Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cooked at The Rookery

The Rookery
Milton, Del
Yards: 2886/3253 - 6139
Par: 35/36 - 71
Rating: 68.8, Slope: 116
Score: 44/52 = 96
Date: September 2, 2008

My Delaware adventures continued on the day after Labor Day with a round at The Rookery, a beautiful course located just off Route 1 eight miles north of Rehoboth Beach. The course, which is pretty open, was designed and is co-owned by Pete Oakley, the 2004 British Senior Open Champion. I had the good fortune of watching Oakley at the 2000 U.S. Senior Open at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. The course is named for a Blue Heron nesting area -- a rookery -- located in a grove of trees located in the southeast portion of the course (see course layout photo below). Conditions are always very good at The Rookery, and this visit was no exception. The fairways were lush, the greens smooth and the tee boxes in excellent shape. There were, however, some dry patches in the rough off the fairways, the result of the lack of rainfall. The Rookery also features a very nice practice area, although I have never taken advantage of it during the many times I've played at the course.

The Rookery Scorecard

The front nine at The Rookery is the shorter and easier of the two, with only one Par 5 and two Par 4s playing 300 yards or less. The oddest holes on the course can be found on the front nine: the 4th and 5th. The 4th is a 290-yard Par 4 which features a large pond in the middle of the fairway and requires a drive of about 265 yards off the tee to carry the water. From a slightly elevated tee, to a fairway that slopes toward the water, and 8- or 9-iron is all that is usually required for average hitters. The 5th is a 385-yard dogleg right which has a row of tall pine trees across the fairway from the left blocking approach shots that don't get far enough into the dogleg.

The opening Par 4 at The Rookery

The back nine features three Par 5s of 575, 566 and 466 yards: the 10th, 14th and 18th Holes, respectively. The 10th has a row of four bunkers running across the fairway about 160 yards from the green, just ready and waiting to snare any poorly placed lay-up shot. The 12th and 13th have water running all the way down the right and left sides of the fairways, respectively. The 14th is a 200-yard Par 3 that runs along Route 1, and is followed by the 15th, a 140-yard Par 3 that features an island green. The long closing hole features numerous strategically placed bunkers along the edges of the fairway and one in front of and behind the the left side of the green.

The 8th Green looking back towards the tee

I teed off at The Rookery in the early afternoon, my third round in five days. Temperatures were in the mid-80s, but the humidity was high and there is virtually no respite from the sun on this course. I played very steady golf, with pars at the 3rd, 7th and 9th Holes. My putting was still a bit shaky, but the only real slip-up came at the 6th, a 491-yard Par 5 that doglegs right and has water in front of the green. After hitting my drive to the left side of the dogleg, I laid up to about 150 yards. With the trouble in front of the green, I should have taken the extra club (6-iron), but I tried hitting a 7-iron which landed just short in water, leading to a double-bogey 7. But I regrouped and parred two of the next three holes to go out in 44 and visions of a very good round danced prematurely in my head.

The tee shot on the 575-Yard 10th Hole

The back nine started with an acceptable bogey on the longest hole on the course, but after hitting the green in regulation at the 11th, a 425-yard Par 4, I four-putted and began to feel the energy gauge dropping to zero, a 6, 7 and 8 at the next three holes followed quickly, and I'm not sure how I even finished the 14th Hole. My legs were gone and my energy was zapped. I found a small patch of shade under a little tree between the 14th green and 15th tee and sat down in the grass for about 15-20 minutes, drinking all the water that was in my bottle. Somehow, I manged to play in the last four holes, gutting out a 4-4-4-7: a par, two bogeys and a double at the last when I shanked a bad lie in the rough into a pond over by the 10th tee. Even though I stumbled home in 52, I managed to grind out a round of 96, which made me feel good that I never quit on the round.

The bunkers across the 10th fairway

The Rookery is another Rehoboth Beach-area course that I would recommend be put on your itinerary if your are going to Ocean City, Maryland for a golf getaway. It is easily accessible either traveling to or from Ocean City from the Delaware Valley.

More photos of The Rookery:

The course layout

The 3rd Hole, a 300-yard Par 4

The view from the tee at the 4th Hole

The 9th Hole, a short Par 3 over wetlands

The approach to the 10th Green from the fairway bunkers

The 13th, the second of three Par 5s on the back nine

The practice range at The Rookery
Photos by The Muni Golfer

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