Host venue a year after it first opened for a match between Tom Watson and Hale Irwin in the Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf television series, the course at TPC Jasna Polana is a Gary Player design which debuted in 1998.
Like all TPC’s, the conditioning of TPC Jasna Polana is championship caliber - the green complexes are difficult but fair, and you’d be hard pressed to find a blade of grass out of place. The outward nine is very good, with a variety of holes that challenge you to make great approach shots in order to score, while the inward nine suffers from lack of space to replicate what makes the outward nine so good. Just when the course begins to works it’s way back to that template on 15-18, the round is over. As others have said, TPC Jasna Polana suffers from an embarrassment of riches in the Garden State — the course would be higher up on a number of lists if it were dropped in any other region of the country. While less important than the course itself, the experience is top caliber, with a clubhouse rivaled by very few and a course setting that can only be described as bucolic. While you may “like” but not “love” the course, a day at TPC Jasna Polana won’t leave you disappointed.
The main plus and minus about Jasna Polana (which means beautiful meadow in Polish) is how the routing / practice area was carried out in such a limited acreage site. Credit the Gary Player team for the effort -- but the downside is that at time you do feel a bit cramped among a number of the holes.
The course gets little real acclaim and the shotmaking challenges are certainly present. The broader issue is that while difficulty can be accentuated at certain times during the round the sum nature of the complexity of the architecture encountered is fairly straightforward but hardly riveting.
Doug pointed out correctly in his review about the superior conditioning. The clubhouse - which was a former estate to the Johnson family is something out you're apt to see on Downton Abbey.
The opening two holes are good to get the golf muscles in the correct working order. Things ramp up with the quality par-5 3rd and the risk/reward element it provides.
Unfortunately, just as the momentum is building you encounter two lackluster holes at the 4th and 5th respectively. Things do turnaround as you concluded the outward side with two strong par-4's at the 6thand 9th holes sandwiched between a quality long par-5 at the 7th and a fine par-3 at the 8th.
The good news about the front nine is how it works its away through the countryside. The inward half doesn't provide that same kind of connection as the holes are squeezed much more closely together.
The first five holes of the inward side are simply adequate -- just like the 4th and 5th mentioned earlier -- the architecture is sufficient but hardly causing the pulse to race.
The final quartet of holes does conclude the round in fine style. The 15th is a strong two-shot hole and it's counterbalanced with a good short par-4 that tempts the bold play from the tee. The round ends with a par-3 and par-5 finished -- the former protected by a pond and the 18th working its way to the left off the tee shot and inviting the aggressive play to a green perched on a hillside and ably defended.
Jasna Polana has its moments and it's much more than your typical paint-by-the-numbers TPC course. The issue is when a facility is in New Jersey the bar for architecture is among the very best in the USA. Those who are purists may not feel the rapture with the sum total of what's present but I view the course as having enough on its dance card to merit a visit to see firsthand what's present.
M. James Ward
TPC Jasna Polana is a good course. I have played here quite often. The outstanding feature of the complex is the Clubhouse. Marble everywhere. The building built and owned by one of the Johnsons of Johnson and Johnson. It is opulent. The course is always in great shape. There are some excellent green complexes. It has maybe the worst starter I have ever played. It's a good day out and don't pass up a chance to play here. Being part of the TPC brand delivers decent quality. If I were to compile a list of TPC's I have played, Jasna would be toward the bottom strictly as a golf course.