9/16/2009 - Ballamor is a secluded, private club, nestled in the golf-heavy township of Egg Harbor. Sitting on nicely rolling land (for the area), not far from Coore and Crenshaw’s Hidden Creek, it’s hard not to have high hopes when visiting the course.
I’ve heard positive word-of-mouth reviews about Ballamor, and make no mistake, it is not a bad golf course. However, it’s really not that good either. It is a course where the sum of the parts simply does not add up to a particularly strong course, and it is hard not to pin the blame squarely on the unique, yet bizarre, routing.
I have no problem accepting that Ault and Schlegal (whose Heron Glen course in central NJ is well done) were saddled with some onerous environmental restrictions, since no one would intentionally route a course in this fashion. With the golf course divided into what could best be described as four pods, each separated from the other by a sizable and walking-prohibitive distance, the overall experience becomes disjointed and borderline confusing. There are few courses found on the coastal flatlands of New Jersey that are not really walkable by anyone other than the highly motivated walker, but Ballamor is one of them.
Routing and walkability aside, there is a discernable lack of artistry in the design. Bunkers are choppy, unnatural looking, and visually overwhelming at times. Further, there are few really good holes here. Of the collection, the Par 4 fourth hole is well done, with a straightaway blind tee shot playing up and over a substantial incline, before tumbling down into a subtle valley. The approach is a good one to a large, mostly bunkerless, green with ample shortgrass chipping and recovery areas that open the door to all sorts of creative greenside shots.
The drivable Par 4 seventeenth plays into a slight dogleg right, into a large, elevated green with some terrific, severely pitched, falloffs and collection areas. The player is easily tempted into going for the green, and a miss will leave you alive and likely on shortgrass, but with all you can handle in terms of a delicate recovery shot.
Ballamor has a lot going for it, but likewise there is much going against it as well. Good rolling land and large and well contoured greens provide a strong backbone to the course, but along the way the routing, bunkering, and lack of memorable holes bring Ballamor down to a place where it is hard to categorize it as much better than average.
- by JD