Shore Gate Golf Club is the best new golf course in New Jersey you haven’t played yet. Located off of Exit 17 on the Garden State Parkway in south-central Jersey, this course opened in 2002 and has already made its way to several top course lists in the state. Playing 7,227 yards from the tips with a course rating of 75.5, it’s certainly a challenge for all levels of golfers, but provides an affordable luxury experience from start to finish.
Offering five different tees to play from, Shore Gate allows golfers of all skill to have an enjoyable experience. Having played the regular tees as a mid-handicapper, I can attest to the difficulty of the course even if you don’t want to play a 7,000-yard course. The magnificent bunkers littered all over the course make you strategize each stroke and shape every shot to avoid trouble. However, the Championship and Professional tees give those low handicappers the option to test their abilities on a tour-level course.
The South Jersey marsh the course sits on provides a stark contrast to the 88 bunkers, but provides another layer of protection around the course’s well-manicured greens. But do be careful, in the hot summer months these greens can run pretty quick making no two-put a gimme.
Before delving into this one, let me state one caveat: the course is very well maintained by most standards. However, the wet marshlands the forest surrounding the course makes certain spots difficult for the greens keepers to keep in tip-top shape. When I played the course in late July, several bunkers were not in pristine condition and ran dry on the edges. This makes for a tough outing when some of those bunkers lead directly to water hazards. Similarly, certain areas of the fairway were worn own and dried out. This simply could have been the result of recent weather patterns, but it is worth noting that certain fairway shots were not always favorable.
The 648-yard par five snakes around one of the course’s seven ponds, with a dog-leg left in the final 150 yards. The green is guarded by both the pond, as well as one continuous bunker that wraps around the front, left and back side of the green. Any pin position on the left side of the green can make for a nightmare of a birdie opportunity, and more than likely spoils hope of a par. Mostly up hill, this hole feels even longer than it is. Already at nearly 650 yards this will give most armatures fits, but truly tests your ability to navigate a tour-level hole.
Overall, Shore Gate Golf Club was an exceptional experience. The customer service was excellent, the driving range and putting greens were top-notch, and the course itself was a whole lot of fun. Peak daytime rates for this course start at $105, however the twilight rate (after 12:00 p.m.) are only $70. For this course, that is nothing short of a steal.
Golf-wise, Shore Gate will test any golfer. The tricky layout with no shortage of bunkers and hazards sets up nearly every tee shot with a forced carry or a very small landing zone in the fairway. Approach shots must be strategically placed or else you’re looking at very long putts or incredibly tricky chips. Regardless, it is a true test but a very enjoyable experience.