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The Jersey Devil's Delight

CAPE MAY NATIONAL GOLF CLUB
Route 9 and Florence Avenue, Erma; 609-884-1563, cmngc.com. Yardage: 6,905. Par: 71. Slope: 136. Architects: Karl Litten and Robert Mullock, 1991. Greens Fees: $25-$85.
T&L Golf Rating: ***
There hadn't been a new public course built in South Jersey in decades when Robert Mullock, a Philadelphia insurance executive, started work on Cape May National in 1988. Mullock and Litten preserved specimen trees and wrapped the holes around what became a large bird sanctuary and wildflower preserve. Mullock's insistence on keeping the course as natural as possible has given rise to gripes that it burns out in South Jersey's oppressively humid summers. But his routing has its unique charms and challenges, and you'll remember the holes.

BEST OF THE REST
With wide fairways, short rough and large, undulating greens, Harbor Pines ($45-$95; 609-927-0006) is pretty and putts fast and true. Opened in 2000, Sea Oaks ($55-$105; 609-296-2656) is a rolling, mostly parkland course with rippling fairways, little water and a combination of sandy waste areas and traditional bunkers. And at Twisted Dune ($50-$95; 609-653-8019), owner Archie Struthers created the design on his own, wanting an Irish links feel. It may get closer to that as it grows in.

PRIVATE GEMS
Atlantic City Country Club, Northfield. Pushing enough chips at Park Place Entertainment casinos (Bally's, Caesars, the Claridge and the Hilton) earns you a rare tee time. Founded in 1897, it hosted six national championships between 1901 and 1997. Park Place had Tom Doak restore the course in 2000.

Galloway National Golf Club, Galloway Township. Tom Fazio's 1994 layout is dramatic, gorgeous and one of the best tests in Jersey.

Hidden Creek Golf Club, Egg Harbor Township. Built by Roger Hansen, owner of Blue Heron Pines, Hidden Creek (designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 2002) sprawls across 750 acres of variegated woodland that lends itself to the architects' understated style.

Hollywood Golf Club, Deal. In its own quiet way, Deal is the Southampton of the Jersey Shore, and Hollywood is its jewel. Walter Travis renovated the course in 1917 with riotous fairway bunkers.

Pine Valley Golf Club, Pine Valley. Everything you've heard is true, and then some. With island fairways set amidst seas of sand and scrub, it is ruggedly beautiful and jaw-droppingly penal. Millionaire Philadelphia hotelier George Crump died before the course he designed with H. S. Colt was completed in 1920.

Stone Harbor Golf Club, Cape May Court House. With a rating of 74.0 (to Pine Valley's 74.1), Desmond Muirhead's 1988 design is tough and controversial, with vertiginous tees and monstrous carries.

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