Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

With host Tony Leodora will travel both near and far to bring viewers a look at some of the most spectacular golf destinations in the world!

16 Mar

America's Golf Capital

Written by Bob Oliver





Where is the capital of American golf?   


Depends who you might ask, as various destinations claim the title. But long ago the 90-mile stretch along the Atlantic Ocean centered around Myrtle Beach, SC, laid claim to the unofficial title. Any why not?


The Grand Strand has, depending on who is counting and what day it is, more than 100 golf courses that tantalize players of all tastes and playing abilities. There are courses designed by the best, including Nicklaus, Ross, Jones, Dye, Garl and Fazio. You name it, they have it, along with great food, sparkling beaches and a bevy of nighttime activities.


While Mother Nature has wielded her wrath in recent years, from Hurricanes to more than 100 inches of rain last year like many east coast venues, the beauty of the Grand Strand is that the great weather outweighs the bad, and even the bad days can be just wonderful.


We found that out in March when visiting the Myrtle Beach area for the first time in more than a dozen years. As Jon Bon Jovi once crooned, “Who says you can’t go home again?” Because March or April was an annual home for many years before we visited new and different places. Quite frankly, at the end of the week we wondered why we ever stopped going there.


Yes, there was chilly air. But the hospitality was top notch, the courses first rate, and the overall experience a stellar one.


Oh, there was a difference from the old days. Right off the bat Route 31, a newer bypass, allowed travel north and sound a whole lot easier. The competition for food and lodging as well as green’s fees kept prices affordable, and the pace of play on the courses we sampled was in a word brisk.


In its hay day the Grand Strand – stretching from Georgetown, SC, to the south to above Little River, NC, to the north – was generally accepted to have approximately 130 golf courses. The economic challenges of 2008 along with growth such as roads and infrastructure caused some elimination of courses, as well as a sort of natural selection of some venues being better than others.


These days there are approximately 100 courses available for play, the majority of them open to the public or available with package plans from some hotels. For this trip, we spent most of our time along the gateway to Myrtle Beach proper, areas like Calabash, Loris, Sunset Beach and North Myrtle Beach. But no matter where you stay, you can play outstanding venues.


One learns early on that traversing the entire Grand Strand on a single trip isn’t time effective, as with some 90 miles of shore line one could spend a lot of time in a vehicle rather than on a golf course. So our return trip saw us centered in the northern gateway vicinity. And with 135 holes played in six days, golf was the top priority. 


“The area provides something for everyone, from golf groups to families who have varying tastes,” explained Jamie Roderick, the Director of Golf Operations of Sea Trail Golf Club.  The Sea Trail golf complex boasts layouts designed by Rees Jones, Willard Byrd and Dan Maples. “We know golfers have a whole lot of choices, so we do our best to provide excellent service to go along with our find golf product.”


Similar sentiments could be heard from Tim Tilma, the General Manager of Sandpiper Bay in Sunset Beach.


“It’s no secret we’ve been called the golf capital of the United States,” said Tilma, a long-time veteran of the Grand Strand. “Just look as you drive to our club. One drives past Thistle (27-holes), The Pearl (36-holes) and Sea Trail (54-holes) so there are many options for the player. Our 27-hole facility has a strong resident base and we do all we can to offer a challenging layout, service and pace of play.”


One layout which we hadn’t seen in 20 years was Rees Jones first solo design, Arcadian Shores, a layout which at one point was listed among the top-100 ranking of courses in the United States. Ample fairways beckon players, but challenges such as bunkers, lakes and contoured greens make par an excellent score. It was great to be back at this Grand Strand classic course, which also displays beautiful and well-trimmed oak trees. 


“We, like all the courses in the area, have been hurt by the more than 100 inches of rain in the last year, but we’ve gone the extra mile to bring the course back strong,” said General Manager Frank Coughlin. “There has been heavy work done on enhancing the course.”


Arcadian Shores was closed for nearly five months last year, as it totally reworked its greens with Sunday ultra-dwarf Bermuda glass, while also re-paving its cart paths. The greens have matured and are stellar putting surfaces, and the ride around the course contains less bumps. A new circa 2016 clubhouse is an added accoutrement.


“The feedback since reopening has been wonderful, getting positive comments really makes it all worthwhile,” added Coughlin. “People love the greens, and the course, well, it’s a strong classic design.”


The Glens Golf Group offers four stellar challenges: Glen Dornoch, Shaftesbury Glen, Heather Glenn and Possum Trot. Each has its own set of design features and each is fun to play.


At Glen Dornoch, a Clyde Johnston creation, one finds a course designed as a tribute to Donald Ross carved through trees and featuring holes along the intercoastal waterway. It also has elevation changes of about 35 feel along the way, something unique of Grand Strand courses.


There is water to be evaded – ponds, lakes and the intercoastal waterway – on 13 holes and carries over marsh and strategically placed bunkers can be found on other holes. Add in rolling greens and trees and one has a course where precision is at a premium.  The Glen Dornoch clubhouse is a good one, and the service is stellar.


Many courses have invested in protecting their greens in cold weather by purchasing tarps. Tidewater, Sandpiper Bay and Thistle led the way, and as a result the greens were, in a word, superb.


“Some of the area courses were hurt, losing greens, and we just couldn’t afford not to protect ours,” explained Sandpiper Bay’s Tilma. “We don’t use them a great deal, but as you can imagine on those very cold days in the winter it just makes common sense to protect our greens. The feedback from visitors has been awesome and you have to believe we listen to our customers.”


Likewise, Thistle’s General Manager Doug Donner echoed his competitor’s statement. “We want to offer that quality experience, and that includes greens devoid of problems. The tarps help our superintendent make that happen.”


Thistle has an immaculate stately club house and Donner prides himself on promoting a player friendly experience. The three nines each offer outstanding challenges put together by designer Tim Cate. Its practice area is top notch, and includes not only a driving range but also short game area and a putting green that mimics undulations found on course.


“We are proud of our facility, and do our best to make our visitors happy, starting with our wonderful clubhouse, our practice facility and our 27 holes of championship golf,” said Donner. “We offer tee times in 10 minute increments. And each and every one of our holes has beauty and challenge.”   


On getaway day we picked a course along the northern border of the strand in Longs, S.C., Aberdeen Golf Club, as we were glad we did. There are 27 challenging holes, and GM Steve Shaffer promises his facility includes 27 holes of “challenge”.


“To say there is some water around is an understatement,” said the GM. “There are water hazards on 23 of our 27 holes. (Designer) Tom Jackson created a real test and you will use all the clubs in the bag.”


There are trees throughout, but not overbearing, as Jackson wanted the club to have a Scottish feel. That, as well as four sets of tees, offer all levels of golfer a challenge.


The unfortunate part of our trip was the number of superb courses we didn’t sample, from the classic Dunes Golf and Beach Club (No. 3 on Golfweek’s places you can play in South Carolina) to Caledonia. Add in True Blue, Tidewater, The Surf Club and Pine Lakes International the Grand Strand has great golf chops. Nobody can sample all the greats of the Grand Strand in one visit.


Still, that just means a return trip is not going to be years away, as we are plotting a return visit sooner rather than later.

CHIP SHOTS:  Great golf holes are endless along the Grand Strand. The 13th at the Dunes Club, a double dogleg par-5 along a lake and featuring an ever-present alligator, requires three pin point shots (although yes, it has been hit in two)...The 13th at Arcadian Shores has an Augusta National "look". A 370-yard par-4 which requires a sweet second shot over water is outstanding and challenging....THe short par-3 fourth on the Cameron nine at Thistle can be breathtaking or heartbreaking depending on how your tee shot goes on the 135-yard island green... Shaftesbury Glen is another Clyde Johnson creation, with its spacious fairways and elevated bent grass greens. Fourteen holes have some sort of water to evade, this challenging layout will tantalize. 

27 Feb

Shore Club a south Jersey gem

Written by Bob Oliver



In just a bit over a year the rebranding from the former Wildwood Country Club into the Shore Club has been a near complete success. 

Hardly a month goes past without visitors noticing improvements to the clubhouse and other facilities as well as the wind swept 1921 Wayne Stiles design. And why "near" complete? Well, the enhancements are still occuring. 

"We are very happy with the upgrades around the entire facility, from the golf course to our structures," explained Fred Reidel, the Director of Golf who has worked at the Cape May Courthouse club for 17 years. "We have our plans and we are following them and you can see many of the improvements already with more happening."

On our recent visit, roof work was being completed, while the club's pub was drawing nice reviews for food, drink and ambience. Further enhancements are being completed. Gazing toward the golf course, there was hustle and bustle as renovations are ongoing.

"We are in the process of reworking sand bunkers on holes one, six and nine," explained Reidel. "We've complete several bunkers, and will have a handful more to do before summer as we present players with challenges."

There has been small harvesting of overgrown bush and trees to facilitate movement of air to help with turf growth, something that naturally occurs over time. It also helps with pace of play and overall beauty and challenge.

And what a challenging course The Shore Club provides. A bayside layout, the course can be blanketed by the breezes which in turn makes ball flight and club selection critical. 

The Shore Club continues to host numerous weddings and functions which go on hand in hand with stellar golf.

When making plans for shore golf, The Shore Club is a must visit attraction. 

CHIP SHOTS - For information on all aspects of The Shore Club contact 609-465-7824.

12 Feb

Makefield Highlands hosts Open qualifying

Written by Bob Oliver
Will the endless inclimate weather end? Let's hope so. Because golf season is approaching and players are itching to get out an challenge their favorite layout. 
There is an added bonus this year as Makefield Highlands Golf Club will be one of 100 local qualifying sites around the world for the 119th United States Open Golf Championship.
Local qualifying for those with a USGA handicap index of 1.4 or lower can apply to play in the 18 hole event, with generally the top several players advancing to Sectional Qualifying where they will compete for a slot in the national championship at Pebble Beach. 
Last year 21 players advanced through local and sectional qualifying and into the 156-player field at Shinnecock Hills. Of those 21 players, seven made the 36-hole cut in Long Island. 
Makefield Highlands expects to be played at about 7,100 yards and to a par of 72 for the event. The Golf Association of Philadelphia will oversee the contest. 


CHIP SHOTS: The Symetra Tour, the LPGA's top feeding source, returns to the Philadelphia area at Raven's Claw in Montgomery County and the Valley Forge Invitational May 31-June 2. Jenny Haglund claimed the inaugural event.  

27 Jan

ARGOLF putters are superb

Written by Bob Oliver


ORLANDO, FLA --- The marriage of technology and putters can't be considered new. 

Ping, for instance, has been known for its innovative designs for decades. Guys like Scotty Cameron have long been known for the ability to examine all kinds of materials, shapes, sizes, weighting and so forth to construct the newest putter that is more efficient. Having said that, this multi-million dollar industry expects a performance product. There is something that all the technology in the world must pair with: look and feel.

Over the years I've seen all kinds of strange looking putters. They were accurate, but didn't have the look of a winner nor the feel of one either.

"Putters can be very, very personal," explained Stan Utley at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. "The putter must instill some level of confidence to perform."

Utley, a putting guru, has used all kinds of putters over the years, and knows that the best putter in the world if made still wouldn't work for the masses if there wasn't a sound design and great feel from which comes confidence in your stroke. Technology can lead to innovative weighting and being fitted to ensure proper length and so forth sparks confidence. 

Which brings us to a company one might not have heard of: ARGOLF. 

You might not have heard of this small company from Brittany in the northwest of France, but it's a name you will be hearing more of down the road. It has an array of putters milled in France and designed and assembled in the USA. And these flat sticks are gaining in popularity for their feel, look and give the confidence needed to sink putts and stay away from dreaded three-putts. 

Unlike some competitors, ARGOLF putters are constructed from a single block of high quality metal sans inserts, which testing suggests give a consistent weight and feel. And while the company is also in the iron market, its putters are absolutely superb. 

"We have put our designs through significant testing, including the Quintic Ball Roll System, and we've used that information to develop an outstanding lineup of product," explains Olivier Colas, the CEO and owner of ARGOLF International. "We have been pleased with our reception, and hear more and more stories about our product's success."

Its products have made the Golf Digest "Hot List" as a Silver award winner, and plaudits are coming in from the professionals who use the putters under demanding conditions. ARGOLF putters were used in a pair of PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major championship by Kenny Perry at the U.S. Senior Open in 2017.  Lucas Glover and Tim Petrovic also successfully use the ARGOLF products. 

ARGOLF has a pair of blade lines and a pair of mallet lines which offer excellent response and performance. My personal favorite is the slightly heavier than normal "Pendragon" with 405 grams and a 2 degree loft fitting my stroke to perfection. Created from aerospace technology and 7175 Aluminum its precision designed C Claw Groves led to outstanding feel, response and yes, confidence. 

"We recommend being fitted, as there are different characteristics that affect the stroke," added Colas. "We clearly would stack our products against others because we believe so much in them."

ARGOLF provides customization options for its mallets, where you can create the color that matches one's mind. Trained fitters can help with the actual selection of the putter which works best for the player. 

Further details are available at, Check it out, as ARGOLF products are absolutely worth the time to test and provide the desired performance.  

THE FINAL WORD - ARGOLF putters receive our highest accolades. Sweet performance from a company whose name translates to For Golf.  A great variety of models to choose from.