Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

United States

Golf a four season sport - Jersey Gems

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Well, there you have it. Don't put your golf clubs in the deep recesses of the garage or basement for the winter. 

It's a given there has been frost on some recent cold Bucks County mornings. Heck, it will probably snow for Christmas. But look, many have been playing their best in recent months after a great season on area courses. Why mess up that great swing by putting one's clubs away and starting over next spring?

Why go through the agony of rekindling that grooved swing? Playing to your lowest handicap of the year at a time when you haven't hit a golf ball in months?

Okay, we are not all jet-setters who can dump the clubs in a G-4 and head to Florida or another warm location. 

Here's are a few suggestions.

1) When the weather gets into the 50s without a great deal of wind, make sure the clubs are in the car and get out even if only for nine holes. Winter golf is generally faster as less people are on the golf course.

2) Basements are great places for practice swings. Just make sure the munchkins aren't lurking around. 

3) Make some notes of the great, and not so great things you accomplished in 2016. Think of a plan to build on them. 

4) Sneak away for a long weekend of golf, using a cheap air fare to the south or anywhere warm. If that doesn't fit the budget, think of a drive that will accomplish much of the same. Winter golf at the Jersey Shore, Ocean City Maryland, WIlliamsburg Virginia can be found inexpensively and the weather can be much warmer than Bucks County. Not significantly warmer, but warmer.

While thinking of these items think about places you want to play in 2017. My goal this year was to play 30 "new" courses. That is, courses I've never played before. I am sitting on 29 and am ready for another!

Make sure you don't miss playing great courses within driving distance. Two of my particular favorites are the Atlantic City Country Club and Shore Gate Golf Club, both on the Jersey Shore and within a 90 minute ride with traffic.

Atlantic City, renovated in 1999 by Tom Doak, is a classic seaside gem. Located in Northfield, just a couple miles from Atlantic CIty, the "Home of the Birdie" provides an outstanding test of golf with upscale amenities. Great challenge on the course, great food inside the clubhouse. And a wealth of history.

There have been six USGA events held at Atlantic City, including the 1948 (Babe Zaharias), 1965 (Carol Mann) and 1975 Women's Open (Sandra Palmer). It was also the site in 1980 of the first Senior PGA Tour event, the PGA Inaugural Seniors.

Atlantic City and its sister courses, Ballamor and Scotland Run, have long been rated among the best places to play in the state of New Jersey. It's a quick ride and great test.

We've long loved the Shore Gate Golf Club, located just off the Garden State Parkway Exit 17, where one finds a true sparkling oasis amid the Jersey pines. Shore Gate (see story in the New Jersey section of courses on this site) has always been a top-notch layout, but if possible has only gotten better with age.

The fairways are superb, the greens are tantalizing but smooth and true, and the overall venue outstanding.

Recent years has seen the integration of new fescue which frames the course, giving a pleasing view and direction of where one goes with their tee ball. It also can be found near bunkers, almost like a do not hit here sign.

Shore Gate is a must play shore course.

As Sayresville's Jon Bon Jovi sings, "Who says you can't go home again?? 


NC Sandhills superb destination

Written by Bob Oliver on .




PINEHURST, NC --- If you have never been to the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, “Sandhills” area, then you just don’t know what you are missing.


This quaint North Carolina locale is known for its golf courses – the Number 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort will host this year’s USGA Men’s and Women’s Open Championships – but also its serenity.


Unlike some mega-golf destinations, the Pinehurst area has all one could want from a vacation spot but also the serenity, comfort and quiet one wants when they also want to kick back and enjoy like.


Still, being golfers, we do want to sample fairways and greens. And while the Pinehurst Resort is the marquis name in these parts, it’s not the only drawing card.


For my money, the two resorts directly across Midland Road from each other – Mid Pines and Pine Needles – are superb spots. Both feature Donald Ross designed layouts, and both have been ranked in national magazines “best” lists. Pine Needles has hosted three Women’s U.S. Opens on its own.”


“We offer our guests all they could want in a resort destination, but of course the focal point is great golf,” explains Kelly Miller, president of the Pine Needles/Mid Pines ownership company. Pine Needles offers a traditional Ross design, and Mid Pines is an outstanding challenge from another era.”


Much has been made of the restoration of Pinehurst Number 2 in preparation for the two national championships, but those in the know are aware that Mid Pines underwent a restoration of its own. The course opened in 1921, and over the years developed such a following that players had it ranked either first, second or third on their list of places to play in the area.


Architect Kyle Franz resurfaced the greens to hybrid Bermura grass, making the flat stick challenges fast and firm. The rough has been thinned, the bunkers re-worked with harder sand, and the overall challenge has been beautified, spruced up and manicured into an even better challenge.


Mid Pines is a walking course, given its compact 91 acres, as greens and tees are close together and there are none of the long walks between holes that abound in residential courses build over the last 40 years. While there are some houses along the perimeter of the layout, inside those 91 acres are just golfers and nature.


Pine Needles has many similarities with Mid Pines but it’s also worlds apart. Fairways are a little wider, and the green complexes a little more dastardly, but on both courses Mr. Ross blended the sand hills with stately pines, and hospitality second to none.


The spirit of Peggy Kirk Bell and her family abounds, as comfort, challenge and just the love of the game of golf is apparent. A half dozen USGA Championships have graced the fairways of Pine Needles, including three U.S. Women’s Opens. Who can forget wins by Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Cristie Kerr at Pine Needles?


History abounds both Pine Needles and Mid Pines. One never knows who you might run into at the resorts, from dignitaries to golf professionals, and while today each resort features all the amenities one expects from first class destinations, each also has its own charm. Sitting on the veranda at Mid Pines, watching the golfers play their final hole, is a treat.


The eyes of the golf world will be on Pinehurst in June, when on back-to-back weeks the Men’s and Women’s US Open will be on venerable Number 2, which underwent a re-tooling by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in2010. The site of Payne Stewart’s magnificent win will challenge the best golfers in the worlds.


While in the area visitors may sample Tobacco Road, the fine creation from the mind of Mike Strantz, or some of the areas scores of other courses. Price points for golf in the area are as wide as a friendly fairway, with packages making accommodations and golf affordable.


There is no shortage of challenges in the Sandhills area of North Carolina. It’s pristine, picturesque, perfect Pinehurst and serene, stellar Southern Pines. A good example is Southern Pines Golf Club, a Ross original design, and The Dormie Club, a recent offering off the pencils of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.


Don’t miss it.


CHIP SHOTS:  Pinehurst No. 2 is ranked as the number one ranked course in North Carolina in the Golfweek Magazine rankings, and right behind in order are Mid Pines, Dormie Club and Pine Needles. Also in the top 10 are Tobacco Road and Pinehurst No. 4 and 8….All of the clubs in this story feature outstanding practice facilities.


Love it or hate it, Stoneleigh's a challenge

Written by Bob Oliver on .

There is no middle ground when discussing the Stoneleigh Golf Club. Over the last 14 years golfers have learned to hate, or love, the course located just outside Round Hill, Virginia, near the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Lisa Maki designed Stoneleigh has dazzled and bedazzled players of all abilities. 


Its undulating fairways can lead to treacherous lies, well-placed hazards seem to grab errant golf balls, its ample greens are challenging even when they aren’t 11 on the stimpmeter. Oh, and there are the stone walls that come into play.


“That’s Stoneleigh, a lot of challenge for any level of player,” said former Director of Golf Bob Benning, a man who guided Stoneleigh in its early years before retiring. Benning still gives lessons at the Bob Benning School of Golf, so he’s an expert on the course one loves to love…or hate.” 

Vegas has more than slot machines

Written by Bob Oliver on .

Las Vegas has long been known as an entertainment capital, one that offers everything from gaming to glitter and from glamour to glitzy.

In recent years golf has become a major attraction in the desert, a respite from the gaming tables and big name entertainment.

"Golf in Las Vegas is special," admits long-time PGA Tour pro and now Champions Tour member Jim Colbert. "You might think all the courses are alike, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a little bit for everyone in Las Vegas."