Ballamor Golf Club has run parallel to a hot local trend.
While this area created several high-end courses in the past 20 years, Ballamor became an upscale conversion. It was a private course that went public in 2010 and retains a high-end feel via soft cushioned fairways and fast greens.
The course also is practical. It offers five sets of tee boxes ranging from 7,098 to 5,238 yards, including the mid tees most people use at 6,267 yards.
The Egg Harbor Township facility is quiet and reclusive.
“We think of it as a sanctuary,” says Mike Tucci, the general manager of Ballamor. “It is buffered by forest and there is no housing. You will feel at peace here and, besides that, we offer a lot for the player. The golf is fair, but challenging.”
Fair in the sense that the tree line is far off the fairway. Balls usually won't be lost in deep woods. The sand traps are not deep, allowing shots that find it to be punched out easily.
The challenge unfolds via distance and positioning. Even the mid tees require a strong drive and a mid-iron to reach the putting surface on many holes. The doglegs demand specific placement of the drive to set up a good view of the green. The greens are fairly large, but some have two tiers and ridges that can propel the ball away from the pin.
Tucci advises players to match their driving distance with an appropriate tee box. According to the United States Golf Association, players hitting 200-yard drives should be on courses ranging from 5,200 to 5,400 yards. A 250-yard drive correlates with with a course layout of between 6,200 to 6,400 yards.
The guidelines allow players of all talent levels to shoot for more pars and birdies.
“There has been a change in the thinking of how to enjoy the game,” Tucci says. “The standard philosophy was 'I'm going to get my money's worth,' so that a player would hit from the tips (back tees). Well, if you are ,don't drive the ball 300 yards. You don't want to be playing from back tees on a 7,000-yard course. It leads to frustration.
“We want more people hitting the green in regulation and putting for birdies and pars. It helps them set up shots they want to hit and it helps them enjoy the game much more.”
The process also speeds play, reducing the backup that may extend a round by perhaps 45 minutes.
Ballamor opens with a straightforward par 5, at 489 yards from the mid tees. A unique design of consecutive doglegs follows.
The second hole, a dogleg left at 375 yards, requires a drive to the middle or right section of the fairway. Pin placement becomes a crucial element of the second shot. The terrain naturally slopes left. When the pin is placed back left, players will be coaxed to risk trouble just off the green in order to hit the left side of the putting surface. A safe shot will be to the middle or right side of the green.
Hole three is a 286-yard dogleg par 4. Again, pin placement is paramount. If the pin is right, the safe play is a drive to the left-center of the fairway, prompting an approach to a green that slopes right and into the water. A right-side journey runs the risk of reaching the water with a tee shot struck a little too well.
The back side also displays some scenic challenges. The 12th is a 135-yard par 3 that can be easily reached. Yet the green is large and a ridge in the middle of the putting surface often directs the ball away from the flag. Pin placement causes an interesting club selection. Conservative players will be happy to reach the green, regardless of the ridge. More aggressive players will try to zero in on a particular section of the green at the risk of missing it or having a shot run off of it.
Eighteen is a tantalizing dogleg right marked by water, traps and placement considerations. This is a baby par-5 at 480 yards from the mid tees. Although it will be tempting to try reaching the green in two shots, water runs up the entire right side. Play safe, and left, try to get on in three.
Tap-ins: Ballamor is part of the Ottinger Golf Group, which also owns Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield and Scotland Run in Williamstown.