Rebranding is synonymous with golf. Most often, it occurs with the player tweaking a swing. Yet sometimes, it's a golf club adjusting its personality.
Ballamor Golf Club, in Egg Harbor Township, provides a perfect example.
The club changed from a private course to a high-end, daily-fee public facility last year. Its greens fees in the $95 range reflect the philosophy of giving people the country-club experience for one day.
"This was a private club for nine years by design, but that's not the only formula for success," says Mike Tucci, the general manager and head golf professional for the English Creek Road facility. "Bringing in the public is the only way to survive these days, and we had a substantial jump in business last year by going that route.
"Sure, we still have local people who don't realize we are public or that we are even here, but that will improve over time."
Ballamor offers the high quality and fair give-and-take one would expect from a course in this price range. Players experience a long, demanding 7,098-yard layout from the back tees, yet the course has wide fairways to hold shots. The greens yield few flat putts and often sport two tiers, but they are large and not overly guarded by traps.
Tucci favors the ninth hole, a difficult 466-yard par 4. The drive must clear a pond that sits 200 yards out from the back tees. It takes a big tee shot and a low iron or fairway wood to reach the green in two shots. Pin placements are usually dead center or tucked in the back right-hand side, often leading players to try for the front of the green and putting uphill.
"The accuracy of the second shot is the key to the hole," Tucci says. "You not only need two long shots, but then you have to account for the fairway sloping from left to right, avoid the bunkers and when you get to the green, you won't have an easy putt."
This hole is ranked third-hardest on the course, but Tucci considers it more difficult than the fifth, which is rated as the No. 1 handicap hole. The fifth is no slouch. It is a 625-yard monster from the back tees, 586 from the next-forward set. The double-dog leg requires a drive of about 270 yards to clearly set up the second shot. Players often try to hit a functional shot to the left side, setting up a high iron onto the green.
No matter how far one hits the ball, this green can't be reached in two strokes. The key to this hole is using the second shot as a positioning move for the third stroke to a two-tiered green well-guarded by bunkers. The outcome of the third shot will determine one's success here.
There are no short holes on this course from the back tees. The long yardage of the course will heavily penalize short or errant shots.
A tip for readers who readers who don't mind driving: Membership at Ballamor enables discounts here and at Scotland Run, its sister property in Williamstown ... Scotland Run is broken up into three distinct mini-courses: six holes are tree-lined, six have the Links feel with mounds and fescue, and six deal directly with the quarry. Players will hit shots over a big pit in the quarry section, for example.
Ballamor Golf Club
Where: 6071 English Creek Ave., Egg Harbor Township
Rates: $95 Mondays to Thursdays, $105 Fridays to Sundays, $89 after noon on weekends. Midweek rates change to $89 Sept. 12.
Tee Times: Accepted up to one month in advance for members, seven days for the public.
Amenities: Putting green, driving range, chipping green, bunkers in practice area, full-service clubhouse.