Number 72 (Old Orchard Country Club)

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Date played: 2/21/2018

A Tillinghast design brought to life in 1929, Old Orchard Country Club takes its name from the apple orchard it was built on. Located in Monmouth County, the course prides itself on a sense of family and community. While there certainly weren’t many on the course on a cold February day, that’s certainly the feeling I got when listening to conversations at the pro shop.

The front and back nines of the course are split in two by Turtle Mill Brook, which widens to surround the island green of the signature par-5 7th hole. The overall layout can be thought of as a butterfly, with the body running along the brook through the 9th fairway, and each nine as its two wings.

The routing traces the outer edges of the wings and then back inward. The front nine takes you around the southern perimeter of the course and back to the clubhouse along the brook. The back nine then runs around the northern edge and back inward again, but not before making an interesting stop at 13.

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Scorecard artist’s rendition of 13…

On the scorecard layout depiction, even though it’s a par 4, the 13th hole looks as if it plays in three shots like a C-clamp. I’m not sure if tee boxes have been moved since that layout was drawn, but in reality, it’s a relatively easy (14th handicapped) two-shot hole where you can play a mid or long iron off the tee and be left with a scoring club into the green if you find the fairway. The brave can even try to carry the trees right and go for the green off the tee, something one of my playing partners for the day did with decent success.

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… 13th hole in reality

As I’ve mentioned before, part of the fun of this journey is meeting other golfers around the state. At Old Orchard, I joined a threesome of regulars who were great company, one of whom had what was easily the most interesting bag of clubs I had ever seen. There were nine fairway woods! That included an 11w, 13w, 15w, and a 50-degree “scoring wedge” (but definitely a wood).

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Best. Bag. Ever.

The story goes that he had a bad bout of the shanks during a golf trip down in Myrtle Beach. He noticed the fairway woods for sale in the pro shop, and the rest is history. Well, at least local golf history among Old Orchard regulars, and in the playing of the 72nd public course on my quest.

How I played…

Pretty ******* terribly. It had been my first round in a month, and while I hit eight fairways, I really didn’t do anything else well. Having hit four GIR, I was 0 for 14 scrambling. Other than good company, it was a round to forget.

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Number 72 (Old Orchard Country Club)

Number 42 (The Architects Golf Club)

Consistently rated one of the top public courses in New Jersey, The Architects is named for the fact that its layout pays tribute to holes designed by famous golf course architects. Each tee box sign shows the architect’s name and the courses designed by that architect that inspired the particular hole. Even without considering the excellent execution, the idea alone makes for a wonderful experience.

My round started with the ghost of Old Tom Morris bleeding me for every stroke he could possibly take. A well struck drive left me in position to reach the green in two on the par 5 first, but a perfectly placed pot bunker swallowed my well struck second shot. Overnight rain left the sand compacted, but it was simply a bad decision that prevented me from getting out towards the pin. The front wall of the bunker is probably about 2.5 feet tall, and although I almost cleared it, the ball sat right back down where it started. I turned to the right, hit out, bladed my 4th shot over the green, hit my 5th short in the rough, and after finally making it on in 6, I three-putted from 45 feet.

That made 9 for the 1st. Wonderful.

I played well after that, with a series of pars and a bogey on the 6th, but made 9 again after placing my tee shot out of bounds and taking an unplayable on my 4th shot. Thankfully, that was the end of the implosion holes. I finished the remaining 11 holes in +7 for a +17 round (+12, +5).

There’s nothing more I can say about the course that I’m sure hasn’t been said already. When you play a nice public course, you get level tee boxes, beautiful fairways, and well-manicured greens that roll true. The Architects is no exception. In terms of my journey, it is the third course I’ve played in Warren County, and it also has an interesting place in my chronicles thus far as the westernmost public course I’ve played in New Jersey to date (albeit probably by a fraction of a minute of longitude).

Number 42 (The Architects Golf Club)