We welcome readers back for another summer of weekly golf coverage.
A financial boom has emerged at some area courses, including McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links. The Egg Harbor Township facility, which opened in 2002, is on pace to establish all-time record business.
“Golf has come all the way back and then some,” says Tom Sullivan, general manager at McCullough’s. “COVID gave a lift to golf at first last year because it was a sport in which people could play outside in the sun and be safe. It’s a good sport for social distancing, too.
“What also happened was that because people had more time to get out, many players took up the game for the first time, and those who hadn’t played in years came back. I also spoke to some area teaching professionals who say they are instructing more people than ever.”
Beyond that, the sale of golf clubs is up around the country, he says.
McCullough’s plays its part in the surge.
European layoutThe 18-hole, par 71-layout is a unique tribute to famed courses from Ireland, England, Scotland and France.
With water on five holes and the region’s only 100-foot elevation changes, players can enjoy tremendous vistas. The course is challenging, yet forgiving.
McCullough’s has enough yardage to satisfy long-ball hitters from the back tees, yet is short enough for high-handicap players.
There are four tee boxes ranging from 6,535 yards from the tips to 4,962 from the most forward set.
How it playsOver the years, golfers have ranked the 10th and 12th holes, both par 4s, as the most difficult. They are the longest par 4s on the course, requiring a strong tee shot, often a low iron into the green and a good putting performance.
The 10th plays 437 yards from the third set of tees that most people will use. Stay right-center on the fairway on the drive, if possible. Avoid fescue on the left. It is designed after Royal Dornoch Hole 14 in Scotland.
The green is elevated, and the surface slopes left to right. A pin placement on the right side will constitute a tough putting assignment.
There are no bunkers on the 10th, but the combination of length and the sloping green gives the hole character.
The 12th, at 434 yards, contains picturesque beauty with the elevated tee. It is designed to resemble the 13th hole at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. There is a bit of a twist. The hole encourages players to come down the left side of the fairway. Swirling winds near the elevated tee area may at times encourage players to start the ball right and let the winds bring it back left.
But shots can’t go too far right. There is a trap just off the fairway in the landing area.
Along with the challenge, 12 offers an aesthetic view from the tee box.
“It is the highest point in Atlantic County,” Sullivan asserts. “On a clear day you can see the Atlantic City skyline. It’s beautiful.”
The 12th is ranked as the toughest on the course and the 10th is third.
More than golfThe premises also contain Vagabond Kitchen & Tap House, a sports-bar located right inside the front door.
Vagabond, which has another location in Atlantic City, offers large-screen televisions, gastropub style food and craft beers, wines, ample seating and an open feel. It creates a post-golf-round component besides being an excellent venue in its own rite.
The entrance space leads into a large indoor restaurant area and an outdoor deck overlooking the 18th hole.
Tap-ins:Egg Harbor Township residents obtain a discount for greens fees. Just show a driver’s license. Discount can be substantial at certain times.
One of the best deals is a package of 10 rounds for $399, including cart. It can be redeemed before 8 a.m. and after noon Mondays to Fridays.
Associate Editor, At The Shore/ACWeekly