Brigantine Golf Links is a breeze.
And that’s what can make it difficult.
This tongue-in-cheek contradiction applies to the course using wind conditions to display multiple personalities.
“It’s a cerebral golf experience,” says Gabriel DeLiberty, the establishment’s club professional. “The course is not overly difficult, but because of the breezes, it infrequently plays the same. One day there is no wind and you can tear the course up. Another day you will have to play the ball right to left or left to right to adjust for wind gusts of 30-40 miles per hour and it’s a bear.
“That’s what makes this course wonderful, to me. You can catch so many different conditions.”
And four tee boxes to challenge them from. The back sits at 6,507 yards while the set most people use comes in at 6,152. Brigantine Links is not punishingly long and many of the greens are open in the front, enabling pitch-and-run shots that can be set up to land short of the green and run onto it.
The course was built in 1927 and resembles a British Open feel, according to DeLiberty.
Local legend suggests that was on the mind of icon Walter Hagen, who played here to practice for the British Open in the late 1920s. True to its Scottish roots, the links-style layout offers a bay view and winds through native marsh and nearly treeless terrain. The prevailing ocean wind that characterizes links golf, making holes play differently from one day to another, gave him a taste of what would follow in Great Britain.
DeLiberty views 15 as one of the club’s aesthetic pleasures, providing a walking bridge to get across to the green on a 167-yard par 3. The green is deep and narrow and thoroughly protected by water, bunkers and a lateral hazard. A slight miss to the right is acceptable, but saving par would be difficult.
Seventeen, which plays 410 from the mid tees, is considered the toughest hole on the course. Water sits on the right about 240 yards from the tee and although the landing area is generous enough, the fairway narrows as it approaches the green. Playing the tee shot right over the right-side mound will provide the best angle to the green, which is protected by a sand trap on the left and grass bunker on the right.
The 17th may resemble the course in microcosm.
“If you are playing downwind, that 410-yard hole may play like 325,” he says. “But if that wind is in your face? It feels like a 500-yard hole. One of the things I love so much about this course is the idea that you can end up coming across so many different shots that you have to hit and make have yardages varying by two or three club lengths.
“If you have a cross wind, how much do you have to borrow from the right side or left side in order to have the wind push the shot into the fairway? There are always adjustments. This is a big mental game, it’s that type of golf course.”
One of this author’s favorites is the third hole, a signature par-3 at 198 yards. It demands a long drive that typically plays into an island breeze, bringing club selection into play. Wind in one’s face on this hole prompts ideas of a wood off the tee, always a difficult proposition on a par-3. There is water right and short of the green. DeLiberty advises playing toward the left or center of the green.
Tap ins: DeLiberty says wind off the ocean makes the holes longer and more difficult, breezes off the bay make them shorter and favor the golfer…the course is right over the bridge from the Atlantic City casino world.