GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Seaview, a Dolce Resort located about eight miles south of Atlantic City, has been attracting golfers since 1915.
Clarence H. Geist, a Philadelphia businessman, originally built it as an exclusive private club for those with fame, fortune and power. Construction on Seaview's Bay Course and the Pines Course began at the same time as the great white clubhouse.
Each course is vastly different from the ground up. The Bay Course, designed by Hugh Wilson in 1914 and completed by Donald Ross is 1915, is built on sandy marshland that reaches out into Ross Bay. Seaview's Pines Course (1927-1929), designed by William S. Flynn and Howard C. Toomey, is routed though New Jersey's pine barrens.
Seaview hosted the PGA Championship in 1942 -- when Sam Snead holed a dramatic 60-foot chip shot on the 37th hole to win his first major -- and it continues to attract top golf enthusiasts and tournaments. This year Seaview hosted the LPGA ShopRite Classic, which is set to return next year.
While in the early days its fairways challenged presidents, wealthy industrialists and pro golfers such as Snead, Ben Hogan, and Gene Sarazen, Seaview is now a semi-private club open to the public. Owned by The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, the golf facilities are managed by Troon Golf, while the resort is run by Dolce Hotels.
The Bay Course at Seaview resort
The Bay Course stretches out to the marshes, winding through wetlands, trees and reeds. There is just one water carry, on No. 7, a funky par 3 over a concrete-enclosed reservoir.
Difficulties come in hitting the small greens and in navigating around and over shaggy fescue-lined bunkers, some which run laterally across the fairway (like on Nos. 9 and 14). You will lose a lot of balls in the thick grasses if you don't find the fairways.
A recently-completed $1.4 million renovation to the Bay Course by Bob Cupp Jr., along with upgrades to the pro shop and locker rooms, has greatly enhanced Seaview's golf facilities.
"Over the years, Bay had lost some of its identity. Fairways had become square. Our intent was to restore the course's original shaping and routing," said Kevin DeDonato, the director of golf. "Now it looks the way it did 100 years ago. When Juli Inkster played here this spring she noted it was in the best condition she'd ever seen.
"You might look at scorecard and say, 'Gosh, it's short,' but then when you have to play to small, fast greens and avoid penal bunkers, you realize this is no pushover."
The Bay Course also has its illusions. Because it's so flat, you see the flagsticks poking up above the hillocks everywhere you look. But you have to trust the yardage markers. The greens simply look closer than they are.
The Pines Course at Seaview resort
The Pines Course, which could be called "Oaks" as there seem to be as many hardy tall oaks defining the fairway boundaries as pines, is a pretty layout and one that at first may seem somewhat benign when you tee off.
Once you hit the greens -- which are fast and subtly undulating (not so subtle on some holes) -- you will find your score can escalate quickly if you have not brought your "A" putting game to Seaview.
When you play the Pines Course, the venue for the LPGA ShopRite Classic Pro-Am, "you'll use every club in your bag," DeDonato said.
An interesting feature is the back-to-back long par 3s on Nos. 15 and 16, which play 236 and 219 yards, respectively, from the back tees. The right-angled, dogleg left 17th is a good risk-and-reward test with a bunker at the turn.
With about 50,000 rounds a year, 11,000 of them tournament rounds, the Bay and Pines courses see a lot of play. Still, members are not inconvenienced.
"Even when they have outings it's no problem, as they reserve one of the courses for members," club member Meryle Angelo said.
Like many older tracks, grasses on the fairways and greens are about 90 percent poa annua. In the spring and summer the look is lushly green, while the grasses die off during the colder months.
The Bay Course stays open all winter, while the Pines Course closes.
"My favorite (course) is Bay, but both are fun to play," Angelo said. "And it's a good deal here."
Bay and Pines golf courses at Seaview: The verdict
Both the Bay and Pines Courses are solid classics and easily walkable. The Pines, at 6,731 yards, is longer than the Bay (6,247) and has some sharp doglegs and some inviting risk-and-reward opportunities. Still, the Bay's lateral fescue-ringed bunkers create risk-and-reward challenges of a different sort.
The Bay is often the preferred golf course. Golfers like the water and Atlantic City views and enjoy playing a restored Ross track as well as teeing up where the pros have played.
With the recent upgrades, Seaview's golf facilities are in good condition. Another good thing: The front tees are rated for men and women.
While you're in the pro shop, take time to check out Ross's original plans for the Bay Course, which hang on the walls.