Twisted dune

The course at Twisted Dune Golf Club provides some tricky pitfalls to dig out of, like this sand trap at Hole 9.

MATTHEW STRABUK

It’s time for Act Two.

For more than 25 years, golf-rich Atlantic and Cape May Counties have established a bevy of elite courses. The trick now is to differentiate themselves with creative pricing and loyalty-breeding specials.

For Egg Harbor Township-based Twisted Dune, numbers reveal a unique history and modern upgrade program.

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Start with 2 million. That’s the amount of cubic yards of earth moved to turn level ground into an elevated taste of the Scottish coast. The result was a course that opened in 2001 with deep ravines, towering grass-covered hills, and more than 100 deep traps and bunkers.(tncms-asset)7522d448-4d29-11e7-bb85-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)

Try 609. The area code? Yes.

“You take six plus zero plus nine and that adds up to 15, as in the 15 percent discount we will give Atlantic and Cape May County residents every Wednesday,” says Jim Endres, the head golf professional at Twisted Dune. “People who come here love the course, we simply want to find innovative ways to drive more of them to us.”

That’s also the motivation for the Tuesday Salute to Service Special, $40 greens fees for first responders after 2 p.m. Then there’s the 12 pack, a discounted group of rounds one can purchase either to lock in a rate for frequent play or distribute as gifts.

Once on the grounds, customers find a course featuring four par 5’s exceeding 500 yards and stiff challenges from every playing level. The back tees of 7,248 yards should only be tried by the lowest handicap golfers. The mid tees of 6,332 yards will be used by the most people, and wind probably adds 300 yards to the course.

“Twisted Dune is unique, not only for what you do see, but also for what you don’t,” Endres says. “Because of the layout, there are so many holes in which you don’t see other people. You have the feeling that you are the only players on the course.”

Twisted Dune demands solid yardage off the tee, but offers an interesting ground feature, Endres indicates. The terrain is set up to allow a good forward roll in the fairway. This extends the length of drives and allows players to aim approach shots short of the green, letting them run on to the putting surface. This becomes a nice feature if a green is surrounded by side bunkers.

Endres considers 14 the most difficult driving hole.Water runs up the right side of this 385-yard par-4 and the fairway sits off on the left. Most tee shots will have to flirt with at least part of the water to reach the fairway. Then pin placement comes into play. If it is front left, “that’s a birdie opportunity,” Endres says. But if it is placed back right, several elements emerge. The second shot must avoid two greenside bunkers and go far enough up the two-tiered green to set up a good putt. “If the pin is back right, you’ll be happy to avoid bogey,” he indicates.

Fourteen is considered the second hardest hole. The fourth is viewed as the most difficult, with good reason. It is a 517-yard par-5 (571 yards from the back tees) which doglegs right and often features a left-to-right crosswind or stiff headwind. Players want to start the tee shot left and let the wind nudge it into the fairway. The hole usually plays about 50 or 60 yards longer than what’s listed because of the breeze. Two fairway bunkers complicate the second shot, forcing players to clear them or find a narrow landing area to the left.(tncms-asset)5d489518-4f88-11e7-bbc5-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)

The approach shot must stay clear of several right-side green bunkers and stay “below the pin.” to enable an uphill putt. You want the uphill putt because the green slopes substantially from back to front. A downhill putt from the back of the green may gather too much speed and fly well past the hole. Consider par an accomplishment and bogey a job well done.

The ninth features a deceiving look at 495 yards from the mid tees. It seems like a par-5 birdie opportunity and is reachable in two if the tee shot has gone about 250 yards. The risk-reward scenario involves a heavy right-to-left slope in the fairway. A substantial body of water juts up against the green on the left side. With fairway woods designed more for power than accuracy, a second shot toward this green may be hard to control.

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