August 4, 2016
Atlantic City Golf Vacations: Course Spotlight Blue Heron Pines
It's been four years since former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski purchased the declining Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Egg Harbor City. Today, it reflects revitalization.
Jaworski felt that the course, built in 1993 as the area's first high-end daily-fee establishment, needed “TLC.” Tree limbs were thus cleaned up, bunkers re-done, greens were fertilized and the rough was trimmed to manageable levels.
This facility is in the best shape it has ever been in since Ron Jaworski took over,” says Chuck Filling, the new director of golf for Blue Heron Pines. “What already makes our course special is the play-ability, regardless of your handicap. You don't have to be too good of a player to enjoy our course, but if you are a top player, you will be challenged.”
Blue Heron has five tee boxes ranging from near-championship level of about 6,900 yards, to the most forward set of about 5,100 yards. Most players select the 6,250-yard mid-tee range.
The course contains several interesting holes with unique variables. Its 14th resembles the seventh at world-famous Pine Valley in Clementon. A prominent bunker called Hells Half Acre stretches about 90 yards long and 60 yards wide. It occupies the fairway and dominates the thought process for the second shot on the 480-yard par-5. There are no safe areas on the left or right side. One either clears Hells Half Acre to set up a short approach or lays up in front of it to try both clearing the bunker and reaching the green on the ensuing shot. That won't be easy. A shot of perhaps 200 yards from behind Hells Half Acre would be needed to reach and stay on the smallest green on the course.
“It really makes a player think about where they want that second shot to be,” Filling says. “If you clear that bunker, you half or a full wedge approach onto green. That's the best scenario. If you end up in the sand, you can play out of it, but there are numerous islands of ornamental grass so deep that you would simply have to chip out into the grass or go directly behind it. This is the toughest one-shot decision on the entire course because of the bunker. What I love about it is the challenge. Either you can pull it off or you can't.”
The fifth is one of Filling's favorites. The 400-yard par-4 has a ridge running through the middle of the fairway. Tee shots that land in the edge of the fairways or in the rough will be propelled toward trees on the left or a pond on the right. Success on the hole depends on a straight, long tee shot and a mid-iron that must avoid sand traps and water on the left side and behind the green. The putting surface slopes severely from back to front and is two-tiered. Pin placement is significant on this hole. For the average golfer, hitting the front of the green is generally safest, ensuring either a relatively short or uphill putt.