Best of 2010 (3rd in a series)

The “...And Yet So Near” Award

Delmarva Peninsula & Bay Creek Golf Resort


        The Delmarva Peninsula, an amalgam of the names and abbreviations of the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia (VA), does not have the cachet for golf of Pinehurst, Kiawah Island or Myrtle Beach, but what it lacks in name recognition it more than makes up for in proximity to the northeastern states -– and outstanding golf courses (92 courses in total for an area about the size of Connecticut).  Those willing to leave the New York area, say, at sunrise, can be on the first tee at a Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Arthur Hills, Arnold Palmer or Gary Player golf course before noon.  You could probably make an early afternoon tee time later that day in Myrtle Beach, but it will take a non-stop plane flight from New York, the risk of lost baggage, the hassles of renting a car and who knows what surprises the airlines may spring along the way.  On the other hand, even if you are driving to Myrtle Beach, golf and a night on the Delmarva is a great trip refresher along the way (the seafood is darn good too).

         You might be inclined to stay right there on the Delmarva because besides the outstanding, and reasonably priced, daily fee golf courses like Baywood Greens (gorgeous floral arrangements on the 27-hole course designed by Brian Ault), Bear Trap Dunes (27 holes by Rick Jacobson, a Nicklaus protégé) and Links at Lighthouse Sound (Arthur Hills), a select number of golf communities dot the peninsula.  The Gulfstream extends to the Chesapeake Bay and can have a warming effect even during winter.  Although you won’t be swimming in the ocean off Rehoboth Beach in January, you will likely be playing golf then, as most area courses remain open year round (as I write this, the expected high in Cape Charles, VA, today is 53; in Myrtle Beach it will reach just 57).

         Among my favorite communities on the Delmarva is Bay Creek Golf Resort, which my wife and I discovered during our son’s college golf conference tournament last year.  As we followed the college golfers around the fine and challenging 18 holes by Arnold Palmer, and later when I played the even testier Jack Nicklaus 18, I was surprised that Bay Creek did not have better name recognition in places like New England, just a half-day’s drive away.  (This was the first golf community in which Palmer and Nicklaus contributed a layout.)  Folks from the middle-Atlantic states, however, are well aware of Bay Creek, and even in the teeth of the recession, the courses are getting frequent play.

        “Our rounds were up a staggering 16% over 2009,” Director of Golf Operations Mark Wesolek wrote me, “and our revenues [ended] the year up as well.  So, I guess the conclusion that can be reached is that our marketing efforts are attracting golfers, and the experience we are offering is retaining them.”  [Full disclosure note:  Bay Creek has advertised in New England Golf Monthly, which publishes a monthly column about golf real estate written by yours truly.]

        The Bay Creek “experience” starts with the golf courses.  Nicklaus took full advantage of the inland extension of the Chesapeake Bay to develop a few holes that could have been swiped from a linksland course in Scotland.  Palmer’s layout, which must be played a few times to appreciate (and to learn to negotiate a few blind tee shots), uses the bay as a curtain behind some of the holes.  Bay Creek offers plenty of real estate options, with prices that reflect its location 20 miles from “civilization” (Norfolk), although nearby Cape Charles is a cute waterfront town.  A section of the Bay Creek community is built around a marina just off the downtown area, separated from the golf courses and main community by about three miles.

         Golf view home sites at Bay Creek begin in the $100s, waterfront home sites in the $200s and estate home sites with multiple views in the $400s.  Condos and town homes are priced from the $200s.  The resort’s two-night/two-day real estate “discovery package” is priced at about 50% of what you would pay for a similar package elsewhere and includes two rounds of golf and a $100 dining certificate. (The on-site restaurant, Aqua, was closed on the Sunday and Monday during our April visit but has been well reviewed.)  Contact me if you are interested in a visit to Bay Creek.



Out along the Chesapeake Bay at Bay Creek, Nicklaus designed two par 3s (#4 at top, and #6) that would be tough enough without the almost constant prevailing winds that come in off the water.  The layout effects a strong bit of links golf before it turns inland for the final nine holes.

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