Trip Dispatch: Variety is the name of Atlantic City's golf game

By Jason DeeganOctober 29, 2013, 3:52 am

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – A golf trip to the Jersey Shore is no gamble.

It’s a sure jackpot.

For those who lose their golf shirt at one of the city’s 13 casinos, fear not. These unlucky golfers won't lose their wallet playing at some premier public courses surrounding the city.

Looking for links? McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links and Twisted Dune Golf Club offer two unique links-themed options in Egg Harbor Township. How about country club cool? The historic Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield is as good as it gets.

Craving variety? The sandy Shore Gate Golf Club in Ocean City and Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Cologne feel totally different, yet deliver similarly pure playing conditions.

Want to play where the pros have played? The 6,247-yard Bay course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club might be short by modern standards, but it does have a long history of hosting the LPGA Tour, and let’s not forget Sam Snead’s first major championship, the 1942 PGA Championship held there.

Jersey often gets a bad rap – and there are some rough edges surrounding the famed board walk along the beach – but when it comes to buddies golf, Atlantic City soars with restaurants, gaming, nightlife, beaches and golf galore. Within a 40-minute drive are 19 golf courses, most of which are 15-20 minutes from downtown. 

'We are a hidden gem,' said McCullough’s General Manager Thomas Sullivan, the current president of the Greater Atlantic City Golf Association. 'We just haven’t marketed it properly. We have 140 restaurants. We have world-class accommodations.'

Such bragging by golf course architect Stephen Kay, who designed McCullough’s and Blue Heron Pines, might sound self-serving if it wasn’t so true.

'For a destination this size, you can’t touch it,' Kay said. 'If you went to a golf destination this size...not only do we have the best courses but the most variety. 

'When you go to an area, the courses tend to be very similar. Not here.'

Twisted Dune

Over 100 bunkers litter the links-style layout at Twisted Dune.

I played six area courses over five days in September and still missed out on some good ones, notably Ballamor Golf Club (ranked ninth in the state by Golfweek and has a 4.5/5.0 rating on GolfNow).

Consider the stunning contrast between the classic architecture of the Atlantic City C.C. (founded in 1897 and restored by Tom Doak in 1999) juxtaposed against Twisted Dune’s modern manmade mounds. Twisted Dune architect Archie Struthers moved 2 million cubic yards of dirt on the 7,248-yard course, which opened in 2001. Visually, it’s a knockout.

In Photos: View the golf courses of Atlantic City

Atlantic CC

The Stockton Seaview Hotel features 36 holes of historic Atlantic City golf.  

The Atlantic City C.C., the consensus No. 1 course in the state, charms visitors in more subtle ways. The clubhouse might as well be a museum of golf with all its memorabilia and old photos. Arnold Palmer, Snead and Bob Hope all have deep connections to the club, host to six U.S.G.A. championships and the first-ever Senior PGA Tour event (now called the Champions Tour) in 1980. The term 'birdie' was coined on its 12th green in 1903.

Three of the five par-3s on this 6,577-yard par-70 showcase the Atlantic City skyline across Reeds Bay. Two of its best par-4s, no. 14 and no. 16, slither through the scenic tidal marshes along the shore.

These same marshy views are the major draw of the par-71 Bay course at Seaview, a fine 36-hole resort dating to 1914. Seaview markets the Bay as a Donald Ross design, but that’s only partially true. Ross added the sand traps roughly one year after Hugh Wilson (of Merion Golf Club fame) completed the routing in 1914. Bob Cupp Jr’s restoration in 1998 was well-received, but the tinkering continues. Four new tees and several bunkers are being added this fall in anticipation of the 2014 ShopRite LPGA Classic. The course will be closed until a reawakening next spring.  

View tee times and stay-and-play information for Atlantic City on GolfNow

Although the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, where I stayed was excellent, a part of me wanted to stay along the boardwalk at one of its casinos like the Tropicana Casino Resort. You can’t go wrong either way. Both the Borgata and Tropicana would fit right in on the Strip in Las Vegas. They’re sprawling entertainment hubs stocked with bars, concert halls and restaurants.

Choosing where to eat will be even more difficult than selecting which courses to play. The best golf-and-grub combination comes at McCullough’s, a quirky replica course reclaimed from an old landfill. The Library III, a local institution renowned for steak and crab cakes, recently relocated within the clubhouse. Smart golfers book an afternoon tee time, followed by dinner.

If the budget allows for one night to splurge, dine at the Old Homestead Steakhouse inside the Borgata. It’s over-the-top fantastic, much like the rest of the property. The Oyster Creek Inn & Boat Bar in Leeds Point serves up a scenic setting on Great Bay. All the fresh seafood was fairly affordable for the quality.

For big golf groups, feast on heaping family-style portions of chicken parmesan at Carmine’s inside the Tropicana. Like the golf, this meal will leave everybody satisfied.

Video: Ginella certifies Atlantic City as a top Budget Buddies Trip destination

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.