Date played: 11/25/2018
Saddled between Routes 15 and 23, the 81st course on my journey is technically a county-less one. Berkshire Valley resides in Oak Ridge, NJ, an “unincorporated community” (gotta love that designation) between West Milford in Passaic County and Jefferson Township in Morris County. As far as the golfing community is concerned though, it is part of the Morris County Park Commission, and it was the last one I needed to play to complete the county altogether.
Designed by Roger Rulewich – whose work can also be found in the Crystal Springs Resort courses in Sussex County – Berkshire Valley is a picturesque ridge-and-basin layout beside Green Pond Mountain. It starts on the ridge with five holes playing in one direction along the side of the mountain before returning in the other direction with some eye-catching undulation on holes 6, 7, and 8.
After that, it’s down to the basin on 9. Where it felt tight on the ridge, the course exhales here for the first time with a wide-open fairway. The lower side of the course continues and features some great holes where water is in play, either to carry or to mind as a hazard to one side. The basin rolls delightfully around these bodies of water in links-style, where you’ll contend with native grasses more than trees.
The morning I played, all players were sent out on 9 – to play 9 through 18 twice – as the first five holes were closed due to snow that still needed to melt. It would’ve been disappointing to have to come back to the course to complete it, but by the time we wrapped up on 18, enough snow had melted that they allowed us to play the front after all.
Berkshire Valley is truly a hidden gem. It’s the one course I’ve played so far where enough people haven’t heard of it, and it is an absolute recommendation in my book. The views from the ridge are striking and make for great pictures, not to mention the challenge you’ll face in that first third of the course. Its width in the basin makes it quite replayable, offering multiple angles on a number of holes.
If you haven’t seen it, it is an absolute must play. Give the unincorporated community of Oak Ridge a visit and discover a public treasure in Berkshire Valley.