Avalon Country Club

ATS/Golf/Avalon Country Club

Kristian Gonyea

It’s time to “putt out.” A ninth season of chronicling area golf courses weekly from Memorial Day through September for At The Shore hits twilight for me.

This year-end column allows one last profile for some lesser-known courses and traditional stalwarts throughout our readership area. They could not all be highlighted this year, yet each are worth a fall excursion.

Putting in Pittsgrove

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Start at Centerton in Pittsgrove Township, a few miles west of Vineland. Rates are exceptionally good, dropping to the $25 range weekdays and management is progressive.

“Mention the Press of Atlantic City (or At The Shore) and we’ll take 20 percent off the going rate,” manager Al Turse says of a limited-time offer. “We’ll be happy to see more people from your area come here.”

Centerton is a fun, yet challenging layout. It won’t be burdensome regarding yardage, but good scores must be earned.

The fourth is a rare double dog-leg right, a par-5 at roughly 450 yards from the midset of three tees. The drive and second shot must be placed left because a large tree occupies the right side about 100 yards from the green. Key to this hole is steering the second shot to the left side.

Sixteen is considered the toughest hole on the course. It is a slight dogleg left, a long par 4 at 400 yards from the mid tees and it plays to a slightly elevated, long green. If the pin is placed far left, one has a tight landing area on the left side and may opt to play straight. That could also leave a putt of nearly 100 feet from the right edge.

White hot in Newfield

Swing east to Newfield to catch up with White Oaks and its par 71, 6,240-yard, 18-hole layout. The course features dramatically tall oak trees that line and separate the holes. The natural sloping of the layout is emphasized by two signature holes. The par 5, seventh measures a whopping 600 yards from the back tees and the par 4 ninth forces a second shot over water to a double green. And then there’s 17, a par-3 perhaps in name only.

This features one of the rarest of challenges, a probable fairway wood, driver or hybrid off the tee. It plays about 220 yards from the mid tees, too long for most low-iron golfers.

The terrain starts uphill and then slopes down toward the green. A bunker on the left and right side of the green narrows the landing area. Many players observe the irony of needing to hit an accurate shot with the least accurate club in their bag.

Length also plays prominently on the seventh, a 540-yard challenge from the mid tees. This par-5, dogleg right encourages a long drive down the left side, a second shot left to obtain position and a third stroke into the putting surface. Aggressive players can flirt with reaching in two, but there’s probably more risk, with trees and waste areas here, than reward.

White Oaks offers some discounts, ranging from Senior rates on Mondays to Why Not Wednesdays, an excellent deal at $35 all day in late September. Rates could drop by the end of the season, so inquire.

Avalon Golf Club — Same course, new amenities

Avalon Golf Club in Cape May Court House was built in the 1970s and reflects its era. The course is a fair challenge, slightly easier than some other establishments if one hits the ball straight. Avalon does not have the target golf (like hitting over traps to greens) of courses built later but still requires good shots to score well. It measures from 6325 to 4924 yards in the tee boxes. Players face narrow fairways, an abundance of water and wind.

This is an excellent time for locals to play the course. Gone is the summer traffic that inundates the facility. Seventeen, a picturesque par-3 from an elevated tee, packs one of the nicest course views.

Rates will soon drop. After Columbus Day, they range from $49 to $34 on week days, $54 to $39 on weekends and Wednesdays feature a $35 greens fee, all day.

The course unveiled a new twist during the summer. It added a new outside deck bar with food and beverage, offering patrons a chance a chance to gather before or after the round.

TAP-INS:

Some fall guides: To complete an 18-hole round before darkness ensues, subtract about four hours from scheduled sunset and make that your latest tee time. Figure about 2:30 p.m for October and probably 2 p.m in November. It doesn’t hurt to bring more golf balls with you during the fall. Some late-afternoon glare and the emergence of leaves can make shots hard to find, even in the fairway. Great resources abound in the social-media age. YouTube videos display the techniques of several shots. Golf lessons are also a nice gift. Try to shop for a package of them. The area has numerous top-level instructors. Three excellent ones I’ve seen are Bruce Chelucci (who runs an academy at Blue Heron Pines), Matt Callaghan (an academy tied with Twisted Dune) and Cheri Rice-Cottelli at Hamilton Trails. It has been a pleasure covering the scene and having some tongue-in-cheek fun with Congo Falls on the miniature golf circuit for At the Shore’s Boardwalk issue. Have a great end to 2017.

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