Golf continues to signal a subtly-improving economy. Traffic has increased, especially in tourist areas, for more sustained periods. Slow times have become more sporadic.
Linwood Country Club offers its own version of the philosophy. It reported a membership spike of about 25 percent in the past year, according to club professional Jeff LeFevre. This is the largest membership increase he has seen during his 30-year tenure at the establishment.
Some of that can be attributed to expanded banquet facilities and enhancing members’ involvement with the club. A non-golfing house membership also provides access to these amenities, as does a social event. The public can contract with the club for events such as weddings, baby showers and corporate parties.
A sizeable amount of the increase can also be credited to Linwood’s customer service consistency. LeFevre has long championed the “Cheers” philosophy of everyone knowing members’ names.
The club does not release membership price details, but it targets several budgets and age tiers. A young professional able to play about once a week can carve out a per-round rate similar to public courses. Teens enjoy a special rate and not only have some joined, but many have also later enlisted their parents, LeFevre indicates.
“It is scaled for everyone from a 16-year-old to 76-year-old,” LeFevre laughs.
The course remains solid. Built in 1920, it carries modest yardage but precise placement demands consistent with courses from that time period. Linwood has four sets of tees ranging from 6,349 from the back set to 4,670 at the most forward set. Most players will select the white tees at 6,019 yards.
Precision is vital here — the greens are generally small, requiring an accurate approach shot to hold them. A reward for hitting them, however, is a moderate putting length and fewer three-putts than at many courses. Players won’t find an abundance of wooded areas — good news for a drive that strays from the fairway — but will find some course upgrades gradually applied through the years.
“We have made the course contemporary without changing the fairness of it,” LeFevre says. “You will see more fairway bunkers, but you also will be able to hit out of them. There are some new tees and some interesting blind shots to the green. From 160 yards out and further, you won’t be able to see the green for your approach shot.”
The 11th hole fits this category. It starts from an elevated tee box at 365 yards from the back tees. The player hits uphill for the second shot and can’t see the green, which also breaks sharply from left to right. The approach shot must be started left, aimed off of the green, and angle back onto the putting surface. A moderate sized hole has thus placed a premium on shot-making.
One of LeFevre’s favorites is the seventh, a par-4, listed at 440 yards from the back tees. It contains two forced carries and the drive must clear the meadows and the second must fly over a lake. A drive must land at least 175 yards on the fly to clear the first hurdle.
Nine is a par-5 with a risk-reward scenario. It plays 512 yards from the back tees and 487 from the next forward set. A lake in front of the green sets up an interesting proposition for the second shot. Toy with the eagle possibility by trying to clear it or play up short and try to set up a birdie chance. A shot in the water will destroy the hole on your scorecard and wind also comes into play.
TAP-INS ... Jeff LeFevre Jr. became the assistant pro this year. He is a senior at Rutgers and won the U.S. Kids World Championships when he was 10.