Golf, at its core, is a simple game: hit it, find it, and hit it again. And if you take that approach in describing Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery, you can sum it up in one simple word: FUN.
The atmosphere is terrific. The course is built around a working vineyard, tucked back off of Moss Mill Road, which runs from Hammonton to Smithville. There’s a hotel, a couple of excellent restaurants, and if you decide to do the stay-and-play thing, the winery tour is also enjoyable.
But the focus here is golf, and this Ed Shearon design is just a very pleasant way to spend four hours of your day. It begins with a challenging par 4, you second shot a mid-to-long iron to an elevated and well-guarded green. It wraps up with a long par 5 that includes water lurking near the green. In between, there’s a nice mix of some challenging holes and some breathers, including one tee shot amid the vines and grapes. Good times, and well worth the drive from the city, or if you’re down the shore.
I really struggled with this one because there are so many I like. But I really enjoy shortish risk-reward challenges so I’ll go with the par-4 8th. At only 311 yards from the blue tees, it is nearly reachable for many players, but there is a long nasty-looking bunker that bisects the fairway most of the way. You can choose the left fairway, which is narrower but is essentially on the same level as the green so it offers a great look for your second shot. Or you can take it down the wider right fairway… but that tumbles down below the green, so it presents a more difficult approach. Either way, you have a decision: blow it up there near the green, or lay back to your favorite yardage. Lots of choices. Then you have to stand over the ball convinced you’ve made the right decision and swing without doubt or fear. Good stuff.
Ed Abrams anchors mornings on KYW Newsradio, and you can hear his Golf Reports there on Fridays and Saturdays. He has also created a pair of websites: www.DealTrackerGolf.com, featuring leads on the best golf equipment deals… and www.TeeItUpPhilly.com, with video course tours, audio swing tips and local golf deals