in 2002 and still has that new-hotel sheen to everything. According to Heinz Schutz, Vice President and General Manager of Hotel Operations, the luxurious hotel is simply "a luxury convenience to our gaming clientele. Our main business is the slots."

Although it's hard to believe that the grizzled, hardcore lot who pump the slots would be frequent guests in the immaculately appointed suites, it'sapparently quite a successful parasitic relationship for the hotel. According to Schutz, the average occupancy rate is 95 percent year-round. Soif you want to stay here, it would be best to plan ahead.

And if you were considering trying to book a room while attending one of thetwo NASCAR events at the adjacent Dover International Speedway, forget it. The hotel is booked on those race dates for years in advance. However, the extreme stock car adventure at the raceway is guaranteed to get the engines of NASCAR fans revving. For $300 you can sign up for instruction on driving a stock car and 10 laps around the speedway.

Race fans and golfers alike should take heart in the wide availability of alternative lodging, such as the cozy, historic Little Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast, several rooms in which include Jacuzzis.

Finally, Raise a Glass

Food is plentiful in the Dover area. Two can't-miss establishments are the Village Inn Restaurant (same proprietors as the Little Creek Inn B&B), where the shrimp scampi or any of the steaks cannot be beat. Cool Springs Fish Bar and Restaurant is the place for seafood aficionados. The blackened scallops is the perfect appetizer for achar-broiled swordfish steak marinated in tequila (the land-lubber entrees are also excellent, as are the homemade desserts).

Food, gaming, and golf - Dover sounds like a sure bet to me.

Course Vitals (Pointe Course)

Par: 71
Yardage/Rating/Slope: Black 6,657/70.0/117 Blue: 6,153/68.0/116
White: 5,637/65.6/109 Red: 4,971/68.1/115
Rates: M-Th: $28/walk, $33/ride F: $28/$35 Sa-Su: $44 (twilight ratesavail.)
Misc: Walking any time, lessons (conventional and Natural Golf)

Accommodations and Food

Dover Downs Hotel
Tel: (866) 4-RESERV
Web: www.doverdowns.com

Little Creek Inn B&B and Restaurant
Tel: (302) 730-1300
Room Rates: $100-195/night
Entrees: $18-30
Web: www.littlecreekinn.com

Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant
Entrees: $15-30
Tel: (302) 698-1955


Conditions: 3.0
Service: 3.0
Value: 4.0
Design: 2.5

Kiel ChristiansonKiel Christianson, Equipment Editor and Senior Writer

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
Ocean City Golf Packages
Dates: April 1, 2018 - October 31, 2018
The Par-Fect Deal for the Serious Golf Traveler.
Price range: $465