Ballyowen Golf Club, Hamburg, NJ - Why all the Ballyhoo, Ballyowen?
Architect: Roger Rulewich
Par - 72
Excitement Level – 8/12
Difficulty – 9/12
Design – Four and ½ stars (out of 7)
Natural Setting – Four and ½ stars
Conditioning – Six and ½ stars
Cost - $135 Peak, $85 Off-Peak/Reduced
Yearly memberships – No
Value – Three stars
Overall – Four stars
Black 7032 73.6 131
Blue 6508 71.2 125
White 6066 70.0 122
Gold 5531 65.9/71.2 105/124
Red 4903 67.0 116
There has been a lot of ballyhoo about Ballyowen, some of which is deserved and some of which is marketing fluff parroted by over-enthusiastic New Yorkers and uninformed players who fall victim to the hyperbole. The course touts itself as a "true links experience." "The minute you see the site you will think you are in
Let's get something straight right from the get go. Ballyowen is an excellent golf course, but only a drunk goat would mistake the setting for
Despite the superfluous distractions for the uninformed, the course has some authentic characteristics. The entire site is treeless so the wind is merciless. Towering fescue lines both sides of most fairways and most greens are open in front and receptive to bump and run approaches.
Finally, the conditioning is superb. Fairways are impeccably manicured and the greens are tour quality and lightning quick.
The only other conundrum besides the marketing nonsense is the astronomical price. At $135 in high season and $85 at twilight, the course is an expensive splurge. The excellent design and phenomenal conditioning are refreshing, but the price can be prohibitive. We here at WITP have no problem telling players it’s an enjoyable round, but the value factor is diminished by the high price tag. You won't feel cheated, but its also nothing savvy travelers have not seen before. It's in great condition, but it is certainly not Bandon Dunes, or
ON THE COURSE
While the two opening par fours are short, accuracy is key. Any shot in even the short rough will have difficulty resulting in a green in regulation. The second is a solid risk reward par-4. The corner on this short dog-leg left is guarded by a deep chasm of fescue and brush. At a mere 300 yards (severely uphill) the green may be drivable, but any miss is either unplayable in the hazard or in a deep, penal greenside bunker.
The next stretch of holes are well designed, but any trained eye can easily see they are not links holes. The third hole features a huge Rorschak-like inkblot-shaped bunker in the middle of the fairway just short of the green. Not a pot bunker, but a classic parkland style Rees Jones-esque bunker. How Scottish is that?
Next, holes five, six and seven play around a large inland lake with the hazard uniformly on the right side so as to frustrate slicers. On the par three sixth, the hazard cuts in front of the green resulting in a forced carry to reach the green. Again, these do not resemble a links in any way.
The back nine feels more isolated and takes the players past the sheep paddock located to the right of the twelfth tee. It features another par three over water and more classic style bunkering.
CHIP SHOTS AND TAP-INS
The goal here is to showcase great $60 courses that are worth $120 and great $150 courses worth twice as much. Ballyowen is the opposite, a $135 course worth $60, maybe $80. To its credit, the course is a strong layout, impeccably manicured, features fantastic true-rolling lightning quick greens, but the inaccurate marketing schtick is both distracting and detracting.
To the courses credit, many players love the course. New Yorkers embrace anything of good quality in
As far as
For more information see www.newjerseygolf.com