Ballyowen Golf Club brings a links feel to Crystal Springs Golf Resort in Hamburg

HAMBURG, N.J. -- The links theme might feel a bit manufactured for purists, but there's no doubting the pure excellence of Ballyowen Golf Club, the headliner of the seven courses at Crystal Springs Golf Resort.

The 7,094-yard Ballyowen ranks second among the state's top public courses by Golfweek for many reasons. The men in kilts greeting golfers at the bag drop are just an appetizer to the real show, teeing it up on wide open expanse of land fraught with native fescue, craggy bunkers, rocky outcroppings on No. 12 and enough water to make players think.

Wide fairways and large greens designed by architect Roger Rulewich allow sloppy shots to survive, but scoring well requires real precision. For example, the final approach at No. 18 can play three to four clubs different, depending on the pin placement on the elongated, elevated green. Water comes into play on five holes, especially a round-defining stretch at holes nos. 5-7.

The pond that affects all three holes pinches the fairway on the par-5 fifth, gobbling up errant second shots. A sinking feeling comes over those who slice or duff tees shots into the drink on the par-3 sixth. The demanding seventh hole might be the toughest par 4 on the course with water up the entire right side. Water hazards don't normally work on links courses, but at Ballyowen G.C., they fit right into a dynamic design.

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.
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Many of the best holes at the Wild Turkey Golf Club at Crystal Springs Golf Resort sit in a bowl of land well below the luxurious Grand Cascades Lodge. Architect Roger Rulewich did a great job of taming a unique site with some nice heave and roll to it. It's an open, expansive setting that is both scenic and strategic.
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Ballyowen Golf Club, which ranks second among New Jersey's top public courses, is the headliner of the seven courses at the Crystal Springs Golf Resort in Hamburg. The links theme might feel a bit manufactured for purists, but there's no doubting its pure excellence.
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Great Gorge Country Club in McAfee won't win anyone over with first impressions. The golf club, however, has rallied since coming under the management of Crystal Springs Golf Resort in 2004. Great Gorge has embraced its heritage with a retro-themed clubhouse, decorated by psychedelic wallpaper, shag carpet, a disco ball and pinball machine. The staff wears loud 1970s-style plaid pants to greet golfers. It's groovy, man. And there are 27 holes of George Fazio golf to boot.
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Ballyowen Golf Club brings a links feel to Crystal Springs Golf Resort in Hamburg