Category: New Jersey

February 03, 2012

Sorry, Travelin' Joe, but it's New Jersey’s team in the Super Bowl

Posted at 4:33 PM by Tom Mackin

PineTravelin’ Joe Passov may have played 1,300 courses around the world, but he’s a bit confused about his geography. Or he needs to listen to more Sinatra and Springsteen between rounds. In Joe’s article “New York versus New England: Who wins the Super Bowl of Golf,” he mistakenly refers to one of the Super Bowl participants as the “New York” Giants. Wrong. They are the New Jersey Giants. At least to Garden State natives like myself.

That change should have been official when the Giants started playing games at the Meadowlands in 1976. Even the team offices are located in beautiful East Rutherford, and I’d bet most if not all the Giants live in the Garden State. New York can keep the Jets (even though they also call New Jersey home), but the Giants are ours. As for the golf argument against New England (had to use a whole region, huh?), here’s how this New Jersey native would play it:

Historic Tournament Course: Ever hear of Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J.? I thought so. After all, it has only hosted seven U.S. Opens, two U.S. Women’s Opens, a PGA Championship and four U.S. Amateurs. It will also host the 2016 PGA.

More? No problem.

How about Ridgewood Country Club (1935 Ryder Cup, 1974 U.S. Amateur, 1990 U.S. Senior Open, 2008 and 2010 Barclays) or even Plainfield Country Club (1978 U.S. Amateur, 1987 U.S. Women’s Open, 2011 Barclays)? And then there’s a little course called Pine Valley …

Marquee Public Access Course: Atlantic City Country Club. It dates back to 1897, the term “birdie” was first used there, and the layout was restored by Tom Doak in 1999. Plus it’s on the real Jersey Shore, with no connection to the inane television show.

Best Major Championship Winner: The Garden State only has one: Vic Ghezzi, a Rumson native and winner of the 1941 PGA Championship at Colorado’s Cherry Hills Country Club, where Chezzi defeated Byron Nelson in 38 holes. Ghezzi, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour, died at age 65 in 1976, just a few months before the Giants started playing at their new stadium. The one in New Jersey.

C’mon, Travelin’ Joe, show a little respect for the Garden State. But stick with that prediction you made: New Jersey by a touchdown this Sunday.

(Photo: Larry Lambrecht)

July 26, 2011

Take it from Joe: Play the PGA Championship Here!

Posted at 2:14 PM by Joe Passov

Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, is a strong test of golf, but does anybody really enjoy the PGA's choices of rough-choked layouts in hot August temperatures? Here are my 10 picks — some realistic, some fantasy — for where I'd like to see the PGA played next.

1. Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Los Angeles, Calif.

This famously exclusive club that abuts Hugh Hefner's mansion will finally open its doors to the outside world when it hosts the 2017 Walker Cup, the better to show off its stunning 2010 Gil Hanse restoration. Tree removal has opened up long-hidden vistas, bunkers now resemble their 1920s George Thomas originals, and a succession of meaty par-4s would test even the best.

2. Trump National Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, N.J.

Tom Fazio designed this modern masterpiece in 2004, not far from USGA headquarters. Together with its younger sibling the New, the course would make a worthy challenge for the pros, with plenty of gallery space as well. Say what you want about its owner—and this course—but the publicity build-up would be off the charts.

3. Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton, N.Y.

The PGA enjoys going to new places from time to time, so why not Sebonack, the 2006 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak collaboration right next to the National Golf Links of America and overlooking Peconic Bay? The U.S. Women's Open visits here in 2013, but I wouldn't mind spending part of my August in the Hamptons, watching the Bubbas and Rorys battle the breezes.

4. Sand Ridge Golf Club
Chardon, Ohio

One of the more tranquil golf experiences I've enjoyed took place at this private 1998 Tom Fazio creation built for the folks at Best Sand, whose adjacent quarry supplies bunker sand to many other courses. I'll admit that August in suburban Cleveland can be toasty, but the city's rabid sports fans would turn out in droves—and hey, Cleveland could use a break.

5. Spyglass Hill
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Every year at the AT&T, Spyglass is dumbed down to get amateurs around in under seven hours. I'd love to see the pros cope with this course set up in full fury. Plus, August on the Monterey Peninsula is pleasant duty indeed.

6. Muirfield Village
Dublin, Ohio

Sure, this course already enjoys tons of exposure from Jack's annual PGA Tour shindig. But it would be nice to see the PGA show a little additional love by tossing a bone to the five-time winner of its premier championship, whose hometown course is easily deserving of a Major.

7. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, N.J.

One of my fantasy picks hosted the 1985 Walker Cup and is home to the annual Crump Cup, an invitational event that no top amateur turns down. Alas, Pine Valley has too much sand and scrub to allow for efficient gallery flow, but wouldn't it be awesome to see the game's best tackle the best course in the game?

8. Pronghorn (Nicklaus)
Bend, Ore.

Formerly a private real estate development spread, Pronghorn now offers limited public play, although few will take on the 7,379-yard tips, with a 75.2 rating and 151 slope. I'd relish watching the pros try it, especially amid Bend's dry, perfect August climate, at 3,200 feet in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor.

9. Nantucket Golf Club
Siasconset, Mass.

This exclusive, low-profile Rees Jones design ripples with moguls and is long enough when the wind blows to challenge the play-for-pay crowd. And any excuse to spend a portion of August on the island of Nantucket justifies its inclusion on this list.

10. Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich.

Perched upon a bluff between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake, this Alister MacKenzie/Perry Maxwell collaboration is a bit too remote and lacks sufficient length to bother today's stars, but toss in gusts off the lake, dense native roughs and enough classic holes to fill a design textbook, and it would provide a memorable PGA site regardless of scores.

July 22, 2011

Ask Travlin' Joe: Milwaukee, Seattle and New Jersey

Posted at 11:41 AM by Joe Passov


If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Dear Joe,
I will be in Milwaukee, Wisc., next week for a conference. It looks like I will have one free day to play. Are there courses that are a cab ride away worth playing or should I just leave the sticks at home?

Keith Cooper
Via email

I can't say there are any public-access trophy courses that are an urban cab ride away, but if you're willing to cough up a fare, there's at least one layout worthy of bringing your own clubs. Closest to town is Brown Deer Park ($81.50-103.50; 414-352-8080,, a 20-minute ride from Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport. A long-time PGA Tour venue (1994-2009), where winners included Jeff Sluman, Corey Pavin and Kenny Perry, this tree- and rough-choked muni features few memorable holes, but is a good test of shotmaking - and if you can get aboard, is a relative bargain.

If you're willing to travel, another quality option is The Bog ($79-$109; 262-284-7075, in Saukville, 25 miles north of Milwaukee. This aptly named 1995 Arnold Palmer design zigzags through woods and wetlands for its 7,221-yard journey, with superbly conditioned greens the reward for finding them.

Finally, the course for which you need to haul your own clubs along is Erin Hills ($200; 262-670-8600, Host to the U.S. Amateur this August - and to the Big Enchilada, the U.S. Open, in 2017, this Hurdzan/Fry/Ron Whitten design (image above) is the ultimate lay-of-the-land wild ride. From the gargantuan 7,820-yard tips, all four par-5s stretch more than 600 yards - but it's the chaotic contours and fescue roughs that will elevate your scores. You might need a can to cover all that yardage, but alas, it's walking-only. Caddies are available, at $50 per bag, plus a minimum $40 tips. Whatever route you take, you'll never forget it.

Chamlers-BayDear Joe,
I'm a GOLF Magazine subscriber and headed to Seattle for a wedding. I'm looking for a public course or two that is moderately priced. I think we are going to play Chambers Bay (image right) one day at the Twilight rate if we can get out. Any other suggestions?

Andrew Blighton
Via email

You picked a sweet city for a summer wedding and good affordable golf. One of my favorite values in the U.S. is Gold Mountain Golf Club (360-415-5432,, host to this week's U.S. Junior Amateur, and site of the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, when Anthony Kim advanced to the final, before losing to Casey Watabu. The Olympic course - a 7,104-yard, 1996 John Harbottle III design - features a flattish, forested front nine. The back nine is a hilly journey, highlighted by the 357-yard, par-4 15th, which plays to a peninsular green at lake's edge. It's $42 to walk it (M-Th), $46 Friday and $60 Saturday/Sunday, and an extra $16 to ride. Maybe the best value is the $27 rate on weekends after 3 p.m. Nearly as appealing, at least in value, if not challenge, is Olympic's elder sibling, the Cascade course. The most you'll pay there to walk it is $40.

Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club ($49-$85; 360-874-8337, in Port Orchard will hook you with a John Fought creation that dazzles with several option-laden holes that feature split fairways, cavernous bunkers and dense stands of Douglas firs.

If you're looking to save some coin, but still relish a terrific layout, go west young man - to West Seattle Golf Course ($32-$50; 206-935-5187, H. Chandler Egan, who had a hand in Pebble Beach's design, crafted this one in 1939, and it features ravines, steep sidehills and outstanding vistas of the downtown skyline. The longer front nine skirts Longfellow Creek, highlighted by the par-4 second, which sports a view of the city's landmark Space Needle. Precision is paramount on the back nine.

Hey Joe,
I'm going to Cape May, N.J., for a wedding, and I've gotten permission to disappear one morning for a quick round. I'll be a single looking for something not too difficult or too crowded - with a budget of $50-$100.

K. Laird
Via email

Good Laird, this isn't the easiest of tasks! Almost by definition, the budget courses are going to be the most crowded, but if you call ahead, on what are typically the quietest days, you might get lucky. In recent years, Sand Barrens ($80-$120; 609-465-3555, in Swainton, a few miles north of Cape May, has been the region's leading layout, and its 27 holes offer good flexibility, but if sand is your bugaboo, avoid this one. Plus, it's still recovering from some atrocious spring conditions, but recent reports are encouraging.

A gentler, slightly more affordable alternative is Avalon ($69-$84; 609-465-GOLF, in Cape May Court House, a 40-year-old track that's perched fairly close to the shore, making for regular steady breezes. Although there are lakes-a-plenty, this is a relatively flat course and is only 6,325 yards from the tips, so even if play is slow, you should be able to buzz around without much fuss. While it's hardly considered a trophy course, it might be just what you're looking for.

(Photos: Fred Vuich/SI)

June 30, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Toronto, Portland and Atlantic City

Posted at 3:19 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Atlantic Dear Joe,
I’m going to be at Niagara Falls in the middle of July. We will be traveling to Toronto in that same trip. I’ll have time for one or two rounds and would like to keep it under $150 a round. What courses are worth playing in those areas? It is my first trip to Canada so something memorable would be great.
Todd Scorza
Via email

Start by treating yourself to Glen Abbey Golf Club ($120-$235; 905-844-1800,, 35 minutes west of downtown Toronto. Jack Nicklaus’ first solo design, circa 1976, bristles with beauty, variety and challenge, notably on the famous Valley holes on the back nine. It’s played host to multiple Canadian Opens since its debut, with winners that include Lee Trevino, Greg Norman and Vijay Singh. If $235 is out of your price range, wait until after 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays, when the price drops to $160. I would tell you to wait until 4 p.m. daily for the twilight rate of $120, but then it might get dark before you get to the 18th. That’s the short gambler’s par-5 where in 2000, a fellow named Tiger Woods hit one of the greatest shots of his career, a title-clinching 6-iron from a fairway bunker, over a lake to 12 feet.

Another option is Lionhead ($127.5-$137.50; 905-455-8400,, a 36-hole spread that features the Legends and Masters courses. Both are superbly conditioned, rugged tests slashed by the Credit River, though if you’re looking for a supreme test, do the Legends, which is the pricier, by $10, but also the most memorable, its beautiful, brutal holes set in a well-treed valley.

Also check out Angus Glen ($125-$180; 905-887-5157,, another 36-hole affair, with each of its layouts having hosted a Canadian Open, the South in 2002, when John Rollins won, and the North, where Jim Furyk defended in 2007, with a one-shot win over Vijay Singh. The best value is Saturdays or Sundays, when it’s $125 to tee it up.

Niagara Falls actually boasts a fistful of terrific tracks as well, including Royal Niagara, Hunters Pointe and Legends of Niagara, but if you’re in the market for a thrill ride akin to a barrel over the falls, do the Thundering Waters ($70-$100; 877-833-3259,, a hazard-laced John Daly design that blasts you with a 149 slope from the tips.

Dear Joe,
We will be visiting my wife’s aunt in the Portland area and the girls are wanting to go see all the Twilight movie sites. Save me! Can you suggest a good course or two less than $100 within reasonable driving distance from Tigard (the area of Portland we are staying)?
Paul Stanton
Tulsa, Okla.

Let me throw you a life preserver—in the form of terrific, affordable golf well within an hour of where you’re at in the Portland area. Be careful at rush hour, though—which may explain why Portland’s public transportation is so stellar.

Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course ($90-$150; 503-647-4747, in North Plains is best of the Portland-area publics. Ranked in the Top 50 of our 2010-11 Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the U.S., the public half of Pumpkin Ridge is a superb 1992 Bob Cupp design that twice hosted the Nike (now Nationwide) Tour Championship. David Duval captured the event in 1993 here. It serves up the perfect blend of woods, water and strategic bunkering, as well as a peak price that bites like a vampire, $150, but after 3:00 p.m., you can play it for $90. Better yet, check out the website, which dishes out daily specials that often range from $89-$109.

One of the region’s best values is the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club ($45-$85; 503-649-8191, in Aloha, with two outstanding layouts, the North and the South. Home from 2003-2006 to a major championship on the Champions Tour, the JELD-WEN Tradition, the John Fought-designed South course sports a nifty set of risk/reward par-5s and 114 bunkers. Bob Cupp created the shorter North course, which runs a close second here—but both are terrific bargains, $79 during the week, and a twilight rate (after 3 pm) during the week of $49.

A final choice is the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Great Blue course at Heron Lakes ($27-$42; 503-289-1818,, a Portland city course that features muni-style prices with private club challenge. You can walk it for $27 on Mondays and Tuesdays, $42 on the weekend. Its smaller, slightly cheaper brother, the Greenback, is every bit as interesting, though nowhere near the test that Great Blue serves up.

Hey Joe,
Heading to Atlantic City for a bachelor party and are going to play 18 holes one afternoon. If you could only play ONE course in AC (or somewhat close by), what would it be? We’ve got 12 guys, and people shoot anywhere from the mid 70s to over 100. Price is mildly important, but we’re willing to pay top dollar if the course is worth it. Would love to hear any recommendations you have.
Keith Bush
Via email

If price is only slightly an object, I’ll unhesitatingly recommend Atlantic City Country Club ($99-$225; 609-236-4401, for your boys day out. As hall passes go, this is a beauty, with first-class service, a classic clubhouse, outstanding restaurant and top-notch locker room. This terrific old layout dates back 110 years, but was recently renovated by architect Tom Doak, with the result being one of those rare, scenic, tournament-worthy tracks that’s equally enjoyable for those 70-shooters and the 100-plus folks. True, the hefty green fee ($225 on a summer weekend) is a punch in the gut to some, but it also means there’s little riff-raff clogging up the course, so you’ll be able to buzz right through and get back to the less family-friendly aspects of a bachelor party weekend. Prior to 8 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m., it’s $175 per player Friday through Sunday.

For a better bargain, check out the Seaview Golf Club’s Bay course ($80-110; 609-748-7680, in Galloway Township. Current home to the LPGA ShopRite Classic, Seaview’s Bay is a Donald Ross design, parts of which played host to the 1942 PGA Championship, won by Sam Snead. Recently refurbished by new hotel manager Dolce and golf operations manager Troon Golf, the Bay and its sister course, the Pines, are both solid, historic layouts at a very fair price. Call ahead, as they can cater to bachelor party groups of 12 or more.

(Photo: Larry Lambrecht)

July 08, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New Jersey, Columbus and North Carolina

Posted at 11:33 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Hi Joe,
I have a friend who won a certificate for a twosome at New Jersey's Baltusrol. Unfortunately, four of us are making the trip. If I am not the lucky one, I was looking for advice on a decent course that's in that general vicinity. Any suggestions?

Kevin M.
Via email

"Would the two really jealous guys please report to the first tee?" Kevin, if you happen to miss out on Baltusrol, I couldn't blame you for being a little bummed. That said, you'll get over your woes in a hurry at Neshanic Valley Golf Course ($50-$80; 908-369-8200, Situated in Neshanic Station, 25 miles southwest of Baltusrol as the crow flies, Neshanic Valley is a $20 million muni with 27 Hurdzan/Fry-designed holes, a 9-hole executive Academy course, a state-of-the-art practice center and the second on-course Callaway club-fitting center built in the U.S.

The Lake/Meadow combo opened first, with the aptly named Lake offering the most risk-reward options, but the Ridge nine is equal to the others in challenge and interest. This treeless spread sports tall grasses, serious bunkering, undulating greens and excellent conditions, especially for a muni. No, it ain't Balty, but Neshanic is nonetheless a soothing salve.

Dear Joe,
What are the best-condition, challenge, beauty-public access courses near Columbus, Ohio (within about 20 miles of downtown Columbus? I want to play at least one on a visit in late July with my teenage high school golf team sons. Cost is not an issue.

John P. Ryan
Via email

For the perfect blend of what you're looking for in the Buckeye State, you'll have to drive 45 miles east to Longaberger ($59-$99; 740-763-1100,, in Nashport, the Arthur Hills design that rates as Ohio's best public course.

For something closer to the number you were looking at, try the vapidly named East Golf Club ($39-$59; 614-855-8600,, a well-wooded Arthur Hills creation in New Albany, seven miles outside the I-270 loop, that's decidedly more interesting than its name. Once the private Winding Hollow Country Club, then known as Tartan East, the layout is terrific even if its name isn't.

Hello, Joe,
My brother and I are going to be staying in Bryson City, N.C. from July 10-July 15. We have a free place to stay in Bryson City. What courses do you recommend in the area? We would be willing to travel within a 1- to 1.5-mile radius.

Boone Sutties
Conroe, Texas

Start right down the road with the brand new Sequoyah National Golf Club ($65-$110; 828-497-3000, in Cherokee, a Robert Trent Jones II/Notah Begay creation in the heart of the Smokies. Narrow, but spectacular defines this tree-studded tribal track that's part of the Harrah's Cherokee Hotel & Casino.

Forty-five minutes to the east, in Asheville is the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa ($85-$149; 800-438-5800,, where the history of the hotel (ten U.S. Presidents have lodged there, including current First Golfer Barack Obama) is exceeded perhaps only by its classic Donald Ross layout, where savvy on uphill, downhill and sidehill lies will come in handy.

For another classic Ross experience at a fraction of the cost, the 6,420-yard, par-72 Asheville Municipal Golf Course ($17-$38; 828-298-1867, will satisfy. A flat front nine yields to a wildly hilly back side, capped off by the downhill plunge at the 222-yard, par-3 18th.

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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