There are two ways to enjoy Shore Gate Golf Club.
One is to savor the remote feeling of playing golf where there are no houses.
“Shore Gate is going to challenge every aspect of your golf game,” says Gregg Johnson, the club’s general manager. “There is a lot of sand, a lot of water, and greens are very undulated. It’s not only a great challenge, but there are no houses on the golf course. You feel like you are in the middle of nowhere when you are out there.”
The other? Try taming the monster.
Shore Gate has an exquisite hole, the 648-yard, par-5 9th. It has long brought notoriety to the Ocean View facility, especially among tourists from the Philadelphia area. It’s Lucy the Elephant, in golf terms.
Visitors come, they play the monster and maybe survive. They look forward to returning and taking another crack at one of the area’s toughest holes.
It’s a South Jersey golf hole that makes participants feel like they played on the PGA tour.
“It’s a fantastic hole, and people love the challenge of it,” Johnson says. “The best way to play this hole is to go down the right side all the way around. No matter how you do so, it’s still a long iron or wood into the green.”
Those who have birdied the hole have played three woods to the green. That’s a mammoth accomplishment, because hitting two good wood shots on a hole is exceptional. Three? Extraordinary.
For most people, three strong wood shots to the green are not likely. But even four shots to the green and a two-putt is an excellent bogey.
Here’s another fun — and tough — one: The 13th is a par-5 with a double fairway. It’s a dogleg left guarded by waste areas on the left and lakes on the right.
A 45 -yard patch of rough cuts across the fairway, so the drive must be short of that. The ideal second shot crosses the patch and favors the right side of the fairway. That avoids waste areas and traps on the left, but you want to hit your approach shot to the middle of the green, because if you miss to the right, you’ll be faced with a waste area that is 14 feet deep in some spots.
What about the best birdie opportunity? That’s the 14th, which plays 112 from the mid-set of five tees.
It’s the shortest hole on the golf course. The smallest green on the course is highly protected with deep bunkers. An environmentally protected area runs along the left side of the green and is marked as a lateral hazard. Make sure you pull the right club out of the bag and aim for the center of the green, Johnson says.
A popular hole is the 2nd, a par-4 with lakes that flank the left side of the hole. A well-placed tee shot over the first lake must stay to the right to avoid the second lake. A well-placed drive will leave you with an approach of about 170 yards to a well-guarded green.
Since its inception in 2002, Shore Gate has been a real find.
Each hole features five sets of tee markers, with total yardage ranging from 7,227 to 5,284 yards.
There are 88 bunkers, seven ponds and lakes.
Shore Gate is positioned to embrace the recent nine-hole trend favored by many golfers. Afternoon rates of $40 for nine holes usually begin around 1 p.m. and are a fraction of the full greens fees.
“People love to go to the beach in the morning and then come out there in the afternoon to play a few holes,” Johnson says. “It’s great for them because they can combine both activities and can some golf in while there is still enough light for them.”
Throughout July and August, players can probably squeeze in nine holes even if they start around 5 p.m.