DG29 - September 2015 * - Page 53

Sand Barrens Swainton sits miles south of Atlantic City, but the drive along the parkway is a beautiful one (save for the occasional industrial areas) and the gold at the end of the rainbow is the Sand Barrens golf club. Dana Fry, formerly of the Hurdzan/Fry architectural team, came to this property in the mid 1990s and decided that this property would be his opus. He walked the terrain ceaselessly, no matter the weather, making mental notes as he went. Originally slated to be a parklandstyle course, Fry uncovered indigenous sand beneath the layer of soil and developed a hybrid farm-links course instead. The Sand Barrens course avails itself of tree-covered dunes of moderate size, speckled with large and small ponds. Having 27 holes allows for variety in daily play, ensuring that no visitors nor regulars tire of the layout. Rather than log the thousands of trees on the property, the owners of Sand Barrens allowed Dana Fry to create a target-oriented golf course. Many fairways lack the width found on other area layouts. This isn’t bad, as long as you opt for the proper set of tees. Driver isn’t mandatory on all driving holes, and one feels as if Fry is along for the ride, daring you to hit the big club but hoping you’ll play smart and dial it back to a hybrid or fairway metal. Sand Barrens isn’t short off the tee and it isn’t short on the funk, either. The 4th hole of the South nine throws a tribute to the dual greens at Pine Valley’s 9th hole. At Sand Barrens, the hole plays from 329 (forward tees) to 429 (tips) yards, and the option of left versus right green adds no distance. Both approach shots must carry the massive waste pit that fronts the putting surfaces. With the split greens, though, Fry hardly showed his hand. The West course’s 4th hole and the North course’s 2nd meet at a conjoined green, reminiscent of the double greens of the Old Course at St. Andrews. Although a third fairway does not join the other two, it’s realistic to imagine that this mammoth putting surface is the size of a triple green. If it weren’t so far from the clubhouse, it would be easy to envision 19th hole bets being settled with 300-feet long, quadruplebreak, putting contests. McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links For a time, the replica course made inroads into the postmodern world of golf course architecture. Some owners felt that the finest golf holes had already been created, so why not do something different by assembling tribute holes in one place, on one course? Royal Links in Las Vegas, Golden Ocala in Florida and Tour 18 in Houston are examples of this type of course. The Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township tips its cap to the great courses of Scotland Volume 3 • Issue 29 53