Course: I told you guys I’d finally get down to the Shore and I’m really glad I did. There are a ton of quality tracks down there and I can’t quite figure out why I’ve never been down before now to check out the courses. It’s fitting that I played BHP first, as it was the pioneer of the Shore courses. It was designed in 1993 by Stephen Kay, who also built Scotland Run, Harbor Pines and the Architects Club. BHP was built during the first golf boom of the early 1990’s, when golf course architecture was experience a revival of sorts. As time wore on into the 2000’s, BHP became more of a classic layout when compared to other more modern extreme designs that were popping up every where. To keep up with the times, BHP built another course in 2000. The older one was West and the newer one was East. The East eventually closed in 2005 due to financial issues, but the West remained.
Here’s a history of the Shore courses since BHP started it all:
Blue Heron Pines West, Egg Harbor Township, 1993
Galloway National, Galloway Township, 1994 (Private)
Harbor Pines, Egg Harbor Township, 1996
Sand Barrens, Middle Township, 1997 (Opened 9 more holes in 1999)
Scotland Run, Williamstown, 1999
Sea Oaks, Little Egg Harbor Township, 2000
Trump National Philadelphia, 2000 (Private, formerly “Pine Hill”)
Blue Heron Pines East, Egg Harbor Township, 2000, closed 2005
Ballamor, Egg Harbor Township, 2001 (Formerly Private)
Twisted Dune, Egg Harbor Township, 2001
Hidden Creek, Egg Harbor Township, 2002 (Private)
McCullough’s Emerald Links, Egg Harbor Township, 2002
Shore Gate, Dennis Township, 2002
Vineyard Golf at Renault, Egg Harbor City, 2004
Lest we forget Atlantic City Country Club, which was founded in 1897. In late 2012, Ron Jaworski purchased BHP and it is now under his ownership and control. That’s actually a good thing, as Jaws owns a few courses and they’re all run quite well. The East course was considered one of the best courses to close down during the recession, but the West course likely survived hard times because of its classic layout, scenery and increasing interest the more you play it. It’s a tree lined shot maker’s course with very fast greens that rewards long hitters that can keep it straight and demands aerial shots to most of the greens. I played BHP on an absolutely perfect Saturday morning. After warming up at the range, putting green, and chipping area, my group played a composite of blue tees and back tees that got us to about 6,400 yards. After getting the go ahead from the starter, we were off. The First is a 290 yard par 4. It’s a nice hole to ease you into the round. Because of its length, you have a lot of options on what club to hit off the tee and for your approach. Go with what you hit straight, as the fairway is narrow and anything off fairway is trouble. And anything beyond the green is dead.
Looking back at the First from the Second tee
A view of the first green from the Second tee
The Second is a 155 yard par 3. Things get interesting quickly, as the green is protected by a wide bunker along the front, while larger bunkers lurk on the left and right of the green. Get your distance right and hit it straight.
The Third is the first par 5 at 495 yards. So a par 4, 3 and 5 to start off with. It’s straight, but anything to the sides is in the trees. The green is tucked on the left side and slopes back to front. There’s an opening at the front of the green for a rare low running approach shot if need be. Definitely keep it straight.
Tee shot at the Third
Second shot territory
The Fourth is a par 3 at 164 yards.Cross bunkers guard the front of the green and water is on the far right of the hole. The greens were starting to beat me up here and this one is no exception. There’s not a whole lot of room left or right either, so really, Kay wants nothing but straight shots, yet allows some leeway if you get sideways.
TheFifth is a 390 yard par 4. The tee shot is one of the tougher ones, with water on the right and trees looming you over on the left. The green is set on the right, with a large bunker set right in the center of the fairway to the left of the green. I usually leak right on my shots, so this hole fit my swing issues.
Tee shot at the Fifth
Off to the right of the Fifth fairway
The Sixth is a 375 yard par 4. This hole is almost the mirror reflection of the Fifth. Water is off the left of the tee shot while trees are right, the fairway sprawls left instead of right, then dog legs slight right to the green.
Tee shot at the Sixth
The Seventh was a fun little par 4, at 295 yards. There’s a cluster of bunkers, then fairway, then another cluster of bunkers before the green. It doesn’t look like there’s any fairway from the tees; just bunkers everywhere. There was a ton of room, though, and after a great tee shot, I promptly flubbed into one of the greenside bunkers. You win some, you lose some.
Tee shot at the Seventh
Towards the right of the Seventh fairway
The Eighth is a 530 yard par 5 that dog legs right after the tee shot, then goes straight to the green, which is slightly elevated and set to the right of the fairway. Bunkers are short and far of the green, to collect any shots for guys going for the green and misjudged their distances.
Tee shot at the Eighth
After the dogleg
Just short of the Eighth green
The Ninth is a 376 yard par 4. There’s a bunker on the left for bad tee shots and then bunkers near the green.There’s a small opening on the right side of the green for approach shots, but the bunker fronting the green demands an aerial shot most of the time. The green sloping back to front actually helps you here, especially if you’re second shot is a little longer.
Tee shot at the Ninth
Second shot territory
Generally, the front nine was a pretty enjoyable set of holes. Fair, forced you to execute, yet not overly penal. The routing was pretty seamless and allowed you to settle into the round nicely. I’d rank them 7, 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 8, 9, 1. The Tenth is a 367 yard par 4. The Tenth sets a tone for the back nine, which is that the course is done being nice. The Tenth typifies what you get on the back; a stern yet not unfair test that allows creativity with your shot selection, so long as you execute. The Tenth has bunkers along the front right side of the fairway and a fairly large bunker out on the left side of the hole. Then the green is very well protected with water on the left, virtually no opening to the green and a steep drop off towards the right. I got killed this hole and could feel the wheels slowly coming off. The Eleventh was a neat little par 3 at 115 yards. There’s water directly in front, then a lateral bunker in the front of the green. Also short right, there’s a small pot bunker, which was a little homage to the Devil’s Arse at Pine Valley. Anything mis hit is pretty much dead. I think all courses should have a short par 3 and the creativity of it usually dictates the overall strength in general. This hole doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
The Twelfth is a 386 yard par 4. I didn’t see much of this hole because I was in the trees a lot, but there is a larger bunker near the tee landing area that’s not too tough to carry. There’s also a long bunker along the left side and with trees on the right, the hole is begging you to draw it off the tee.
Tee shot at the Twelfth
The Thirteenth is a 342 yard par 4. It’s also a dog leg left, but the woods are much narrower and the shorter length of the hole gives you more options off the tee to get on the green in two.
Tee shot at the Thirteenth
The Fourteenth is a 483 yard par 5. There is water short and left off the tee, but your third shot must carry a larger waster area that runs the entire width of the fairway. The green is large, but undulates and there is a steep drop off with hidden bunkers off the far side.
Tee shot at the Fourteenth
Bunker area that must be carried
The Fifteenth is a 390 yard par 4. It dog legs left and water protects the green and the dog leg from being crossed over.
The Sixteenth is the last par 3 at 177 yards. It’s some what elevated, bunkers on the left and surrounded by trees. The only acceptable miss here is short.
The Seventeenth is a 405 yard par 4. It’s a slight dog leg right with bunkers right of the fairway near the tee landing area and left of the green. You can feel things starting to calm down, as the routing eases you back down to a smooth finish.
Tee shot at the Seventeenth
Approach shot at the Seventeenth
The Eighteenth is a softer par 5 to ease you back to the clubhouse at 473 yards. It also dog legs right, but there’s open space to the green, giving you more options on how to get there. A great chance at a birdie to make you forget getting pummelled the last few holes.
Tee shot at the Eighteenth
A look at the Eighteenth green
Generally, the back nine is tougher, almost 100 yards longer, and has a little more character than the front. Not a weak hole and even the generic last few holes were done quite well. I’d rank them 14, 15, 11, 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18. BHP was a great play and challenging enough to stay interesting for repeat play. The scenery and interesting features of each hole made it easy to remember each one and you had to stay focused on shot selection and distance control to avoid trouble. I liked the classic use of sand, trees and water to create a shotmaker’s course where the second and third shots were paramount. Conditions were great, service terrific and the cart girl came around enough. As the course that started the modern trend of the Shore as a golf destination, BHP is now a classic play that is worth playing.
Gripes: There was some lady marketing on the par 3 Eleventh who was rather hostile. Her pitch didn’t make a whole lot of sense and she was angry when no one felt like buying in to it. Kind of weird. Otherwise, not a whole lot of complaints here. Get rid of all the trees maybe? I kid.
Bar/grill: A nice inside and outside area with overhead t.v.’s. Standard drinks and food, yet a great place to hang out after the round.
Clubhouse: Well stocked and a great selection of shirts and hats.
Practice area: A large range and putting green that you can chip on from a nearby mat.
Getting there: About 10 minutes away from the Farley rest stop off the AC Expressway, just outside AC proper.
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