Take a wild ride at McCullough's Emerald Golf Links, a links-themed replica course in Egg Harbor Township

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Architect Stephen Kay had a "complicated" task in transforming a former city landfill into McCullough's Emerald Golf Links. Kay used a replica theme to build a unique course 15 miles inland from Atlantic City.

The decades-long project, spearheaded by city mayor James "Sonny" McCullough, opened in 2002. The 6,535-yard par 71 is filled with holes from famous golf courses -- Prestwick, Royal County Down, Waterville, etc. -- found in France, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland.

Kay routed the tees and greens around more than 150 metal hexagon-shaped methane gas vents. The ones he couldn't avoid, he hid with berms in the fairway. The site's 100 feet of elevation changes created the opportunity to include the quirky blind shots prevalent on true links courses.

The best example would be the uphill tee shot over a ridge at No. 11, a nod to Gleneagles in Scotland. The most controversial one would be the tempting blast over the corner of a dogleg to reach the 15th green less than 283 yards away from the tee. The toughest of the five par 3s might be the shortest one. The small green of the 136-yard 16th hole resembles the "Postage Stamp" eighth hole at Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland.

For those people who are not golf architecture buffs, the most fun holes to play are the two dogleg-right par 4s that drop into a former rock quarry. The pond shared by No. 8 and No. 18 makes their elevated tee shots a bit nervy.

The Library III, a local institution known for steaks and crab cakes, recently opened inside the clubhouse, making lunch or dinner a must after every round.

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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Take a wild ride at McCullough's Emerald Golf Links, a links-themed replica course in Egg Harbor Township