This might be the ultimate golf two-fer. Seaview Resort presents two distinctly different 18-hole layouts in the Bay and the Pines on one property.
How varied is the experience?
The Bay course answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. While shore breezes impact many shore courses, Seaview is the wind effect on steroids. The Shop Rite LPGA history alone reflects this phenomenon, with the world’s top female players carding winning scores between four-under and 17-under par in tournaments here since 1986.
Last year, Annie Park utilized a calm day to score a whopping 8-under-par 63 and win the three-day event at 16-under, one stroke off the tournament record. The Shop Rite Classic returns to this Galloway facility June 7-9 (festivities begin June 3) with many of the tour’s elite players booked.
The Classic began in 1986 with a $225,000 purse and surged from the smallest tour events to one of the largest after ShopRite became the title sponsor in 1992. This event has raised more than $32 million for charities and become a community-event cornerstone.
On the adjoining Pines layout, breezes are less paramount. The course is longer, tighter and demands precision. The back tees are more than 6,700 yards, a challenge for players who hit long drives. Yet the narrow terrain also encourages creative decisions like hitting irons off the tee on some par 4’s
“We have two courses that are totally different and yet they are only about 500 yards from each other,” says Chris Filling, the club’s assistant golf professional. “People love to play both courses because they present different challenges.
“With the Bay course, you have the history (opened in 1914), the LPGA tournament, the great views of Atlantic City and the wind, which plays prominently. One day you may have a five-mile wind, another day it might be 30 miles-per-hour, depending upon the time of year. It’s great to watch the pros negotiate the conditions from places on the course that would resemble where you would be hitting from. Two and six are great holes going into the wind and toward the bay. You need power to get the ball there and yet you have marshes around the green, so you must be precise.
“On the Pines course, you have to get off the tee but you also need placement.”
Tournament week brings more focus to the two courses. Golfers have the chance to play the Pines in the morning and watch the world’s top female stars battle the Bay in the afternoon.
Although the Bay course is not long, at 6,177 yards for the tournament, it has character. Mounding, deep-pot and high-faced bunkers, small greens and stiff breezes make it unpredictable.
The second hole is one of the most interesting tests. It is roughly 420 yards with swirling, stiff headwinds. This is a difficult par-4 into the breeze, an easier task with tailwinds, but always a stickler for accuracy. For the pros, par is a good score on this hole.
The second yields few birdies, but the final holes, 16-through-18, represent strong scoring opportunities. Sixteen is a medium-length par-4, at 377 yards. Seventeen is a short, elevated par-3, roughly 115 yards, and is boom or bust. Hit the green and flirt with birdie or miss it and be stuck in traps, rough and the threat of bogey. Eighteen is a 501-yard, par 5 and straightforward. No pressure, except network television cameras, thousands of spectators and perhaps six figures riding on one shot.
On the Pines, Filling likes the 13th hole, a dogleg left that requires a drive of roughly 250 yards from the mid tees to get a good approach shot to the green. He also touts 14, a straightaway par-4 starting in a narrow tee area and fanning out, uphill, creating a bit of a blind shot to the green. Big bunkers guard it.
Another notable challenge is 11. This hole offers a narrow fairway, lined with trees. It demands a straight shot and will force players to risk accuracy if they want power. The hole is a good representation of the entire course.
Filling says a good barometer for average players is to figure one additional club for every five miles per hour of wind.