JP Morgan Chase credit card holders often receive invitations to one of the Chase Inside Access events, which range from dinners prepared by celebrity chefs to special events across the country. I was fortunate to experience an event at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Chase took over the country club and former estate of John DeLorean, famed automobile manufacturer and creator of the DeLorean car, idolized in the cult classic Back to the Future.
Cardmembers paid a reduced fee to attend this special event. Invitations were emailed to members and included a Chase telephone number for reserving a spot. The event filled quickly on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Fazio family designed both the Old Course and the New Course at Trump Bedminster. The Old Course, designed by Tom Fazio, opened in 2004 and measures 7,560 yards from the tips. It was recognized as one of the top 100 courses in America by Golf Magazine and Golfweek and selected New Jersey Golf Course of the Year in 2011. The course is perfectly maintained — would you expect anything less than immaculate on “the Donald’s” home course?
Trump poured a great deal of money into the course and the clubhouse/facilities, fully restoring the old mansion. I have never seen more beautiful locker facilities than those in the renovated former stables. Full of natural light, they look more like a formal living room than a typical men’s locker room.
The New Course is an 18-hole heathland style designed by Fazio’s nephew, Tom Fazio II. Opened in 2008, it frames and complements the Old Course and was voted Best Modern Course by Golfweek in 2011 and Best New Private Course by Golf Magazine in 2008.
I teed off on the Old Course on a beautiful summer day for a four-man scramble with David Gold, general manager, JP Morgan Chase Credit Cards; Drew Luthern, account manager, Source Marketing; and Chris Musumeci, senior vice president, Parcel Management.
Hole 6 | 351 yards, par 4
I have been accused of only remembering the best part of my game as I write this column. “If you read Fran’s golf column and never played with him before, you would think he was a 1-handicap golfer,” said a colleague. This might be true, and a reason I selected Hole 6 for this article, as I played it like a champ.
Drew took a cellphone call, distracting him from his regular powerful play. Deciding not to let down the team, David and I took full swings, nailing two drives. Mine landed in the center of the fairway, David to the right but well within play. Left center is the desired location for your drive, as the hole doglegs slightly to the right and is guarded by a fronting pond. The rest of the team tossed in the towel; David and I continued to the hole with a great approach by yours truly and an excellent birdie putt by David.
Hole 12 | 350 yards, par 4
This is where the boys on my team started to show their power with massive drives off the tee to the center of the fairway. I, on the other hand, hit a monster, but it took a trajectory left into the high fescue that Mr. Trump planted like Johnny Appleseed, sowing sorrows for wayward players. Thanks to the scramble format, we could leave that ball for some caddie to sell. The right fairway bunker took out Chris, leaving us with two drives to choose. David’s second shot put us on the lower portion of this two-tiered green, but teamwork allowed us to walk off with a par.
Hole 16 | 150 yards, par 3
I have to cover Hole 16, as this is a set-up to “beat the pro.” One of the benefits of the Chase Inside Access was use of the warm-up facilities and program at the course. Several of the pros were at the range and if you so desired, one would analyze your swing and offer suggestions for improvement. I took my pro’s advice and met up with him again on the 16th hole. My PGA pro was hitting a ball for each player, and you could play your own ball or choose the pro’s. In addition, if your ball landed on the green inside of the pro’s, you were rewarded with a sleeve of Trump National Bedminster golf balls. The pro went first, hitting a nice, clean ball that landed far left but on the green. I was up to beat my teacher and, remembering my brief instructions, nailed a perfect ball to the center of the green within six feet of the cup. Better yet, I made the putt for birdie and shared my winnings with my partner.
Hole 18 | 662 yards, par 5
It seems Trump and Fazio wanted to bring you back to the clubhouse thirsting for a cold one, as the finishing hole at the Old Course will bring you to your knees. Long and with challenges, the dogleg right wraps around a pond. When we were ready to tee up, the wind began to howl. We lost Chris, who had a conflicting appointment, so it was David, Drew and myself. We let our caddie,Tom, take a drive just for the fun of it. Drew had the best shot, following the Trump and Fazio playbook with a drive toward the far left fairway bunker. From here, David and I tried to clip the water’s edge, taking the Fazio risk/reward option — with no reward, just wet and lost. Drew slammed a ball, favoring the left side and rolling up very close to the green. A chip and a putt and we were slapping each other on the back on the way to the reception.
I met some nice people from all walks of life at the cocktail reception and dinner. The event offered them an opportunity to play a private course for very little investment and to bring a foursome of their own. High marks go to the staff at Trump Bedminster and to Chase Inside Access for stepping up its game and setting itself apart. I will be taking more of these opportunities when they come across my email.
Trump National Golf Club Bedminster
900 Lamington Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921
tel 908 470 4400
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