Bidermann began its golfing life as a 9-hole course, designed in the 1920s by Devereux Emmet, who laid out the fairways across Henry du Pont’s private estate, next to what is now the famous Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
The course remained as the du Pont family’s personal private playground for the best part of forty years until Emily du Pont, Henry’s cousin, made an adjacent parcel of land available, allowing the course to be enlarged to a full 18-hole layout.
Architect Dick Wilson, who also designed the nearby North course at Wilmington Country Club, was tasked with extending the course and it duly opened in 1965 as a "small, intimate club devoted solely to golf".
Right from the outset, there was only one local rule: "the ball must be lifted from any flower bed and dropped no nearer the hole without penalty" and it’s said this remains the only hard and fast rule in force today.
In 1977, Bidermann amalgamated with the Vicmead Hunt Club to form one sporting club, operating from two separate clubhouses. Today, the membership numbers around three hundred so tee times are not required for a course that sees only around 8,000 rounds played on it annually.
Everything about Bidermann is understated, from the small and simple scorecards to the lack of signage out on the course – and why should there be any need for markings when the members know where they’re going anyway?
Bidermann merits a position at or near the very top of golf options in Delaware from the various courses I've played in the State.
The 1965 layout from the esteemed architect Dick Wilson epitomizes the grand bold style favored with many of his designs.
Biermann is not as meritorious in the same manner as his other top tier layouts such as NCR / South, Meadowbrook or Pine Tree. However, the layout is a good test of golf and one that's held up quite well over the years.
The design accentuates the clear Wilson fingerprints -- grandiose bunkering in concert with extremely large tumbling greens providing sufficient internal movements for a wide range of pin locations.
Bidermann fortunately is not choked with the invasive cluttering of trees. The scale of the property is in clear focus and when the wind arises can add to the challenge.
The design is helped sufficient land movement -- especially on the approaches as a few of the holes necessitate well-executed approaches to elevated targets.
The main downside is fairway bunkers positioned for golf balls and clubs from years back. Bidermann would be helped considerably if a number of the fairway bunkers were situated so that carries would be in the range of 290-300 yards. Yes, a number of them still have relevance but for stronger players the wherewithal to take extended liberties is not held in check accordingly.
The turf quality is exceptional, and the greens can rollout quite well so having a dependable putting stroke is essential.
The quartet of par-3 holes is also quite good -- with the likes of the uphill 11th and longish downhill 16th leading the way.
The routing demonstrates ingenuity-- constant movements and forcing player to make timely adjustments when called upon.
Biderman could gain a good bit more with a thoughtful updating by an architect who thoroughly understands the talents Wilson possessed.