I played Heritage Shores on Sunday, November 4, 2012. The course is part of a new +55 residential community in Bridgeville, DE and is conveniently located on Rt 13, one mile south of the intersection of Rt 404 (main thoroughfare to the Delaware beaches.) This Arthur Hills design presents a classic open style links play with significant green-side mounding and very little protection from the wind. The day I visited it was windy and while the layout isn’t particularly difficult, the wind made scoring a challenge. Most of the par four and five holes are fairly open but are bordered by a considerable amount of water, usually running parallel or diagonal to the tee shot. The view from the tees fit my eye well and I didn’t find it too difficult to avoid the hazards but you get the feeling on several holes of a repeat look.
The front nine is the more pleasurable of the two as the course winds its way out into open areas and you feel more secluded. The back is crammed into “house world” with the new single-family homes all looking the same. I don’t mind playing courses tightly woven into housing communities, such as Oyster Bay in Sunset Beach, NC, where the properties are very different and present some variety, but that’s not the case at Heritage Shores.
Conditions were good through the green with the putting surfaces rolling medium fast and holding iron shots reasonably well, despite the heavy wind. The bunkers were in terrible shape, with nearly every one loaded with casual water and leaves. In all fairness, Hurricane Sandy had deposited about 10 inches of rain a few days earlier but the rest of the course had drained well so I was unsure if the greens crew had ignored the bunkers or these were just poorly designed. I only had the bunkers at Queenstown Harbor, which I had played two days earlier, to compare to and they were in pristine condition.
Value (2.5 out of 5.0)
Greens fees were $59 which included a cart. I believe the in-season rates are the same which would make it a better play in the summer, but I wouldn’t go any higher to visit a course of this caliber. A small bag of range balls was $6 and they should really be included in the greens fee to improve value.
Facilities (2.5 out of 5.0)
Heritage shores has a giant clubhouse that serves the entire community with two restaurants and houses the cart barn along with other non-golf related offices. The smallish pro shop is combined in an adjacent building with a fitness and aquatic center. A small snack bar sits next to the golf shop entrance but was closed when I played. A small number of soft drinks were available for sale in the pro shop but I was surprised not to find the snack bar open for weekend play.
The driving range is a short cart ride across the street and boasts about 15 hitting stations. We were hitting from mats and there appeared to be an ample grass area that was not open. One thing missing was some type of bag rack or device to hold clubs and towels next to the hitting stations. There was nothing, as you can see in the picture below, which required you to lay your clubs on the ground.
There were two very small putting greens adjacent to the golf shop entrance and I saw a sign indicating the short game practice area was closed. I never observed the area and will reserve comment.
Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)
I booked a tee time over the phone and my impression of the golf shop staff was courteous and professional. The starter drove out to the range to notify me when it was my turn to play which I appreciated.
The GPS units on the golf carts were touch screen, but only showed distance to the center of the greens, not the flag stick. You had to drag the flagstick icon to a particular part of the screen where you thought the flag was and the GPS would recalculate the yardage. I found this kludge and was glad I brought my Bushnell rangefinder to snap accurate yardages to the pins. I could also do without the constant stream of adds on the GPS which required you to touch the screen to “return to golf”.
Overall I viewed Heritage Shores as a decent retirement community golf course but not a facility dedicated to the serious player. For the record, I played the green tees at 6,477 yards and carded a 12-over par 84.