ABSECON, N.J. - The Bay Course at the Seaview Marriott Resort is challenging enough to be a regular stop for the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
All you need to know about the Pines Course at Seaview, is that by any measuring stick, it is more difficult than the Bay Course. At first glance, the extra 161 to 484 yards, depending on what set of tees are played, combine with the thick rows of trees down both sides of most fairways to explain why the Pines Course rates as tougher.
But there is so much more with which to deal.
The rough makes the Pines Course play even tighter. The goal off the tee is not just keeping the ball between the tree lines. Staying in the short grass also makes a significant difference. Doglegs and the fact that traps at times narrow the fairways, rather than just define them, make the course one that demands some skill off the tee.
The numbers tell you that the Pines Course plays 6,211 yards from the white tees, 6,731 yards from the blue and 5,276 yards from the red. The white tees course rating is 70.1 with a slope of 126, six higher than the Bay Course.
The Pines Course was built prior to World War II and some of its holes were combined with the Bay Course to host the 1942 PGA Championship. More than half a century later, the layout stands the test of time and still provides a significant test to modern golfers.
The only major change is the switch to Bentgrass fairways and Kentucky Bluegrass in a 20-foot strip down the sides of each fairway as the primary rough. The new grass is intended to leave course conditions less susceptible to disease and extreme weather.
"The decision to switch over to Bentgrass was, in part, initiated by our players who prefer play on that type of surface," said John O'Connor, director of grounds operations.
The layout did not need changing.
After three routine and fairly straight-ahead holes get the round started, the course begins to show its character at 4, the number-one handicap hole. The 417-yard dogleg right features a long fairway trap at the right corner.
Most golfers will be able to carry the left edge of the trap easily, but shots that venture to the right will leave a long sand shot to the green. Another dogleg right follows at 5, although only 371 yards can be troublesome because of bunker placement 220 yards from the white tees on the left side.
The shortest hole on the front is the slightly downhill 156-yard sixth, but a relatively easy tee shot is followed up by a tricky, undulating green. The seventh, a 366-yard par-4, brings in one of the key strategic decisions. A trap on the left cuts into the fairway, making it so narrow at that point that golfers generally have to try to go over the trap or decide to play short of it.
The 340-yard eighth hole will have most players reaching for an iron off the tee of the tight dogleg left. A row of traps all the way up the right side punishes aggressive drives that go through the fairway. Big hitters have to hold back again at 9 where marsh cuts in from the right just about splitting the fairway on the 490-yard, par-5.
The back nine begins with a second straight par-5 and a much better opportunity to go for the green in two. The slightly uphill, 461-yard hole has plenty of bunkers, but no other reason to have to hold back.
Long irons come into play at back-to-back par-3s 15 and 16, which play 185 yards uphill and 209 from the white tees. Such lengthy shots into greens are plentiful on the stretch from 13 through 17, which is made up of the two long par-3s and three par-4s that average 402 yards.
The back nine finishes as it began, with a manageable par-5 of 464 yards.
The two courses are part of a facility anchored by a 300-room luxury hotel, situated just 10 miles from the boardwalk casinos of Atlantic City. Tennis courts, jogging trails, and a fitness center add to the choice of activities, along with a full-service Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
Packages for two people to stay at the Seaview Marriott and play a round of golf range from $279 (weekday off season) to $459 (weekend peak season) per room.
401 South New York Road
Absecon, NJ 08201
Phone: (609) 652-1800 or (800) 932-8000
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
Four golfers. One caddie. At first glance, it may not seem like a winning formula. But throw in the two golf carts that typically carry players' clubs around a resort course and suddenly one extra expert escorting each group on the Seaview Marriott Pines or Bay Courses makes a lot of sense. The Forecaddie program, in effect at Seaview from late April to late October, places a player's assistant with each group.
The forecaddie serves the role of forecaddies on the pro tours, getting out in front of tee shots to help locate wayward drives. He also fills many of the traditional caddie roles--checking yardage, tending the pin, and offering bits of advice about the course to many players who are seeing it for the first time. If a player seeks help in reading greens, he has that option as well.
A round on the Pines Course with many opportunities to lose balls in the tree lines, as well as many decisions to be made about whether fairway traps can be carried, is made more manageable by the forecaddie's presence.
On the first tee, the forecaddie explains a series of hand signals that he uses from the fairway to advise golfers whether a ball has been found, is in the hazard, or if a provisional may be advisable.
The tasks the forecaddie performs generally help keep play moving within his foursome. These same actions taking place simultaneously around the course keep all of play moving much better than it could on a difficult, wooded resort course. (TR)