The Links at St. Anne’s, a dozen years in the making, is scheduled to open its first 12 holes this June. The original developers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008. Current owner Buddy Reed purchased the property in November 2018 and began the finishing touches.
The 13-year wait for a tee time is almost over at a public golf course in Middletown, Del., with the anticipated opening in the summer of 2019 of a new layout featuring rolling, Scotland-like hills, eight different water features and stunning views, the Delaware Business Times (DBT) reported.
The Links at St. Anne’s, an Alan Liddicoat-designed course that’s been on the drawing board since 2006, will open with 12 holes by the end of June, according to the Business Times’ report. The course will add four more holes by the end of July and two more by the fall. In the meantime, construction has begun on a pool house and family-friendly restaurant/pub next to the clubhouse.
The cost of getting the course ready for prime time will exceed $2 million, the Business Times reported.
“Every time I come here, it’s even better than I thought it would be. It’s going to be special,” said Buddy Reed, one of the founding partners of Fieldstone Golf Club in Wilmington, Del., and more recently the man behind the resurrection of Back Creek Golf Club in Middletown.
The course, formerly known as St. Anne’s and The Levels Course, has taken a tortured path to its current status, the Business Times reported. Reed purchased the property in November and found that the course had been framed out, with 11 completed holes, but had deteriorated after years of neglect. High-end homes border just eight holes of the course, and new construction is expected to start soon on a new phase.
“We’ll be developing our business plan over the summer, based on how the course plays,” Reed said. Some special features, he added, will include having a bagpiper on the property on Fridays, and offering strategically placed Adirondack chairs to highlight the views.
“Unlike many courses where the 1st, 9th, 10th, and 18th holes start or end near the clubhouse, this one is designed to be a ‘walking course where you just keep going,’ ” Reed added.
The two courses — Back Creek and The Links at St. Anne’s — are very different, but there will be some opportunities to leverage the strengths of both, Back Creek Managing Partner Frank Horton told the Business Times. Where the new course has the pool and banquet facilities, Back Creek has a high-end restaurant.
As for the courses themselves, Back Creek has more forgiving, spacious fairways that allow for more mistakes off the tee, while The Links at St. Anne’s will be more challenging because of the water. The Links at St. Anne’s will also likely carry a higher greens fee, the Business Times reported.
“Back Creek was closed to the public last year for 40 days because of different events,” said Horton. “If we had had somewhere to move those events elsewhere, it would have meant an additional $200,000 in revenue.”
Thanks to the weather so far this year, however, Horton said the course developers are now “way ahead of schedule,” the Business Times reported. Standing in the 200-person clubhouse ballroom overlooking four brownish holes in different stages of completion in mid-March, he confidently declared, “The first overnight low of 50 degrees plus, all of this will change color.”
Added Liddicoat: “It’s hard to see it now, but the beauty may exceed the golf, which is going to be tremendous. Between the colors, the shadows, the water, and the views, my goal—after I laid out the houses—was how could I make it beautiful and artistic, rather than just a golf course.”
The course’s USGA rating is not yet finalized, but early indications are that it will rank near the top of the DBT’s annual Golf Course ranking in its Book of Lists, the Business Times reported.
The club was last in the news in August 2008 when Saint Annes Club LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Business Times reported. At the time the club consisted of The Estates at Saint Annes, 465 luxury homes, and the 193-acre golf course that had not yet been started.