The beach is about to travel inland. To a quarry.
Williamstown-based Scotland Run already features a unique design. It wraps around an abandoned quarry and incorporates the woodlands, water and unusual cliffs into the golf experience.
Now it's time for sand. All 49 of its fairway and greenside bunkers will soon be renovated. All fully gleaming with white, soft powder. No beach tag required, just a greens fee. Trips to this “beach” occur by accident, but have become less punitive.
“You'd be surprised how bright the traps are,” says Nick Borro, the general manager of Scotland Run. “It is whiter than your average beach sand. This has a nice soft feel to it.”
Soft is another word for gold in a sand trap. While sand-trap renovation projects upgrade appearance and improve drainage capabilities, players love the cushion that soft sand provides. It enables them to blast out of trouble, hitting behind the ball and letting the force of the sand and swing propel the ball to safety. Traps with harder, caked-in sand require players to hit both the ball and the sand on their swing. This increases the risk of imprecise, flubbed shots.
“There is a lot more room for error in these bunkers,” Borro says. “This will turn poor bunker players into good bunker players. That's all we want, is to give them a better chance.”
Scotland Run, which partners with Ballamor in Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield on deals and membership levels, has a distinct niche. The quarry angle, particularly on its 16th hole, is one of the most unique in all of southern New Jersey.
This hole has a dogleg and an “abyss,” a waste area that goes down about 20 feet if the tee shot fails to reach the dogleg. If a member of the group is in the sunken area, another should stand at the top of it so that players behind them know not to hit through. The tee shot on this par-4 will only require about 170 yards to clear the quarry. About 250 will be needed if one takes the risk-reward challenge of cutting off distance to the hole by hugging the right tree line.
While 16 is Scotland Run's most recognizable hole, the finishing hole is a strong challenge. It is a par 5 at 530 yards from the back tees and 514 from the next forward set. The last 150 yards are uphill.
The best way to play it is with a driver to the landing area, a 3-wood to set up the approach and an iron that leads to the green. Bunkers and water will force players to be a little conservative. The uphill turn at the end requires one or two additional club lengths.
Borro believes the course charm lies in its versatility. It plays 6,810 yards from the back tees, 6,516 from the next forward set and requires varied course-management skills.
“The front and back nines create different challenges,” he indicates. “The front is wooded and tree-lined. Placement is very important. If you miss a fairway and are in the woods, you have to punch out. The strategy is in your tee shot.
“On the back nine, you can miss the fairways a little more and still be fine, but the greens are tougher and water comes into play more. It is actually harder to score on the back nine.”
Borro selected a hole from each nine that plays differently than how it looks.
The eleventh, a 404-yard par-5, appears difficult, but can play easy.
“It looks intimidating because of the horseshoe shape of waste area,” Borro says. “But the fairway is generous and you can play safely. It will be easy enough if you do it the right way.”
The sixth has an opposite portfolio. It looks like an innocent par 4, just over 300 yards. But that tantalizing length prompts players to try and nearly drive the green. There is a waste bunker and out of bounds on the left. A safe 200 yard drive and a pitching wedge may be the way to play the hole.
“The longer you hit your drive, the worst shape you are in,” Borro laughs.