we convened a panel of experts and asked them
to identify the state’s 40 best daily fee and publicly
owned courses. Here’s why these 10 topped the list.
by Dick Friedman
Tucked alluringly like a sucker pin in northwest
New Jersey’s Highlands region is a golfing Briga-doon. Literally and figuratively, Ballyowen is on a
plateau. The links-style layout is not the longest
course you can play in the Garden State, nor the
most iconic. But it is surely the damnedest—and
the most intoxicating.
The first thing you notice when
you approach on Wheatcroft Road
(blink and you might miss the turn)
is that the 250-acre expanse is all
but treeless—wide open. Do not be
fooled. In summer, when the rough
is up and the fescue could graze the
outstretched hand of a Parkway toll
taker, you’d best pack a mess o’ balls.
There are 71 bunkers, often in the most diabolical
spots. Dunes and mounds often have you shooting
blind. Fairway hummocks produce uneven lies.
Random elevation changes, particularly on approach shots, make the yardage on the card moot.
The shallow green of the par- 3 No. 6 pinches your
options: Take enough club to make it over the water in front, but not so much you land
in the gnarly gorse in back.
The main challenge is the sinuous design. Ballyowen’s longer holes,
notes panel member Lisa Lifer, “mix
bombs-away with target golf.” Looking from the tee of the par- 5 10th, you
face a long carry to the diagonally
positioned fairway, which moves left
PHOTO: COUR TES Y OF CR YS TAL SPRINGS RESOR T
Rating: 73. 6