Inside: Southern New Jersey Golf Courses | New Jersey Plus | Southern New Jersey Dining | Southern New Jersey Accomodations
First, understand that there are two New Jerseys. North Jersey, in pop myth, is The Sopranos. South Jersey is early Springsteen. South Jersey looks more like North Carolina than like North Jersey. The rolling parkland of Baltusrol is North Jersey. The sandy splendor of Pine Valley is pure South Jersey.
The mood is casual and unpretentious, which is not to say unambitious. The food and accommodations are first-rate, if you know where to go, and the surroundings range from highway honky-tonk to Atlantic City casino glitz, from Victorian gingerbread to Huck-like scenes of kids fishing from the causeways. There are blueberry farms and cranberry bogs. Cedar-stained creeks flow through the Pine Barrens, where, legend has it, the original fork-tailed Jersey Devil haunted the natives and ultimately got an NHL team named after him. The smell of funnel cake wafts along the boardwalk amid amusement-park lights and the twin roars of roller coasters and surf.
"Ah, the Atlantic Ocean," Burt Lancaster said to Susan Sarandon as they strolled down the boardwalk in Louis Malle's Atlantic City. "If you think it's something now, you should have seen it in the old days." There was golf in the old days, but you wouldn't write home about it unless you were fortunate enough to play one of the ultraprivate clubs nestled like diamonds among the pines: Seaview, where the house limousines were Rolls-Royces; the Atlantic City Country Club, where the term "birdie" was reportedly coined and where Walter Travis won the 1901 U.S. Amateur; and fearsome Pine Valley, target golf's ultimate roller-coaster ride. But all that's changed, as a recent building boom has led to numerous outstanding daily fee courses, which pride themselves on offering a country-club-for-a-day experience.