Southern Delaware Golf Club opens in Milford

Terry RogersHeadlines, Milford Headline Story, Sports

By Dave McCallum

Golfers putting on the new Southern Delaware Golf Club

It had been nearly 3-1/2 years since the last drive was hit on the first tee and the final putt was sunk at the old Rookery North golf course in Milford. Milford-area golfers’ agonizing wait to strike another tee shot and sink another putt ended at 7:36 a.m. May 1 (Wednesday) when co-owner Matt Johnson of the new Southern Delaware Golf Club struck the first tee ball on the new, but old course.

“I think it’s great to be 14 months into a total renovation,” the younger Johnson said. “The fairways are starting to pop and the greens are looking excellent. We planted the greens nine months ago, but they are still very young.”

Johnson, along with his father Tim, spearheaded the effort to bring the former Shawnee Country Club/Rookery North layout back. He said it is hard to put a number on how many workers and manhours it has taken to get the course to this stage which is only in its infancy when one considers the different crews that have been involved in the reboot.

Chief among those crews is one led by Bill Kupfer, the course’s superintendent and head of agronomy.

“Bill has a crew of 10 or 12 guys that have been out here working for the last 14 months,” Matt Johnson said. “Of course, you have the pro shop staff who are led by our director of golf Stewart Fisher and his assistant Caden (Stanley) who have been working around the clock for the last couple of months getting everything dialed in, making sure the pro shop looks great and the course looks great.”

Owner Matt Johnson enjoys the new golf course in Milford

As for Fisher, he could not be happier with how opening day and, for that matter, the first five days have gone for a course that actually dates back to 1958 when it was only a nine-hole layout.

Although Mother Nature put a damper on things Saturday with off-and-on rain showers, those water droplets were not enough to wipe the smile off golfers’ faces as they were ready to get back on the course which measures 6,324 yards from the back or “blue” tees, and 5,145 yards from the red tees.

“Expectations were a little bit of organized chaos just to get golfers on the course, what their expectations were,” he said. “We redid the parking lot and the flow of traffic and educating everyone on the bag drop and how that’s going to work and our greeters and starters. It was a little bit of a learning curve for everyone, golfers and our staff, but everything went really well. We’re very excited to see golfers on the course again.

“They (golfers) were just very happy to see the course again. I heard the comment several times throughout the day, ‘I thought this place was never going to be a golf course again and I’m so glad that it is and I’m ready to get back out there.’”

Fisher said one of the neatest things that he’s heard was from golfers that knew the course as Shawnee and Rookery North liked the layout and they’re very happy to see the course stay similar in that respect as well as the green renovations, bunkers, etc.

“The overwhelming response has been that the course looks great and that they can see all the hard work and time that has gone into making this happen, and we (golfers) can also see the vision into what you want the course to become in the future,” Fisher said. “I’m very happy with how things have gone with all the work that Bill (Kupfer) and his staff have done as well as my inside and out staff. Everyone has done a great job.”

As for future plans, there are plenty of things golfers and non-golfers can expect, he said. Those include renovations to expanding the driving range, along with moving the temporary putting green from its current location to just across the cart path near the 10th tee. There are plans for a chipping area, but only if at least three major criteria are met – the configuration of the new putting green as well as the proximity of the 10th tee and 18th green—the last two to keep golfers’ safety in mind.

In addition, there will be an actual 19th hole on the back of the property so as improvements are continued to be made golfers will still be able to play 18 holes if work needs to be done on one of the current holes. The 19th hole will be a short par-four or long par-three, he said. Also, there will be weekly leagues starting in June ­– a 9-hole men’s league will be on Wednesdays with a 5 p.m. shotgun start. The ladies’ league will be either Monday or Tuesday evenings. The specific day and time are yet to be determined.

For those who love pickleball, work continues inside the fenced-in area of the parking lot. Fisher said the completion date is to be determined, but the club will keep the public informed when the courts will be open and how to make reservations.

Those wishing to make golf tee times can do so either by calling the pro shop at 302-491-7933, stopping by in person or doing so online at Folks can also keep up with other club activities on the website.


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