The best word I can use to accurately describe Hidden Creek is "subdued." And that is a compliment to the extremely talented architectural duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. There are a number of courses in the greater Atlantic City area that opted to forego simplicity and believed that inclusion of every forced item would constitute a sound design and worthy layout. That did not happen at Hidden Creek.
Coore and Crenshaw opted to use the land in its most natural form. Instead of having a finished product standing apart from the terrain -- Hidden Creek is blessed to work in total unison instead.
The "less is more" mantra does not mean the course hits all cylinders at a high level. The outward side is rather ordinary with a few exceptions. The par-3 4th is a work of art. The movement of the land and the manner by which the lone greenside bunker plays a pivotal role should be a case study for other architects to examine on how to create a hole without going over-the-top in an unnatural bombardment manner. The short par-4 8th is a good hole but there's not enough bite to keep the strongest of players from firing away with impunity.
The inward half of holes picks up the pace considerably. The movement is an ongoing mark of distinction -- there's no pattern -- always changing gears and making players adjust accordingly. The short blind uphill par-3 11th is a great counterpoint to the likes of the aforementioned 4th. The par-4 12th is a quality long two-shot hole that surrenders par in a miserly manner unless top tier execution is carried out.
The green shapes and contours are also neatly tied together -- not outrageous to the point of excess, but always putting a stamp of approval for those capable in hitting precise approach shots.
As a resident of the State I am proud to say New Jersey, despite its small size, has a stature that is truly blessed in the depth of its golf offerings. Hidden Creek is a quality layout and worthy of attention. Is the course top ten material in the Garden State? Not quite so in my mind. The front nine is not of sufficient character to earn that high praise. Nonetheless, any trip to the greater Atlantic City can count on very few sure bets but Hidden Creek is most certainly one to enjoy if blessed with the opportunity to play it.
by M. James Ward
Date: February 26, 2018