Laurel Creek Country Club
|Golf Professional||Matt Walbert||(856) 778-1342|
|General Manager||Joel J. Inman||(856) 234-7663|
|Superintendent||John B. Slade||(856) 231-8360|
|Tee Sheet||Front 9||Back 9||Course|
Arnold Palmer would have been on safe ground making the same pronouncement about Laurel Creek, located in Moorestown, New Jersey. For once again, he and Ed Seay have outdone themselves
The club was founded by the Moorestown Foursome Partnership—Jay Cranmer (the club’s first president), Fred Moriuci, Robert Scarborough, and Thomas Whitesell— and construction of the golf course began in 1988. Nine holes opened for play in September of 1990, with the complete 18 available for the members the following May. A simple dwelling on the property served as the clubhouse for the first five or six years. Then, in the summer of 1996, a beautiful and spacious traditional-style clubhouse with all the amenities opened its doors.
But it was the game itself that came first at Laurel Creek, which, in addition to being a country club, is also a planned residential community. The course itself contains some 60 acres of environmentally protected wetlands and lakes, which contribute enormously to its distinction and its challenge
There is a links-like look to much of this remarkable eighteen, the result of undulating fairways, tall, wispy rough of native fescues, and the absence of trees
As at Commonwealth National, water is the chief impediment to good scoring here. In the form of ponds and lakes (all told there are 14 such hazards), it endangers our efforts on half the holes, more often than not paralleling the line of play. Then, too, there are three or four holes— one thinks instinctively of 2, 8, and 12—where forced carries over densely overgrown wetlands prove intimidating. But even if we are successful in avoiding the water, the imaginative bunkering and the big, shapely, spirited greens are likely to take their toll.
On a course where there is not a weak or indifferent hole, it is difficult to choose favorites. In an effort to evoke just a little of the flair that went into this original and engaging layout, it might be well to look at an example of a par 3, a par 4, and a par 5. And, for the sake of the large majority of golfers, to play them from the white markers (course length 6,182 yards) rather than from the blues (6,712 yards) or the golds (6,917).
The 8th is a very short two-shotter—a mere 311 yards that, because the pitch is downhill, plays even shorter. The blind drive, with the line announced by a pair of scraggly sentinel trees, left and right, calls for a forced carry over a wetlands jungle. Thin it, or pull it even a hair, and the ball is lost. In the tee-shot landing area, the hole doglegs 90 degrees left. Here, perhaps from a sloping lie, we play a delightful falling shot to a medium-size green defended by a pond tight on the right, sand equally tight on the left. For unalloyed fun, a hole that is tough to top.
The following hole, the 495-yard 9th, is a one-of-a-kind. Travel the globe and you are unlikely to encounter its kin. It has two lakes. The first— and somewhat larger of the two—stares up at us as we take our stance on the modestly elevated tee. The second one is nowhere to be seen. That’s because the fairway climbs briefly at about 230 yards and blocks our view of the second half of the hole. Not until we get out there and crest that rise do we learn, in shocked astonishment, that another substantial body of water awaits and that it must be crossed in order to gain the green. There is an opportunity for the long hitter to risk everything (twice) in order to reach the green in two and an opportunity for the short hitter to play timidly along the left side of the hole and cross the water to the green on his third shot with a very lofted club. Still, no matter how you play it, it is marvelous—and unforgettable.
The 17th is a 196-yarder. The tee is elevated; the green is at a somewhat lower level. Squarely between them, in a great hollow, is another of those jungle-like wetlands, this one crammed with all manner of “weed trees” and curious growths that obscure the shapely green, itself framed quite cozily by several natural-looking mounds. It is another original golf hole. We shake our head in wonder, and then we smile broadly in delight
For at Laurel Creek, no matter the potential disaster confronting us (or lurking around the next corner), we are thoroughly captivated, often exhilarated. Oh, the challenge is here with each stroke we take—make no mistake about that. But, at least as important, so is the fun.