Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back Creek Golf Club

At lush Back Creek, challenge at right price

Originally published May 24, 1998

The last time somebody built a public golf course in Delaware, Richard Nixon was president. The wait is over.

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Back Creek Golf Club. If you play daily-fee golf, write it down.

Given the spate of new private and public courses in the region - several are still under construction - it's hard to say exactly where Back Creek will stand when all the earthmovers finally grind to a halt. But it's absolutely fair and accurate to say that if you're a public-course player, Back Creek should go on your ``must try it'' list.

It's long, it's lush, it's challenging, and, although it wends its way through a housing development, never once do you feel hemmed in. Best of all, Back Creek is very reasonably priced at only $40 during the week and $48 on weekends - with a cart.

``People around here think that's too much,'' said Allen Liddicoat, the Back Creek managing partner who largely designed the rolling, mostly links-style layout.

Maybe it is expensive for golfers from rural New Castle County, about 20 minutes south of Wilmington. But trust me, at that price, for what Back Creek is, Liddicoat won't hear a peep out of Philadelphians.

How to describe Back Creek? Open only a few months, it's really still a work in progress. But so far, so good.

The clubhouse, though temporary, is nothing fancy - a perfectly adequate modular building. Not some trailer, but an actual building. (Note: Other than a soft-drink machine, there is no food service yet, so pack a snack; the snack bar is expected to open within the next couple of weeks.) Because of some quirk of state law, Liddicoat says the permanent clubhouse can't be built for another few years, when better streets are in place to accommodate the increased traffic.

The golf course is another story - a success story.

Built on farmland that was originally owned by the first governor of Delaware, Joshua Clayton, Back Creek is laid out across what is essentially a flat, ordinary piece of real estate. No problem - not even for a developer who had never designed a course.

It's not as if Liddicoat is an egomaniac. It's just that he did the research on what the market would bear in terms of greens fees and decided he was the biggest-name architect he could afford. An avid golfer himself, he embarked on his own education program.

``I read every book on course architecture I could find and attended every seminar I could get to,'' Liddicoat said. Next, he sat down with David Horne of Architerra PC in Allentown, and together they came up with what was both good and possible.

Joe Logan INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
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