Thirteen years before David Horsley and Al Christie opened their motion picture studio on Sunset Boulevard that kickstarted the world’s most dominant film industry, the small, seaside community of Deal, New Jersey had its own Hollywood. Established in 1898, Hollywood Golf Club’s 7,040-yard, 18-hole course lies only a couple of Big Bertha drives from a Northern New Jersey shoreline known for its sunrises, surfing and sea kayaking. Running alongside the Harvey Brook, the course rests a mere 50 miles from both New York City and Philadelphia, offering a convenient getaway for the avid sportsman.
When VUE had the opportunity to play a round at Hollywood Golf Club, its style, design and tradition all contributed to the aesthetic appeal that makes it stand out as a top New Jersey course. Even with panoramic views and a wide-open play style, the course’s forested border shelters golfers in a pastoral setting sprinkled with the occasional deciduous tree or shrub. The stark contrast between the trimmed turf and the purposely browned native grasses of the rough strikes the eye as golfers wind their way through Hollywood’s natural obstacles. The thick rough not only affords exciting challenges to novice and veteran golfers alike, it harkens to the classic links courses of Scotland. Meanwhile, the shamrock greens from the semi-rough that blend to the green tea shades of the putting surface keep the manicured, American-style intact.
After the course’s move in 1912, golf course designer Walter J. Travis put his expertise to work in 1918, creating the course now played today. After a restoration in 2014, Hollywood resembles its century-old style. Well-deserving of its high ratings from media outlets, critics and professionals, the Par-71 course accommodates a fun, day-to-day play that easily ramps up for professional competition. It’s no wonder that the course has bred golfing excellence, with past pros like Craig Wood, winner of the US Open and The Masters, calling it home. The course has hosted a myriad of professional tournaments, including recent ones such as the 102nd Met Open in 2017, the US Senior Women’s Amateur Championship in 2014, the Met Amateur in 2012, the NJ State Open in 2011, the Senior Open in 2008, and the NJPGA Championship in 1998.
What Hollywood giveth, it also taketh away. With generous fairways, golfers swing aggressively on early shots. However, the thick rough and fast, firm greens make the short game vital for those hoping to shoot under par. The course has more than 170 white-sand bunkers that contribute equally to the course vistas and a golfer’s frustration. What they lack in depth, they make up in volume, ranging from compact circles to amorphous encumbrances. Players will need to pack strong iron games into their golf bag and maybe leave the woods for the range’s certified swing trainers.
If any hole exemplifies the course philosophy most, the Par-4 12th, a 460-yard exam in ball-striking ability shines as a benchmark for which golfers measure their game. Nicknamed the Heinz 57 for the 57 bunkers surrounding the hole in the 1920s, today’s 41 bunkers still provide plenty of trepidation as golfers choose between the right and left-hand sides of the fairway. While the left might be a safer bet, if golfers can lift the ball over an imposing right-hand bunker, they’ll be rewarded with a high chance for birdie. Like most of the Hollywood course, the 12th hole allows for different strategies and encourages creative shot-making.
Naturally, with the refined ethos of an elite country club, golf isn’t the only game in town at Hollywood. Meta-basalt, Har-Tru tennis courts offer guests a more aerobic diversion. Designed with restrained sophistication, the main clubhouse’s white walls, fixtures and high ceilings put the views of the course on center stage. After a round of golf, guests frequent the outdoor patio and bar where they enjoy luxury cocktails in a shaded, open-air locale. Exclusive events include barbeques, prime rib nights, scotch and cigar tastings, and a Spanish tapas experience.
Steeped in tradition and golfing pedigree, Hollywood has managed to stay at the forefronts of the elite golfing world for more than a century. Whether to play nine or 18, escape the daily grind or enjoy an afternoon of fine dining and delicious drinks, Hollywood Golf Club delivers both on the course and off.