By reworking all 88 bunkers, the golf course updated the grounds to keep up with improvements in equipment, but also gave it an “old school look and feel.”
Deal (N.J.) Golf & Country Club has reworked and, in some cases moved, all 88 bunkers, looking to not only update the course to keep up with improvements in equipment, but to give it an old school look and feel, the Neptune (N.J.)-based Asbury Park Press reported.
“At times we did work off some of the old photos, like on No. 18,” said Bryce Swanson, a course architect at Rees Jones’ Montclair-based firm. “This was not so much a restoration, though. The big thing was that there was previous work done that did not seem to fit with the Donald Ross style of bunker, so that was really our marching orders from that standpoint was to create something a lot more old school in that style.”
Deal is one of a host of clubs in the area that are undertaking major renovations to their courses. With the economy having improved and membership ranks rising, it’s time to reinvest in the courses, the Press reported.
“It’s a competitive market,” Derrick Scenna, a board member at Deal and past greens chairman, said. “You have to put money back into the golf course to attract members. We were fortunate the last few years coming out of the economic downturn. We had a membership drive to try to raise capital and we were able to do a lot of the work with in-house capital. Like anything else, you have to put money back into the product.”
Standing on the 10th tee, which sits high above the fairway, it becomes apparent how busy they were over the winter. The bunker down the right side has been moved back, requiring a drive of more than 250 yards to carry it from the back tee, while the bunker on the left at 280 yards out is perfectly positioned to trap long hitters, the Press reported.
“In my opinion, 9, 10 and 11 have completely changed,” Deal head pro Jason Lamp said. “There are now bunkers, others have been reshaped or moved. It’s just a totally different look. I can’t tell you how many members have come in the golf shop and said, ‘It looks like we’re playing a different course.’ For them to say that and feel that is nice.”
On the uphill fairway approaching the green on the par-5 ninth hole, the new bunker up the right side, and the reshaped traps on the left side add to the decision making process as a player contemplates trying to reach the putting surface in two shots, the Press reported.
“On No. 11, the whole green area came out great,” Scenna said, “and (Swanson) added some chipping areas to make sure the course came out historically accurate. There are now a couple of chipping areas on 14 and 16 as well.”
Another dramatic change comes on the par-4 17th hole, which bends to the right and now has a pair of bunkers guarding the tree-lined corner, the Press reported.
“They did a great job addressing basically every level of golfer,” Scenna said. “I thought they brought some of the bunkers that had been taken out back in and moved some of the bunkers to address the technology changes in the game and just subtle changes to the golf course that effect every level of player. I think overall, the members are happy with it.”
The course will get its first major test of the year next Thursday when it hosts the New Jersey qualifier for the Metropolitan Golf Association’s Ike Championship, the Press reported.