Daily winds make Brigantine Golf Links a bit of a challenge
Prepare for an adventure. Brigantine Golf Links, built in 1927, has multiple personalities. It sports four tee boxes, with the two most commonly used set in the range of 6,100 to 6,500 yards. Daily wind shifts adjust the course length by a couple hundred yards.
“I would say that on 85 to 90 percent of the days you will have some wind,” says Gabriel DeLiberty, the head golf professional for Brigantine Golf Links. “It always makes you think before you hit your shot.”
Yet DeLiberty, who has been familiar with the course since 2008, believes players can calmly incorporate wind into the nuances of golf management.
“It's no different than if you are playing elevation changes or hitting narrow fairways. When it comes to the wind, if it's breezy, swing easy,” he laughs. “And when you have to account for wind direction, say left to right, line yourself up left, try to hit a straight shot and then let the wind bring the ball back into the fairway.”
The club was known in local legend for luring icons Walter Hagen and Tom Vardon here to practice for the British Open. True to its Scottish roots, the links-style layout offers bay views and winds through native marsh and nearly treeless terrain. With a prevailing ocean wind that characterizes links golf, holes can play completely differently from one day to another — or from morning to afternoon.
Besides its tradition, Brigantine retains a connection to the nearby casino industry. Patrons and shift workers can fit golf into their vacation or work schedules.
“We are the closest course to downtown Atlantic City,” DeLiberty says. “When people go to gamble they can't spend all day in a casino. And while the beach is entertaining and fun, you can only enjoy the sand and water for so long. What better extra-curricular activity could you have than a golf course so close to all of that?”
Brigantine sports recent upgrades including new tee boxes and an aggressive spring aeration to make putts roll more true. The course will challenge high-level players, but has no blind shots, “no hitting and hoping,” DeLiberty laughs.
Two of its best holes are lengthy par 3s. The 15th plays 167 yards from the mid tees. A body of water approximately 50 yards long makes this a boom-or-bust hole for many. If the tee shot is short, it is likely wet.
The third hole is a long par 3 of 210 yards from the back tees and 195 from the midset. Water crosses about 40 yards short of the green, creating a physical and psychological challenge. It will take a well struck ball to clear the water. Any errant shot will likely get wet and result in penalty strokes. Headwinds may cause players to pull out clubs like a driver or 3 wood to reach the green. Those clubs are harder to control, increasing the difficulty of holding the green with the tee shot.
The fifth is a difficult 400-yard par 4. It has a sharp dogleg right, tempting players to either cut off yardage by hugging the right side or making them play safe down the left side and add yardage to the approach shot. The elevated green is bunkered left and right. Any shot hit over the back will find rough and a tough chip back to the green.
Seventeen is listed as the hardest hole on the course. It is a 415-yard par 4 from the mid tees. It doglegs left and also has out of bounds on the left. Water comes across the fairway. Players need to get the ball 180 yards out to see the green. There is a waste area on the right and bunkers on the left. The green slopes from back to front with subtle breaks.