Here, in a figurative sense, comes the last group of the season, some courses to glimpse as we complete the At The Shore golf-season coverage. There will always be more courses than weeks to profile them, so we’ll mention some here that fly under the radar but are well worth the trip to visit.
And for those who don’t want to put away the clubs and are are at least a little above average, consider the Atlantic Winter Golf League. Many people don’t know about this circuit, which runs from Oct. 26 until March 25, on Friday mornings. Although it is a league and has prizes, one must only commit to five rounds in order to join. Membership costs $70 and greens fees and carts cost $55 per round. The courses include Avalon, which launches the circuit Oct. 26, Twisted Dune (Nov. 9), Stone Harbor (Dec. 7) and then winter rounds at Atlantic City Country Club, Shore Gate, Shore Club, (formerly Wildwood), Greate Bay, Cape May National, Blue Heron Pines and Linwood.
The league was founded in the late ’70s by Tom Smith, in Pennsylvania.
“But when the winter came and we’d be snowed out up there, we wouldn’t be in places like Avalon, so it was good to play there,” he laughs.
That, and Smith later moving to Millville, helped the shore become the launch point for the league. The AWGL targets higher-skilled players competing for prizes and indeed most who join already have a certified handicap, but Smith says he will create one for those who don’t. There’s a win-win element, with golfers obtaining access to private clubs and those establishments obtaining new members.
Contact Smith at 856-264-8405 or go to AWGL.us.
Avalon, which kicks off the league, is a nice test of golf. The Cape May Court house facility pre-dated the high-end daily fee craze in South Jersey. It has a minimum of “target golf”, like hitting the ball directly over traps and water onto the green. With a course measuring from 4924 to 6235 yards, it provides a test at all skill levels. Players must contend with narrow fairways, an abundance of water, and wind.
A number of holes are quite tricky. The fourth hole, its signature challenge, measures 540 yards from the back tees and 404 from the most forward set. From the back, it’s a legitimate par 5, requiring a tee shot that must clear a small creek running along the fairway, a second shot for positioning and an approach that must reach the green while avoiding the sand trap guarding it on the left. If the pin placement brings the sand trap into play, it can impact the entire hole. Try coming in from the center or slightly right of it. If you are not comfortable with the pin placement, settle for the middle of the green.
White Oaks, in Newfield, is a “feel good golf course,” officials say, carved out of the Pinelands with numerous tree-lined holes and some tough layouts.
The 17th fashions one of the rarest of challenges, a potential fairway wood off the tee. It plays about 220 yards from the mid tees, too long for mos low-iron golfers.
An accurate tee sot is required for this uphill shot, which then slopes down toward the green. A bunker on the left and right side of the green narrows the landing area. Many players will observe the irony of needing to hit an accurate shot with the least accurate club in their bag, a wood.
Centerton Golf Club, located in the confines of Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove Twp., has long been one of our favorites. Reasonably priced and sufficiently challenging, Centerton offers some unusual looks, like the fourth hole, a dog-leg par 5 that demands precise placement on the tee shot and approach to set up a clear shot at the green.
A number of the par 3-’s bring water into play. The 17th is picturesque and a difficult par-3. Water in front of the green is prominent. It takes an excellent tee shot to reach the green on this hole.
Readers of our publication receive an “October Surprise”. Al Turse, Centerton’s general manager, says he will offer a 25 percent discount to players who mention this story, through October.
Have a great off-season!