Restaurants offer sample menus from different countries, such as Tour of Italy, etc. McCullough's Emerald Golf Links presents the sporting equivalent - a tour of Scotland, golf's birthplace.
Several holes from this Egg Harbor Township course are replicas of famed Scottish layouts such as St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Prestwick, Gleneagles and Turnberry. Sample holes from courses in Ireland and England also show up here.
Built on a former landfill in June 2002, McCullough's represents a neat visual reversal for township residents, transitioning from a former eyesore to a pleasing, panoramic, golf course. McCullough's has sufficient length - nearly 6,600 yards from the back tees, more than 6,100 from the next set - and substantial elevation. The natural waste hazards and paralyzing rough offset the course's wide, generous fairways.
Just make sure you hit them. The rough is a quagmire of fescue grass, tall enough to turn bad tee shots into a horror movie.
"The key to playing here really is course management," says Tom Sullivan, general manager at McCullough's. "You feel like you can aim your shot on this course, but the tall fescue is difficult. It's knee deep to just above the middle of your thigh. If you go in there, one, you are lucky to find your ball; two, if you do find it, advancing the ball is now the biggest challenge. Maybe you will just have to wedge the ball out to the fairway and sacrifice one shot."
That's better than trying to whack one's way out and having a bad hole that ruins the round.
Built on the existing landfill by renowned architect Steven Kay, the course reflects its natural factors. The elevation, part of the natural landscape, becomes a design plus. The 11th hole, for instance, requires a blind uphill tee shot, with recommendations to aim just left of the cell phone tower.
An opposite situation occurs on the 18th, which is elevated 100 feet.
"You are hitting down to the fairway," Sullivan says. "There is a spectacular view with the water to the right and bunkers on the left side. It's a fun way to end the round, definitely not the kind of hole that's going to kill you."
No, that's the seventh, a multiple-option hole designed in tribute to Alister MacKenzie, who built Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. MacKenzie once said the design of this hole spearheaded his career.
The hole ranges from 380 to 480 yards depending upon how it's played. It has a unique, 160-yard island fairway, surrounded by monstrous traps, on the left side. Reaching that fairway or hitting it down the middle over the fairway bunkers ensures a reasonable chance to reach the green in two shots. A third option, golf's version of punting, is to hit to a wide right-side fairway. This play guarantees a comfortable second shot but almost no chance for par.
McCullough's Emerald Golf Links
3016 Ocean Heights Road, Egg Harbor Township
Tee times: Can be booked 14 days out online, 10 days out by phone.
Rates: For township residents- Monday to Thursday, $41; Friday to Sunday, $61. For non-township residents- Monday to Thursday, $69; Friday to Sunday, $79. Bring a driver's license for residency verification.
Discounts: Varied for casino employees, $10 off for non-residents who sign up for free rewards card.
Amenities: Pro shop, banquet facility, grille, lessons for children younger than 17.