Putt for dough.
The term describes how golfers make their real money on the greens, draining putts, rather than hitting long, crowd-pleasing drives.
The putting surface also means big money to the courses, which cannot live without top-quality greens.
In that vein, Blue Heron Golf Club, sports some of its finest greens ever according to Jason Wiegand, its director of golf operations.
“They are truly awesome this year,” Wiegand says. “They are rolling true and healthy. The conditions have been wonderful and the weather has cooperated,” he added of timely, but not saturating, spring rains that provided greenery into the summer.
Business flows at this Egg Harbor City establishment, purchased a few years back by Eagles legend and business impresario Ron Jaworski. His connections and organization impact the course, along with amenities like the Seven-Tap Tavern and banquet facilities.
“His name is enormous in this area and you can’t say enough about what it has meant to Blue Heron Pines,” Wiegand notes. “He is real smart, a fun, friendly guy shaking hands with everybody and he is very knowledgeable about his product.”
Blue Heron opened in 1993 and has gained a bevy of awards, including Best of the Press Readers Choice designations. Designed by Stephen Kay, it showcases the natural beauty of the Pinelands, with majestic tree lines framing the vistas.
The course offers five sets of tee boxes. Most people will play from the mid-set of about 6,200 yards, although long-ball hitters (like NFL stars who compete in charity events here) will be challenged by the back tees of 6,810 yards.
One of Wiegand’s favorites is the par-3 11th hole. Short means easy, right?
“You can play it from under 100 to about 130 or 140 yards,” he indicates (it is 115 yards from the middle tees). “It is all carry over water, however. The green has a lot of undulation in it. This is a fun hole, it is short and you think you are going to score well, but the water may get into your head. You can either score or you can get crushed,” he adds regarding the importance of clearing the water on the tee shot.
Fourteen is designed after the seventh at Pine Valley, probably the world’s most renown golf course. A huge area of sand, about 60 by 90 yards, covers the fairway enough to affect the second shot. Players need to carry the sand area to set up a pitch to the green.
A strong drive, safe second shot over the sand and a pitch to the well-bunkered green is one recipe for success on this hole. Players who hit the tee shot short may have to lay up in front of the sand and take a long difficult third shot to the green. From the back tees, this is a formidable 518-yard par 5.
Wiegand advises approaching the sand area with confidence, because there is plenty of room behind it to work with. For most players, clearing the fairway trap will be a separate shot than their approach to the green.
Fifteen may be the club’s signature hole. It has a willow tree, water, a waste bunker all the way up the right side and a sense of beauty. The par-4 plays about 390 yards and is listed as the toughest hole on the course.
Eighteen is a potential confidence booster, a par-5 finishing hole that players can reach in two well-struck shots. This is simply about execution more than hazards. Even three average shots will put one in position to two-putt for par. The hole is only 473 yards from the mid tees.
TAP-INS: Blue Heron also is headquarters for the New Jersey Academy of Golf, under the direction of Bruce Chelucci, a long-time teaching instructor. Several clinics and programs are available. Contact him at 609-703-4658.