Rock Spring Golf Club

I wanted to bring some news to the attention of The Refgure:

Rock Spring Golf Club is potentially (I say potentially because who knows what will happen but they have approved the project according to the article posted below) being acquired by the municipality. This course is a Banks/Raynor design and though I’ve never played it it has been on my list for the past year. LinksGems has posted about it before which brought my attention to it.

I believe this could turn into a WP9/Jax beach renovation/restoration type project. Anything with Banks/Raynor design should seriously be looked at.

Here is the golf-advisor page: https://www.golfadvisor.com/courses/9310-rock-spring-club

Here is an article with the vote and potential plans. Would hate to lose 9 holes (if they go that route) but its definitely better than losing 18.

https://www.tapinto.net/towns/soma/articles/west-orange-council-votes-on-purchase-of-rock-spring-golf-course-5

I have no connection to this town or course, but I’m sure some Refugee does. Hopefully it works out

Played a twilight round there yesterday, it was great. Not a bad hole on the course, interesting greens, cool bunkering. Definitely needs some TLC, but could easily be one of the top public tracks in NJ.

Was $33 to walk 18 holes.

Agreed, first time I played it it was a bit worse for the wear. The second I was very worse for the wear. Great bones and green complexes, despite the pond on 1-2. Course is close to the city as well. Couple gripes, clubhouse should just be burnt down and the routing can be a bit wonky. I wonder if the routing is the original or not, also too many trees but hopefully they cut some down.

Yep - agree with all your gripes. 2 is a weak hole… 1 I actually thought the second shot downhill to that crowned green was pretty cool. Routing didn’t bug me too much, and I didn’t even go in the clubhouse. I’m in JC so took me exactly 30 mins to get there for a 5:20pm tee off. Place definitely has huge potential to overtake Skyway, Rutgers, and RiverVale as my go-to spot for a quick easy local public track.

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Agreed on 2, still think 1 is fairy weak but not sure what I would change to make it better. Maybe make the green more interesting like the others, it’s one of the weaker ones on the course.

Have played a few times. Glad to see they’re getting the conditioning turned around. Was a blast to play a 2nd and 3rd time, starting to learn the angles and where to absolutely avoid (or know you’re screwed while the ball is in the air).

Biggest complaint is it looks like there are a few greens shrinking from original. #6 and #11 come to mind. I played with a former caddie there once and a former member on a different occasion. Both said those greens have shrunk this year (added a large collar of fringe).

Also, according to one of them this is the original routing, which had been changed along the way and then changed back. Also, re: the bunkers, apparently a few years ago a member on the greens committee convinced them to renovate the fairway bunker lips to have an overhanging/“raw” aesthetic, which was fine but has been impossible to maintain. Hence why some of the bunkers look a little shoddy currently (the GUR bunker left of #5 for example). Not sure if that part is true.

Regardless, would welcome a Refugee round out there at some point if there is interest.

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Played there yesterday, probably my 4th round this season. It keeps getting better. New/more staff in the Pro Shop, Grill is open, Locker Room was available. Much progress. Course conditioning was a million miles better than the start of the season, which suffered from the neglect of the course over the winter, and all the rain in the beginning of the season. Would love to play Rock Spring firm and fast!

Yes, the bunkers need some love. They are grassing over that bunker on the left of #5 fairway. Bummer, but they said they can’t keep the water out of it. But, the strategic value of greenside bunkers, and the huge dropoffs from green to bunker like on 7, 9, 10, 11, right of 12, left of 15, are great Raynor/Banks features not readily available to the public golfer.

Also, the greens are very interesting. Of the rounds I’ve played, they had the most challenging pin placements yesterday. For example, pin was far left and front on #3, which brought the huge sloping redan into reality for a very tough 2 put. The green on #4 is unlike any other public track. It’s great. I did notice a bigger collar on #6, but willing to live with that if that helps them. I would just hate to see them all shrink to ovals a la Francis Byrne, where you can barely tell how great they were.

If it stays as is, as of yesterday, it’s a great option. I’m sure budget and amount of play will hold back conditioning, but I think I heard they have hired an experienced superintendent and have lofty goals of top conditioning.

Hope the development plans drag their feet, and kick the can down the road for years. Would hate to see holes 4 and 5 go, across the road, but they’re really cool par 4s.

I like the tee shot on 2. I think it’s a cool hole. Favorites: 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 15, 17 (green, Biarittz esque?)…Forgettable? : 14. That’s about it, something fun about all the holes. 1 is an old school gentle warm up hole, good thing for lack of any range.

Wish them best of luck! I’ll be there often.

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I like the tee shot on 2, I don’t like having water on the left on 2. Seems artificial. Would love that to be a somewhat waste area.

I suppose. But, I think it’s cool the tee shot is asking how much of the right side of the fairway do you want to take on for a run up on the green, vs the trees on the right. In addition, there is the danger of going too safe left and hitting through the fairway to the water. Can’t help but mention it might be asking for a…wait for it…Power Fade. Ha.

It brings to my mind other Cape holes I’ve played like #7 at Pine Needles, there’s a great one on the back 9 of Dormie club, can’t remember the #, #3 at Yale, even #6 at Montauk, all where going through the fairway is noooo good. But yes, if it was a hillside with fescue, and junk, it would be better than water. The lake *is kind of unsightly (big algae/moss bloom yesterday), but hopefully that means they can store their own water storage, and keep water costs/use down.

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Ha it does, just seems with the blind aspects then the immense trouble left, and trees right I just seems a bit off. Maybe if the trees right weren’t there it would fit my eye a bit better.

I hear you. First time I played it, I was like, “wait, the water is reachable?!!?!?”. Luckily, I didn’t reach it, but did pull my tee shot left. But, that’s the point of some of the Golden Age architects and blind tee shots. Get into the head of the player, even though the shot isn’t overly difficult. The other psychological trick was the mounding short right. (Wish they could restore them as bunkers). It’s not that they are in play, but mentally, it’s just counter intuitive for a golfer to aim directly over a hazard to get in the A position. Anyway, restore the bunker, fill in the lake! Then, we’re all set! Ha. Excited to play there again. I’m usually headed out there Tuesday afternoons. Good afternoons
to play hooky from the office.

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i always just aimed at the mounds and let er rip. granted my next shot was always a punch out but whatever. fun fact about that lake its only about 3 feet deep.

I think it’s a good hole, but doesn’t really suit public play - The combination of a full course, blind shot and people playing the hole for the first time. I would argue the same for the shots on 11 tee, 14 approach and 18 tee.

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agreed especially 18. i guess you can get a look at it when you are pulling in but its tough to know where to go for the first time. i always ended up more left then i wanted to be.

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These are all good points, it’s growing on me a bit. I like 18 a lot more than 2 of that makes sense. Similar mindset where if you go left on 18 you’re pretty blocked out approaching the green. 2 is similar but with a lot more danger left for a blind shot. Oh well it is what it is. Still really like the course

Also like 14 (that’s the par 5 right?) a lot (at least the green complex)

18 a good route, like a lot of finishing holes, is the flag pole and Old Glory!

11 is a great tee shot down the hill and heroic carry over the bunker! Totally agree about 14 green complex. Huge target, but unforgiving with a miss right.

I believe blind shots are more common on privates, or work best for courses that would have repeated play vs first impressions. Knoll West, another Banks design has some interesting blind tee shots, built as a private around the same time period. Just one aspect of a well rounded strategic design.

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We agree with each other. Not saying I don’t like the holes. Those three are a blast and 11 is among my favorites. Just saying that they aren’t perfect for public courses.

Playing Sunday at 330pm (taking advantage of that 50% off coupon for twilight round that they’ve been giving out once you play for first time). It’s just me and one friend, so if any Refugees want to join, more than welcome.

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Hey gents, first time long time. Chiming in with thoughts specifically for this course, which I’ve got to play several times now in the past two weeks (I moved right down the road). My overall opinion is as such: I cannot believe how great it is that a course of this style and era is available to the public and can be played for under $50 (weekdays). Whatever minor quibbles you may have with some of the upkeep, getting to play a highly strategic golden-age Banks course is a wonderful experience that those of us who don’t have friends in high places don’t get to experience all that often. I actually think the routing is pretty incredible given that it’s not a huge plot of land, and that holes 10-14, (alternating short and long, uphill downhill) are fantastically put together. There’s just a couple of greens that need to be reclaimed, and it would be wonderful if they could restore the original bunkering (long-term), but otherwise, given the circumstances, I think it’s in great shape for nearly going to seed over the winter. Icing on the cake is getting to play some sweet templates holes (thinking: 3/redan, 4/double plateau, 6/short, 11/road, 16/eden). I’m researching the way forward for West Orange; currently the Kemper Sport contract runs through next year with 3 one year options. The city hired an advisor to develop options for going forward; if I find out anything else, I’ll post here. At the end of the day, it’s just cool as hell to have this available. Hopefully people in the NYC area get to check it out before it gets turned into condos.

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Right there with you. It’s an awesome course for public consumption. Priority #1 is to keep it open for a good amount of time, #2 to not let it lose it’s cool features. Shrinking green sizes on 3, 6, and especially 11 raise a flag of concern that it doesn’t wind up like Francis Byrne, a “what if” situation. Personally, 'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can and support their efforts!

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