A bevy of New Jersey courses will stay open during the winter if the weather permits. Even if some snow does fall, the courses may close but will re-open if Mother Nature cooperates. While your buddies are watching football and professional golf tournaments from some warm weather retreats, you can still be knocking it around at a number of courses.
The Atlantic City area is a very affordable year-round golf destination. It is typically warmer down at the shore as the salt air and milder temperatures allow for more golfing days than in Philadelphia, Northern Jersey and beyond. It’s the same Atlantic City experience at a great rate.
While it is true that courses along the coast usually face less severe winters, especially when it comes to long-lasting snowfall, inland tracks will remain open as long as Old Man Winter doesn’t get too nasty from December through February.
Whether or not a club is open is on a course-by-course or even day-to-day basis. Some may prefer to not deal with slow days caused by cold temperatures, others may choose to open on selected days, and some keep their fairways open throughout the winter, again, as long as the snow or ice doesn’t pile up and stick around for too long.
Here are some courses that will remain open this winter, again weather permitting. Call ahead before visiting a course just to make sure it’s open for business, even if the weather seems favorable.
The Seaview Golf Club (www.StocktonSeaview.com) in Galloway features two championship golf courses–The Bay and Pines courses. The links-style Bay Course hosted the 1942 PGA won by Sam Snead and was designed by Donald Ross.
The Bay Course is loaded with superb holes and, like Atlantic City Country Club, offers cool views of the Atlantic City skyline across the bay. Several of the holes either end or start near the bay or run along it. While not overly long at 6,247 yards from the tips, the course is nonetheless is a good test of course management and proper club selection. Tall fescue grasses line many of the fairways during the warm months and there are ample bunkers and occasional wetlands or water to catch the wayward shot.
The brainchild of the design team of Toomey and Flynn, the Pines Course was carved from woodlands surrounding the resorand features tight fairways and well-protected landing areas. Longer (6,731 yards from the tips) than the Bay Course, the Pines demands precision off the tee and steady approaches to the ample greens. Three of the four par-fives can be reached in two by big hitters, but there are five par-fours–including the monstrous 468-yard 17th–that play over 400 yards from the tips. The back side features three par-threes, including back-to-back holes on 15 and 16, both of which measure well over 200 yards.
Twisted Dune Golf Club ( www.TwistedDune.com) in Egg Harbor is a links-style course that was built in a residential area, but it works well. The course was designed by Archie Struthers in a links style, with the track winding through a “twisted” landscape, and offering dramatic elevation changes and contoured fairways. There are over 100 bunkers on this beast but the fairways are wide and the greens accepting of approach shots.
Shore Gate Golf Club (www.ShoreGateGolf.com) in Oceanview is both interesting and intimidating. The Ron Fream-David Dale creation has deep greenside bunkers capped off by chocolate drop mounding that often presents a somewhat disconcerting scene when standing on the fairways and preparing to hit approach shots.
McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links (www.McCulloughsGolf.com), located in Egg Harbor and designed by noted New Jersey-based golf course architect Stephen Kay, is a tribute to famed European layouts, such as St. Andrew’s, Prestwick, Gleneagles and Turnberry. McCullough’s 16th hole, for instance, is a replica of the “Postage Stamp” par-three hole at Scotland’s Royal Troon. McCullough’s, quite appropriately, presents a decidedly Irish-Scottish feel, with wide open fairways, tricky winds, grass mounds, bunkers, natural waste areas and undulating greens.
The Golf Course at Renault (www.RenaultWinery.com) in Egg Harbor City is a piece of a package that includes the Tuscany Hotel, a winery and the “gourmet” Restaurant at the Renault Winery. The course winds its way through and past grapevines and orchards. The track was designed by Ed Shearon and kept to owner Joseph Milza’s vision of a layout that is challenging for good players but also approachable for visitors of all skill levels.
The Links at Brigantine Beach (www.BrigantineGolf.com) is yet another historic course designed by Wayne Stiles and John Van Kleek, who created some fine courses at the turn of the 20th century. Brigantine has a sense of being a Scottish links layout, with berms, gently rolling fairways that are almost devoid of trees, tall grasses off the fairways, mounds and smallish, tricky greens typical of links courses. Brigantine, opened in 1927, has its own rich golf history. It is said that Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon played at Brigantine to acquire a feel for links courses before setting sail to play in Scotland at the British Open.
Blue Heron Pines Golf Club (www.BlueHeronPines.com) in Cologne is one of Jersey architect Stephen Kay’s best designs. It takes full advantage of the natural beauty of the area’s pinelands and is a pleasing blend of short and long par-fours, solid par-fives–several of which are reachable in two by big boppers–and great par-threes. There are numerous bunkers that come into play both off the tee and on approach shots to the medium-sized greens.
Cape May National Golf Club (www.CPNGC.com) in Erma is one of the most natural golf courses ever built. Nicknamed “The Natural”, the course surrounds a fifty acre private bird sanctuary. Cape May National started a new trend in environmental sensitivity in course design while providing a classic turn of the century golf course that golfers love. In fact, Cape May National goes back to its roots to the late 1800s and its predecessor, Cape May Country Club. The course surrounds one of the largest private bird sanctuaries in the state of New Jersey. When you play you are immersed in natural beauty from the first hoe to the 18th.
Harbor Pines Golf Club ( www.HarborPines.com) in Egg Harbor is a rather open layout that has plenty of water and bunkers. The track feels good and looks pleasing to the eye. Number 12 is one of the most photographed holes in New Jersey and visually a stunner. The tee shot on this 339-yard par-four must clear a large pond and land in a small fairway that sits before the green. The putting surface is protected by bunkers all around and water to the rear. You can make birdie or double bogey here, depending upon your accuracy and length off the tee. It’s an example of a great, short par-four.
Designed by legendary course architect Hal Purdy, Pebble Creek Golf Club (www.PebbleCreekGolf Club.com) in Colts Neck provides golfers with an enjoyable and memorable experience. The unique characteristics and differing landscapes of each hole presents a challenge for accomplished players while remaining player-friendly for beginners. The par-three 188-yard 18th is the easiest hole on the course, giving the players the opportunity to finish strong. The large, undulating green is surrounded by three bunkers that will catch any errant tee shots to the right or left.
LBI National Golf & Resort (www.LBINational.com) in Little Egg Harbor is situated on over 155-acres of meticulously maintained grounds nestled within the pinelands of South Jersey, the newly named LBI National is being re-imagined and revived. On-site amenities include a 31-room inn, a fully equipped conference center, and an on-site banquet room equipped to handle large-scale events. The first hole I a song 565-yardpar-tfive that lets you loosen up with the driver and fairway woods in your hands. The course plays almost 7,000 yards from the tips.
Ron Jaworski Golf’s (www.RonJaworskiGolf.com) impressive portfolio of public daily fee courses includes New Jersey properties Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Galloway, Valleybrook Country Club in Blackwood, Ramblewood Country Club in Mount Laurel, Running Deer Golf Club in Pittsgrove, RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Club in West Deptford and Downington Country Club in Downington, Pennsylvania.
Blue Heron Pine’s signature hole is its 15th. You need to hit a solid tee shot to carry the waste area and if you attempt to keep your tee shot up the left side there is a possibility it could roll out into the pond that runs up the left side of the fairway and fronts the left portion of the green. If you hit a solid tee shot to the middle of the fairway it will leave you with a mid to short iron into a large green. Aim for the middle of the green and walk away with away a par after two solid putts.
Downingtown CC boasts immaculate course conditions and a welcoming, friendly staff that provides top level customer service that makes all RJG courses places to be. The course has been very busy this year. Downingtown draws from Chester, Bucks, and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania and has recently been seeing more people coming from Philadelphia, and South Jersey. Number nine on the Red Course is Ramblewood Country Club’s signature hole. The par-three has a beautiful backdrop and there are bunkers short and long left. A solid tee shot leaves a fair chance for birdie to wrap up the Red Course.
At RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Club, course conditions have been outstanding the last two years, a testament to the club’s grounds staff and their hard work and dedication to the property. The signature hole here is number 17. A low-flighted shot is necessary when playing from an elevated tee box right next to the Delaware River, as the wind is always a major factor. Trajectory is everything when playing this short but tricky par-three.
Running Deer Golf Club is a course that will test every level of golfer. The course provides a truly unique experience where membership is accessible to all while retaining a private club feel. A classic risk-reward signature hole is the third, a short par-four that can play between 300 to 390 yards, depending on which tee box you play. Your tee shot is safe playing to the right and safely played with a shot that will put you between 100 to 150 yards out. An aggressive line with driver can reward you with a shorter approach.
Valleybrook Country Club has expanded the tee boxes on holes one and 10 and there was a redesign of number nine’s green complex. The club also has a new cart fleet. The par-five ninth is one the course’s signature hole. It presents options of the tee to an undulating fairway. If you find the fairway, your second shot is an intimidating one. At the par-three 12th, you must carry your tee shot to the center of the green to avoid a false front.