A recent visit to The Shore Club revealed that the rebranding from the name of Wildwood Country Club is much more than just a new name.
In a long term process it is continuing to improve both the club house facility and the golf course. The club has a history going back to it’s opening in in 1923. Walter Hagan played there and Arnold Palmer, when he was serving in the Coast Guard in nearby Cape May, was a frequent visitor.
Even as construction of the Garden State Parkway disturbed the original course, it has retained much of its character with adapting and putting in new holes.
Part of the renovations to the golf course is to restore the bunkering. Over time the bunkers developed higher faces than they had. The work on the front nine is complete and those high faces have been modified with the turf growing on the slopes and running down to the bunker edges, back to how Wayne Stiles originally constructed them.
This is not a long golf course by today’s standards playing 5829 yards from the white tees and 5262 yards from the more forward green (senior) tees. It can play longer than the listed yardages so don’t let the numbers fool you. The club is focused on being family orientated and attracting more women and junior players and it has a 3765 yard course in that regard. Now all that said it can stretch out to 6,714 yards which will test the best players to challenge par.
The biggest variable is the wind, which can briskly flow from the bay and cause a one or two club difference to expected carry. This makes the Shore Club a little different each and every time one plays.
In addition to the bunker restorations tree removal is an ongoing process. Courses used to think tree line fairways were the thing to have because a lot of the old courses were built on properties that didn’t have a lot or trees. Case in point is Oakmont near Pittsburgh which a number of years ago brought the club back to its roots by removing nearly all trees.
The most notable area where trees were removed come on the par 5 12th hole. It’s one of the replacement holes and it just never quite fit into the overall look and feel of the rest of the course. Twelve is a moderate to short par 5 that plays 501 yards from the tips and 441 from the white tees.
Before tree removal it was a driver, short iron and a wedge. Now with a big drive it can play as a long par four because of a massive tree removal project that opened up an avenue to the green. However that long shot to reach the green in two must carry water that caresses the front of the green complex. Think Tin Cup and ultimate risk reward.
The illustration below shows the hole and where the cart path runs was surrounded by trees forcing a layout to about 90 yards out. The next phase on the renovation of this hole is to add tall fescue for aesthetics near the pond.
The addition of fescue isn’t limited to this one area however as several other areas have been identified to grow in areas that would not normally be in play but in areas that would just add some character of a shore course.
In that vein, on holes that are up against the bay there is a desire to open the vista to see the water and the view of Wildwood on the other side. That is going to take time as those areas are sometimes not accessible and too wet to get to. Standing in the club house with Director of Golf Fred Reidel pointed to one big tree on the 7th hole and several in the distance they would like to clear to have a clear view of the bay from the MacKissic’Pub.
Marketing and Membership Director Amanda Ruhl said it best. “Some places make promises and don’t follow up on them. At The Shore Club we are doing it.” Membership is on the upspring as The Shore Club offers a fine practice facility, golf course, food and beverage.
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