Pine Hills is one of those public golf courses that is just challenging enough so that golfers at almost any level can enjoy every hole. It’s great for beginners and manageable for intermediates. The rolling course not only has the named Pines from the surrounding Pine Barrens, but also the rolling Hills found not only on the fairways but the greens as well. The nice feature of this course is that many holes feature water hazards among the bunkers making each hole, even the par 3s, a new adventure every time (especially for those of us whose balls are magnets to water, just saying).
The 18-hole course is just south of LIE Exit 69 in Manorville. With a course par 73 (37 front 9, 36 back 9), the longest tee is Hole 8, a driver’s dream of 539 yards from the blue, and the shortest a 100-yard pop from the red on Hole 17 from the red, making ball placement a priority. The course rating is 74.4 with a slope of 131 from the blue, and from the red, 60.4 with slope of 120.
While not the most challenging course, if it is your first time there are a few surprises that can sneak up on you. The 15th hole is one. With an elevated tee box, this severe left dogleg features a straight fairway and left up a huge hill. You may want to cut off some yards by hitting left by willow tree in the crook of the hole’s arm, but a quick ride up before teeing off is highly recommended. A small pond tucked at the tree roots would certainly result in a water ball and lost strokes.
Hole 5 can also catch an unwary golfer off guard. This hole features a blind hill that you can easily hit over, but have no idea what lies beyond. The reeds give you the clue – another hidden swampy hazard that can suck up your ball (guess whose it was!). The green is also a one-putt Mission Improbable with such a severe slope to the front.
The course is extremely well kept and the staff friendly. The fairways and rough are neatly trimmed, and greens can be fast, however; some may find the surface bumpy, and it is known that the cup edges may be pushed in by a wayward duffer, making the short putt tricky. Greens often feature what seems like hills and valleys, so your putting game better be tops.
A recent visit found the pace a bit slow, with short waits at many holes, but it was a beautiful Sunday. A round took about 4 ½ hours. One drawback is that there is no outside snack bar, so if you need a hotdog or sandwich at the turn you have to order at JC’s restaurant. The good thing is that the snack truck does come through 2-3 times during your round with cold drinks and some snacks.
If you can work the ball right to left now is the time to do it. The conservative play is a fairway wood out to the right which leaves a long iron approach. The big hitters will want to aim the ball at the boulder with a draw and take a bite out of the dogleg. Be careful, too far left can leave you swimming. The green at eleven slopes severely from back to front so do your best to stay below the hole
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Image Credit: Valerie Zurblis & Pine Hills