Public Golf in the Skylands

By Rich Fisher

Beautiful settings make golf in Northwest New Jersey a nice idea, no matter what your handicap.

Whether you are a hacker or a hero on the golf course, the Skylands offers something for everyone when it comes to pulling out the clubs this spring and summer. The region features 17 public 18-hole courses, ranging from breathtaking mountain scenery to level courses that lend themselves to a peaceful day's walk. Each course features its own unique challenges, some more daunting than others. While one might favor the big hitter, another demands a strong short game. Then there are those that require the complete package. It's all at your disposal without even paying membership dues. Here is a brief look at what each course has to offer. The distances given are from the intermediate tees, and it is suggested you call ahead to inquire about dress codes and possible tee-time reservations.

Warren County

Apple Mountain Golf

624 Hazen Oxford Road, Belvidere
Par 70/6,200 yards

Offering a panoramic view of the Delaware Water Gap, the name is derived from the back nine, which is carved out of an apple orchard on the side of a hill. Golfers can help themselves to a fresh apple from one of the many trees along the back nine and may also find themselves in the company of wildlife such as deer or turkey . The course is geared toward target players and is loaded with water. While the front nine is somewhat flat, the back nine will offer various side- hill, uphill and downhill lies. "I wouldn't say it's a big hitter's course," General Manager Drew Kiszonak says. "You need to have a little bit of course management." Other features include two putting greens, locker rooms, a pro shop, lessons. The Top of the Green restaurant and bar is also open to the public

Tough Hole: #17 Par 6, 650 yards

Named "one of the state's 18 perfect holes" by New Jersey Monthly, this hole is so long it's a par 6 from the back tees. The tee is elevated on the side of the mountain, looking down on a fairway that makes a 90-degree dogleg left. Trees line both sides of the fairway although there are ample landing areas. A small pond is on the left side of the green, but the biggest drawback here is the intimidation factor due to the length. How to play it: The hole plays downhill, so if you can hit a great tee shot into the fairway it might run all the way down to the dog leg. From there, a top golfer can make a decent approach shot towards the green. The key is not to over-swing, but let the downhill terrain do the work for you.

Blair Academy Golf Course

Blair Academy, Route 94, Blairstown, NJ

Play golf the way it was meant to be played... at a peaceful, natural, walking course designed in 1929 on the beautiful campus of Blair Academy in Blairstown. This semi-private, nine-hole course offers memberships and low ratew with special discounts for seniors and juniors on weekdays.

Hunterdon County

Beaver Brook Country Club

Country Club Drive, Clinton
Par 72/6184 yards

Known for its hilly vistas overlooking the Hunterdon Hills and scenic gardens throughout the course, Beaver Brook presents a combination of par 3s, some challenging but fairly open par 4s and good, narrow par 5s. There are 74 bunkers on the par 72/6184 yard course and a moderate amount of water with four ponds and the Beaver Brook running through the course. Facilities include a pro shop, putting and chipping greens, a convenience cart, six water fountains on the course, an on-course snack shop, grill room and banquet facilities. Memberships are available. Since Beaver Brook is part of the American Golf Corporation, a membership provides access to over 300 other courses throughout the country..

Tough Hole: #8 Par 4, 431 yards An uphill dogleg to the right, this hole is fair but tight. A slight slice can be forgiven, but much more puts you out of bounds. The fact it plays uphill adds an extra 30 yards to the hole, and the undulating green is surrounded by four bunkers. There is also a fairway bunker. How to play it: Use your driver off the tee and try hitting a little fade shot, then hit a high 3-iron approach shot to the green. Good golfers should hit the green in two shots.


146 Wertsville Road, Flemington
Par 70/5,840 yards

Based at the foot of the Sourland Mountains and overlooking the Amwell Valley, Hillsborough provides one of the more scenic courses in the state. According to general manager Drew Munro, the front nine is tight and the back nine is built on the side of a mountain, which provides a lot of hilly terrain and side-hill lies. The course is well bunkered and does not contain many water hazards. "It's a lot of placement golf," Munro said. "Your short game is very important." Facilities include a driving range, putting green, carts, rental clubs, pro shop, teaching pro, restaurant and bar. Soft spikes are required and the course accepts cash and checks only. Credit cards are not accepted.

Tough Hole: #15 Par 5, 525 yards. One of the state's toughest holes, it plays downhill and runs to the right. Shaped like an S, this hole is tight and unforgiving. The greens are bunkered and there is also some water. How to play it: Don't be a hero, take the par if you can get it. It is nearly unheard of to get home in two. Lay up on your second shot and go for the good approach shot on your third.

High Bridge Hills Golf Club

203 Cregar Rd., High Bridge

The par 71, 6,700 yard course provides golfers an authentic true-links layout in the British-Irish tradition on spectacular terrain overlooking the Spruce Run Reservoir. The Club offers a fully stocked shop, rental clubs and a USGA handicapping service. There is a grille for lunch and snacks.

Heron Glen

110 Highway 202/31
Flemington 08822 908/369-3322

Heron Glen is a facility of Hunterdon Parks and Recreation. There are five sets of tees to challenge players of all abilities from amateurs to professionals, and stretches over 7,000 yards. Though it is just off the highway, there is a pervading sense of rural openness. There is a full size practice center with synthetic and natural hitting surfaces, putting green, clubhouse, pro shop, bar and grill with an outside patio. The course promises to raise the par for New Jersey municipal golf courses.

Sussex County Courses

Somerset County Courses

This story was first published: Spring, 1999
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