Shore golf courses are jammed with summer visitors, making access more difficult for locals. Think about an inland road trip somewhere. It won’t always solve the accessibility problem, but it will at least expand one’s horizons.
That could lead players to Pinelands Golf Club on the outskirts of Hammonton, an energetic club on the move.
Last year, it enticed the services of renowned architect Steven Kay, whose work on Blue Peron Pines in Egg Harbor City and McCullough’s in Egg Harbor Township, among others, is well-respected.
Pinelands is also turning its Cart Barn area into an event center for weddings this September. It is adding chefs, restaurants and propelling itself into a destination. The club also plans to create a Top Golf-type experience in its driving range area sometime in 2022.
“People who played the course many years ago eventually won’t recognize our place when they drive up,” says Brian Bakic, the club’s director of golf. “We are moving toward the upper echelon.”
The overhaul, which accompanied new ownership, included on-course enhancements via the tee boxes, fairways and greens last season. The rough gained attention this year. Among the changes was the removal of trees, enabling better air flow and views to the green.
Pinelands plays 6,281 yards from the back set of four tee boxes, 4,986 yards from the forward set. The course is not long, but it demands accuracy. There are several doglegs and some will encourage players to hit a low iron or 3-wood off the tee, as even a straight shot that goes too far may wander off the fairway into the rough of behind trees.
The course is tight, tree-lined and emphasizes positioning.
“It’s not a banger’s course,” Bakic says. “The course has smaller greens; it was made in the 1960s. You have to keep your ball in play.”
The sixth is an exquisite golf challenge, often awarded by The Press of Atlantic City as one of the premier holes in southern New Jersey.
It is a long par 5, set up for 579 yards from the back tees and played on two levels of terrain.
The first runs more than 400 yards and brings players to the edge of a slope. That, in turn, leads to a drop to a second level across a body of water.
The shot to the green must cross over the water, and where one launches the shot from is important. Ideally, players would like to be near the edge of the slope after two shots and have a clear view of the shot to the green.
If a player is too far back, the approach is a blind shot over the water.
At the edge of the slope, one is about 150 yards from the green and can see the putting surface.
How to play it?Big hitters may simply run out of room to hit two long shots. They may take a fairway wood or hybrid off the tee and accept less yardage than normal in order to get some maneuvering for the second stroke. The good news is that the fairway is wide open.
What happens if the tee shot is flubbed?
“Then you are probably looking at your fourth shot to get over the water,” Bakic says. “At that point, you are hoping for a bogey.”
The green is two-tiered and difficult.
Par is considered an exceptional score on this hole. Bogey is good too.
As difficult as this hole is, the fourth is considered the hardest on the course because it is narrow. It plays 400 yards from the back tees, requiring both distance and accuracy.
Tap-Ins: Greens fees range from $44 to 59, but the club is reaching out with weekdays specials. Rates of $34 apply to police and fire department personnel on Monday, seniors on Tuesday, everybody on Wednesday, and women on Thursday.
Always check with the club before you go because programs change.