Picture Harbor Pines Golf Club as an upscale restaurant, golf style. Lush manicured fairways, fast greens, sculpted sand traps and country-club amenities come with price tags ranging from $79 to $115. Whether you're a tourist in town for a visit or a local looking to try something new, the fee structure targets those looking to treat themselves.
Yet there is a better scenario for anyone looking to get more bang for their buck. The Twilight Club membership of $395 for 10 rounds (plus $20 for a cart per round) makes the average greens fees $60 after 12:30 p.m.
The course, with five tee boxes, plays 6,827 and 6,503 yards. Its design underscores the subtle financial concept that players don't wish to pay high fees and then score badly. As a result, while the course looks upscale, it is not loaded with punitive conditions such as fairway traps or water in the landing area.
"You hear about courses with challenging and difficult layouts," says Bradford Bean, the general manager and PGA director of golf for this Egg Harbor Township facility. "We are different in the sense that everything on our course is right in front of you. There is no trickery, no tomfoolery. For average golfers, it lets them have a fun, enjoyable round. You are not losing 14 balls. We have nice, open fairways, we keep our rough to two inches and the greens are quick, but not too fast."
The seventh hole's layout is representative of the course. It's a par 5 running 526 and 502 yards, respectively, from the two back tee boxes. The hazards, two significant bodies of water, are far enough to the right to be out of play. So should the trees on the left.
A straight drive, or a long one delivered left-center, will be ideal. The second shot involves positioning for most players. The green meanders to the right, so the second stroke will be best situated on the left side. A long trap, called Sand Creek, creates the essence of the hole. It stretches across and guards the entire green, eliminating the chip-and-run option.
Going for the green in two? You must clear this imposing landmark, often from more than 240 yards out. Playing it safe? Just lie up and chip over the Sand Creek onto the two-tiered green.
For conservative players, it is an excellent opportunity for par. For aggressive golfers, it holds the allure of a birdie and the risk of a bogey.
The 12th hole is a fun, 339-yard par 4 that looks easy. Except for those who try to avoid the big left-side lake and slice their drive onto nearby Steelmanville Road.
The 18th is a symbol of marketing, as well as golf. This birdie hole measures 487 and 479 yards from the back markers. This is reward without the risk. A strong drive down the left side enables players to hit all they can to reach an elevated green that is not well-guarded.
Many courses save their hardest task for the final hole. Harbor Pines wants players to leave on a high note, and many do.
500 St. Andrews Drive, Egg Harbor Township
Greens Fees: $89 Monday to Thursday, $115 on weekends. Early bird specials often cost $79. Call for more information.
Tee Times: Available up to 14 days in advance for general public, 30 for associate members
Amenities: Driving range, putting greens, clubhouse that also hosts weddings, holiday and meetings. Approximate capacity, 250 people.