Situated three miles west of Bethany Beach, the 27-hole golf complex at Bear Trap Dunes was designed by former Jack Nicklaus associate, Rick Jacobson. The Grizzly and Black Bear nines form the longest and toughest of the three 18-hole combinations.
My overall rating is referenced to what you find on the golf front when in Delaware. The overall pickings are quite limited although as you travel nearer to Wilmington you do get better terrain. The courses nearer to the Atlantic coast are naturally dead flat and only a few really elicit much interest. Bear Trap Dunes is on that short list.
Credit architect Rick Jacobsen for an engaging layout. Yes, there's plenty of water to circumnavigate and if you play from the appropriate tees the test is a manageable one provided the daily wind pattern is not howling.
The opening two holes are meant to get the golf muscles moving and hardly showcase what lies ahead.
The routing is smartly done given that there's 27 holes all crowding into the tight landscape. Jacobsen did a fine effort in constantly moving holes about -- you can't settle in one type of shot because the movements are constant.
The inward half -- called Grizzly is aptly named. The shotmaking challenges do intensify and the wherewithal to work the ball is called upon at different times on the side. The ending trio caps the round in a splendid manner. The long par-4 16th keeps turning left with a lurking water penalty area awaiting the mishit shot.
The par-3 17th is a quality hole -- the same water penalty area near enough to the green on the left side so the slightest of pulled shots to the left will mean a wet conclusion. The ending par-5 18th provides one last opportunity to end the round on a high note but Jacobsen does not allow birdies to be made without the requisite quality shots played.
The layout gets a good bit of play during the high season months when beachgoers flock to the area. Bear Trap Dunes does not get its rightful amount of attention but for those in the area in need of getting a round in golf in will find their time not wasted.
M. James Ward