I think of the Atlantic City Country Club (ACCC) as the local equivalent of the prestigious St. Andrews in Scotland. Both courses are steeped in history; St. Andrews is the birthplace of golf, ACCC is the "birthplace of the birdie" and the site where the term "eagle" was coined. Playing ACCC does not give you the religious experience that you feel at St. Andrews, but it does give you a feeling of affinity with the legendary golf greats and celebrities, such as Sammy Snead, Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez, Bob Hope, Willie Mays and Michael Jordan, who have played here in the past.
Six USGA Major Championships have been played at this legendary course, too. Additionally, the Ron Jaworski Celebrity Tournament takes place annually (May 20) raising millions of dollars for local charities.
Both courses at ACCC overlook large bodies of water with strong winds, which influences your selection of clubs and the direction of your ball. Their fairways are wide and smooth; the greens are big, well-manicured and fast. Where St. Andrews' bunkers are small and deep, ACCC's 90 bunkers are bigger and easier to egress.
The course was completely restored in 2000 to its original 1897 links design. The par-70 course is 6,577 yards from the back tees. Every hole has its own name, a choice of three tees and each one presents a different challenge. "Yea Begin," the first hole, has a large lake in front of the two back tees. The par 4, 353-yard third hole is called "Major's Favorite." Bunkers line the left side of the fairway and surround the elevated green.
The tees of hole 14, "Salt Marsh," are on a peninsula in Lakes Bay with a spectacular view of the Atlantic City skyline and the wind farm. The 339-yard par-four risk/reward hole is a challenge for the long-ball hitter, even with the wind at his back. The average golfer should aim for the landing area to the left and make a short chip to the green. I think the 190-yard par-three 15th hole is the toughest. You are usually hitting into the wind towards a large, elevated, undulating green with a large and deep bunker in front of it.
ACCC has received many awards over the years -- including "One of America's Best 40 Resort Courses," awarded by Turnstiles Golf & Travel Magazine in 2001. It was also named by Golf Week Magazine as one of the "Top 100 Classic Golf Courses in the Country" in 2006 and 2007.
The new director of golf is Charles Fahy, a native of the area who graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem. Fahy held various golf course positions in the 10 years he spent in Las Vegas. ACCC clings to traditions like ringing the bell every day, which was rung in the early 1900s to alert 19th Hole hangers-on that the last trolley back to Atlantic City was about to leave, but management continues to make improvements.
Owned by Harrah's Entertainment, the course and dining facilities were reopened to the public last year, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night fare.
Executive Chef Brian Clotworthy continues to prepare new culinary concoctions. Our sandwiches were delicious, but the generous portions forced us to choose between eating dessert and playing nine more holes of golf. (See their ad on p. 48 for Mother's Day Brunch details.)
For tee times or information, call 236-4400 or visit the course's Web site at www.accountryclub.com.
Area golfers know that ACCC is the "birthplace of the birdie" and the site where the term "eagle" was coined, but do you know where the term "albatross" originated and what it means? Send your answer to: email@example.com. The correct answer will be published next week.
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