Tees: Blue (Tee’s in front of Tips says on scored card for 6-12 Handicap)
Weather: 68 and Cloudy with a breeze
Played With: Mark
Written By: Chris Conley
Rating: At bottom of Review
After talking with my buddy Mark we decided we wanted to try somewhere new, so I headed over to Golfnow.com, and found Garrisons Lake in Smyrna Delaware. I have never played golf in Delaware before but realized I could drive 40 minutes north and open up a whole new set of courses I have never played before. Garrisons Lake had an open at the perfect time we wanted to play, and after checking out the website, http://www.garrisonslakegolf.com, it seemed like a course that would be fun to play. We got a good rate, from GolfNow but looking at Garrisons regular weekend rates of $40 it is a great place to play for a good price.
As you pull into the course you drive through a community, which made me think we were going to be playing a course that was surrounded by houses and not very tranquil to play. However after the round I realized this course had a great mix of holes winding through the community, to holes that are out in the middle of nature without anyone around. The fairways looked in good condition and the greens were bright green as we pulled up to the parking lot. For those who love wide open courses, with no woods or trees, this course is not for you. The theme of the day was trees, trees, trees every hole seemed to be lined with trees on the right and left side and on each hole there was always at least one specifically placed tree to alter the way you would play that hole. I haven’t found myself playing courses like this often, and was excited for what was to come.
When we got out of the car and took our bags up to the pro shop, we realized a tournament was going on at the course that day. Luckily it had just ended and soon the course would be basically all ours, with a few other players spread out. The pro shop here, is simple and nothing extraordinary, it is a trailer with a little merchandise two offices and a counter to pay. The had snacks laid out on the table, a soda cooler and that seemed to be the only place to get food as I didn’t see any signs of a 19th hole or restaurant. We also didn’t run into any cart services during our 18 holes, so if you play the course bring some snacks.
After checking in we headed out to the range, which was a nice range that had both mat and real grass areas to practice from. The range was wide and went up to about 300 yards giving you plenty of room to practice all shots. The putting green was right by the driving range tees and was very good sized, I did not see a chipping green anywhere, though I could be wrong. The course manager, came up and said we could go off any time, that the tournament was over and we were next tee time up, so we tee’d off about 30 minutes early.
One quick blurb about the course before going into detail is the 150 yard markers. Like most courses there is a white stake in the middle of the fairway, at the 150 yard to the green marker. One thing Garrisons Lake did that I found very helpful was there was a colored top to the white marker, that colored top matched the flag color which represented where on the green the pin was placed. So a red topper was a front pin placement, middle was yellow and back was blue; this seems like a simple thing but was a really helpful detail of the course.
As we pulled up to the first tee, the day’s theme of trees was very never more evident; Hole one is a dog leg left par 5 with trees jetting out on the left to block you from hitting a straight drive. You want to be to the right of the fairway on this hole, to help and avoid the left fairway bunker on your second shot. This hole is reach able by bigger hitters, but the green is guarded by bunkers so laying up and playing a short third shot is your better option. Mark hit his third shot on this hole from about 135 and hit a beautiful 9-Iron to about 6 inches from the hole to straight with birdie. I flew the green and ended up with bogie here. Hole two is the longest par 4 on the course, both sides of the fairway is lined with trees and some of them jet out on the left; you want to stay right on this hole or you are in trouble. Hole three is the shortest par 3 we would play all day and I was still hitting a 7-Iron into it. This green is covered by bunkers on all sides and leaving your shot towards the middle of the green will result in a makeable putt no matter where the flag is. Hole four was a dog leg right, where if you tried to cut the corner you were punished by a large tree jetting out into the fairway. I hit what might have been my best drive of the day on this hole, turning it around the tree on the right and leaving myself about 80 yards into the green. This green is two-tier with a bunker in front and back; if you don’t place your second shot on the tier with the flag, be prepared for a hard first putt. Hole five is a pretty straight forward par 4 where you want to stay left to avoid being blocked by more trees on the right hand side. There is a big bunker in the front of this green and this green slopes from back to front so place your shot carefully. Hole six is a slight dog leg right par 5, this hole runs parallel with the highway and is one of two very noisy holes on the course. Stay away from the fairway bunker on the left and this hole is reachable in two, the green has bunker in the front right and is one of the few flatter greens on the course. Hole seven starts out running parallel with the highway and dog legs right into the woods, making the two loud holes on the course in your past. Your drive on this hole is key and a 5-wood might not be a bad bet, if you hit drivers try to be on the right of the fairway, the fairway is slopped and you can run through the fairway into the trees on the left. Hole eight is a longer par 3 that has bunker in the front and to the right of the green, again pin placement makes for what club you will want to use. The green is heavily sloped from back to front so play the right club to make for an easier putt. Hole nine is a very pretty hole, and you want to stay left on this hole to avoid the tall trees blocking your second shot on the right. There is a fairway bunker on the left of this hole so try and avoid that, to leave yourself the best angle for your approach shot. This hole leads you back to the club house, but we went straight on to hole 10.
Hole ten, is a slight dog leg right par 4, that leads you out of the community feel and into the tranquil woods of Garrisons Lake. The front nine of this course, was tight and lined with trees but the back nine would prove to be even harder. Stay right on hole ten as the left will block your second shot into a slightly elevated green with bunkers and a big grass bunker on the back side. Hole eleven, is a pretty par 3 where a lake sits behind the green, try and avoid the front right bunker. Depending what tee’s you play you will be looking at a mid to long iron on this hole. Hole twelve, is a dog leg left par 5 where staying right is key on this hole; from the tee box you can’t see it but there is water to the left on this hole. This hole might be reachable by very big hitters, but more than likely you will want to lay up on your second shot to leave an easier third shot as this green is elevated and surrounded by bunkers. Hole thirteen is a long par 4, where staying left is key to give yourself a good angle at this green with the bunkers guarding the front right of the green. Hole fourteen is the longest of the par 3’s on the course, and you play your tee shot over water into a very undulated green. Bunkers sit short and right of this green and it looks like if you leave your shot short balls will roll back into these greens. On this green I hit a 5-Iron and left it on the fringe on the right hand side of this green pin high; I made the putt to make my only birdie of the day. Hole fifteen is a slight dog leg left, with probably the widest fairway on the back nine, trees still line both sides of the fairway but this shot gives you a little room for error. Watch your second shot to this green, as behind this green is a severe slope running down into woods. A long approach shot will lead to a lost ball and a penalty stroke. Another severely undulated green here, so be careful on where you are placing your approach for an easier putt. Hole sixteen is a narrow par 4 where you should have a shorter iron into the green. This green is small and the front of the green is completely guarded by a bunker and a lake is behind the green so your second shot has to be accurate to get a good score on this hole. Hole seventeen is a long par 5, that has the trickiest tee shot of the day; I tried to cut the corner and was very unsuccessful so try and stay to the left hand side of this fairway to give yourself an easier second shot. Hole eighteen is a simple yet pretty closing hole for the course, a slight dog leg right with more trees. Try and stay to the left of this fairway to avoid trees on the right, giving yourself a better angle into a green completely guarded by bunkers.
Overall Garrisons Lake was a fun and challenging course that offers golfers and wide variety of style of golf. Whether you like the community public courses that wind through houses and architecture or a course that is you and nature this course offers both over its 18 holes. You may want to leave the driver in the bag on a few of the holes, even though your body is saying hit driver. I didn’t listen and hit driver on every hole and got myself in trouble frequently; accuracy is the key to Garrison Lake. The course was in overall good shape, it looked like about half the fairways had just been aerated but that is general maintenance and once that process is done they should be in great shape. The greens were very slow and I am not sure if it they are always that way or just hadn’t been cut after rainfall last week. Again this course is very challenging and can cause a lot of frustration but take your time and think about each shot.