It has been a whirlwind since returning from our recent summer journey last week, tropical storm
Isaac's arrival brought an extremely harrowing plane flight home and had rendered the home
compound under water which obviously changes your normal everyday order of things.Now that
the water has receded and the family compound has risen from the proverbial "moat", stories will
be written, course reviews will commence and new product features will be presented.
This traveling episode started with the usual family visit to Staten Island, N.Y . . . where there is
a pizzeria on every corner, and Tebow/Jets sports talk all day-everyday, in a city where Big Blue
are the reigning Super Bowl Champions (and are somehow under the radar).
Michael Kartrude, J.B and Matt Alwin at the Ace Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . photo by J. Salamone
The first of our course visits was out to the south shore of Long Island and the Woodmere Club.
The club was founded in 1912, but in 1954 Robert Trent Jones Sr redesigned the layout that
exudes loads of character and variety.I was given the tour by Head Pro Jeff Cowell, and was visited
by GM Donald Mollitor beside the 15th green.Woodmere Club is celebrating their centennial
anniversary, and will be our next layout featured in the Course Review section.
The 17th at Woodmere
Day two was clear across the other side of New York harbour to N.J and Bayonne Golf Club.The
vision of Eric Bergstol, Bayonne was a concept that seemed unlikely to many given it's location
and the origins . . . as it sits today, Bayonne rivals Whistling Straits and Chambers Bay as courses
that are faux links that have done the most with the least amount of natural topography.My guide
for the day was Assistant Professional Dave Polchinski, also known as the resident stick (and also
a fellow S.I native).From an industrial wasteland to a links stunner, Bayonne made the camera
say wow, look for the feature on Bayonne in the coming weeks.
The clubhouse and one of the largest American flags in existence are present everywhere at Bayonne.
The next leg of the journey was down to Atlantic City and Philadelphia to pick up the rest of the
traveling party, namely Michael Kartrude and Assistant Professional Matt Alwin.Once in Philly (Alwin
met us at the Ace Club), we took a quick spur of the moment detour and a 25 minute tour of Merion
and it's updated changes for the 2013 U.S Open.Let's just say that Matt Shaffer and his crew are
preparing a test that the games elite will not soon forget.Once on the grounds at Merion, it's hard
to describe the feeling . . . to say I'm looking forward to being part of Matt's volunteer staff at
Merion for next years national championship, would be a major understatement.
The short par 3 thirteenth at Merion is the first sight you see when you arrive at the legendary
Hugh Wilson layout.
After the buzz of seeing iconic Merion, we raced to Lafayette Hill and a round at the prestigious
Ace Club.If ever there was a moment to be let down by a course, this was it . . . surely anything
after seeing Merion would disappoint.
We kept an open mind, having heard good things about the Ace Club.A Gary Player signature course
that is managed and operated by the folks at Kemper Sports . . . if there is a company that does it
better than Kemper Sports, I've yet to see it.The Ace Club was one of the most aesthetically pleasing
parkland designs we've been lucky enough to experience, and that is exactly what a day at The Ace
Club is, an EXPERIENCE.The service here is top notch, Thanks to GM Kris Fair, Assistant Pro Mark Douglas,
Erv in the clubhouse and the great John Salamone looping for us. At 7471 yards (rating 76.1/slope 143),
this is a big ballpark worthy of any event.
The amazing 5th at the Ace Club
Next, it was a long trek (about 200 hundred miles) on to North Central Pennsylvania and the small
town of Eagles Mere in the shadow of the Pocono Mountains.We stopped about halfway up the ascent
into oblivion at the local Wawa convenience store/gas station and the temperature was about 15
degrees cooler than it was at sea level in Philly . . . as night fell it was nice to be chilly in August for
Eagles Mere Golf Club is a 1911 William Flynn design in an area where it feels like time has stood still.
When you go from Midtown Manhattan to Philadelphia, then to a rural habitat where cell phone
service is not a given . . . it's a nice reprieve (I can see why members of prestigious clubs in the
city retreat up here).The staff of Seth Kanaskie, Matt Alwin and Jenna Rothermel give the club a
warm and friendly atmosphere.The Flynn layout appears to be a pushover at first glance (at only
6150 yards), but it's greens are as resistant to scoring as anything you've ever rolled the rock on.
6th at Eagles Mere
Next it was on to Atlantic City, but while heading into southern N.J, I had an idea . . . I looked over
at M.K in shotgun mode "look it up on your iphone, I know we're close to Pine Valley in Clementon
. . . navigate us to The Valley".As it turned out we were only four miles away, and since it's a future
endeavor, I wanted to know exactly where it was.
This discreet security booth guards the entry to the #1 ranked course in the world: Pine Valley
The last stop on the journey was actually where it began, in Atlantic City.Atlantic City Country
Club is a unique place in the history of American Golf. ACCC professional Johnny McDermott, was
the youngest and first American to win the U.S Open in 1911, and the coining of the actual term
"Birdie" took place on the twelfth hole in 1903.The people that have passed through this club over
the last 115 years is an amazing list, and the club has it all documented and on display.GM Charles
Fahy is the perfect caretaker of this piece of Americana, his vast knowledge and passion for the
history of his club is infectious.
Amongst all of the history in the clubhouse, I noticed a party of 10 guys in the famed Leo Fraser
room . . . as I peaked in to observe what all the hollering was about, it was a fantasy football
draft and somebody apparently just took the 49er's defense in the first round, I was amused and
moved on to the Mens Lockeroom.
Par 3 twelfth at ACCC
Arnold Palmer spent many days at ACCC during his days in the military (he was stationed in Atlantic City)
. . . "The King" had his 82nd birthday dinner in the Tap Room & Grill last year.
The Tap Room & Grill, and men's locker room is worth the trip alone . . . some of the lockers of past
members and guests at ACCC: Arnold Palmer, Willie Mays, and my favorite . . . the notorious Al
The following day, the flight home was exactly what you don't want - eventful. We were so
fortunate to land safely, after 30 minutes of trying to land through extreme turbulence, the
passengers gave the pilot a roaring ovation for getting the plane down safely.
Hoping the next flight flight to Chicago for the Ryder Cup doesn't come with the same drama.