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Bayside Resort Golf Club – Course Review

Summary

I played Bayside on Saturday, October 31, 2020.  The course is a Jack Nicklaus design located in Selbyville, Delaware that has been open since 2005 and is the signature piece of the broader upscale Bayside living community.  The course is located four miles west of Fenwick Island, DE and is convenient to players coming from either of the Delaware or Maryland beaches.  Troon Golf manages the course and players familiar with other Troon facilities will notice a consistent look and feel.  My experience at Bayside was a mixed bag.

Par 3, 3rd hole playing 175 yards.

I had called for a tee time three weeks prior and booked 1:24 pm.  During the call, I was asked if I was a member or a visitor because different times and fees are available depending on the classification.  I booked as a visitor and learned that times prior to 12:00 noon were reserved for members.  However, since the course wasn’t expected to be busy, I was offered an earlier time at a rate of $117.  I was looking for something less expensive and settled for $79 at 1:24 pm.

I had visited the course on Friday to familiarize myself with the offerings and observed the fabulous practice facilities.

Short game practice area at Bayside

Licking my chops to try out the range and short game area before my round, I showed up at noon yesterday to get in a good warm-up and was promptly told that there was no record of my booking.  Ack!  However, they had a couple slots in the 1:24 tee time, so I booked and while displeased, considered it a wash.  As I was settling up, a cart attendant came into the shop and indicated I could go now if I wanted to as a single, because there was an opening.  I thought if I waited until 1:24 pm and the round went long, I might not finish in the light, so I accepted his offer.  In retrospect, this was a mistake because I rushed a 10-ball range warm-up and went out unprepared.  I quickly found myself in the awkward position of playing cold and managing on a wet course playing cart path only.  I struggled with where to hit it on an unfamiliar layout, taking pictures for this review, and being sandwiched between two foursomes.  Whew!

The range at Bayside

On the first tee, the starter set me up with a yardage guide, helped me decide which tees to play, and gave me a few pointers on how to play the first hole.  I selected the members tees at 6,418 yards and 71.4/139 and promptly piped a drive and ended up with a routine par on #1.  That turned out to be the end of my routine day at Bayside.

Most Nicklaus courses have a familiar theme of well-placed fairway bunkers on your tee shots and Bayside was no different.  What was difficult was the fairway landing spots narrowed past the bunkers on several holes, which offered less reward for clearing these obstacles.  I was left to wonder where the correct landing point should be after arriving at several tee shots.  I drove it well, but it was so wet out that most of my tee shots were landing even with the bunkers and didn’t roll out.  What I liked was that the holes had an abundance of clear targets that fit my eye well.

The fairways were wet but in great shape with the surfaces were mowed tight and smooth all the way up to the approaches.  The routing on the par-4s and 5s often had forced carries and lateral penalty areas to deal with.  You need to strike your irons great to score out here, and unfortunately, I didn’t.  I was left with more than a few greenside pitches off tight lies that required height – which turned out to be a tough shot.  Some practice of these lies in the short game area would have been beneficial.

The putting surfaces were smooth and running medium fast despite the moisture but were not tricked up.  Pete Dye loved green trickery but it’s not Nicklaus’ style, and Bayside was no exception.  I liked these greens and putted with confidence.  In short, I drove it well, rolled it good, but couldn’t do anything in between.

#7 at Bayside

Value (2.0 out of 5.0)

As I was struggling with playing cart path only (not the club’s fault because of the wet conditions), I thought it would have been beneficial for the carts to be equipped with GPS.  Would have been a huge time saver while figuring out where to hit it, and determining club selection.  For the prices charged in late October, this is not a great value.  I believe it’s even more expensive in season.  They can probably charge what they are getting because of high demand and to keep that exclusivity feeling for the members, but I’d like to see them adjust prices downward.  Eagles Landing, in Ocean City, is more scenic and is a much better value, albeit without the driving range.

Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)

Bayside has a great full-service club house, complete with locker rooms and restaurant.  The cart barn, bag room, and indoor portion of the driving range (Overhang) are laid out well and make staging and starting a breeze.  There’s a learning school known as The Hammer Academy, which I got a kick out of.  And of course, the short game area has ample room to practice your chipping, pitching, and bunker play.  Conditions were pristine.  There is a putting green by the club house and another next to the first tee.  Nicklaus clearly knows what the upscale public player likes and has delivered.  Small ding because of the loud music being piped into the driving range area, but I spent about two minutes warming up, so it didn’t really matter for me.  If I were seriously working on my game, I’d prefer to do without.

After my round, I chatted with some ladies sitting around the grill’s outdoor fireplace and they were thrilled to have their picture taken for a review of their course!  It seemed like the facility was a good gathering spot and enhanced the sense of community.

Customer Experience (3.0 out of 5.0)

Obviously, the failure to record my tee time was a major problem for the pro shop.  I would have preferred a simple apology, but they made excuses, like I might have mistakenly called Baywood Greens instead.  No fellas, I knew who I was talking to.  Good customer service is simply owning a mistake and moving on.  Elsewhere, the cart attendants were great, as was the starter, and the on-course beverage cart visited me four or five times, which was appreciated.

I made a mistake going before my scheduled tee time.  Should have used the ample practice facilities and warmed up properly, so that is on me.

Homes along the course

As I was meandering through the round, I noticed the abundance of houses and new construction on most of the holes.  The par-3, 13th was out on its own with great views of the bay, which I found refreshing.  But I do prefer a layout without the development.

The par-3, 13th hole. This was my favorite.

I noticed that the only COVID restrictions were on wearing masks in the clubhouse.  All ball washers and bunker rakes were available, and there were regular cups and pins to be pulled.  It felt safe and was great to be playing real golf again.

Picked up this little spectator on the 14th tee. He kept his distance

Overall Rating (3.0 out of 5.0)

Pro shop

Bayside is a challenging well-conditioned layout in a good location.  Bring your best ball striking game or you will be in for a long day.  I’d like to try it again, now that know where to hit it and hopefully wouldn’t be playing cart path only.  I wouldn’t advise in season play here because of the high greens fees and medium level value.  Go for an afternoon round in the Fall or Winter and enjoy.

The tough par-4, 17th hole. Yes I rinsed one on my second shot!

Hidden Gem Found in Myrtle Beach!

Just returned from a week on the Grand Strand with my wife.  This was a fabulous beach vacation and not a golf getaway, but the clubs are an essential accoutrement for any journey to South Carolina, and mine were in the SUV.  We arrived to some beautiful weather on Saturday, September 12 and after four straight days planted in my beach chair, I was ready for some action.  On Wednesday, I headed over to Barefoot for a couple hours of practice and was feeling pretty good about my game.

Squall in Hurricane Sally

Hurricane Sally had come ashore in Alabama and was supposed to visit the area on Thursday so I set out to find a tee time for Friday.  My only criteria; the course couldn’t be too far from our condo in North Myrtle Beach, and I didn’t want to spend over $100.  So, I booked a 1:00 pm time at Myrtle Beach National – Kings North.   This is an Arnold Palmer design and is one of my favorite tracks.  The greens fee was $50 which is about the best value you’re going to find for a course of this caliber.

As scheduled, Sally ripped through the area on Thursday afternoon/evening and produced an awesome lightning show and tons of rain.  On Friday, I drove to the course and found one of the nines on Kings North was under water and closed.  They offered to let me play the open nine twice or rebook on South Creek.  MBN has 54 holes and I had played Kings North about five times.  I had replayed once on the  West course and thought it rather ho-hum so I agreed to try South Creek.  What a delight!

South Creek, photo from GolfAdvisor

With all the rain, we were playing cart path only.  This was a day where wedge shots were exploding foot long divots and caking your legs with mud.  But I loved the track.  South Creek plays about 6,400 from the blues but I moved up a set on the front nine because it was so wet.  You need to drive it straight out here, and I did, but couldn’t get anything going with my irons or putter and shot a four-over 40.  I was by myself and following a twosome and raced around the front in 1.5 hours.  When I got to the 10th tee, I found the last of three threesomes the pro shop had sent out to start on the back.  A little perturbed, I asked the starter what he recommend I do and he told me to skip 10 and 11 and start my back nine on 12.  I rolled up to the tee and joined the twosome that had also received the same instructions.

These two were a father and son combination, with the boy playing a practice round for a 16-18 year-old junior tournament scheduled for South Creek over the next two days.  Dad was playing the whites, but the son was playing the blues, and clearly had a lot of game, so I backed up and played the blues with him.  This kid was busting it past me but for some reason, joining him elevated my concentration level and I carded an even par 36 on the back.  What a weird phenomenon: some kind of focus switch engaged in my mind as I played with the better player.  It reminded me a similar situation a couple years back when I was out for a round on my local muni and a couple young pros from the course joined me on the first hole.  They were pounding it 50 yards past me off the tee, but that same switch went off and I elevated my concentration and played great.  I wonder what causes this?  Has this ever happened to you?

So, I finished my round playing 10 and 11 and after ending with a birdie, realized how much fun I just had.  This was primarily because I was driving the ball so well, but I loved the golf course.  I also realized how straight you have to be to score, and how penal it could get.  The greens fee was $43 and I was tickled pink with the great value.  I will definitely be back to play South Creek at the next opportunity.  You should consider adding this course to your play list next time down.

Play well!

Sunrise at North Myrtle Beach