GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The new owners of Blue Heron Pines Golf Club promise faster play and first-rate amenities.
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski bought the 18-hole golf course and banquet center Friday, adding it to his three other public courses in South Jersey.
Ron Jaworski Golf, based in Gloucester Township, purchased the course from Textron Financial Corp., said B.J. Jaworski, regional manager for the golf company. He declined to disclose the purchase price.
Ron Jaworski Golf has owned golf courses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 30 years. The firm sold off eight courses in 1996 before acquiring Running Deer Golf Club in Pittsgrove Township, Salem County; Valley Brook Country Club in Gloucester Township, Camden County; and RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Club in West Deptford Township, Gloucester County, starting in 2000.
“We heard about the bank taking over Blue Heron Pines in November, and it piqued our interest,” said B.J. Jaworski, son of the former football star and NFL commentator.
Blue Heron Pines is a par-72, 18-hole course set against the Pine Barrens and designed by architect Stephen Kay.
“It was the gold standard when it was built in 1992 and it continues to be that,” said Will Arabea, the golf club’s general manager. “It’s a great layout. It’s a park style that gives you a great flavor of the Jersey Shore.”
Blue Heron Pines was named one of the Top 50 public courses nationwide in a 2010 survey published in GolfWorld Magazine. Developer Roger B. Hansen, of Ole Hansen and Sons Inc., opened the course in 1993 on 325 acres, featuring a 17,000-square-foot clubhouse.
Arabea said golf courses and banquet halls have suffered in the recession.
“For golf, it’s been tough with the economy over the years. We’re seeing an uptick now,” he said.
Local courses, including Blue Heron Pines, are working with the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority to market golfing to visitors in this year’s “DO AC!” promotion.
Atlantic County golf features prominently in the authority’s television ads broadcast in New Jersey, New York and Maryland, among other places.
Arabea said South Jersey has more to offer than traditional golf destinations such as Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“We have the dining, the shore, the casinos. We’ve got it all,” he said.
Like Jaworski’s other investments, Blue Heron Pines offers wedding and banquet services.
B.J. Jaworski said his management company’s goal is to improve the speed of play at its courses — a common complaint among golfers. To keep average rounds at just over four hours, the company has eliminated some of the high-grass roughs at its courses so players don’t have to waste time looking for errant balls in the weeds.
“The pace of play will be our No. 1 priority,” he said. “It creates a more enjoyable experience.”
Having played Blue Heron Pines, B.J. Jaworski said he likes that the course is competitive but not impossible for novice players.
“It’s a challenge for any golfer, but it’s fair to the average to below-average golfer,” he said. “Rarely do you have a case where it beats someone up or where it was so hard for them that it became frustrating.”
The company eventually plans to incorporate Blue Heron Pines in its “Eagle pass” promotion that allows golfers to play at all company courses during the year.
Ron Jaworski, who lives in Medford Township, Burlington County, hosted a celebrity golf tournament at Atlantic City Country Club on May 21. He was dropped in February as a Monday Night Football broadcaster but maintains his role as an ESPN analyst.
His son said Atlantic County will see a lot more of his famous father.
“When he purchases a course, he doesn’t just throw money at it. You can be sure he’ll be at Blue Heron a lot, making sure everyone is doing their job and every guest is having a great time,” he said.
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