Every late summer, I am kindly invited to a charity golf outing at Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club to benefit Patrick’s Pals, a great cause helping children with multiple disabilities and their families.
Mike Donahue, a member of Global Traveler’s Advisory Board, invited me, and we decided to take my recently restored 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger on a mini road trip to the course, about an hour away in north central New Jersey. Our foursome also included Mike’s father, Tom, and Jim Bolger.
Stephen Kay designed the course in 1993, along with many other wonderful courses in New Jersey, including Blue Heron Pines and The Architects Golf Club (a course that replicates famous holes from all over the world in one 18-hole layout). Kay takes pride in following the master designers of golf and making sure a course is designed with enough room so a golfer feels unencumbered by other players.
We played Stanton Ridge in a “scramble” format, and I would welcome the opportunity to return and play my own ball.
Hole 3 | 371 yards, par 4
Every time I play this course, I watch the group before me play this hole and wonder why their tee shots come up short, as they invariably do. This hole is also notorious for taking away your good game; out of bounds areas lie to the right, where some pricey houses are, and hard left to a wooded area and the front nine pump house.
We did secure one clean drive left of center, which allowed a decent opportunity to reach the green. The hole is uphill, and we all underestimated the length. Mike and Tom were just short; Jim and I took our approaches too far right, mine almost landing past the hole and out of bounds. An easy chip got us on the green in three with a one putt for par, which was a pretty good scramble.
Hole 6 | 533 yards, par 5
The No. 1 handicapped hole is a bruiser. It looks like it might turn right from the tee box but really is a straight hole where your drive is best placed right of center. Many drive their ball too far right up on a hill, where it can roll into the woods.
Jim slammed his drive hard and perfect. (He had a few on-the-course lessons from Mike to straighten out his swing.) He caught the downward crest of the hill; the fairway beyond added extra yardage, but he avoided the pond on the left that awaits unsuspecting golfers. The hole opens a bit from here so you can easily swing a fairway wood to progress and approach the elevated green with a wedge. The course has a lot of traps about 130 yards out, so accuracy is key.
Hole 7 | 213 yards, par 3
Here’s another hole constantly underestimated by players. Members know it requires more club than you think; and after watching my teammates tee up with various irons and a 5-wood, I decided to take a 3-wood and throw caution to the wind. A pond between the tee and the green takes away many hopes and dreams of golfers, Mike and Tom among them. I nailed my 3-wood, and the ball stopped about 15 feet from the cup. To make it a true birdie, I tapped it in for two. A hole-in-one here would have won a C-Class Mercedes-Benz, but I still turned to the gallery to enlist their applause for a job well done!
Hole 8 | 509 yards, par 5
This long hole has a gradual upslope to the fairway as it reaches the green. An accurate drive is required as there is a grove of trees on the right, with out of bounds and houses farther afield. On the left are dense woods and a fairway bunker. My group achieved a perfect drive and then a perfect fairway wood. Once we approached the clover-shaped green, we were close to the turn and the grilled hamburgers being prepared for lunch. This did not deter Mike from a great chip and Tom from knocking in the birdie putt.
Hole 10 | 475 yards, par 4
This is the No. 2 handicapped hole, not only for the length but also for the difficulty of the tee shot. As this is a dogleg left, you need a near-perfect draw from the tee box, avoiding woods on the right and a large pond. Your approach will tend to be a longer shot to the green — we were about 170 yards to the pin. The green is straightforward, with two traps guarding either side.
Hole 12 | 196 yards, par 3
This isn’t a difficult hole except it is a long shot from the tee, and most players underestimate its length. All three of my teammates came up short, wildly left or right into the sand trap. A powerful straight tee shot is needed to circumvent the valley that lies above the elevated tee. We were quite pleased to walk away with a fourth bogey.
Hole 13 | 327 yards, par 4
Our lousy drives made this a more difficult hole than it should have been. Mine looked fantastic off the club face but did not have sufficient power to clear the fairway bunker at the turn of this dogleg left. Jim killed a drive (his previous lesson paying off) but did not quite clear the “shmoo” (grass/ brush or swamp) on the left, and Mike and Tom — well, I am embarrassed to say what they did. Jim’s shot, although left, was long and the “shmoo” was dry enough to hit out of. Jim and I marched through the grass fearing no ticks, as we were on a mission. We found the ball sitting up rather nicely! As we each took our scramble shot to the green, Mike and Jim were a little overzealous and rolled off the back right. I hit a near-perfect chip high but a good 20 feet from the pin. Tom landed a foot from the cup; we birdied and walked off, slapping each other on the back with congratulations.
Hole 15 | 456 yards, par 4
Another birdie for the team. We all tried to cut this dogleg to the left and thread the needle near one of the high power line towers at the turn of the hole. Again, it was Jim who snuck one around the left side and landed past the fairway bunker in the rough. This gave us an easy shot to the green, best demonstrated by Mike, whose ball landed and rolled close enough for a birdie attempt. Tom took dead aim and sank the 15-foot putt for birdie. I, sadly, contributed nothing.
Stanton Ridge Golf and Country Club
25 Clubhouse Drive
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889
tel 908 534 1234
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