Ballamor is one of the fine public access facilities available to golfers escaping to Atlantic City for the weekend. Previously a private club the course is now available to all. Designed by the firm of Ault, Clark & Associates, Ballamor takes advantage of several areas of cleared forest west of the city, featuring extensive tunnels from one patch to the next (carts may be preferred).
Much of the second patch of holes is consumed by No. 5, which is one of the longest holes in that state, at more than 625 yards. Playing from the tips is “just” 7,100 yards, but the course also features a daunting par three that tops 225 yards.
This is a true out-and-back route, heading way out more than a mile-and-a-half from the clubhouse before turning back around.
Although the course features ponds and large bunkers for the wayward duffer, it targets itself prominently to those looking for relaxation during a golf trip, noting that the course “features wide, easy to hit fairways and large greens for comfortable approach shots.”
Credit architect Dan Schlegel for a quality effort. I am not as sold to the same level on the merits of the course as Doug was in his review. The need for power carts is essential as the layout is comprised of four (4) internal parcels separated from one another and connected via pathways. The breaking up of the round via the rides can be a distraction for some.
The hole differentiation is good and the bunkering placements are located in the appropriate spots. Turf quality is also above average.
The issue for me is that the bulk of the greens and the surrounding areas are sufficient but hardly memorable.
Part of the issue stems from the dead flat nature of the terrain found along the Jersey Shore -- most notably the land located between Atlantic City and Cape May. If an architect gets too "inventive" and tries to move too much around the net result can be a horrific outcome. That's what happened with the original design by Desmond Muirhead at Stone Harbor and which has since gone through major changes resulting in a mixed review.
Ballamoor is blessed that the golf experience is not impacted by the housing clutter. The hole-by-hole situations faced focus squarely on the golf.
The key in attaining a level of real interest deals in how architects can produce greens that clearly weave an array of movements and that accentuate and discern appropriate shotmaking. Sad to say, but it's only the private clubs in the immediate area that do that with the likes of Galloway National, ACCC and Hidden Creek.
Doug is quite correct about the public side producing some worthy options with the likes of Twisted Dune, Renault Winery and Shoregate to name just three. I also like what architect Stephen Kay did in recreating theme holes at McCullough's Emerald Links and Cape May National is also worth a look.
In sum, Ballamoor provides a quality functional golf fix. For those who are architectural connoisseurs the need to go beyond one's immediate craving will find a limited high bar here.
M. James Ward
Ballamor opened as a private course but evolved into a public course. It is a good course in the Atlantic City area. An area which has a dozen really nice courses of which most are public. The first hole is a straight away par 5 which is a good starter. It offers a little concern for your start but really not much. A few fairway bunkers a pond on the tee box and the property boundary not far off to the right. The 2nd is a dogleg left with a well protected green. It is a solid hole. The 3rd is picturesque and plays much tougher than what the card says. You hit your tee ball into an open area which has bunkers all about. The pond sits out to the right and straight away and you must cross it to a green which has a severe slope in the center creating two pin areas. The 4th is a blind drive into a big hill which then glides down to a green which has bunkers left and right. This is a challenging hole. 5 is a par 5 which is a monster. It is long plays as almost a double dog leg. left and then right. Treacherous fairway bunkers are in place to grab shots not hit purely on your second and also those trying to straighten out the serpentine path. The green is slightly elevated with a huge bunker short right which captures many shots. This is the #1 handicap and rightly so. 6 is a par 3 which has a pond on your left which crosses to your front slightly. The green is slightly elevated and is near surrounded by bunkers. But the bunkers are a good spot if you maiss as the pond also surrounds the left and back of the green. You are given one of the flattest putting services though. 7 is a par 4 which forces a carry over a pond. fairway bunkers define the left side also. It appears easily crossed but if you look toward the green rather than left slightly, it is a big carry. 8 is a good par 3 with a deep green protected on all 3 sides by bunkers. The back is a slight knoll. 9 is a fantastic finish to the 9. A forced carry drive to a blind 2nd with a severe sloped fairway and a big green. The landscape creates the image that the slope left to right continues but then the green actually tilts the other way. It is quite long too. Unlike most US courses this is an out and back in. 10 is a par 5 that climbs a hill with some bunkers left and right. The green is tucked into the left side of the tree line on the right. One tree sits out and causes duress to entries from that side. A solid hole. 11 is another strong par 4. You tee to an area which again has bunkers both left and right. You then come into a severely raised green with bunkers short. The green has a ridge up the middle which defines a left part with a right to left and a right part with a right to left. 12 is the shortest par 3 crossing a pond to a severly sloped contoured green. 13 is just a long par 4 with no bunkers and just little mounds to deal with. 14 is a par 3 which feels like you are revisiting 8. They are near clones. Strong holes where a par is a good score. 15 is a par 4 which big hitters can about drive. For mortals there is a pond to cross and a fairway with bunkers left and right. A narrow green with depth and bunkers left and right. 16 is a long par 4 which is unprotected by bunkers at the green and has one fairway bunker out to the left. 17 is another short par 4 which beguiles you. Almost the entire landscape from tee to green is bunker along the center and right. The dogleg is defined by the bunker. The green is slightly raised and well protected. The 18 is majestic. A par 5 with a lake along the right all the way to the green as it cuts in front of it. Many fairway bunkers along the path as well. A large green with a ridge running from the middle front to the back left center.
As I write this I am reminded what a great course this is. Just a plethora of great holes. I have played here since it opened and every year since. Ballamor along with Atlantic City CC, Twisted Dunes and Shoregate create 4 public courses which candidly can compete with any grouping anywhere for quality play at a fair price in the same general area. Throw in Blue Heron Pines, Renault Winery and Cape May National and you have a week of bliss. Pull some strings and get on Galloway National and Hidden Creek and Wow...