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The Jersey Devil's Delight

In the last decade top architects including Tom Fazio, Dr. Michael Hurd-zan and Dana Fry, and Stephen Kay have built courses here. At least 200 new holes of daily fee golf have been created, prompting the renovation of some older tracks as well as the building of several private clubs. "Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head have greater quantity," says Kay, "but I challenge any other destination to surpass the quality and architectural variety of golf in the Atlantic City area." Tee times for some (but not all) courses can be booked through the Greater Atlantic City Golf Association (800-465-3222, gacga.com).

600 Odessa Avenue, Cologne; 888-478-2746, blueheronpines.com. Yardage: 7,221. Par: 71. Slope: 135. Architect: Steve Smyers, 2000. Greens Fees: $55-$100.
T&L Golf Rating: ****
The linksy Blue Heron Pines East is a must-play. On over 190 flat and scruffy acres, Smyers carved contours that are as strategically interesting as they are visually pleasing. Forced carries are almost nonexistent, but heroic options present themselves on several holes. Though inland, the course is often wind-strafed, but that is not the only reason to keep the ball low. Subtle slopes and collection areas guide and helpfully carom the low-running shot that properly "rides the contours," as Smyers puts it. Though it is a bear from the tips, high handicappers can be bullish: Recovery is possible from all but the most egregious goofs.

500 West Branch Avenue, Pine Hill; 877-450-8866, golfpinehill.com. Yardage: 6,969. Par: 70. Slope: 140. Architect: Tom Fazio, 2000. Greens Fee: $130.
T&L Golf Rating: ****
Fazio's fairways pour as irrefutably as lava, and his routing imbues each elevation change with strategic purpose. As a result, you get exciting par fours like the sixth and twelfth, daunting doglegs like the par-four fifteenth, ticklish club selections on the par threes and inspirational ascents to a majestically enthroned green on the ninth and a plateau on the eighteenth that caps a memorable and testing journey.

1765 Route 9 North, Swainton; 609-465-3555, sandbarrensgolf.com. Yardage: 3,583 (North); 3,386 (South); 3,509 (West). Par: 36 (all nines). Slope: 130 (West/South); 133 (South/North); 135 (North/West). Architects: Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, 1997, 1999 (third nine). Greens Fees: $47-$89.
T&L Golf Rating: ****
The course was to be a parkland track until Hurdzan and Fry discovered a vast subsurface layer of sand, a geological souvenir of the aeons when present-day South Jersey lay beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Soon bulldozers were carving this hidden beach into an obbligato of free-form bunkers and lengthy waste areas bristling with wild grasses. Off the tee, landing areas are often more generous than they appear, but the course is otherwise fairly tight. Approaches to the intriguing green complexes require imagination commensurate with their design. Fry, the aesthetician of the design team, thinks about such things as how shadows will define the bunkers; play early or late in the day to fully appreciate his art.


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