Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Cologne, New Jersey: Ron Jaworski's new toy

COLOGNE, N.J. -- Two decades later, architect Stephen Kay still retains a close personal connection to Blue Heron Pines Golf Club. He designed the club's original West Course and lives along its fairways.

Sitting in the View Restaurant inside the spacious clubhouse enjoying lunch on a recent fall day, Kay seems genuinely pleased that his golf course, built in 1993, has withstood the test of time. The East Course, a Steve Smyers design built in 2000, was later sold for development in 2007, leaving Kay's work for golfers to cherish.

"Selfishly, I would love to have two courses (still here)," he said.

Blue Heron Pines, long a Jersey shore favorite 15 miles from downtown Atlantic City, is experiencing a rebirth of sorts under the new ownership of Ron Jaworski, the big-talking, big-armed former NFL quarterback turned TV analyst who bought the facility in 2012.

Jaworski gobbled up the 6,810-yard semiprivate course to create the perfect shore golf getaway for members of the other three courses he owns. For everybody who isn't a member, Blue Heron Pines Golf Club is just a great place to play for a day, good enough to be a Top 50 Public Golf World Reader's Choice in 2010.

Blue Heron Pines G.C.: A tale of two nines

In many ways, Blue Heron Pines embodies the architectural philosophy of Kay, best known for his work at The Architects Golf Club in Phillipsburg, N.J. Kay also designed the nearby McCullough's Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township.

"I always try to make the back nine more difficult than the front nine," he said. "It is definitely that way here. If you look at my courses, (hole) 18 is usually easier (than on most courses), but I get them on 17."

True to his word, Kay's front nine starts off at a leisurely pace. The 315-yard first hole, the shortest par 4 of the round, allows the chance to score right out of the parking lot.

The easiest par 5, the 530-yard 18th hole, sends them home with a smile. But no. 17 is a dastardly difficult hole that is the longest par 4 on the course from the gold and black tees.

Six ponds impact more than half the holes, especially on the course's best stretch of golf from holes 10-15.

A trio of foreboding bunkers and a pond guard the left side of the 10th green, finishing off a 395-yard par 4 cut through the trees. The pint-sized, 130-yard 11th hole plays over the same hazard to a narrow putting shelf.

It's ironic that the shortest par 5, the 518-yard 14th hole, plays the hardest. Bending slightly to the left, the 14th fairway ends at a large wide waste bunker that wreaks havoc on good players going for the green in two or average players hitting their third shot over it. It's the best risk-reward hole of the round. The par-4 15th hole, the no. 1 handicap at 421 yards, vies for honors as both the prettiest and best hole. It takes a healthy poke to clear the huge right-side bunker, setting up a scary long iron over a pond to the green.

Blue Heron Pines Golf Club: The verdict

Jaworski appears committed to raising the bar on conditioning and service. Its greens were the best I putted during a five-course tour of the area in September. Blue Heron Pines G.C. had a country club aura that rivaled the excellent Shore Gate Golf Club and was second only to the famed Atlantic City Country Club. Overall, it's just a rock-solid round of golf that won't disappoint.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
0 Comments
Related Links
Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Cologne, N.J. might be the best of Ron Jaworski's budding four-course golf empire. Jaworski, a former NFL quarterback and current TV football analyst, bought the 6,810-yard Stephen Kay design in 2012. His commitment to excellent conditions and fast greens has re-energized this Jersey Shore favorite.
8 Images
Outside of Las Vegas, there isn't a better golf-and-gambling option than Atlantic City. The number of quality golf courses in this Jersey shore destination only slightly outnumbers the number of casinos. Stephen Kay, a New Jersey resident who has designed four courses in the area, said, "I don't think anybody touches this (destination) with a 10-foot pole.
15 Images
More from the author
3 Min Read
November 30, 2021
The Jamaica Invitational "Annie's Revenge", one of the Caribbean's best pro-ams, introduces the fun and the sun of Rose Hall near Montego Bay.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
4 Min Read
November 22, 2021
Anyone can play Tom Fazio's Wynn Golf Club, which sits in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.
7 Min Read
November 11, 2021
More than 115 golf resorts can be booked using your Bonvoy rewards. We break down where you can go and our favorite properties to use your points.
5 Min Read
November 3, 2021
Black Mesa's comeback strengthens Albuquerque and Sante Fe's position as a World Top 100 Golf Destination.
5 Min Read
November 3, 2021
Playing golf at night is a fun experience everyone should try.
Popular
5 Min Read
November 2, 2021
Some U.S. cities have frighteningly few public-access courses for its residents. If you like variety, you may not want to live in these metros.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
1 Min Read
November 5, 2021
Some things 125 years old are new again.
4 Min Read
November 11, 2021
New and stylish rangefinders, updates and savings on a popular launch monitor, fashions and even boxed wine are all are arriving just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Load More
Now Reading
Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Cologne, New Jersey: Ron Jaworski's new toy