A business known for its character often sports one.
Rocky Colasurdo, the self-described “president and janitor” of Frog Rock Golf and Country Club in Hammonton, fashions an intriguing life journey. It spans being a band leader, beauty-shop owner, town council official and emcee for President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Hammonton visit.
Golf wasn’t supposed to fit his plans. Rocky and wife Gloria purchased land in the 1960s to build a home. The property was an abandoned cranberry bog, with possibilities reminding both of the farms they had grown up on.
Instead, it slowly transformed into a golf course. The couple built it as they expanded to 300 acres. The property area includes Kerri Brooke Caterers, named after two of their children.
“Gloria’s money was in there too,” Colasurdo asserts. “We both went broke, initially, building Frog Rock.”
Yet their investment blossomed. Frog Rock grew from a nine-hole facility, opened in 1970, into an 18-hole golf establishment by 1996.
The family’s labor of love produced a course that looks low-key but holds its own, especially from the back tees. Frog Rock has three course lengths ranging from about 4,750 yards to 6,100 yards. Several holes demand long tee shots. Others require accuracy.
“I made this a lifetime job,” says Colasurdo, the energetic 77 year-old owner who puts in double shifts overseeing both the golf and catering operations. “Wherever you walk, I physically crawled,” he adds. “I dug every hole. We are particularly sensitive to the environment. We changed nothing. If there was a pond, we left it. If there was a hill, we left it. Cranberry bog? We left in in place. The original cranberry bog is the 19th hole, used for playoffs.
“We don't spray tees, we don't spray fairways. There is a walking trail for nature lovers, all kinds of wildlife to see here.”
Frog Rock has a far-reaching portfolio in the heart of the Pinelands. The property contains numerous trails and scenery ranging from majestic oaks to wild blueberry bushes. Daily guided tours (pre-registration is suggested) are available and range from bird watches to aerobic hikes. Wednesdays offer a bocce league, open to players of all skill levels, and a golf scramble. Both start at 5:30 p.m. Weddings, banquets and seminars also occur here.
The Frog Rock name was inspired by bull frogs jumping into the ponds on the property.
Colasurdo initially juggled golf with ownership of a beauty shop in Atlantic City and a band he called the Ric Collas trio. Gloria was a teacher. Once golf and the banquet business took over, he built a course friendly to one’s budget. Frog Rock charges $21, with golf cart, seven days a week.
“We are a blue-collar golf course, not a blue-blood course,” he laughs, regarding one of the lowest 18-hole golf rates anywhere.
Some unique challenges exist here. Players like the 13th, a par-3, 185-yard assignment over two bodies of water. Golfers negotiate a pond, landing area, second pond and the green. Good luck on this boom-or-bust hole. This is not listed as one of Frog Rock's toughest hole, but it is scenic and deceptively hard.
“Two years ago, we fished 37,000 balls out of the water on that hole,” Colasurdo chuckles. “That had built up over a number of years.”
Water also comes into play on the second, a 492-yard par-5. The approach shot must clear the water to reach the putting surface. The water threat also lurks on the left side of the 445-yard, par-4 10th, a hole that requires two long and accurate shots to reach the green.
The 16th and 17th are narrow and interesting. They are tree-lined and tight, yet the holes demand distance. The 16th is 433 yards, while the 17th is 483 yards from the tee.
TAP-INS: Colasurdo says Bing Crosby wears a Frog Rock hat on his last album, “Seasons.”
“He just liked our hat. I sent it to him and he often wore it.”
FROG ROCK GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
Where: 420 Boyer Ave., Hammonton
How much: $21 with cart, $15 walking, every day
Tee times: No tee time required.
Amenities: Restaurant open for lunch every day, dinner on Saturdays, pro shop.
More info: 609-561-5504, FrogRockGolf.com