GOLF COURSE REVIEW - BALLAMOR GOLF CLUB
Course Architect: Dan Schlegel
Course Designed: Ault, Clark & Associates
Year Opened: 2001
Location: Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Slope: 132. Rating: 74.5
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 5 557 Yds 10 - Par 5 578 Yds
2 - Par 4 422 Yds 11 - Par 4 418 Yds
3 - Par 4 326 Yds 12 - Par 3 160 Yds
4 - Par 4 446 Yds 13 - Par 4 444 Yds
5 - Par 5 625 Yds 14 - Par 3 190 Yds
6 - Par 3 168 Yds 15 - Par 4 366 Yds
7 - Par 4 396 Yds 16 - Par 4 458 Yds
8 - Par 3 223 Yds 17 - Par 4 332 Yds
9 - Par 4 466 Yds 18 - Par 5 523 Yds
Par 36 3,629 Yds Par 36 3,469 Yds
Awards Won: Ranked #10 by Golfweek - Best Courses you can play (N.J.) (2013),
Rated 4th best public course in New Jersey - Golf Magazine (2010).
HISTORY: When it first opened for business in 2001, Ballamor Golf Club was a
private facility, but just eight years later, the club filed for bankruptcy.
The economy and the abundance of golf at the Jersey shore certainly had plenty
to do with it.
Several months later in 2010, Ballamor reopened its doors as a daily fee,
upscale golf course with rates from as low as $58 (November through March) to
$105 on weekends during the summer months.
Designed by the long-standing firm of Ault, Clark & Associates, with Dan
Schlegel leading the way, Ballamor received high marks when the first tee shot
Schlegel, who also designed a couple of other New Jersey courses while with
the organization, left the design team just a few years later. "My own firm
was started in January of 2005," Schlegel said. "Let's just say it was time
for me to test the market when I started the firm, due to some restructuring
and market conditions. I needed to take my own best interests into
consideration. It was a time of uncertainty in the industry, but I was very
busy quite quickly."
The course itself encompasses over 350 acres of the beautiful New Jersey
pinelands and is not your typical layout, which usually includes home sites
and the like. Not at Ballamor.
However, the process of crafting Ballamor was certainly not an easy task.
"There were significant environmental restrictions at Ballamor," Schlegel
said. "The site has the head waters of English Creek running through it and it
flows to Great Egg Harbor Bay. There were two tributaries that crossed the
site. Each of these two tributaries had a 150-foot buffer along each side,
making a total of a 300-foot total buffer. This broke the site into four
quadrants and dictated the routing. We were not able to clear any trees or do
any other construction activity in these buffers, except build paths and
Ballamor features four distinct sections or "pods" as they call it, carved
through the pinelands. "It is spread out quite a bit," continued Schlegel.
"However, this made each individual 'pod' of land quite intimate in terms of
the playing experience. Other than staying out of the buffers, there were no
The first grouping includes holes 1, 6 and 18, the nearest stretch to the
clubhouse. Holes 2-5 are next, followed by the section of holes 7 and 15-17,
and the final pod of 8-14.
"The owner had a specific vision in mind for his golf course," Schlegel said.
"At the time, there were a lot of courses being built that were exposing
native sand and trying to create the scraggly look of Pine Valley. Our owner
wanted a very manicured look to his course with top conditioning. These were
the marching orders. However, once we were under construction, they were very
hands off and allowed me and the contractor (Pavelec Brothers) to work very
closely and build what we thought was best. It was a great project to design
and build. The whole process was a lot of fun."
In this day and age of course design, many architects have reverted back to
the "less is more" concept or the minimalist aspect, but that was part of the
case in 2001. "Even though the site did have some roll to it, we did move a
moderate amount of earth," Schlegel said. "Much of the site was fairly flat.
All the ponds on the golf course were dug as part of the design, providing a
majority of the fill material. In fact, soil we did not need was hauled to the
back of the practice area location. Hole No. 11 is the most natural hole on
the course as far as topography goes. That hole was just sitting there."
Schlegel is certainly happy with his work at Ballamor, but he wouldn't mind a
return visit to tinker ... just a bit.
"There are one or two holes where the bunkering could be simplified and
achieve the same strategic effect," Schlegel said. "After going back,
looking at the course, and playing it quite a few times, this is one thing I
would like to modify. However, reflecting back on Ballamor is great. I spent a
lot of time on site and the builder was excellent. The client was awesome to
work with and was the biggest cheerleader for the team. We were all very proud
after we opened it for play."
HOLE-BY-HOLE REVIEW: The opening hole at Ballamor is a straightaway par-5 that
can stretch to 557 yards from the championship tees. Bunkers down both sides
of the landing area pinch the fairway, so accuracy will play a big part on the
first. Your layup shot also will be required to avoid the massive bunker down
the left side as you head toward the green. The putting surface is slightly
elevated and if you can believe, at 32 yards, the shortest green on the front
nine. Two additional bunkers protect the entrance, so your approach needs to
be spot on. So much for an easy start.
It hardly gets easier when you reach the second, a sharp, dogleg-left par-4.
At 422 yards, it's one of six par-4s over 400 yards in length. There are no
fairway bunkers to avoid, just thick rough on the left, so trying to place
your tee ball down this side will come with plenty of risk. With a medium
iron, you must play toward the left-center of the green, as two bunkers
fronting the right portion of the putting surface attract plenty of attention.
The green is quite long with plenty of movement.
Although the third is a short par-4, it presents plenty of angst from your tee
shot to your approach. With water down the entire right side of the hole and
fronting the green, you'll need to place either a fairway metal or long iron
to the landing area tightened by sand left and water right. Now the fun
begins, as your second shot must carry the bulkhead that protects the green.
The two-tiered green is 42 paces in depth and is quite fast from back to
front. Miss on the wrong level and a three-putt awaits. Birdie chance, yes ...
but double-bogey is not out of the question.
One of the more difficult holes at Ballamor, the fourth is an uphill and long
par-4 of 446 yards. Sand guards the left side, while wispy rough protects the
right, so control and length off the tee are a must. Even with a successful
tee ball, you'll be left with a long iron or hybrid to a long and narrow
putting surface. Stay below the hole for your best chance at par. That's
right, this is hardly a birdie hole.
The fifth is the longest hole on the course and most likely the second-longest
at the Jersey Shore behind Shoregate's massive ninth. Each shot on this par-5
is key, as your tee ball needs to reach the slope in the fairway to give you
your best chance of getting on in regulation. Your second shot must avoid the
lengthy fairway bunker down the left, so as to leave a reasonable third to the
elevated and two-tiered putting surface. Bunkers on either side of the green
are deep and sit well below the surface, so club selection on your approach is
critical. It comes as no surprise that this is rated the most difficult on the
Number 6 is the first par-3 on the course at just 168 yards from the back
markers. The green is very long and features a pair of bunkers and water down
the entire left side. The putting surface is slightly elevated, so make sure
you select the right club, otherwise, you'll be faced with a difficult two-
putt. This is another green that features plenty of slope, so although the
hole is rated the second-easiest, it can present many problems.
A favorite of the author, although not on my scorecard, is the seventh, a
rock-solid par-4 of just under 400 yards. The zigzag fairway and water down
the right certainly catch your eye, especially if the wind is in your face.
When the elements are up, you'll need to power your tee shot over 230 yards to
clear the pond on the right and your ball flight needs to avoid the bunker on
the left. Choosing the correct club for your approach will not be easy, as
this green is a whopping 42 yards in length with a quartet of traps guarding
each section. Making a three here is like getting a free appetizer at your
favorite watering hole.
At 223 yards, the eighth is the longest par-3 on the course. The green is
slightly elevated, so you'll need a little extra push to get home. The putting
surface runs from back to front, but has a lot of movement. Two deep bunkers
on either side protect the entrance, so make sure your GPS gives you accurate
If it was not for the length of the fifth hole, the ninth would end up being
the most difficult hole on the course. Although it features a slightly
elevated teeing ground, this rough par-4 stretches 466 yards and starts the
player with a forced carry over water of 200 yards just to reach the fairway.
Even with a adequate tee ball, you're faced with an uphill approach with a
hybrid of fairway metal to another long green. The putting surface slopes hard
from left to right, so the best play is down the left and let gravity takes
The inward nine starts with another lengthy par-5 of 578 yards. Playing
downhill off the tee, bunkers guard both the landing area and then the layup
section of the fairway on each side. After your first play, your next will be
uphill to set up a modest approach. The big hitters can reach the base of the
climb to the green, but the bottom of the flagstick will not be in view. This
two-tiered green is fairly long and elevated, so picking the right stick is
critical. A difficult hole, but with a lower-level pin, it can be had.
Ballamor has several signature holes and the 11th can certainly qualify as
one. A 418-yard par-4, No. 11 features a winding fairway which is in full view
from the elevated tee box. Bunkers down the right and left can certainly keep
you on your toes, so missing the fairway is not an option. Your approach is
played uphill toward the smallest green on the course, just 30 paces in
length, with a ridge dissecting the center from front to back. Bunkers adorn
the circumference of the green, so pinpoint control is needed.
The next signature hole is the wonderful, par-3 12th hole. The shortest on the
course at just 160 yards, it is a forced carry over wispy grasses to a two-
tiered putting surface that runs hard from back to front. Although fairly
large in length, the green is quite small in square feet compared to the rest
of the course. Sand left is a good bail out spot if the pin is up, but when
the flag is in the rear, all bets are off. This hole is only rated the easiest
because it's the shortest, so don't be fooled.
Another 400-plus par-4, the 13th requires length off the tee. Although the
fairway is quite generous, it plays uphill from the start. If you can reach
the top crest, you'll have an easier second, but any drive just offline, will
result in a fairway metal or long iron into this very long putting surface. To
make matters worse, the green is protected on the left side by a very deep
bunker, so if you need to miss, play right.
The final one-shotter on the course is the 190-yard 14th. A fairly
straightforward hole, it is sheltered by trees down the right side, so wind
might not be a factor when deciding on which club to use off the tee. The key
is pin placement, as the green is almost 40 yards in length and is pinched in
front by sand on either side. Par here is a bonus!
With most of the difficult holes out of the way, the final stretch can provide
some real excitement on the scorecard, starting off with the 15th. A short
par-4 that doglegs hard to the left, it requires just a 3-metal off the tee to
land in the short grass, dissecting the large fairway bunkers. Now it's just a
short iron to the longest green on the course, a whopping 46 paces from back
to front. The putting surface is slightly raised, so any shot to a front pin
location that comes up short will slide back down the fairway.
The hardest of the bunch coming in is the 458-yard 16th. Mostly straightaway,
this hole requires one key ingredient ... a big tee shot. The landing area is
very accessible, but you'll need a mid to a long iron to reach the green.
Although devoid of sand, the green features tightly mown grass around surface,
so anything offline can roll away from you. The slope runs left to right, so
The final two holes are not easy by any stretch, but they are definite birdie
chances. Number 17 is a driveable, 332-yard par-4 which doglegs to the right.
Your tee shot, if you're so inclined to go for it, must carry the 70-yard
bunker down the right side. In addition, tall pines stand guard in this area,
so be aware of what awaits. If you're like most mortals, a hybrid or fairway
metal down the left will set up a straight-on approach to the long, and
slightly elevated green. Stay below the hole and you can make birdie.
Number 18 is risk-reward at its best. A relatively short par-5 by today's
standards at 523 yards, this hole can be attacked ... if the first shot is
true. Water runs down the entire length of the hole on the right, so your tee
ball needs to favor the right-center if you're to go for the green in two.
That means flirting with the water, but if you need a four, then don't hold
back. With a fairway metal, you can go green-hunting, but you must carry the
corner of the lake and a large bunker fronting the green. It's worth the risk
and if you're going to bail, then play left for a little pitch to the pin. The
green is small, but it features a distinct drop on the front-left portion.
When the match is on the line, this is a wonderful way to finish.
FINAL WORD: One of the longest courses at the Jersey Shore, Ballamor Golf Club
will certainly test your ability.
Having said that, the course is quite fair, featuring five sets of tees,
ranging from 5,200 to 7,100 yards in length. You most definitely need to pick
the correct markers to play from, as this course will bury you if you select
the wrong set.
For example, the championship tees feature six par-4s over 415 yards in length
and the par-5s are monsters, except the 18th. However, if you play from the
white markers, there are only two par-4s over 400 yards and only one long
Now that the course has been open a dozen years and is a public venue,
Ballamor will see its rounds of golf increased as the word gets out. "Wow, 12
years," Schlegel said. "It seems like we just opened it! "Initially as a
private club, I think they tried to build the membership through word of
mouth, referrals, etc., so there was never a lot of advertisement. Now that it
is daily fee, the word will spread more quickly."
I believe that one of the strongest aspects of the course are the foursome of
par 3s. The variety, length and styles of each are completely different from
The one key drawback might be the realistic inability to walk the course.
Although walking is allowed, why would you, as the distances between the pods
are quite extensive, especially from five to six, six to seven and seven to
eight. Playing those three holes will take at least an hour.
Of the several times I have played the course, the conditions were always
pretty good, with lush fairways (wet in spots) and fairly quick greens. To me,
that's the key. Having good greens to putt on always makes the round more
enjoyable, and the greens here are quite challenging in spots, such as the
third, 10th and 12th holes. Plenty of movement and size of these putting
surfaces will definitely keep you guessing.
Working around rough spots in the fairways or the tees is really not an issue,
but when a course has poor putting surfaces, your round will be less memorable
and they'll have little chance of repeat business. This does not happen at
Obviously, Schlegel was proud of his work, but how many architects play
courses they have designed on a regular basis? "I always enjoyed going to play
the course and took many groups of my friends there to play because it is fun,
offers a lot of variety, and was always in great shape," he said
When all is said and done, Ballamor is worth a visit, but make sure you take a
cart. The price is right, the course is solid and after your round, you can
drive to the casinos and win your greens fee back ... and more!
Aces, pars or bogeys, send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.