You may be thinking “how does a single course count as four?” I’ll try to explain.
Flanders Valley Golf Course, set in Flanders, was only my second Morris County course after Pinch Brook. It features four 9-hole layouts that fan out something like a peacock’s tail; Gold, Red, Blue, and White. The scorecards treat these as two courses.
The Gold & Red Course would be the outermost “feathers” on the tail. If positioned with your back to the clubhouse, looking out onto the courses, the Gold nine is laid out to the far right, and the Red nine is laid out to the far left. Flanked by the Gold & Red, the Blue & White course is the center of the peacock’s tail, with the 5th tee on the Blue nine being the absolute tip, furthest from the clubhouse.
Sounds like two courses.
Struggling how to count these on my list of public NJ courses for my journey, I kept looking for details in the scorecards. For the Gold & Red, the Red nine is listed as holes 10-18, even on the course map. The same goes for the White nine on the Blue & White.
The Gold & Red list a total yardage of 6,770 from the back tees, and the Blue & White also has a combined yardage, marked as 6,765 from the tips.
Still just two courses. But, then I noticed how they handicapped the holes:
Gold: 2, 8, 3, 1, 6, 7, 4, 5, 9
Red: 4, 5, 2, 6, 9, 3, 1, 8, 7
Blue: 5, 1, 8, 2, 4, 7, 6, 9, 3
White: 3, 7, 8, 4, 5, 2, 9, 1, 6
Why handicap them separately if these were supposed to be two 18-hole courses?
It made me think of other courses in the state that are only nine holes (e.g. Skyway in Jersey City, Hudson County) as well as some 27-hole layouts (e.g. Neshanic Valley in Branchburg, Somerset County). In these set-ups, all nine-hole layouts are handicapped separately. For 27-hole layouts, even though you can play any combination (i.e. 1-2, 2-3, 3-1), you’ll find them handicapped as individual nine-hole tracks.
That makes Flanders Valley four distinct nine-hole layouts, and four courses on the list.
I’ll touch on some of the differences between the four nines in the following posts when I talk about my rounds, but overall Flanders Valley is a beautiful place. If you play all 36 in a day (as I did) you’ll experience a great variety of holes and be challenged with shot-making decisions. The greens roll exceptionally well for a public course – something I had trouble with – especially on the Gold. If I had to guess, I would say they roll about a foot farther/faster on the stimp than your average public in New Jersey.
Bonus GolfingNJ (and Footgolf) Fact: Flanders Valley also has the distinction on my journey as being the only course where I’ve played footgolf before I’ve played golf. The 18-hole footgolf course is laid out on the White nine.