Doesn’t get any more
prestigious than this in New Jersey!
Atlantic City Country Club
Key Events Held: U.S. Amateur
(1901), U.S. Women’s Open (1948, 1965, 1975), U.S. Women’s
Senior Amateur (1967), U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (1997), PGA
Inaugural Seniors (1980), Atlantic City Commemorative (2004),
Atlantic City Celebrity Kids’ Classic (2000-01), Ron Jaworski
Celebrity Golf Challenge (1999-present).
Awards Won: GolfDigest
ranked ACCC as the #1 Public Daily Fee Golf Course (New Jersey) – Golf Week (2006), Top 100
Classic Golf Courses in America – Golf Week (2006), Ranked 5th
among Golf Digest’s best in state (New Jersey), Named by Golf &
Travel as one of America’s Best 40 Resort Courses.
HISTORY: When one first
talks about the history of Atlantic City Country Club, the first
thing that comes to mind, is the proud distinctions of "The
Birthplace of the Birdie," as well as being the site where the
term "Bird" was coined.
Founded in 1897, AC Country
hosted the U.S. Amateur in 1901 won by Walter J. Travis. Travis,
who designed Westchester Country Club’s West Course, Garden City
Golf Club and Equinox Golf Links, was a three-time winner of the
U.S. Amateur and a six-time medalist in the event. Travis took
up golf at age 36 and won his three U.S. Amateurs by age 42.
The U.S. Women’s Open made its
first stop in Atlantic City in 1948, as Mildred Didrikson, Babe
Zaharias was the winner. The "Babe," as she was called, posted a
score of 300 and defeated Elizabeth Hicks by eight strokes.
Seventeen years later the USGA
made a return visit to AC Country Club and Carol Mann came away with victory. Mann
opened with 78, but rebounded with rounds of 70-70-72 to win by
two shots over Kathy Cornelius. In 1965 a couple of firsts were
marked, as the final round was telecast nationally for the first
time and the last two rounds were played in two days instead of
one as before.
The U.S. Women’s Open returned in
1975, as Sandra Palmer recorded one of only two rounds under par
all week to win by four. Palmer finished at seven-over-par to
finish ahead of JoAnne Carner, Sandra Post and amateur Nancy
Lopez. The wind, which was extremely strong all week, grew
fiercer during the final round and Palmer was one of just three
players to shoot par on the last day. The second place result
was one of Lopez’ four runners-up finishes at this event, the
only coveted title that eluded her throughout her career.
Legendary amateur champion Carol
Semple Thompson captured the 1997 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at
Atlantic City. Thompson, who has played in this event since its
inception in 1987, also captured the tournament in 1990. Playing
the course at just under 6,000 yards and a par of 72, Thompson
defeated Leslie Shannon, 2 & 1 in the championship match.
Shannon was one down heading into the 16th, but dumped her
approach into the water and she could not recover.
The PGA’s Champions Tour made its
first foray into golf back in 1980 at Atlantic City, as Don
January defeated Mike Souchak by two shots. The tournament was
one of just four events in the inaugural season.
The first American to capture the
U.S. Open, John J. McDermott was the first professional at
Atlantic City Country Club. The course has had a handful of
architects throughout the years, tweaking and updating the land,
most recently by Tom Doak.
The course, now owned by Harrah’s
Entertainment, brought in Doak and his Renaissance Golf
Design team to preserve the century-old history of the course
while improving conditions. According to Renaissance Golf
Design, "the character of the property was changed by excavating
along the upper fairways to give the course more rolling
topography, and using the earth to screen adjacent homes to
provide more privacy for golfers." They added that, "trees in
the middle of the course were also transplanted to open up views
of the marsh and of Atlantic City across the way. Large expanses
between holes were returned to the open, sandy look which was a
feature of the course in the early 1900’s." Of the 18 greens,
only four were preserved per their original design, while the
remaining surfaces were modified to suit the shot values of the
modified golf holes and the green speeds.
Doak made significant changes to
the course, as he shortened the second hole, lengthened the
fifth, combined the 10th and 11th holes into a par five and
added 70-plus yards to the 12th. The 14th and 15th holes brought
about the most changes, as a new section of tidal marsh was dug
into the original 15th to create a more challenging, short par-4
from a peninsula tee, while the following hole was crafted to
play back into the wind, a difficult 184-yard par three. The
final hole was also shortened into a par-four that plays back
into the wind.
When arriving and leaving
Atlantic City Country Club, you’ll notice a bell hanging in the
drive by the clubhouse. This bell was used back in the early
1900s to remind golfers that the last trolley was about to leave
for Atlantic City. A beautiful reminder of the old days.
Compliments of a review on Golf Online.com.