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Golf Course Review - Atlantic City Country Club
By Phil Sokol - Director of Operations (TSN)

1 - Par 4 450 Yds
2 - Par 4 368 Yds
3 - Par 4 353 Yds
4 - Par 3 144 Yds
5 - Par 4 445 Yds
6 - Par 5 592 Yds
7 - Par 4 452 Yds
8 - Par 3 196 Yds
9 - Par 4 452 Yds
10 - Par 5 488 Yds
11 - Par 4 432 Yds
12 - Par 3 134 Yds
13 - Par 5 553 Yds
14 - Par 4 339 Yds
15 - Par 3 190 Yds
16 - Par 4 400 Yds
17 - Par 3 157 Yds
18 - Par 4 432 Yds
Par 35 3,452 Yds Par 35 3,125 Yds
Architects: John Reid (1897), Willie Park Jr (1915), Howard C. Toomey & William S. Flynn (1925), Tom Doak (1999)
Year Opened: 1897
Location: Northfield, New Jersey
Slope: 128   Rating: 72.0
Par: 70
Yardage: 6,577
Awards Won:
 Ranked #1 Public/Daily Fee Course (New Jersey) - Golf Week (2006),
 Top 100 Classic Golf Courses in America - Golf Week (2006),
 Ranked 5th among Golf Digest's best in state (New Jersey),
 Named by Golf & Travel as one of America's Best 40 Resort Courses.
Key Events Held:
 U.S. Amateur (1901),
 U.S. Women's Open (1948, 1965, 1975),
 U.S. Women's Senior Amateur (1967),
 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur (1997),
 PGA Inaugural Seniors (1980),
 Atlantic City Commemorative (2004),
 Atlantic City Celebrity Kids' Classic (2000-01),
 Ron Jaworski Celebrity Golf Challenge (1999-present).
HISTORY: When one first talks about the history of Atlantic City Country Club, the first thing that comes to mind, is the proud distinctions of "The Birthplace of the Birdie," as well as being the site where the term "Eagle" was coined. Founded in 1897, the course first hosted the U.S. Amateur in 1901 won by Walter J. Travis. Travis, who designed Westchester Country Club's West Course, Garden City Golf Club and Equinox Golf Links, was a three-time winner of the U.S. Amateur and a six-time medalist in the event. Travis took up golf at age 36 and won his three U.S. Amateurs by age 42. The U.S. Women's Open made its first stop in Atlantic City in 1948, as Mildred Didrikson Zaharias was the winner. The "Babe," as she was called, posted a score of 300 and defeated Elizabeth Hicks by eight strokes. Seventeen years later the USGA made a return visit and Carol Mann came away with victory. Mann opened with 78, but rebounded with rounds of 70-70-72 to win by two shots over Kathy Cornelius. In 1965 a couple of firsts were marked, as the final round was telecast nationally for the first time and the last two rounds were played in two days instead of one as before. The U.S. Women's Open returned in 1975, as Sandra Palmer recorded one of only two rounds under par all week to win by four. Palmer finished at seven-over-par to finish ahead of JoAnne Carner, Sandra Post and amateur Nancy Lopez. The wind, which was extremely strong all week, grew fiercer during the final round and Palmer was one of just three players to shoot par on the last day. The second place result was one of Lopez' four runners-up finishes at this event, the only coveted title that eluded her throughout her career. Legendary amateur champion Carol Semple Thompson captured the 1997 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur at Atlantic City. Thompson, who has played in this event since its inception in 1987, also captured the tournament in 1990. Playing the course at just under 6,000 yards and a par of 72, Thompson defeated Leslie Shannon, 2 & 1 in the championship
In 1999, Tom Doak crafted the 15th to be a difficult
190-yard par three that plays into the wind.
match. Shannon was one down heading into the 16th, but dumped her approach into the water and she could not recover. The PGA's Champions Tour made its first foray into golf back in 1980 at Atlantic City, as Don January defeated Mike Souchak by two shots. The tournament was one of just four events in the inaugural season. The first American to capture the U.S. Open, John J. McDermott was the first professional at Atlantic City Country Club. The course has had a handful of architects throughout the years, tweaking and updating the land, most recently by Tom Doak. The course, now owned by Park Place Entertainment, brought in Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team to preserve the century-old history of the course while improving conditions. According to Renaissance Golf Design, "the character of the property was changed by excavating along the upper fairways to give the course more rolling topography, and using the earth to screen adjacent homes to provide more privacy for golfers." They added that, "trees in the middle of the course were
A beautiful reminder of the old days.
also transplanted to open up views of the marsh and of Atlantic City across the way. Large expanses between holes were returned to the open, sandy look which was a feature of the course in the early 1900's." Of the 18 greens, only four were preserved per their original design, while the remaining surfaces were modified to suit the shot values of the modified golf holes and the green speeds. Doak made significant changes to the course, as he shortened the second hole, lengthened the fifth, combined the 10th and 11th holes into a par five and added 70-plus yards to the 12th. The 14th and 15th holes brought about the most changes, as a new section of tidal marsh was dug into the original 15th to create a more challenging, short par-4 from a peninsula tee, while the following hole was crafted to play back into the wind, a difficult 184-yard par three. The final hole was also shortened into a par-four that plays back into the wind.

When arriving and leaving Atlantic City Country Club, you'll notice a bell hanging in the drive by the clubhouse. This bell was used back in the early 1900s to remind golfers that the last trolley was about to leave for Atlantic City. A beautiful reminder of days gone by.

The first hole is a monster 450-yard par-four that plays dead into the wind. This is not your ordinary opener.
REVIEW: Wind, wind and more wind. That is the determining factor when playing Atlantic City Country Club. If the wind is up, how could it not, as the course is located right on the marsh in between Atlantic City and the mainland and tree protection is minimal, then the course is a bear of a test. The first hole starts out with a monster of a par-four of 450 yards dead into the wind. Get out the big dog right away, as you'll need a big drive just to get into range of a long-iron or fairway metal. The green is slightly elevated, guarded by sand and slopes from left-to-right and back-to-front. This is not your ordinary opener. Although into the wind, the second is only 368 yards from the tips (maybe they could switch the first two holes). This straightaway hole, requires a solid tee ball that favors the left side, however a stand of trees flank the side, while sand guards the right. From the fairway, only a medium to short iron is left to a two-tiered
On the third hole, a long iron or fairway metal off the tee is the play, as sand protects the left-side landing area.
green that slopes from right-to-left and is protected by sand on the right. The third hole offers the player his first view of the Atlantic City skyline, as the hole faces directly to the east. A long iron or fairway metal off the tee is the play, but stay right, as sand protects the left-side landing area. A little wedge will be left to a miniscule green protected every which way by sand. Miss long and your left with a difficult putt or pitch down a slippery slope, short and your ball will spin back off the elevated green. The fourth is a tricky 144-yard par-three, that plays with the wind from behind and to the left. Sand protects front right and back left to this narrow green that's fairly flat. A definite birdie chance, if you missed one on holes two and three. The heart of the course starts on the fifth. Measuring 445 yards from the back buttons, the fifth
The fourth is a tricky 144-yard par-three that plays with the wind from behind and to the left.
plays straightaway to an undulating fairway, guarded along the left side by sand. The putting surface sits in a punchbowl type setting with more sand on the left. If your going to miss, play to the right and take your chances getting up-and-down. A stern test with the wind blowing from left-to-right. The longest hole on the course, the par-five sixth requires a big tee shot to the right side of the fairway and an equally long second to set up a short pitch to the green. The hole, which usually plays downwind, needs to be played strategically, as to avoid the numerous sand traps down the left side. The putting surface, which slopes from back-to-front and right-to-left, is guarded by a pair of deep bunkers to the right. There is no shame in making par on the hardest hole on the course. Like the first, the seventh is another monster par-four. Playing back into the wind, a huge tee shot is needed to leave a long-iron into the huge undulating green. Sand guards the entire right side of the putting surface, so bail left if you must. The speed of this green could
A huge tee shot is needed at the seventh to leave a long-iron into a large undulating green.
be the quickest on the course, so leave yourself below the hole or expect a three-putt. The longest par-three on the course, the eighth plays downwind, making club selection very difficult. Not to mention the numerous sand traps blanketing the green. Whatever you do, don't miss short and right, because the deepest bunker on the course will give even the best player fits. Oh, the ninth. What a classic par-four. This 452-yard beauty doglegs to the left and although it plays downwind, players must be careful not to run his tee shot through the fairway, as gnarly trees guard the right side. A medium-iron should remain to a relatively flat and wide green, that once again is protected by sand left and right.

After a tough outward nine, the back starts out with a excellent chance for birdie, with a reachable par-five. The only problem here is that the hole doglegs to the right and has water by the green. The top players should be able to bomb a tee shot over the corner of the fairway to set up a long-iron or fairway metal to the green. Water, however comes into play along the left side to the putting surface, so bail out or layup right. The green is quite tricky with a huge swale near the front, so depending upon the pin placement, try to use the slope to set up your birdie. By the way, your second shot into the green, plays directly into the wind. The 11th is one of the seven par- fours at Atlantic City over 400 yards in length. The hole is divided by a series of bunkers that dissect the fairway as the hole bends to the right.

The 12th is only 134 yards and plays downwind, so just a wedge is needed to hit this small target.
Into the wind, driver is needed, so play down the left side. Your second is slightly uphill to an elevated green that slopes from back-to-front with sand right and a large slope to the left. The 11th is your last test until your reach the 15th. The little 12th is only 134 yards and plays downwind, so wedge is only needed to hit this small target. Sand will capture any shot just off line, making getting up-and-down very difficult. A certain birdie hole could result in bogey or worse. Although the par-five 13th is ranked as the second most difficult on the course, the hole can be tamed. A tee shot down the right of the fairway will set the player up in the go-zone to reach the green in two. A couple of problems however. Water left off the tee and in the layup-area definitely comes into play. Marsh and sand to the right can also play havoc. A myriad of bunkers left and by the green can catch a stray shot, but if played down the right side, birdies and pars are most likely, as the putting surface is not that difficult.
On the 13th hole, water definitely comes into play off the tee and in the layup-area.
The problem with the 14th hole is not the length or the hazard, it's choosing the right club off the tee. At 339 yards, the hole is a certain risk-reward type, as players can reach the green with driver since its downwind. However, for those of us who layup, the landing-area is very narrow, forcing a medium- to long-iron off the tee. Now it's time to attack the green, well maybe not. The putting surface is quite long and slopes severely from left-to-right towards the marsh. I know you were looking for birdie, but take par and move on. One of the best par-three's in the area, the 15th has it all. Length, hazards and of course, wind. Just 190 yards, the wind can make this hole play 40 yards longer, as there is no protection to speak of. Five-iron to five-metal can be the club of choice, so choose wisely, as marsh, sand and a large putting surface make this hole, the hardest on the inward nine. The 16th is more beautiful than difficult, as it plays somewhat downwind as the hole bends slightly to the right. Marsh and water guard the entire right side through the green, while sand protects the left. Only a three-metal or long-iron is needed to set up a medium to short iron to a slick green that slopes from left-to-right. Realistically, your last birdie chance. The second to last hole is an outstanding par-three of just 157 yards. Who said you need to be over 200 yards in length to be challenging, certainly not Pebble Beach or Olympic or Pine Valley. The 17th plays uphill and into the wind, causing club selection problems. The green sits down,
The 18th is a great finishing hole of 400 yards that doglegs to the right, finishing in front of the clubhouse.
nestled between mounding, with sand short and long. The putting surface is two-tiered and quite slick from back-to-front. Prior to Doak's redesign, the 18th played as a par-five. Now its a great finishing hole of 432 yards, that doglegs to the right, finishing in front of the clubhouse. The tee shot plays directly into the wind and needs to carry far enough to leave an open shot to the green. A medium-iron down to a wedge can be the club of choice, but don't be long with a front pin, as the putting surface slopes from back-to-front.

OVERALL: Getting on Atlantic City Country Club used to be impossible, however since the course is now owned by Caesar's Resorts and has been made a public facility, tee times are not a problem. The price is a little steep, but it is quite worth it.

There are many things that make A.C. a great course. First, the history. Second, the mystique of the course. And finally, the course itself. The practice facility, the course conditioning, the staff are second to none. Anytime you play Atlantic City is a treat, but try to get out in late summer and early fall, when the course is fast and firm and the rough is brown and the fairways and greens are emerald and true.

This venue is a perfect example that courses do not need to be over 7,000 yards in length. The elements is what makes this course outstanding. The views of the Atlantic City skyline, the sun setting over the clubhouse as you stroll up 18 and the ambience of one of the grandest places in the history of golf in the United States. This is golf in its purest form.

Aces, pars or bogeys, send your thoughts to Phil Sokol at psokol@sportsnetwork.com.
Phil Sokol
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