Extra: Golf Guide: The State of the Game

Delaware saves two courses from renovation into housing developments. That's great for golfers--and everyone else.


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Maybe Delaware’s license plate should be changed to read: “The Golfer’s State.”

Under provisions of the Open Space Program, part of the 1990 Delaware Land Protection Act, the state now owns two formerly privately held and popular golf courses. In July 2004, the state purchased Garrisons Lake, a long, leafy and narrow track that had been popular among Delaware’s public golfers. It had been a fixture in the Smyrna area since the 1970s.

Last year Delaware doubled its golf course holdings with the acquisition of the pristine and previously private MBNA Deerfield Golf Club. Going forward, we can only hope the state is demonstrating a continuing commitment to not only preserving green space, but also to providing continuing recreational opportunities for area golfers at affordable rates.

Delaware never planned to get into the golf course business, but community fallout over plans to turn Garrisons Lake into a tract of more then 400 homes captured the attention of the state’s political leadership.

It all began in early 2003, when community leaders led by Dover attorney Gary Dodge arranged a meeting with the property’s developer, New Castle County’s Blenheim Homes, and interested residents.

“We knew we were onto something when more than 400 people showed up for that meeting,” Dodge recalls, “and not just from our area, either. People from all over the state showed up.”

Following that meeting, Dodge and others formed CARE (Citizens Alliance for Responsible Expansion), an advocacy group whose goal was to prevent Blenheim from turning Garrisons Lake into a subdivision.

There was far less conflict over the purchase of Deerfield Golf Club, near Newark, where the state was able to purchase the club outright, without having to undo a deal that had been made with a developer. Deerfield was also much more within the scope of the state’s open space program because the property was contiguous to the Division of Parks and Recreation’s White Clay Creek State Park.

“Deerfield is nearly surrounded by White Clay Creek,” says parks and recreation director Charles A. Salkin. “We were always pleased that the course was a neighbor.”

Salkin was at first concerned that Deerfield might be turned over to developers. He was relieved when Governor Ruth Ann Minner took the lead to maintain the course as open space.

The state ultimately paid $12 million for the land and the improvements at Deerfield. An additional $1.5 million was loaned to the Division of Parks and Recreation to fund purchase of equipment for the golf course and renovations to the clubhouse.

According to Salkin, Deerfield will be operated the same way as all the other parks in the system.

“They are all cost centers in that there is no net revenue, and that none of the parks receives subsidies from any other park in the system,” says Salkin.

Though Deerfield is unique among Delaware’s state parks, the parcel is typical of the size of properties the state usually acquires. “We’ve built the system from hundreds of parcels like the 140 acres at Deerfield and the 160 at Garrisons Lake,” says Salkin.

But the Garrisons Lake story has a bit of the “Erin Brockovich” social-action drama attached to it, especially since there was already a deal in place for the golf course to become a housing development. CARE’s primary strategy was to sustain community emotion through periodic announcements on the group’s progress.

“Every three or four months we published a new development regarding Garrisons,” says Dodge. “One time it was the release of a traffic study we had contracted that showed there would be a need for significant road construction to support the development. Another time, we had a story published that suggested the owners of parcels of contiguous property to the golf course might consider constructing a pig farm on the land.”

According to Dodge, the governor’s office reported that it had received more comment on the Garrisons Lake development than anything else in Minner’s first term, including the smoking ban.

Whether the pig farm story was the clincher or not, the state’s political leadership threw its support behind the community. DelDOT became involved, not the Division of Parks and Recreation, primarily due to CARE’s traffic study.

“DelDOT told us there was money available for the agency to purchase land under the open space program,”

Finally, the developer decided to meet with all the relevant parties to discuss their withdrawal from the planned development. “Blenheim should receive some credit for agreeing to walk away from what was going to be a profitable venture,” Dodge says.

After DelDOT’s purchase of Garrisons Lake, the parcel was turned over to Parks and Recreation. In 2006 the state provided $4 million to cover the costs of restoring Garrisons Lake to a modern golf facility. That will include needed refurbishments to the course—which has been in neglect since its closing was announced in 2003—a new irrigation system, and renovations to the pro shop and parking lot.

Dodge believes pool renovations will probably not happen under the current funding plan. The thinking now is that Garrisons Lake could be open for play in 2008.

When that happens, one of the longest, narrowest tracks in the state will present all golfers with the challenge of hitting it straight and away from some of the stateliest wooded areas around. Originally playing at over 7,000 yards from the tips, Garrisons features a collection of par-3s that can stretch to over 200 yards, and a collection of par-4s, the shortest of which is 370 yards, with eight stretching more than 400 yards. Bring your big-headed titanium when this baby reopens.

What about the future for Delaware and golf business? Our state’s small size may be a benefit when it comes to getting out in front of the opportunities that hit the market.

According to Ron Vickers, land preservation office manager for the Division of Parks and Recreation, however, there are no current plans to seek additional golf properties to preserve as open space. That means plans to sell a nine-hole course that is currently part of Delaware National and previously reported plans to develop Newark Country Club (moving the golf club to a new facility to be built just over the state line in Maryland) will probably continue to go forward as developments.

So don’t order those new license plates just yet. Do, however, grab your clubs and prepare to enjoy the return of one of Delaware’s best remembered public golf facilities, and the preservation of another once-private jewel into the Delaware parks system. 

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February 2018

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

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By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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A day of tomfoolery, debauchery and great beer. Come enjoy unlimited beer tastes from the best beers each Delaware brewery has to offer and YOU decide who wins the heavyweight belt for 2018. 

Cost: $29 online, $35 door

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon Schorah
Website »

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The Singing Sergeants is the official chorus of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the group is one of six musical ensembles that comprise...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
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Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on February 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Pre-registration is required. As...

Cost: Call for cost.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
Website »

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Soprano Alissa Rose is a native of Billings, Montana whose multi-faceted career has taken her around the United States and abroad.  She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

FREE COMMUNITY EVENT: MID-WEEK WORD REFRESHER Come join us at the Mid-Week Word Refresher every Wednesday at Faith Victory Christian Center from 11:00am - 12:00pm. Refreshments will be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
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Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
Website »

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Clearing the mind and learning to think not thinking is Zen awareness. Taking the appropriate action in this moment is Zen. Once you know this in your body, walking, standing, sitting down,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
Website »

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An ensemble of five dynamic and brilliant players in their own right, Christiana Winds explores the exciting and unique tradition of wind chamber music from the 18th century to the present. In...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum and Library
Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

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This noontime lunch series on the first Friday of every month pairs an engaging 30-minute discussion about a work of art with a delicious lunch in the Thronson Café. Café lunch voucher included...

Cost: $12 Members, $14 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Join us for the Art Loop Opening of Terence Roberts' photography exhibit - Inner Light. This show features light-paintings, photographs made at night of gardens, landscapes, and trees. The...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: Art Loop Wilmington
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Marcia Stephenson
Website »

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Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

Build a model ship at home and enter it into our home-build contest! Build your ship at the Copelane Maritime Center using our STEM-based design plans! Free-play area for all ages, plus many...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E. 7th Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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