Hit the Links

Fore! At Wicomico Shores Golf Course, they’re playing through the pandemic

Writer: Mike Fagnano
 
It began nearly a half century ago as a vision of a future where vacationers could captain their boat or fly into the neighborhood airstrip and enjoy their weekend home nestled on the wide and welcoming shores of the Wicomico River.
While that future never came to pass, the Wicomico Shores Golf Course has evolved over time into a community hub that hosts dozens of weddings and charity fundraisers every year. The golf course, restaurant and banquet room, owned by the St. Mary’s County government, hosted nearly 200 events in 2019.
While the year of COVID has eliminated large gatherings like weddings and golf tournaments, Wicomico Shores has met another need: it is one of the few places where small groups can exercise together outdoors. The 18-hole, par-72 golf course covers 145 acres and features generously sized greens allowing for challenging play with ample room to maintain social distance.
 
GO THE DISTANCE
“The golf portion of Wicomico Shores is fully open,” says Arthur Shepherd, director of the St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks Department. “We had a record number of rounds of golf for the fall and winter schedules.”
Former Wicomico Shores golf course manager and current PGA pro Nick Isom concurs: “In terms of golf, ever since the governor gave the go-ahead in May, we saw a big increase in rounds played. We weren’t at max capacity but the number of rounds played really increased. It was one of the few things people could do together safely.”
The golf course has been enhanced through a series of infrastructure investments in the past year.
“We’ve made many improvements to Wicomico Shores in the last year,” Shepherd says. “We’ve finished the golf cart path between holes 2 and 5, and our bunker project has been completed. Our irrigation system has been upgraded and our fairway drainage has been improved. We’ve had historically high rain totals in the past year, and that has showed us our weak spots for drainage. We’ve taken what nature has shown us and really gone to work on making the course better.”
 
MORE THAN GOLF
Beyond the golf course’s 18th hole lies the sprawling and beautiful clubhouse and the Riverview Restaurant. That building, however, is only part of the vision for the facility to fill community needs.
“We have a 9,000-square-foot facility there,” Shepherd says. “It’s great for positive youth development with adult supervision. Our goal is to enhance the neighborhoods it serves in Chaptico and the North County area by facilitating community activities. The vision is to have a park there where we happen to play golf.”
The amenities don’t end at the 18th green, however. The Riverview Restaurant is open daily and provides stunning views of the golf course and Wicomico River. A casual dining restaurant and banquet room, The Riverview is known throughout Southern Maryland for its great food and excellent customer service.
“The menu has been updated, and carry-outs are now a big feature,” Shepherd says. “People are still invited to dine at the restaurant under the state’s social distancing guidelines.”
This summer will see an added benefit.
 
A GETAWAY DAY GEM
“There will also be a soft-serve ice cream shop at the facility that will be back in business when the COVID restrictions are lifted,” Shepherd says.
Golf and dining are not the only activities available at Wicomico Shores. The tennis courts have been renovated and have been updated to include pickleball. Nearby, there is also a playground and a restroom.
The opportunities to enjoy Wicomico Shores do not end at the water’s edge.
“We have an excellent boat landing and a boat ramp at one end of the property,” Shepherd says. Recreational boaters as well as dozens of area kayakers seeking a beautiful day on the water use the boat launch every year.
Golf and dining, open spaces and peaceful waters all combine to make Wicomico Shores one of Southern Maryland’s all-inclusive getaway day gems.
Wicomico Shores Golf Course is at 35794 Aviation Yacht Club Road in Mechanicsville.
For more information, call 301-884-4601 or go to StMarysMD.com/Recreate/GolfCourse.