How’s this for positive feedback?
Twisted Dune Golf Club unfurled a new realm of customer engagement early this year. The Egg Harbor Township facility acted upon recommendations from patrons and changed the handicap system ranking its toughest holes.
The new setup, in which 18 replaces four as the toughest hole and by which some par 3’s have been elevated, effects the friendly competition amongst players on the course. This impacts more than the soda, sandwich, beer or the couple bucks player vie for to keep rounds interesting. It can determine the results in some leagues, tournaments and large group outings, often with the toughest handicap hole serving as a tie-breaker.
“I believe it is the first time the club has ever done this,” says Jim Endres, general manager of Twisted Dune. “When we spoke to players, our own pros and staff, many comments we heard were about why some particular holes were considered harder than others. We also looked extensively at score totals posted throughout the course and as a result of the whole process, we adjusted the rankings.”
The changes relate to the section of a scorecard listed as “handicap.”
The United States Golf Association’s handicap system is designed to create equitable playing conditions among players of different playing abilities. The system is applicable on any golf course once players have established a legitimate handicap by playing a certain number of rounds.
If two friends with course handicaps of 10 and 22 play a match, then the less skillful player will receive 12 strokes — one on each of the 12 hardest holes. When holes change their degree of difficulty, players change their strategy to accommodate it. Receiving a stroke on a hole may enable one to play safe and make his competitor be more aggressive.
Twisted Dune plays about four or five strokes harder than many courses in the area. A good score here can be worn like a badge, but average players don’t have to feel discouraged. There are multiple tee boxes to fit their game.
“What we realized looking through everything was that the 18th hole was an excellent challenge to our players and the collection of par 3’s is about as tough as you will find anywhere, so all of that is reflected on the scorecard,” Endres says. “Our course has a good blend of length, traps, decision-making and the impact of wind.”
This is a tremendous course, annually listed by Golfweek among the top places one can play in New Jersey.
Twisted Dune moved 2 million cubic yards of earth to turn level ground into an elevated taste of the Scottish coast. This produced a course that opened in 2001 with deep ravines, twisting landscapes, contoured fairways, towering grass-covered hills and more than 100 deep traps and bunkers. The course has five tee boxes ranging from a championship level of 7,270 to a beginner’s range of 4,930. It has four par 5’s at over 500 yards, 10 par four’s and the difficult par 3’s
Eighteen, the newest top-hole designee, plays a solid 410 yards from the mid tees and has a gulley area that affords the player only a view of the bottom of the flag stick on the green. One can’t see the whole putting surface and must guess on how much green there is to work with on a shot. There’s no way to determine, for instance, whether to land the ball short of the green and let it run on or try to hit straight for the flag.
The third hole has become the second toughest. It plays 198 yards from the mid tees. The green is narrow, with the capability of wind pushing the ball right. There is a two-tiered putting surface with a left-to-right slope, meaning that even after a strong, well-placed drive, players find a strong challenge on the green. Birdies on this hole are rare, par is a very good score.
Thirteen presents the possibility “of the shot nobody wants,” Endres says. Water runs down the right side of the hole and the green is guarded on the left by a bunker. If one is stuck behind the trap, the next shot must go over the trap, but not be hit too solidly or it will run into the water.
Tap-ins: The fourth hole, a 515-yard-par 5, is now only ranked as the 8th hardest. Because of the wind, I still consider it a monster.