Golf and ocean terminology fittingly merge as Memorial Day weekend kicks off another year of At The Shore’s golf coverage.
Linwood Country Club, one of the area’s oldest establishments, launches one of its newest innovations in the one-person GolfBoard. This alternative to the standard golf cart is an electric powered AWD board. It enables a player to traverse the course, standing up, in a vehicle that resembles a surf board. Or skateboard. Even a scooter. The techniques of leaning, turning and steering add an element of fun, along with the open-road feel a motorcyclist may experience in the world of automobiles.
The device also provides the sketches of a workout, because GolfBoards require some strength to handle. Linwood has four of them and is the first area course to showcase this innovation.
“This gives a new sensation to the player,” Jeff Bonicky, the club’s new director of golf, says after demonstrating its use. “You might use it like a skateboard, you bend into it sometimes.”
GolfBoards were conceived by Bally Total Fitness Founder Don Wildman, and legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton. No wonder they champion the slogan “Surf the Earth.”
The device has a strap on the front for bags, a stabilizing bar for steering and a compartment in back for storing beverages and other items. Advanced technology allows GolfBoarders to customize board settings and configurations, including adjusting speed settings from five to 10 mph via one-touch switch.
GolfBoard reflects an establishment changing its path. The ownership, headlined by Frank and Joe Dougherty, is new. The Dougherty family’s long ties to the area include its ownership of Dock’s Oyster House, Knife & Fork Inn and Harry’s Oyster Bar in Atlantic City. They purchased Linwood Country Club late in 2017 and have kept it a private facility. Food and beverage is a family business specialty, underscored by the expanded banquet room that showcases that aspect.
New roofing, windows, high ceilings, the creation of a bridal suite, a bar to the outdoor patio and other physical improvements indicate this club’s intention to tee up amenities.
Another new twist involves Bonicky, who served 17 years at Sea Oaks, which he opened in 2000, before coming here.
“This is going to be exciting for me to be part of this tradition, along with the new programs going forward,” Bonicky says. “This entire course is a premier place to play. I am a little partial to our par 3’s, which are great holes. I would have to consider them among my favorites.”
One reason? He notched a hole-in-one on the third hole, a few years back. It plays 160 yards from the mid-tees. The sixth, eighth, 10th and 16th also are par-3’s,
Linwood, opened in 1920, has five sets of tee boxes ranging from 6,349 to 4,670 yards. It is noted for small greens, thus demanding a precision approach shot, but nearly guaranteeing no worse than two putts. There are exceptions. The 11th is deceivingly demanding. Whenever the pin is placed right and the ball is on the left side, it prompts a downhill putt that rapidly picks up speed at the ridge and can run past the hole. Given this dynamic, players will be tempted to shoot for a smaller section of the green when the pin is on the right
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The 418-yard, par-4 seventh is considered the most difficult on the course. A forced carry of 150-185 yards marks the tee shot. The approach requires a tough decision because a creek runs across 20 yards in front of the green. A conservative play results in a layup shot and a pitch over the water. A gamble means trying to clear the water on the second shot. But the green may not hold the shot and a pin placement behind the left-side bunker makes the shot more difficult.
Many players have to lay up in front of the water. That means it will take an excellent chip and a one-putt to salvage par in that situation.