What’s App?

A play on the “What’s Up” phrase describes a new realm of operations for Harbor Pines Golf Club.

The Egg Harbor Township facility, born during the cutting-edge realm of high-end daily fee courses in this area, celebrates its 21st year with a touch of panache. Mobile applications, the rage among millennials in businesses ranging from gaming to hospitality, has found the golf world.

“Players can make tee times at their convenience 24 hours a day with immediate confirmation,” says Debbie Stevenson, the club’s director of sales and marketing. “The app also features on-course GPS, an electronic score card and loyalty program to earn free golf. E-specials for golf and food are also featured on the app. E-specials change frequently, so check often.”

Golf has pointed in this direction for several years. Devices on phones already alert players about yardage to the center of the green and information on pin placements. Color-coded and visually pleasing, they serve as a virtual caddie. The addition of this free, downloadable app adds the dimension of touch-screen organization. One can even book a future tee time while out on the course.

Throw in the promotional segment of specials tailored to individual establishments and this app resembles some of the best attributes found in gaming. Operators want to be connected with patrons who take their devices with them.

So does this magazine, and it pays to read. In a rare move, Harbor Pines is rewarding loyal At The Shore readers. Book now and use the promotional code ATS2018 to receive 20 percent off the rate Sunday-Thursday (with some restrictions), Stevenson says.

Harbor Pines also will unveil a new fleet of carts in September with ports to allow phone-charging. This is a groundbreaking acknowledgment of customer preference.

Harbor Pines, historically, has correctly forecast trends. It arrived with the look of a private club, featuring wide manicured fairways, large undulating greens, club-cleaning service and the overall influence of noted designer Steven Kay, but was open to the public for about $100.

It added special late-afternoon rates, which in mid-summer allowed players to complete a full-round before dark at a private facility with a public-course price. Later offers revolved around food and beverage. Then came an innovating Skins game, popularized on television, in which players are rewarded for winning any hole against one another in competition. It unfolds on Thursday nights for players who have an official handicap.

The course itself is first class, playing 6,827 from the back tees, 6,296 from the mid tees most people use and 5,101 from the most forward set. It has 12 ponds, 17 acres of water and a reclusive feel amid 520 acres. The bunkers are distinctive, particularly the 170-foot-long half-acre bunker that guards the par-4 17th and a long ribbon-like bunker players cross by bridge approaching the seventh hole. Greens are generally large, meaning they are not difficult to hit, but easy to three-putt.

Several holes are unique. Twelve is simply fun. It is a short par-4 at 291 yards with a large body of water on the left that comes into play. Could be a postcard image or great for wedding photos, but not friendly to a golf ball. Players will be tempted to try and drive the green, especially if given a tailwind. But the left-side water and a road on the right frame the tee shot. A hook or slice will probably result in a penalty stroke.

Hole eight, a challenging par 3, is 170 yards from the white tees. A bunker on the right and trees left make the landing area a little narrow. Pin placement on the green will impact club selection off the tee and for an approach.

Old-school architects would have referred to the 17th hole as the “Intimidator,” an unofficial par 4 1-2 because of its 461-yard length from the back tees (409 from the mid-set) length and the half-acre bunker guarding the green.

The ninth hole, a 419-yard par 4 that slopes toward the water and features an elevated green, is considered the hardest hole.

TAP-INS: Harbor Pines hosts a variety of public golf tournaments and events throughout the year. Go to HarborPines.com for information. The fall features its signature events, including the Italian Open, Halloween Night Golf and November’s Eagle Bowl Tailgate Tournament.

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