One of the best parts of playing a round of golf at any traditional course is the four or five chances you get at the par-3 holes—that thrill of sticking one close or maybe even a hole in one. At Shamrock Farms Par 3 in Milton, Delaware, you get to enjoy that feeling 18 times.
If Field of Dreams were a movie about a golf course set in a cornfield instead of a baseball diamond, this would be the place. The par-54, 18-hole walking golf course is built on 23 acres. The longest hole is 152 yards, and the shortest 75 yards. Long before pars and birdies ruled, cows and sheep were the main players here, when the property was the Stenger family farm. Then, one day, John Stenger’s son Bob decided to surprise his father with a putting green for his birthday.
With parents who were both schoolteachers, Bob was taught that virtually anything he needed to know could be found in a book. Armed with that knowledge and a familiarity with the farm tractor and other miscellaneous equipment, he began construction on his first golf green. “Why stop there?” posed the senior Stenger.
So Bob added 17 more holes to a course that opened in July 2004. Today he oversees its operation with his wife, Wendy. “Bob and I have enjoyed opening up our backyard to the public so they can play golf,” says Wendy. “We both enjoy playing the game, and many days you’ll see us out on the course with our friends playing just like everyone else. It’s our playground.”
The course reflects the Stengers’ welcoming, laidback vibe—a round of golf costs just $17, and a pull cart will set you back an additional buck. The course is open year-round (weather permitting), and you don’t need tee times. You may not even see Wendy or Bob at the cart pavilion—they’ll wave you on from the front porch of their home adjacent to the course. Just pay them later.
On the course, you’ll join serious golfers tuning up their iron game, families with kids, seniors enjoying the walkable layout, beginners falling in love with game, and maybe even a golf writer and his brother (with a few adult beverages in the mix). “Bob and I have enjoyed watching people who never golfed before become proficient in the game,” Wendy notes. “It’s fun watching people get the golf bug. Our typical golfers are local, hardworking guys and gals. We also get families and retirees and people escaping from the beach traffic.”
A new course challenge was created in 2022: the front and back nine “Birdie Corner”—holes 5, 6 and 7 on the front, and 12, 13 and 14 on the back. Golfers can take advantage of the shortest holes on the course and let the birdies fly.
The biggest draw of the year at Shamrock Farms is a night golfing event held in mid-October. Golfers play in the dark with glowing balls. Glow tubes are the only lights outlining the greens. The event has sold out every year since 2004.
The course reflects the Stengers’ welcoming, laidback vibe—a round of golf costs just $17, and a pull cart will set you back an additional buck. The course is open year round (weather permitting), and you don’t need tee times.
Thankfully for golfers of all kinds, Bob Stenger listened to his dad’s advice and didn’t stop building his golf dream after that first hole 20 years ago. If you build it, they will come.
Related: This Delaware Golf Enthusiast Reflects on His Love of the Sport