Jeff Neuman, one of the most informed and literate golf writers in the Northeast, has picked the 18 best golf holes in the New York Metro Area. Two are in New Jersey.
Before you get up in arms and shout, WHAT? ONLY TWO??? Oh, alright, go ahead and shout. (A case could be made that Jersey deserves more.) When you calm down, we’ll continue.
Neuman knows his golf. He is the editor of The Met Golfer, the regional golf magazine for our area, and co-author of two books: the highly informative and entertaining A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Lorne Rubenstein, and Just Hit It: Our Equipment and Our Game, with Frank Thomas, for many years the technical director of the United States Golf Association, which makes its HQ in, ahem, Far Hills.
You probably want to know which two Garden State holes made Neuman’s Dream 18. Here they are, with his comments:
METEDECONK NATIONAL GOLF CLUB
Par 5, 561/538 yards
“What’s so special about a par 5 with a wide fairway and water down one side? The moment when you have to pivot and hit across the lake to a green that’s angled away from you and broad but shallow. Only the bravest will try to get home in two, but even the lay-up second requires precision and care.”
PLAINFIELD COUNTRY CLUB
Par 4, 457/390 yards
“A straight tee shot must avoid the nest of eight bunkers left of the fairway and reach the ridge to earn a view of the green. The second shot plays over another bunker complex 15–20 yards short of the green, which toys with the golfer’s depth perception. The putting surface sits in a bowl, and shots gather to the back left.”
Ten of Neuman’s 18 are on Long Island, which, along with Westchester and Northern New Jersey, is where the game of golf first took hold on this side of the big pond, and where some of the greatest golf courses in the country still stand. We can lay claim to Baltusrol and Pine Valley, to name the two most obvious swagger sisters.
But let’s throw this thing open:
You pick your 18 best holes in New Jersey—and give your reasons.
Or just name one or two or however many you consider big-time, all-time. Type your selections in the comments area below.
If you follow the rules Neuman set for himself, you will face no easy task. Here’s why…
Neuman set himself quite a challenge. Each hole had to have the same position on his Dream 18 as it has on its own course. So to choose the best opening hole, he had to choose an opening hole. To choose the best, 9th, 12th, 18th, etc, he had to consider only holes in those positions on their own courses.
To make matters even more interesting, and sweat-inducing, he decided to limit himself to just one hole from each golf course. So if he loved two holes, or many holes, from, say, Winged Foot, he could use only one. He went with the…
WINGED FOOT GOLF CLUB
Par 3, 190/183 yards
“Noting the house behind the green, Ben Hogan called this “a 3-iron into some guy’s bedroom window.” Course architect A. W. Tillinghast called it his finest par 3. Bunkers guard the front left and right, and the green broadens as it deepens, but the cant from back to front and left to right makes putts from above the hole an adventure. The late Dave Marr joked that when he was an assistant pro at Winged Foot, he spent so much time in the front bunkers he had his mail delivered there.”
To read his entire Dream 18, click HERE.
In 2013, we assembled an expert panel to rate the 40 Best Public Golf Courses in New Jersey. You can read our ratings (starting with our Top 10, then scroll down for the full 40) HERE.
Me? I haven’t played nearly as many courses as Neuman has, and I don’t have the memory for holes that the best golf writers have. I’d be more comfortable naming some of my favorite holes. By favorite I don’t mean that I routinely score well on them. I mean, they are vivid, memorable, always exciting and challenging each time I play them.
—The par four second (forced carry off tee, then narrow fairway, small green) and par five third (double dogleg, with blind shot
to green) at Ballyowen in Hamburg.
—The par five 18th at Galloping Hill in Kenilworth (from the back tees, forced carry over marsh, then long climb uphill to green that slopes back to front).
—The par four 16th at Scotland Run in Williamstown, one of the starkest risk-reward tee shots anywhere.
—The par four 5th, with its blind, punchbowl green, on the Charles Banks course at (private) Forsgate in Monroe Township.
—The par four 10th at Architects in Phillipsburg, not the most difficult, but you have your choice of routes, each with a meaningful risk/reward calculation to consider.
I could go on, but I have work to do. Polishing our 14-page NJ SMOKING BBQ GUIDE for our July issue.
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