If you haven’t been to Hog Neck Golf Course since they reopened on May 8, you have been missing something amazing. The 255-acre municipal course was built in 1976, designed by Lindsay Ervin who thought a golf course should be picturesque, playable, affordable, and profitable. For 20 years during the 70s and 80s, the course was rated in the top 25 public golf courses in the country before the boom of new courses being built in the 90s and early 2000s. Golf Professional and General Manager Rich Setter is bringing the golf course back to its heyday, adding new dining options, leagues for men (including seniors), women, golf lessons, and even a PGA Junior League for children ages eight to 17, as well as summer camps for all ages and golf teams for local high school students.

Setter has been at Hog Neck Golf Course for three years. Prior to coming to Hog Neck, he was the General Manager at both Prospect Bay Country Club and Talbot Country Club. He started playing golf at seven years of age.

“We have been slowly improving the quality of the golf course and the customer service here at Hog Neck. With the COVID-19 pandemic, golf has become the ultimate social distancing sport and we have been flourishing.”

“While we offer a traditional 19-hole Par 72 Championship Course, our 9-hole Executive Course has really been booming because it’s good for beginners and our senior golfers,” he adds.

Hog Neck has also grown its programs for children, unfortunately having to turn children away to its PGA Junior League and summer camps which filled up early. Setter also hosted club golf teams for kids from Talbot and Caroline counties between September and October. The teams are by invite only and practice one to two nights a week with group matches with the Prospect Bay Golf Course and Queenstown Golf Course.

He states, “Golf is an especially good sport for the kids. You can learn life values in golf, like honesty, integrity, and sportsmanship, which can carry over to real life.”

Although the amount of rainfall has challenged Hog Neck’s 10-member grounds crew with cutting the grass this year, according to Setter, the course is in excellent shape and has never looked better.  In addition to the Championship and Executive Courses, Hog Neck offers a large putting green, chipping green complex, and a driving range with both grass and mat hitting areas.

Some of the new initiatives Setter has introduced since his arrival include the Eagle’s Café, which opened in April 2019 and is run by local husband and wife team Jordan and Alice Lloyd. The addition of these local purveyors has enabled Hog Neck to offer an expanded menu which has gained popularity among golfers and non-golfers alike.

Pictured left to right are Rich Setter, Hog Neck Golf Course Pro, and Alice Lloyd, Manager of Eagle’s Café.

Freshly made baked goods from the Tilghman Island Baking Company, including homemade biscuits for the breakfast sandwiches and hot dog rolls for the premium hot dogs, make the breakfast and lunch options special. The Eagle’s Café burgers are a popular item as well and the café may also offer the cheapest draft beers in town at $2.50 each. Golfers have inside and outside seating to enjoy their food and drink purchases. Eagle’s Café closes in mid-November for the season.  The public is welcome at Eagle’s Café whether golfing or not.

The course and equipment have also been upgraded with new bunkers and cart paths on the Executive Course, as well as new golf carts with GPS, which provide details of the course, including the distances to each hole. The Hog Neck Golf Shop is fully stocked with the latest equipment, fashions, and accessories for the beginner through the experienced golfer. An outdoor pavilion on the grounds is also available to be rented for outings, weddings, luncheons and other events.

Each year, golfers play around 40,000 rounds at Hog Neck Golf Course. While the course normally closes between mid-January through mid-February, Setter states that it is becoming more frequently open those months, weather permitting and conditions permitting.

“Sometimes, it is 70 degrees in January here and people can still come out and play,” he adds.

What Setter enjoys most about being at Hog Neck is getting to know the people who are coming in to play the public course. He adds, “We are seeing new people every day, including players coming from the Western Shore.”

Rich Setter points to historic plaques showing Hog Neck Golf Course’s ranking in the top 25 public golf courses in the 1970s.

Setter says the Executive Course is played first-come-first-served, but golfers can make a tee-time reservation for the 18-Hole Championship Course. Talbot County residents get a discount for fees.

The course is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. until dark. Eagle’s Café is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Golf Leagues play from April through September. The Men’s League plays on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The Women’s Leagues play Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The Senior Men’s League plays on Monday mornings.

Memberships are available for the Championship and Executive Courses, as well as Twilight play.

For further information and for COVID instructions, visit www.hogneck.com or call 410-822-6079.