Sea Oaks

Sea Oaks Country Club has become an off-the-beaten-path destination course for many golfers.

It’s a relatively hidden gem, located a couple miles east of Garden State Parkway exit 58. In golf-rich Southern New Jersey, it was the last of the high-end, daily-fee golf courses opened to provide a valued area niche: the one-day country club experience for about $100.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Sea Oaks, the Little Egg Harbor facility that opened in 2001, now fashions an on-site hotel, restaurant, banquet facility and destination status. A three or four day mini-vacation can be planned using this facility as a headquarters. One can play a couple rounds here or mix it in with nearby courses and area attractions.

Step out of the hotel onto the first tee. The 31-room Inn at Sea Oaks has significantly-discounted rates when one plays golf here. Stay and play packages can also be set up with the club.

Brad Miller, the club’s head pro and tournament coordinator, believes the option of six tee boxes appeals both to long-ball strikers and higher-handicap players.

“To me, setting the tone for an enjoyable round of golf begins with proper tee box selection,” he says. “Our golf course can play between 5150 yards and 6950 yards.”

Sea Oaks has two personalities. It displays a wide-open, forgiving, front nine that encourages long hitters and a tight back nine that demands accuracy and shot placement. Each has showcase holes.

The fifth is considered the toughest at 370 yards from the mid tees. A downhill shot should favor the right center of the fairway. The second goes to an elevated green, which falls away sharply short and left to a large waste bunker. Accounting for the slope is the key to this hole.

The ninth is an uphill, 500-yard layout from the mid-tees and plays perhaps 50 yards because of the slope. The second shot is the key component. Players must clear a 50-yard area containing mounded moguls making it rough to reach the flat area for an approach. A ball buried inside the gap will usually require a punch-out shot. A two-tiered green finishes off a difficult hole.

Miller also is partial to 13, a par 4 that plays 370 yards.

“It is a slight dog-leg right with bunkers staring right at you, appearing to be in the middle of the fairway,” he says. “A good tee shot will have you just to the left of the bunkers, or the longer hitter can try to carry the bunkers. Depending on your driver distance, a good tee shot leaves you between 110-175 yards. Your second shot could be a somewhat blind one, and is to a massive green (shared with hole #15)

tilted from back to front. Strive to make a Birdie “3”, but a Par

“4” is always a solid score on this hole,” he asserts.

Bogey, one shot higher than par, would be good enough for many players on two long, demanding back-nine holes.

The twelfth is a par 3 stretching 235 yards from the back tees, 195 from the mid-set. Waste bunkers dominate the entire left side. The right-side landing area and pathway to the green invite a shot based on varied levels of confidence. A safe play is to the open area. A bolder move is trying to hit the green and the boldest maneuver would be to shoot for the flag, especially if it is placed left, over the traps. The tee shot requires accuracy and distance.

Sixteen is a picturesque par-5 at 540 yards from the back tees and 495 from the middle. Most people should play conservatively with two shots to the right side of the fairway providing a good look into the green for the approach. A relative few may try to play the left side, clear the lake in two and reach the green. Looks like more risk than reward.

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