GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. - There may not be a more appealing view of the Atlantic City skyline than the one a golfer enjoys while sizing up his approach shot into the par-4 sixth hole at the Seaview Marriott Resort Bay Course. The boardwalk casinos jutting into the sky across the bay remind of the temptations that await just about a 10-minute ride down the road. A closer look at the shot remaining, into a green framed by the bay, brings the mind back to the task at hand - mastering a classic golf course in a much more peaceful setting.
This is not another of the recent additions of high-quality options for the upscale public golfer that has been brought about through a boom in golf course development. At the Seaview Marriott Resort, golfers have the chance to take advantage of two courses that became available in a different way.
The Bay and Pines Courses, each dating back to the early part of the 20th century, became public/resort courses in 1984 when Marriott purchased what was once Seaview Country Club. Suddenly, two of New Jersey's famous golf courses became much more accessible.
"There are a host of great courses in our area now, but we have history on our side," Director of Golf Operations Rob Bartley said. "Our past is our future."
Seaview boasts an equally historic hotel to match the golf course. Situated about an hour's drive from Philadelphia and a little more than two hours from New York City, the Marriott Resort has also succeeded in blending the charm of the facility's past into its current plush setting.
Seaview Marriott Resort is one of 150 hotels and resorts in the country to be recognized by National Trust Historic Hotels of America for preserving and maintaining its historic integrity, architecture and ambience.
Its history includes status as a special place to visit for guests such as President Warren G. Harding, Princess Grace Kelly and Bob Dylan. The design has remained intact while such modern conveniences as dataports for laptops and faxes have been added.
Out on the Bay Course, the emphasis also has been on maintaining the classic design. One of the priorities at Seaview Marriott in recent years has been the restoration of the layout as exact as possible to the original plans of the legendary Donald Ross, who designed the course in 1914.
In addition to providing one of the best views, the sixth hole, measuring 380 yards from the white tees, is one of many testy par-4s on the course. The green is set back slightly into the bay, which forms a hazard behind and along each side of the green.
Of the first five handicap holes on the course, four are par-4s. The second hole ranks as the toughest. Much of the difficulty comes from the length. The second is the longest of the course's par-4s, playing at 421 yards from the whites and 434 yards from the blues. Like the first hole, the second also offers out-of-bounds for shots that wander well right.
Players make the turn with two more tough par-4s. The 401-yard ninth, with an approach into a deep green that can play games with club selection, is followed by the 403-yard 10th.
The Bay Course, however, generally does not overwhelm with length. It is not the place for forced carries and visually intimidating shots. The course specializes in subtleties right through the greens, where there is seldom a completely level putt, but where a sharply breaking sidehill putt is just as unlikely to be found.
Large bunkers guard against those who try to get too feisty in their attack of the 291-yard, par-4 fifth hole. A lateral hazard all the way down the right side causes trouble for the over-aggressive on the 302-yard eighth hole.
With a back nine that plays about 250 yards shorter than the front, the Bay Course is par-71. Its total yardage is 6,247 yards from the blue tees, 6,011 yards from the white and 5,017 yards from the red/gold. The course rating from the blue tees is 70.7 with a 122 slope. The rating and slope dip only slighty to 69.5 and 120 from the whites.
The home of a Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour stop, now known as the ShopRite Classic, for 15 years, the Bay Course is part of a 36-hole combination at the Seaview Marriott Resort.
The game's best players have been coming to Seaview much longer. Sam Snead won the 1942 PGA Championship at Seaview, playing a combination of holes from the Bay Course and the then nine-hole Pines Course.
Golf is not the only activity featured at the 300-room luxury hotel. Tennis courts, jogging trails, a fitness center and a full-service Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa are also part of the facility.
Packages for two people to stay at the Seaview Marriott and play a round of golf range from $279 (weekday offseason) to $459 (weekend peak season) per room. The "offseason" includes year-round play.
401 South New York Road
Absecon, NJ 08201
Rates for 2000
(listed by weekend, weekday, weekend twilight and weekend twilight):
Jan. 1-March 10 $50 $40 $30 $20
March 11-April 14 $70 $60 $40 $30
April 15-April 28 $90 $70 $50 $40
April 29-October 8 $130 $110 $60 $50
October 8-October 29 $80 $70 $40 $30
October 30-December 31 $60 $40 $30 $20