Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play: New Jersey

The next time you roll in a birdie, know the term originated at what is now the best public-access golf course in New Jersey.

Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. That includes the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as layouts accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.

No. 1 on that list in New Jersey is Atlantic City Country Club (pictured atop this story) in Northfield, where in 1903 a golfer named Abner Smith hit an approach shot close to the hole, after which a player in his group said, “That was a bird of a shot.” The birdie was born, and the phrase has been commemorated by a plaque on a rock at No. 12 at Atlantic City CC.

The course itself at Atlantic City CC is even a few years older, having opened in 1898 with a John Reid layout. Besides being No. 1 among public-access courses in New Jersey, it also ties for No. 160 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list for all layouts built before 1960 in the U.S.

Crystal Springs Resort's Ballyowen Golf Course

The Ballyowen layout at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg ranks No. 2 among New Jersey’s public-access courses. Designed by Roger Rulewich and opened in 1998, Ballyowen plays across rolling former farmland and wide-open meadows with views of the Wallkill River.

No. 3 among the Garden State’s public-access layouts is Neshanic Valley in Neshanic Station, followed by No. 4 Twisted Dune in Egg Harbor Township and No. 5 Seaview’s Bay Course in Galloway.

New Jersey is also home to a strong scene of private clubs, including the layout that Golfweek’s Best ranks as the top course in the world. Pine Valley is not only No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list, it is the highest-rated course in all of Golfweek’s Best database for any layout anywhere. Pine Valley was designed by George Crump and Harry S. Colt and opened in 1914 as an 11-hole layout that was completed several years later.

Check out the best of the state’s public-access and private courses below.

Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play: New Jersey

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These are the top Golfweek’s Best public-access layouts in the state:

1. Atlantic City CC
Northfield (c)

2. Crystal Springs Resort (Ballyowen)
Hamburg (m)

3. Neshanic Valley
Neshanic Station (m)

4. Twisted Dune
Egg Harbor Township (m)

5. Seaview (Bay)
Galloway (c)

6. Rock Spring
West Orange (c)

7. Scotland Run
Williamstown (m)

8. Shore Gate
Ocean View (m)

9. Architects
Lopatcong (m)

10. Crystal Springs Resort (Wild Turkey)
Hardyston (m)

11. Ballamor
Egg Harbor Township (m)

12. Heron Glen
Ringoes (m)

13. Blue Heron Pines
Galloway (m)

14. Seaview (Pines)
Galloway (c)

15. Knoll (West)
Boonton (c)

(c): Classic, opened before 1960
(m): Modern, opened in or after 1960

Golfweek’s Best Private Courses: New Jersey

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These are the top Golfweek’s Best private layouts in the state:

1. Pine Valley GC
Pine Valley (No. 1 c)

2. Somerset Hills
Bernardsville (No. 20 c)

3. Plainfield
Edison (No. 27 c)

T4. Ridgewood (Championship)
Paramus (No. 49 c)

T4. Baltusrol (Lower)
Springfield (No. 50 c)

6. Hollywood
Deal (T57 c)

7. Galloway National
Galloway Township (T42 m)

8. Baltusrol (Upper)
Springfield (T59 c)

9. Bayonne GC
Bayonne (T65 m)

10. Hidden Creek
Egg Harbor Township (T92 m)

T11. Mountain Ridge
West Caldwell (c)

T11. Essex County
West Orange (c)

13. Hamilton Farm
Gladstone (m)

14. Ridge at Back Brook
Ringoes (m)

15. Trump National (Old)
Bedminster (m)

(c): Classic, opened before 1960
(m): Modern, opened in or after 1960
– For courses with a number in parenthesis preceding the “m” or “c,” the number indicates that course’s ranking on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses or Classic Courses lists.