Here's a rare pairing, most likely unprecedented in area golf: bocce and birdies.
Mays Landing Country Club combines the opposite realms of golf and bocce ball, the grand, centuries-old bowling-type game from Italy. The club built a set of grass bocce courts residing in a practice area that includes a large, 18-hole putting green, a chipping area, and a bunker. Mays Landing also has a 300-yard driving range off to the left of these amenities. The bocce courts went up in May.
“This is another way to bring people to the club and for them to enjoy themselves either separately from golf or tie it in before or after their round,” says William Green, the corporate director of operations for Mays Landing, which sports a new ownership group in Green Valley Destinations and Resorts.
“We knew that this course has a nice history, dating back to the 1960's and we thought if we came in and gave it some TLC that we could not only appeal to new people but bring back those who had left.”
Green's background is in the hospitality industry, and the club aggressively pursues new marketing avenues. While greens fees usually peak at $74, Mays Landing has unveiled several weekday specials to attract groups. First responders, veterans and union members obtain varied special-rate periods of $25. Call to inquire.
The public can get greens fees of $25 after 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. And anyone can purchase a $325 weekday membership that guarantees $25 green fees in what club pro Billy Papa calls “the greatest golf bargain ever.” It runs from Jan. 1to Dec. 31.
Papa and fellow pro Ben Thomas periodically post “Tip of the Day” videos on the club's Facebook site. A recent version featured playing out of the sand trap.
The course remains consistent in its layout. Constructed before the target-golf days of fairway traps and approach shots that must carry water, Mays Landing demands length, precision and accuracy. In return, it offers a fair chance to score well.
The 17th is a difficult par-4 measuring 405 yards from the mid tees. The hole is straight, long and challenging. It usually takes a long drive and low iron, or hybrid, to reach a well-guarded putting surface. Water runs a good portion of the right side. Out of bounds lurks on the left. Power, precision and a good putting blade are required for a good score on this hole. Birdies are rare. Par is an excellent performance.
While 17 is considered the toughest hole, Mays Landing presents some stiff challenges on the front side too.
The sixth is a par-3 ranging from 220 yards on the back tees to 123 yards from the most forward set. This is a significant yardage spread on a par-3 and illustrates a wide range of club-selection options. Two creeks run across the fairway. A tree and sand trap guard the left-side green. Water is off to the right. Thick grass and a wooded area sits behind the green. Players can overshoot the green as they adjust for a long hole that runs slightly uphill toward the putting surface. The green entrance is a funnel. Pay close attention to the flag position on this hole. It is better to be putting uphill toward the hole. Downhill putts can become nightmares, with balls rolling off the green.
Eight is a formidable par 5 at 527 yards from the mid tee set. Thick woods mark the right and left sides and the terrain tilts sharply right to left. It is not uncommon for shots to land in the left fairway, presumably safe, and then roll into the woods. The green is large, elevated and guarded. Shot placement is important on this hole.
TAP-INS: For those who have not played here in awhile, the hole numbers have changed. The front and back nines were flip-flopped to accommodate changes to the grounds.