Area golfers now have another upscale, challenging - and perhaps previously unknown - course to discover.

Ballamor Golf Club, private since its 2001 inception, changed ownership and became public this year. It sports a high-quality look and a serene setting back on English Creek Avenue in Egg Harbor Township.

The latest entry into the area's rich course menu has some unique twists.

"There is no interference from housing of any kind," says Mike Tucci, Ballamor's head professional and general manger. "It's rare that you'll even see other golfers (in part because the course is sectioned off into blocks of holes called "pods"). You will have a peaceful setting and a course in which there is ample room on the fairways and greens that are exceptionally large, impeccably conditioned and fast. I don't think there is a flat putt on the whole golf course."

Ballamor entices long-ball hitters with its yardage and placates novices with big greens while demanding expertise in navigating them. And, in this value-added age, players will find at least a couple ways Ballamor is offering more bang for the buck.

The associate membership beckons anyone with time enough to play at least 10 rounds. For $450, players receive four free rounds and overall rates slashed to $65, even after June 11 brings peak $105 weekend fees.

Then there's the course itself. One can simulate pro-tour conditions by playing from the back tees at 7,098 yards. Most will hit from the blue (6,681) and white (6,267) forward tees, but the back and blue tees bring an intimidating element to the course. Three par 5s are well over 500 yards, and three par 4s are at least 430 yards.

The signature 5th hole will penalize short or errant drives. The green sits a whopping 625 yards from the championship tees, 586 from the blue. Tucci advises players try hitting their drives left-center, placing the second shot safely to the right and firing a mid- to long-iron into the two-tiered green on the approach.

The option to cut off yardage and flirt with the traps on the dog left also exists.

While the 332-yard short par-4 17th appears simple, it has a risk-reward quotient. The drive will be basically for show, allowing most players to hit a short iron into the green. Approach shots require finesse for players to navigate a subtle, two-tiered green.

"If you miss the green at all, the ball rolls downhill," Tucci says. "It's a lot of fun to play because you can hit almost anything off the tee. You might see some players hit shots right to the edge of the green, but if the second shot is off a little, you might have a very difficult hole."

Tap-in

Associate memberships run March 1 to Feb. 28 and also allow golfers to play at Ballamor's sister property, Scotland Run, in Williamstown.