EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- As first impressions go, the view from the clubhouse at Twisted Dune Golf Club is a keeper.
The setting reveals the ninth and 10th fairways, which turn and tumble through fescue-laced dunes. Bunkers of all shapes and sizes are sprinkled randomly along the manufactured hills. A pond separates the two back-to-back par 5s.
Architect Archie Struthers moved roughly 2 million cubic yards of earth to make magic at Twisted Dune roughly 15 miles inland from Atlantic City. The 7,248-yard course looks like the love child of Whistling Straits and Ballybunion. The Twisted Dune Web site calls its unique design "Scottish Golf, Jersey Style."
It's easy to be distracted by Struthers' visual clutter. Fortunately, wide fairways offer plenty of forgiveness. Big misses, however, guarantee big numbers. The long grass plays insufferably difficult and some of the roughly 90 bunkers are filled with rocks, adding an element of unpredictability.
Holes 13-17 might be the best continuous stretch of public golf in New Jersey. The treacherous par-3 13th hole and the uphill par-4 14th hole share a pond. The fairway of the par-4 15th hole bends left before dropping downhill. The par-3 16th hole looks quite striking. The 17th green remains the toughest to hit in regulation, sitting on a shelf above the fairway.
These five holes are a major reason why Golfweek ranked Twisted Dune Golf Club third among New Jersey's best public courses for 2013. It's twisted, wicked fun.