Blue Heron Pines Golf Club remains at the forefront of innovation. The Galloway Township course, which launched the area's high-end daily-fee revolution two decades ago by giving players a single-day country-club experience, has attacked the next level of business.
Special events and youth clinics propel new business. In an age when golf alone can't sustain many clubs, Blue Heron is well-positioned to tap into other revenue streams.
"We're a full-service club, integrating golf with weddings, banquets, celebrations and parties," says Will Arabea, general manager of Blue Heron. "We're very proud of everything that is offered here, but we also understand that the golf course is the crown jewel of our operation."
Is it ever. Blue Heron was ranked the 34th top public course in America by GolfWorld Magazine last year.
That's no accident. Blue Heron has fashioned a demanding-but-fair 6,871-yard layout from the back tees and a 6,557-yard layout from the next forward set.
Players shouldn't be intimidated by wooded areas, but strategically placed traps, large bodies of water and quick, undulating greens make Blue Heron a significant test of skills. While it demands precision shots, Blue Heron offers fast-rolling greens and plush fairways that reward good tee shots with excellent fairway lines.
Arabea likes to highlight the miniature back-nine tour - holes 11 to 15 - because of its beauty, difficulty and placement among the course's 150-foot-high pine trees. Hole 11 is a deceiving par 3. It looks simple enough, at 130 yards from the back tees, but a large body of water cuts across just in front of the hole. The water will either gobble up a short shot or intimidate players into overswinging and flying past the hole. Putting for a birdie here requires a near-perfect tee shot.
The 12th, playing at 415 yards from the back and 409 from the next forward tee set, features a string of right-side bunkers that often come into play.
Hole 13 is a sharp dogleg left. Players can cut off some yardage by hitting left, but go a little too far and the second shot will sit behind trees or in a trap, with the green unreachable.
The 14th hole is a fun and long assignment. It is 518 yards from the back and 498 from the next set of tees. It contains a replica of the Hell's Half Acre wasteland at Pine Valley in Clementon. Players will be happy to carry the waste area on their second shot and try putting their third shot on the green.
Blue Heron's toughest par 4 is the 15th. It's an intriguing challenge at 421 yards from the back tees. In order to reach the green in two, players must gamble on the first or second shot. The drive must exceed 230 yards to clear the right-side bunker, which juts well into the fairway. One can play it safe to the left, but the approach must then clear a large body of water. Those who play safe can also try to hit the green in three shots and seek a one-putt for par.
Where: 550 Country Club Drive, Galloway Township
Rates: Mondays to Thursdays: $78 to noon, $68 after noon, $49 after 3 p.m. Fridays to Sundays: $88 before noon, $78 after noon, $59 after 3. Replay rate $38.
Tee times: Recommended, and may be made up to 10 days in advance. Reserve tee times online or by phone.
Amenities: Full-service practice facility, Golf Academy, banquet center hosting up to 250 people.
LPGA tour member and Mays Landing native Joanna Coe works out here to maintain her game. ...
The club has discounts available on its website for those joining the e-mail list.