Review: Twisted Dune Golf Club

Course Name: Twisted Dune Golf Club

Designer: Archie Struthers (2001)

Location: Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

History: Originally supposed to be a Rees Jones design, plans fell through (thank God) and former Assistant Pro at Pine Valley Archie Struthers took over the project as his first design. Highly regarded, Twisted Dune is one of the consensus top public courses in New Jersey. It was ranked as highly as #3 in Golfweek’s 2016 ranking and #6 in Golf.com’s 2014 ranking.

Conditions: 7/10, I will admit that we played the course on a dreary day after a huge rainstorm, so it was a bit soggy. You could tell the course was in great shape though, with well-manicured fairways and teeboxes.

Value: 7/10, This course is a fairly good deal, especially after 3 P.M., where it’s only $50 with a cart. Peak prices are about $95, which still are a bargain compared to some comparable courses in the area.

Scorecard:

Tee                     Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                 72           7248               74.9              130

Blue                   72           6759               72.1               126

White                72           6332               70.0              122

Yellow               72           5777              67.7               119

Red                     72           4930             67.8               118

Best Score: 87 (Blue Tees), 8/3/2014 with Dad, Jim, and Jack

Front 9 Best: 44 (Blue Tees), 8/3/2014 with Dad, Jim, and Jack

Back 9 Best: 43 (Blue Tees), 8/3/2014 with Dad, Jim, and Jack

Hole Highlights: While nearby courses Seaview and Atlantic City Country Club were described by my playing partners as “historic” and “fun,” Twisted Dune had a much more polarizing effect. While undeniably beautiful and unique, Twisted Dune offered an uphill challenge made more difficult by several choices we made. First, we played the blue tees on an extremely soggy windy day, making the course play longer than it should have. We were also unaware of many of the aiming points on certain holes. The first hole was perhaps the easiest on the course. At 390 yards with a wide fairway, the only real danger on the hole is a tiny green with deep bunkers guarding it. The 2nd hole ramps up the difficulty real quick. While most of these holes are linksy and have no trees, the entire left hand side of this hole is guarded by thick woods. A large bunker also lines the left side, and is 250 yards to carry on this long hole. The third hole is the first of several long par 3’s. At over 210 yards with a two-tiered green, most players will have woods into this hole.

Hole 4 is an incredibly interesting par 5. The number 1 handicap hole on this very difficult course, this hole plays over 540 yards uphill and to the right. A short carry over dunes is exaggerated on either side of this hole. Generally, drives that aren’t straight at Twisted Dune will be lost balls and automatic double bogeys. The layup (which is needed for pretty much all players) must navigate a tight fairway bunker. Hole 5 offers a break and a rare scoring opportunity. A short dogleg left, any drive in the fairway will leave you with wedge in. Holes 6 and 7 are two medium length par 4’s that play longer than their distance due to uphill approach shots. Once again, length and accuracy are a must here. Hole 8 is another scoring chance and by far the easiest par 3 on the course. At under 150 yards, most players should be able to reach the green in regulation here. Hole 9 was a fascinating finishing hole. At just under 500 yards and downhill, this par 5 is reachable in two but doing so is probably not the smart play. Water lines the entire left side, and the fairway and green both slope hard to the left as well.

The 10th hole is another short par 5 but another one that doesn’t offer a break. Water lines the entire left side again, and good drives should be well right to avoid the water. This hole also plays very uphill, making it play longer than the scorecard indicates. Hole 11 is a straightaway par 4 with a fairly wide fairway but devastating dunes on either side. I think my dad lost 3 balls on this hole. The longest par 5 on the course, I would argue that the 12th hole is actually the easiest. Fairly downhill and straightforward, the approach shot is made difficult only by a set of fairway bunkers about 80 yards shy of this green.

The 13th hole starts an extremely difficult set of holes. This par 3 plays about 200 yards downhill with huge bunkers left and a big pond on the right. It is apparently, their “signature hole.” The 14th hole is the most intimidating tee shot on the course – so difficult that this 360 yard par 4 is the number 2 handicap. Playing uphill, this drive must hit a very narrow fairway surrounded by water on both sides. Driver is also probably needed to clear the 200 yard carry to this fairway. I actually hit a good drive on this hole, but got caught in a bunker 270 yards on the right side of the fairway. Two skulled shots out of the bunker and triple bogey was inevitable after the only good drive in the foursome. The 15th was a much easier driving hole and actually a very fun hole. At 372 yards, this hole is extremely downhill and drives can roll for miles here. The 16th hole is a devastating par 3 playing over a ravine filled with dunes and rocks. At over 200 yards, we were forced to hit woods here as well. The 17th hole was another very difficult par 4. This dogleg left requires a two forced carries – one to the fairway and one to this very uphill green. I remember hitting a good drive that stuck in the fairway and left me with a full 4-iron in. After a day of being battered and bruised, the 18th offered perhaps the hardest par 4 on the course. At well over 460 yards, this straightforward par 4 featured huge bunkers on the left side of the fairway.

General Comments: We played on a soggy, dreary day so pace of play was quite good. Apparently, it is an issue on this course usually though due to so many people looking for their balls. The range was expansive and the putting green offered a good feel for the greens on the course. I will stress that it is important to play the correct tees on this very challenging course. Our foursome played the blues, and wet conditions made the 6800 yard course play well over 7000 yards. Honestly, I felt I played great and barely managed to break 90 and still was the lowest by far in my foursome of ~10 handicaps.

Verdict: Twisted Dunes isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. It is, however, an incredibly unique design that is certainly worth a try. I know personally that I would love to go back and give it another try, especially at the twilight price.

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