Founded in 1922, Manasquan River Golf Club is located on the northern shore of the Manasquan River, only a few hundred yards from where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
The club boasts 600 yards of river frontage and also lays claim to ownership of the highest land point on the Atlantic Seaboard for more than 1,000 miles between Atlantic Highlands in the north and Florida to the south.
A Scotsman named Robert White, who emigrated from St Andrews to study agronomy, laid out the first nine holes for the founding members along the river in 1923. Three years later White routed the second nine through the woodlands on the higher ground to the west of the original course, from where there are compelling, panoramic river views to enjoy.
The original nine, which now comprises holes 1, 2 and 12-18, play across the flat land by the river, while holes 3-11 are set on the high ground further to the west. These contrasting nines give Manasquan River a rather unusual split personality.
In spring 2020, the New Jersey State Golf Association Magazine profiled Manasquan River's 16th hole:
“The 16th hole at Manasquan River Golf Club is a 471-yard par-4 which combines beauty and difficulty to the highest degree. The hole doglegs to the right at approximately 300 yards from the back tee, and a waste area runs along the entire right side. The second shot is played over a small inlet of water which flows from the Manasquan River to a green with an “infinity” backdrop. This adds to the challenge of the approach, as does the presence of the wind. The open coastal setting of the 16th makes the breeze a major factor on this hole, which always plays differently depending on wind direction.”
The club hosted the US Girl’s Junior Championship in 1990 before Ron Prichard renovated the layout. In 2019 Andrew Green completed a course restoration. Andrew commented as follows:
“We rebuilt all the bunkers respecting the Robert White original vision for the golf course. Fairway bunkers were tweaked to best meet the modern game. Greenside bunkers were meant to fit the green shapes and strategies. Some Robert White mounds were installed through the layout to add strategy and interest.”
Additionally, four greens were rebuilt to provide a wider array of hole locations and all other greens were modestly adjusted to reclaim the putting surfaces.
Echoing what Doug mentioned -- this is one of the most underappreciated courses in the Garden State. Undoubtedly, New Jersey has a deep roster of top tier private layouts and Manasquan River is clearly a fun layout to play/ Architectural mavens will clearly enjoy the stark contrast between the two sides with scintillating views of the immediate area.
The golf features hilly terrain for the bulk of the outward side -- remarkable given the close proximity to the Manasquan River and nearby Atlantic Ocean. The greens are a good mixture -- different shapes and sizes and pity the player who is not in the proper position off the tee.
The course has been lengthened a good bit since the first time I played the course years ago. Credit the club's leadership in maxing out the attributes and to deal with the gains made in equipment technology. Tree growth has been smartly managed so that playing angles are enhanced.
The character of the early holes is aided significantly by the engaging landscape. The opening hole is one to stretch the muscles and get ready for what lies ahead. The par-4 2nd is a top quality "short" par-4 playing 385 yards and it grabs your attention. The combination of holes and the routing is also wonderfully done.
Once you finish the 11th hole you cross Riverview Drive and play the next six holes which are flattish as they near the aforementioned Manasquan River. The contrast is startling and adds to the overall golf experience. Notable holes include the trio commencing with the par-3 15th which plays 222 yards and features a green hugging nearby to a menacing pond. The slightest pulled shot results in hearing the song made famous by Bobby Darin -- "splish splash."
The long par-4 16th is easily among the Garden State's premier holes and that happened when the hole was extended yardage wise in a big-time manner. The shotmaking requirements are very strenuous and the rewards only come with the finest of execution. A mega bunker complex dominates the right side off the tee and the green is segregated on the other side of an inlet to the Manasquan River. The penultimate hole starts with a tee box that juts into the River and plays in the opposite direction of the 16th. At 472 yards you must negotiate the turning point that heads left.
The finishing hole, sadly, is utterly forgettable. In many ways, Manasquan River builds up the anticipation as the round progresses but when you cross back over Riverside Drive to play the 18th it's as if the air was let out of the balloon. Having a short par-4 conclude the round is fine -- but the architectural details are simply absent given the range of engaging holes one has already played. Think of the 18th hole at Manasquan River on par with the 18th at Cypress Point.
Nonetheless, Manasquan River has more than enough pizzazz to cover that one blemish.
The Jersey roster of private courses is clearly among the USA's best. In my mind, Manasquan River is easily among the Garden State's top 25 layouts.
Rousing golf awaits.
M. James Ward
Manasquan River is a rolling hillside course with holes on the river as well. It is in great shape always. The green complexes are excellent and the membership is very engaging. The course has two parts. The holes on the hillside on one side of the road dividing the course. The river side with 6 holes on that side. The river side is flat and has great views and has 2 special holes. A par 3 over the river inlet  and the signature hole following par 4  whose green is adjacent to the river. The hill side has terrain which is some of the largest hills you will find on the Atlantic Seaboard. There is a 660 yard par 5 which requires a massive forced carry from the back tees. The only negative is the finishing hole. 18 is a weak par 4 that is on the hillside after you play the 6 holes on the river side. There isn't any more land to lengthen this hole either. If you get the chance to play here, don't miss it. This is a much under rated course which pumps out some of the best junior players in the area. NJ has so many fantastic courses. This is one of them.