Although not quite on the water like Liberty National or Bayonne, Glen Ridge Country Club offers views of the Manhattan skyline from its location in north New Jersey. Also unlike those two, Glen Ridge offers more classic design from the Golden Age, kept at a manageable 6,150 yards from its back tees.
The course was designed by Willie Park Jr.; those familiar with the Scot’s legacy know that he does not need much yardage to wreck scorecards, combining curious bunkers and undulating putting surfaces to challenge players long and short. No. 9, named “Old House” (ironic as, at the middle of the property, it is one of the few not now encompassed by real estate) features a massive centerline bunker, with a green surrounded by six additional hazards.
No. 7, a dogleg-left par four, will require precise placement from the tee to give a safe angle into this green, which — while allowing run-up shots — features sand on all other sides. No. 4, the first par three on the course, features six bunkers orbiting around the large putting surface.
The routing is an odd one in that it does return to the clubhouse, but not at No. 9. The second hole comes back immediately before the third heads back out to nos. 4 through 17, which take place across the street from the clubhouse.
Glen Ridge is situated on a very cramped piece of land but makes the most of it with a number of fun holes. The course is not about length and therefore appeals to shorter players who do not feel under the gun in having to stripe each tee shot with all the might they can muster.
The holes on the west side of Broad Street are noticeably hilly and appropriately challenging. When you cross over Broad Street the remaining 14 holes are located there. The course has five par-3's and they all add to the challenge -- varying in terms of length, direction and demands.
The strength of the course if the varied putting surfaces. A number of them are sloped from back to front and heaven help the player having a poor day with their approaches as recovering will likely prove exasperating. A skilled wedge and putting game pays dividends here.
Glen Ridge is the kind of course you feel you should score a low number but when you tally the card it can be a head scratcher at denying you that satisfaction. While there's no doubt in my mind that the course is among the State's elite, however, Glen Ridge still has enough architectural heft to never be boring. That certainly says something for sure.
M. James Ward