Harbor Pines Country Club

Resort course is a welcome addition for golfers

If you've looking for another upscale championship resort course to play while vacationing at the Shore, check out Harbor Pines Country Club.

At a glance
Getting there: The Harbor Pines development entrance is at 3071 Ocean Heights Ave., Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Phone number is 609-927-0006.

Green fees: Weekends $120; Weekdays $95 (includes cart). Rates lower during late fall and winter.

Carts: Mandatory

Spikes: Nonmetal only.

Amenities: Snackbar; full service clubhouse; driving range; putting and chipping green.

Rating: Welcome. One of the two or three best daily-fee courses at the shore.

Information accurate as of 8/16/2002

Open since 1996, Harbor Pines is a worthy choice for daily-fee golf at the Shore, and, though not the second coming of Galloway National, it's a welcome addition.

Weaving through mature pines and hardwoods, as well as around a nature preserve, Harbor Pines is a midlength course (6,478 yards from the blue tees) that challenges better golfers, yet it won't overwhelm mid- and even high-handicappers.

From the championship tees, Harbor Pines measures 6,827 yards and sports a 72 par and 127 slope. From the blues, Harbor Pines plays to a very manageable 123 slope; from the whites, 120.

In many respects, Harbor Pines calls to mind Blue Heron Pines in nearby Galloway, no doubt because the course is carved from similar topography by the same golf architect, Steven Kay. That said, Blue Heron, with its long carries over wetlands on several holes, has a little more diversity in its layout and is probably a bit more intimidating than Harbor Pines for high-handicappers and seniors. Blue Heron's slope ratings - 136 from the back, 128 from the middle - are significantly higher than Harbor Pines'.

Unlike so many modern courses dominated by unruly fescue grass and marshland, Harbor Pines is characterized more by generous, often forgiving fairways. A topped tee shot needn't spell utter disaster.

And, even though there is water on eight holes at Harbor Pines, in most cases only the truly errant or awful shot gets wet. Only two holes - the par-3 No. 8 and the par-4 No. 12 - require a significant carry over water, and even there danger can be minimized by carefully choosing from the five sets of tees.

Because of its proximity to the Shore, Harbor Pines is flat - no hilly lies and very little of the fairway perimeter mounding overdone on so many new courses. But there are plenty of vast, sprawling collection bunkers and grisly greenside bunkers to present problems.

The greens, like those on most new courses these days, are huge and undulating; the pin placement can radically change the difficulty of a hole.

Harbor Pines has the look and feel of a young course - in places, its otherwise natural setting also has the look and feel of a construction site. Owned and developed by Max Gurwitz & Son Inc. of Northfield, N.J., Harbor Pines is the centerpiece of a pricey residential community.

Harbor Pines opens with a fairly forgiving, short par-5 - 480 yards from the blues, 465 from the whites - that should cough up more than its fair share of birdies.

In fact, the course doesn't take a turn for the tough until No. 4, a 370-yard par-4, the sharpest dogleg in the layout and the No. 5 handicap hole. That's followed by the third and seventh handicap holes, both par 4s with water ready and willing to become home to sprayed tee shots. The most scenic hole on the course may well be No. 8, a 190-yard par 3, with water as a threat from the back tees and a green encircled by sand, sand, sand.

Designer Kay reserves the toughest challenge on the backside for Nos. 16 and 17, both long par 4s, and the fourth and second handicap holes, respectively. No. 17, at 437 yards, has trees left and right and a half-acre collection bunker plopped down right in the middle of the fairway that comes into play on the second shot. Steer clear unless you packed sandals and a camel.

The course features an 18,000-square--foot clubhouse overlooking the first and ninth holes.

The bottom line on Harbor Pines: It's a fun golf course, not great, not awe-inspiring. But in an area with few quality daily-fee courses, Harbor Pines immediately vaults into the top two or three.

Originally published September 8, 1996