I almost always take the bait when I see an ad for some course that's "formerly private, now public." For some reason, I feel as if I'm intruding where I don't belong. So, last week, off I went to Miry Run Country Club in Robbinsville, N.J., just on the other side of Trenton.
Getting there: Miry Run Country Club is at 106B Sharon Rd., Robbinsville, N.J. From Philadelphia, take the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 7A, then follow I-195 west to exit 5B, Route 130 north. Follow Route 130 to the fourth traffic light, then turn right on Sharon Road. The course is about 200 yards on the right. The phone number is 609-259-1010.
Greens fees: Weekends and holidays, $50 to ride; After 1 p.m. $35 to walk; after 2 p.m. $25; after 3 p.m. $22. Weekdays, $40 with cart, $25 to walk. After 2 p.m. $21 to walk; after 3 p.m. $19 to walk. Special Mondays through Thursdays, $65 for two players with cart, lunch and beverage.
Carts: Cost $15, mandatory until 1 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
Spikes: Metal spikes permitted.
Amenities: Moderately stocked pro shop, driving range, putting green, restaurant-bar, snack cart on the course. Outings welcome.
Rating: Uninspired but adequate mid-priced daily-fee track. The airport is a factor.
Information accurate as of 8/22/2002
In no time at all, I was eagerly striding across the lawn toward the pro shop and the first tee.
Four hours later, I was headed back to my car, reminded that "private" doesn't necessarily mean "exclusive" or "excellent."
Not that Miry Run is a lousy golf course. It is not. Of course, I also wouldn't call it especially interesting, inspired or inviting, either. Was it a wasted round, a misspent afternoon? No. Would I drive the better part of an hour to play there again? No.
Despite a few bright spots and even a couple of intriguing holes, overall, Miry Run struck me as a rather tired and ordinary golf course. And that's before you even factor in the small airport next door that cannot be ignored.
"Wait till we get to the 16th and 17th," said Bob, a semi-regular at Miry Run, who saw me looking at the airport as we stood on the first tee.
At the 16th hole, a long par 4 and one of the two or three best holes on the course, the runway runs parallel to the fairway. At the 17th, a brutish 231-yard par 3, the green sits at the end of the runway.
Open since 1963, Miry Run operated as Sharon Country Club until the early '80s, when it was aptly renamed Skyview Country Club. It became Miry Run, so named for a creek that slashes across the course, when a Pennsylvania family bought the facility in 1995 and took it semiprivate. It has been welcoming daily-fee customers ever since, but began advertising in earnest only recently.
Miry Run draws regulars from the Trenton area, of course, but lately more and more folks are fleeing the golf congestion of New York and North Jersey for a comparatively cheap ($40 with cart on weekends) and tranquil round down around Trenton.
"It's a good, affordable course, and the bar-restaurant has a nice atmosphere," head pro Jeff Bonicky said. "The course looks easy, but when it was private and they played some of the country club events here, it played tougher than many of the surrounding country clubs."
From the tips, Miry Run can play as long as 6,849 yards, which is significant, but the rather average 116 slope is proof that the course will not have most single-digit handicappers groping for their "A" games.
In some ways, Miry Run leaves me scratching my head. Granted, the airport is an annoyance, and the course is generally flat and forgiving, with midsized, push-up greens. But on the plus side, it's plenty long (the par 5s all exceed 500 yards), it's got a few doglegs and fairway bunkers that demand well-placed tee shots, and water comes into play on a few holes. The par 3s may be the strongest feature of the course. It's also priced quite reasonably.
Still, if you ask me, when you add it all up, Miry Run is merely adequate, nothing more.
Orginally published April 30, 2000