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Here's why this South Jersey course deserves special recognition

 

 

By G.N.Covella

 

For nearly four decades, travelers from across the globe have identified Atlantic City, NJ – with its world-famous Boardwalk, glitzy casinos and nightlife – as one of the top tourist destinations in the country. More recently, the southern region of New Jersey has also gained the reputation as a top-tier golf resort with more than 20 world-class public-play courses within a short drive of the many downtown AC hotspots.

 

Indeed, as golf in South Jersey continues to redefine itself and, in the process, attract more visitors to the Garden State, courses continue to seek ways to enhance the player’s total vacation experience. At Sea Oaks in Little Egg Harbor Township, a winning trifecta of a great course design, excellent cuisine in a grandiose 35,000-square-foot clubhouse, and on-site overnight accommodations – the 31-room Inn at Sea Oaks - has catapulted this facility to must-play status for local and out-of-state visitors alike.

 

“We certainly have a lot to offer, with everything encapsulated right here on our property,” said Director of Golf Jeff Bonicky, PGA. “Of course, we are proud of our golf course, but we have so much more to offer our visitors. The food is great, our accommodations at The Inn at Sea Oaks are second-to-none and our staff is as good as it gets.”

 

Situated approximately 30 minutes north of Atlantic City, just off the Garden State Parkway, Sea Oaks’ Ray Hearn-designed, 6,950-yard course is the centerpiece of this thriving facility that is surrounded by Four Seasons at Sea Oaks, an active adult community of 387 home sites.

 

According to Bonicky, Sea Oaks’ popularity – and the 38,000-plus golf rounds played here each year – can be traced to the club’s role in accommodating five distinct client groups.

 

“First, we have a very strong membership base,” he said, “and being a semi-private facility we are also able to offer daily-fee golf to the public. In addition, we host an amazing number of outings throughout the year and with our own hotel on the premises, we act as a self-contained resort with unique stay-and-play packages. Plus, being a part of an active adult community, we also cater to the residents within Sea Oaks.”

 

The location of Sea Oaks to the Jersey Shore cannot be overstated. Consequently, summer traffic from nearby Long Beach Island and points north provide a constant flow of customer traffic to the course. Add Atlantic City into the mix and Sea Oaks may just be in the perfect spot for a golf course in New Jersey.

 

But location aside, let’s not downplay the pure quality of golf at Sea Oaks. In analyzing Hearn’s design, the architect has created a wonderful parkland-style track that can both challenge the best golfers while offering a comfortable experience for novice players.

 

“That’s the true beauty of our course. It’s all about having a relaxing round of golf,” Bonicky said. “There are six sets of tees and, consequently, the course can be very playable for men and women.”

From the first hole, a winding, downhill 565-yard, par-5 masterpiece, golfers get the immediate sense that Sea Oaks is not your ordinary design.

 

And they are absolutely correct.

 

To Hearn’s credit, each and every hole at Sea Oaks has its own unique attributes, whether it’s the creative design and positioning of the many bunkers on the course, the meticulous use of elevation changes to favor well-placed shots – or penalize off-target hits – and the undulating greens that are prevalent on nearly every hole. Of special note is the double green shared by Holes 13 and 15. The green is an architectural masterpiece that measures 45,000 square feet. If that sounds like a large piece of real estate, it is.

 

The par-5 16th hole is considered by most to be the signature hole, and for good reason. A long, carefully placed tee shot will leave a manageable 200-plus yard shot to the green …  if the golfer can stomach the idea of carrying the large pond and stone wall that guard the green.

 

Hole 18 at Sea Oaks provides a fine finish to the round. The uphill, 410-yard design includes a uniquely designed pot bunker at the center of the fairway that definitely comes into play off the tee. The green is framed by two bunkers at the rear of the putting surface and the signature Sea Oaks sign to the back right. With the clubhouse directly behind, this golf hole has all the visual elements that a golfer could want. This is a finishing hole that definitely screams, “thanks for stopping by … come back soon!”

 

Add on an expansive practice area and it’s evident that Sea Oaks is committed to provide a complete golfing experience for its customers.

 

“We think we have something very special here,” Bonicky said, “and judging by the feedback we get from everyone who visits Sea Oaks, we like to think we’re doing it right.”

SEA OAKS

 

 

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Copyright 2018 GolfStyles NJ Magazine                               Office: 1-800-844-8631  •   FAX: 856-690-1610   • Publisher: Gerald N. Covella, G.Covella@golfstyles.net

Sea Oaks 18th Green