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Playing at Bear Trap Dunes
January 9, 2009

I rode down to Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club on the day after Christmas to join local PGA pro Devon Peterson and a crowd of fellow members of Shawnee Country Club, for an outing at the popular Ocean View public golf course.

Somehow, despite several prior opportunities, this was my first time playing any part of the 27-hole layout.

My reaction can be expressed in five words--I plan to go back.

The weather was cold, but fortunately not windy. If it had been, the wind chill on this wide-open golf course would have been brutal. We stayed bundled up for most of the day, except for a three-to-four-hole interlude in the middle of the round, when we could take off an outer layer or two as it warmed up.

We played the Grizzly and Kodiak nine-hole combination, from the back (blue) tees. This stretched out to just over 6400 yards for the par-72 set. The Black Bear/Grizzly combination would nearly equal that total, as would the Kodiak/Black Bear setup.

Water comes into play on several holes on the Grizzly/Kodiak course, especially if you canít seem to find the middle of the fairway. This happened on several occasions. One member of our foursome didnít seem to mind, however, especially on the 172-yard par 3 eighth hole on the Kodiak course.

John Eustis hit a low screamer off the tee that hit a tree just in front of where a pond comes into view on the right side of the approach to the green. His ball twanged off a branch, dove toward the water, skipped off the surface, and bounced up onto the fairway about 35 to 40 yards from the green.

My own tee shot started at the hole on the right side of the green, and then drew ever further left until it disappeared behind the mound left of the green. It ended up a foot or two into the fringe. Both of us managed to make routine bogeys from our respective positions.

Some of my tee shots ended up in some not-so-routine locations, such as in the middle of a stand of tall grass atop one of the many grassy dunes that edge most of the fairways. By middle, I mean not only in the middle of the patch, but also about 9 inches above the ground.

I choked down to the bottom edge of the grip of my pitching wedge, took a vicious whack, and the ball bounded down the slope and onto the fairway forty yards away.

That particular ball must have had a death wish, however. It later sailed off into a water-filled ditch before I could reach the green.

Despite my occasionally less than stellar round, I found a lot to like about Bear Trap Dunes. The wide-open vistas and dune mounding reminded me of the new Farmstead course in Myrtle Beach. The bunkering was fair, and the greens were in great shape, especially considering the time of year. For the longer holes I couldnít reach in two, a five-iron approach shot often put me in a good place for a relatively easy pitch or chip onto the green.

The Bear Trap staffers were unfailingly polite, and our gang enjoyed an adult beverage or two at the clubís well-stocked bar after our round.

For playing times, fees, and other information, call Bear Trap at 302-537-5600, or check out www.beartrapdunes.com.

The other Davis is gone

Richard C. (Dick) Davis, a longtime member of Shawnee Country Club and the father of former Cape Henlopen High School vice principal Sue Dutton, died January 3 from complications following surgery related to his three-year fight with cancer.

Dick was a very good golfer, and a great storyteller about his own and otherís exploits. He and his brother Bill were as thick as thieves. I wrote about Billís passing several years ago, and Dick was always grateful for the acknowledgment.

The family is holding a memorial mass at St. Edmondís Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach on January 17 at 11 a.m.

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