We played Baywood Greens in Long Neck, DE on Saturday, November 2, 2013. What strikes you about this course is the aesthetics and attention to detail with regard to the landscaping. Baywood is known for its floral arrangements and during the growing season, they purport to have over 200,000 of the most beautiful flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees adorning the course. With everything dormant in early November, you could see where the pots and boxes were, but could only imagine playing in a floral paradise. Around the clubhouse and pro shop, the various appointments and touches were very nice and exuded class. What I found a little awkward were several gazebos positioned at various points on the golf course. In these structures were couches and big comfy chairs and I was left to wonder if a group is supposed to pause in route between holes and rest in one of these structures. Wouldn’t that slow play down?
The course is a distinctly different play from front nine to back. The outward half has more of a parkland feel with tighter tee shots framed by tall trees and on the back, lots of water comes into play. I found the back more scenic with many of the shots fitting my eye nicely. I was able to relax and strike the ball well off the tee and the course is not long so a good ball striking day can lead to ample short iron approaches and opportunities to score.
Conditions were very good but not perfect. The bentgrass greens were running smooth and medium-fast but a couple of the tee boxes were a bit chewed up with divots (see the photo of me on the 18th tee) and probably could stand to be rotated more frequently. Otherwise the course was a delight to play and I only suspect heavy play throughout the summer and fall took it’s toll on the tee boxes.
Playing Tips (from the white tees):
- We were fortunate enough to be paired with a very friendly club professional (Tony) and he had lots of good information on where to position your tee shots which was great. Without that local knowledge, us first timers would have had a tough day. Thanks Tony!
- It took me nine holes to figure out that pin-hunting was ill advised and some of these greens have a lot of slope. I started aiming for the fat parts of the greens and kept it below the hole on the back nine which helped take pressure off my putting.
- #1 is a short par 4 but you don’t want any part of the fairway bunkers framing the hole. Take a 3WD off the tee and you’ll avoid the trouble and have a short to medium iron in.
- The par-5 5th hole is very tight in the landing area for a driver. I didn’t know this until I watched Tony tee off with a 3WD or utility club. It’s a three shot par-5 so just get it in play.
- The par-4 fourteenth hole has an island fairway that plays straight out and a chicken fairway that veers right and offers a much longer shot in. Again, I took 3WD and nailed it deep into the island and left myself with a 110 yard shot in. Driver could carry through the landing area so leave it in the bag.
- #16 is a risk-reward short par 5 that plays 452 yards from the white tees. If you bust your tee shot and want to go for it, you better make it on the fly because water sneaks in from the left and protects the green almost all the way across the fairway. If you’re going to lay up, lay it back on the face of the hill at about 100-125 yards out. You cannot see the water on the second shot.
- On the par-4 18th, aim farther left then you think. The left bunker or the cart bridge in the distance is an excellent target. Otherwise, water creeps up fast on the right!
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
High season prime time greens fees will set you back $129 if you want to golf on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It drops to $109 in mid summer and only eases up after October 27th when the weekend rate drops to $59. If you want to play in the summer, best to take advantage of the after 1:00 p.m. rate of $79. Your greens fee includes complimentary range balls, use of the practice facilities, and GPS on carts.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
Baywood Greens has a large pro shop and an extraordinary sized clubhouse/restaurant where parties and weddings are a regular occurrence. The white pillared driving range was a beautiful building that had many indoor – outdoor stalls. We were hitting from mats but there were ample stations to hit from grass, when the tee was open. There were two putting greens of adequate size and a smallish pitching green with adjacent practice bunker. While we warmed up, I observed that only two players could comfortably use the pitching green without getting in each other’s way.
On the course, #1 and 2 were playing cart path only, which precipitated a slower than desired start and I wasn’t sure why these holes were roped off. Elsewhere, there were very few areas to enter the fairways off the cart paths which felt a little awkward but wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. The “no cart” signs extended way back from most greens, so if you were within 75-125 yards, you needed to grab a stack of clubs and head out on foot.
Finally, we observed that nine holes were being constructed across the street. The goal is to make Baywood a 27 hole facility, but apparently the construction has been going way longer than expected, and while the appearance of readiness from the road looks close, there is no imminent date to open these extra holes.
Customer Experience (4.0 out of 5.0)
When we arrived at Baywood Greens, there was a small traffic jam at the bag drop and the attendant didn’t proactively take action to move things along but we eventually dropped after a five minute wait. When we completed play, the gentleman taking in carts was friendly and cleaned our clubs promptly. As I mentioned earlier, we played with Tony the pro and he was very hospitable and made our afternoon enjoyable.
The process of teeing off is a little different at Baywood Greens, with the starter coming to get you at the driving range, and you following him in his cart to the first tee. I suppose that controls traffic and keeps groups from backing up at the tee. Golf carts are equipped with coolers and fresh ice, which was nice. The GPS measures your position to the center of the green, but not the flag stick. The GPS did have helpful playing hints on every hole, but I needed my laser rangefinder to get exact distance to the flags.
I would like to come back and play this course in the spring or summer and fully enjoy the landscaping in all it’s glory. It was an enjoyable day and having Tony as a playing partner made it extra special. For the record, we played from the white tees that measured 6,088 yards and I shot a 6-over par 78.