What better place to start our trip than the First State? Many of its wonderful courses (public and private) rank among the nation’s finest. Close enough to the Mason-Dixon Line to be considered a Southern state, Delaware (especially the bottom portion) is typically a few degrees warmer by season than its neighbors to the north, and that can make a big difference during those rounds in the early spring and late fall.
The best golf road trip should start with a challenging round and a great meal—and you’ll get both at Back Creek Golf Club in Middletown. The greens fees are easy on the travel budget, too. There’s a nice bit of history behind this course (the property was owned by Delaware’s first governor, Joshua Clayton), and Back Creek continues to make some history of its own, with national rankings in major golf publications. And the Grille at Back Creek gets a nod for its fine cuisine, garnering raves in various publications.
Since taking over in 2009, Back Creek owner Buddy Reed has rejuvenated the course and its facilities, creating a true links experience—one that’s walkable, as well. You’ll be challenged by the waist-high rough in many spots, along with more than 80 strategically placed bunkers and mounding. The greens will give you all you can handle. Back Creek has reconfigured two of its holes to take advantage of a water feature; Holes 8 and 17 require a tee shot to carry a pond and wide expanses of sand to shallow greens. This is the only place on the course where holes converge, but it works nicely. On our visit, there was a bit of directional confusion, but signage is being upgraded to alleviate this problem.
Greens fee: $40. 101 Back Creek Drive, Middletown, Del., (302) 378-6499, www.backcreekgc.com.