5 Great Public Golf Courses in New Jersey

New Jersey is home to arguably the top golf course in the world, Pine Valley, and littered with ageless, historic, private golf clubs like Ridgewood, Plainfield, and Bayonne. Yes, when it comes to golf courses in the Garden State, there is no shortage of familiarity.

Though high-quality public golf courses in New Jersey can be tough to come by, there are a bunch of solid accessible layouts to be found—you just need to know where to look. That’s where this local Jersey resident comes in to provide some assistance.

With the PGA Tour in town for the Northern Trust at ultra-private Liberty National in Jersey City, here’s a look at some of the best courses in the Garden State that anyone can play.

Neshanic Valley Golf Course (Neshanic Station)

Located in central New Jersey, Neshanic Valley is municipal golf at the highest level. Operated by the Somerset County Parks Commission, Neshanic offers three 9-hole layouts—Lake, Meadow, and Ridge. Constructed over 420 acres of farmland, the course was designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, and has hosted the prestigious Met Golf Association’s Men’s Public Links as well as the USGA’s Women’s Public Links. Its 27 holes provide numerous tee options and distance combinations for golfers looking to mix it up with the maximum 18-hole challenge stretching out to over 7,100 yards. The course also features a 9-hole academy course as well as a massive driving range. Tee times can be tough to come by, but patient golfers can peg it at Neshanic for $50–85, with cart included. https://www.neshanicvalleygolf.com/

Ballyowen (Hamburg)

A quick 50-mile trek northwest of Newark Liberty International Airport will transport golfers from the shadows of New York City to the links of Great Britain and Ireland. Designed by Roger Rulewich and opened in 1998, Ballyowen is part of the Crystal Springs Resort which is home to six golf courses at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The course tips out at just over 7,000 yards offering generous landing areas off the tee while taking golfers through meadows, hills, and valleys. The links-style course is also one of the only public layouts that offer caddies, available May through August. A weekday twilight rate can be snagged for $55, while the resort also offers attractive stay and play packages. https://www.crystalgolfresort.com/golf/courses/ballyowen

(photo courtesy Crystal Springs Resort)

Seaview, Bay Course (Galloway)

Located just a 7-iron away from Atlantic City casinos is one of the Garden State’s most historic courses. Established in 1914, Seaview is home to 36 holes of prime public golf. The Pines Course was the site of Sam Snead’s chip-in to secure his first major at the 1942 PGA Championship, while the Bay Course has hosted the Shoprite LPGA Classic for the better part of five decades. A links layout residing along Reed’s Bay, the Bay is a stunner. At just over 6,300 yards the course is short by modern-day standards, but demands accuracy and creativity, and that’s before the wind blows off the Atlantic Ocean. A stroll through the Seaview clubhouse gives golfers a glimpse back at the course’s deep history with names like Snead, Nelson, Sorenstam, and Inkster having all graced the grounds. Peak season rates run from $89–$175, but with mild winters along the Jersey shore, late season rates are a steal at Seaview. https://www.seaviewgolf.com/


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Atlantic City Country Club (Northfield)

One of the oldest golf courses in the United States is often regarded as the cream of the crop when it comes to accessible golf in New Jersey. Atlantic City CC was established in 1897 by a group of hotel owners and was originally a 9-hole layout. Over the last 124 years, the golf course has undergone numerous renovations, with Tom Doak redesigning the club in the late 1990s. ACCC is a combination of inland and coastal holes with the seaside links portion of the layout giving golfers views of the Atlantic City skyline. The club’s claim to fame is being the “Birthplace of the Birdie”—where the term “bird of a shot” was first used to describe a score of 1-under par; a rock commemorating the moment from 1903 sits at the 12th hole of the course. Summer rates will run golfers $195–$250 of their winnings from the Atlantic City casinos to tee it up. https://accountryclub.com/

New Jersey golf
(photo courtesy Ottinger Golf Group)

Scotland Run (Williamstown)

Tucked in the southwest section of the state is a course full of Jersey character. Designed by Stephen Kay, Scotland Run is located on an old sand quarry. Many pieces of machinery from the mining days are still visible along the golf course which winds its way through parkland and wide-open links-style holes. At more than 6,700 yards, Scotland Run is a challenge (especially if the wind kicks up), but golfers will get their fill of entertainment—on the 402-yard par-four 16th a propeller plane sits in the hole’s large waste bunker. The dogleg right requires a tee shot over the massive bunker that runs along the right side; after trying to find the fairway, many players often tee up an extra ball to try and ding the plane. Rates run around $100 during the summer months. https://scotlandrun.com/

New Jersey golf
(photo courtesy Ottinger Golf Group)

What is your favorite public golf course in New Jersey?