After spending three summer weeks in Ocean City, NJ over the past 3 years, I thought I’d pass on some quick notes about the courses I played out there. What surprised me is the amount of really good golf around the Ocean City area. I’ve played 6 courses thus far, and would be happy to play at least another 6.
Atlantic City CC
Semi-Private. While I have not played Galloway National or Hidden Creek, this course so far is the best I’ve played in the area. A great old style layout that was renovated a few years ago by Tom Doak. Great mix of holes, and plenty of bay eye candy as well. The origin of the term “birdie” came from this course. Not really any weak holes out there in my opinion. I thought the par 3’s were especially strong.
Only thing negative about this course is the price point. I think it’s a bit high. If you can play it in the off-season, that would help the rate. Otherwise, they do have super early tee-times that are discounted; or you can go for the afternoon rate.
Public. The course is fairly unique in the area. Very little trees, so the wind can play havoc. Thankfully, the fairways are quite wide. Overall, this is a very good golf course, but I can’t say that many holes stuck out in my mind after I played. I did like the par 5 4th, which got progressively narrow the closer you got to the green.
The course is walkable, but it’s a tough walk. There is a slightly awkward transition from 12-13, there 13 and 14 play apart from the rest of the course. For a course that allows the ground game, 17 feels out of play requiring a forced carry. Regardless, it’s an easy course to recommend.
Public/Resort. Current host of the ShopRite Classic on the LPGA Tour. This is the older of two layouts at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Resort. I haven’t played the Pines course yet, though I hear it’s a decent second course.
The Bay course is a nice layout that has recently got some renovation love. The course opened in 1914; a design of both Hugh Wilson and Donald Ross. It’s not the longest course; only about 6,300 yards. However, the small green require accurate irons in order to score. And yes, there is plenty of bay eye candy. It’s an easy walk and they do allow it, but don’t expect a discount in the green fee to do it.
The Vineyards at Renault
Public. A golf course within a winery complex. Pretty good combination. The golf course is also very good. There is no driving range here, so you’ll need to rely on the putting green for your warmup.
There are some pretty interesting holes here. Right off the bat, the player plays a hole that requires a decision to be made on how to avoid the bunker in the fairway. 7 is one of the more interesting holes you will ever play. If for no other reason, than your tee-shot is played over grape vines. Your walk/cart ride to the fairway includes going under said grape vines. It’s actually quite a difficult hole, but one you don’t get to experience every day. There’s enough variety in the other holes to keep the round interesting.
It’s a good 45 minutes from Ocean City, so it’s the farthest course from OCNJ I’ve played so far. I can’t say this one is at the top of my recommendation list. But, if you’re looking for a round that doesn’t break the bank (relatively), then this a place you should look out.
Private. It’s not the longest course by any means, but it’s a fun older style layout by Herbert Strong (of Canterbury fame). It’s right next door to Atlantic City CC. It doesn’t have all the bay eye candy of its neighbor, but it is a fun little course. I really liked the par 4 2nd, which disoriented me from tee to green. You play across the entrance road twice, which can be quite harrowing as you’re about 30-40 yards short of the road on each shot. Thankfully, there is not a lot of traffic, and there are plenty of signs warning you. The church pew bunker complex on 17 is a nice little touch.
If you’re staying in Ocean City, it may be worth giving this place a look, as it’s the second closest course to the island aside from Greate Bay. I was able to make arrangements through my pro for a Tuesday morning tee-time.
Greate Bay CC
Private, but relatively accessible. Originally named Ocean City Country Club when it opened in 1923, Greate Bay is the closest “real” golf course to Ocean City. There is a short course in Ocean City, but it’s really just a pitch and putt and quite pedestrian.
Bottom line: this Willie Park Jr. design is a solid golf course. I thought the par 3’s were real strengths of the course. The short 3 is only about 120, but missing the green makes a very tough up and down. Others at 9, 13, and 16, though similar in length, have very attractive bunkering and require a precise iron shot to find the green. 12 is a bit awkward, but isn’t necessarily a bad hole. While nothing more than a 3 wood off the tee, the green is one of the more undulating on the course, with two clear tiers.
Greate Bay is very easy to recommend if you’re in OCNJ and have some level of access. It’s right off the island and it’s a solid design. One you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area.
If you forced me to rank the ones I’ve played, I’d go:
- Atlantic City
- Greate Bay
- Seaview (Bay)
- Twisted Dune
I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to OCNJ. I think we’re going to venture elsewhere for 2016’s summer vacation. Outside of Hidden Creek and Galloway National, I have my sights on these courses:
- Wildwood G&CC
- Sand Barrens
- Blue Heron Pines (West). Sadly, the East course, which was a Smyers layout considered the better of the two, closed. The land was sold for development, but still hasn’t been developed on.
- Seaview (Pines)
- Sea Oaks GC
- McCullough’s Emerald Links, if for no other reason it’s close by. Down the street from Twisted Dune.
- Ballamoor, maybe. The layout is very strange. I guess environmental factors dictated the pods of holes. If you look at Google Maps, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
- Scotland Run (hour away. Prob not)
I don’t know that Stone Harbor is my cup of tee. Pretty wild design.
Shore Gate I’ve heard is a Doak 0, so I might just play it to see how bad it is.