Ever play a par 6? It's nearly impossible, because few courses in the Northeast have such a distinction. But one of them is right here.
Last fall, Egg Harbor Township's Green Tree Golf Course took the longest hole on its layout and stretched it. The third hole now plays 676 yards, producing both a novelty and a practical benefit for players - it may actually speed up play by removing a water hazard.
"Before, this was a 575-yard par 5 with a creek that came into play across the fairway," says John C. Hammer, general manager and head PGA pro at Green Tree. "You needed 230 yards to carry it. By backing the hole up, we made it a lot more playable."
Golfers no longer have to worry about hitting a dead straight drive, only to roll into the water. Two shots can carry the creek, a third can place players inside the dogleg leading to the hole and a fourth can reach the green. The hole's mammoth length contrasts sharply with the short, but fun nature of the 5,574 yard layout. (The front nine actually plays a respectable 3,015 yards from the back tees.)
"Every county needs a course like this," says Hammer, who has directed military-base courses around the country and was head pro at nearby Ballamor when it was private. "Most people learn the game on courses that are shorter and more friendly. The average golfer can certainly appreciate a course like this one."
So can a budget-conscious player. Green Tree only costs $15 to walk and $29 to ride for county residents once they purchase a card for $14. Non-residents usually add $5 more. A summer moonlight rate of $10 to walk and $15 to ride starts at 5 p.m. for county residents.
"We want you to feel that the course was fabulous for the money and that this is one of the best times you ever had for your $25," Hammer says. "These days, people really want to feel like they received a great deal for their money. We give them that."
The course length boosts player confidence, but challenges do exist. Hammer changed the first hole from a 440-yard par 4 to a 465-yard par 5. It is still a sharp dogleg right. The course lineup thus features an opening par 5, second-hole par 4 and third-hole par 6 followed by the shortest hole on the course, the par 3 fourth hole. How short? It's just 105 yards to the green, which slopes to the water in front of it. A player cannot take a full swing.
"It's a touch shot," Hammer says of a hole that looks easy but scores higher. "The last three times I hit the green, my ball ran back into the water. You think it's nice and short, but it can still get you."
If that happens to him, don't feel bad if it happens to you.
Green Tree Golf Course
Where: 1030 Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, Egg Harbor Township
Greens Fees: Atlantic County residents with paid annual identification card offered discounts. Weekdays: $15 resident, $22 non-resident. Weekends and holidays: $18 resident, $27 non-resident. After 2 p.m. weekdays: $13 resident, $19 non-resident; after 11 a.m. weekends: $15 resident, $22 non-resident. After 5 p.m. $10 resident, $15 non-resident. Resident Golf ID card $14. Electric carts $14 per rider, $13 seniors, $7.50 for nine holes and twilight. Pull carts $3.
Tee Times: Up to one week in advance
Amenities: Putting green, full grass driving range (no mats), pro shop, lessons.
Think Green Tree's par 6 is long? The Satsuki Golf Course in Japan has one hole considered the longest in the world. It's a par 7, at 964 yards - talk about needing to be a big hitter. For great lengths stateside, a Michigan course had a hole exceeding 1,000 yards until two years ago.