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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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.