Rock Spring going public in NJ

 philsRHman ·  
philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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I didn’t realize Rock Spring was a Raynor/Banks course. My research prior to going to Bandon and learning about CB MacDonald really got Raynor on my radar. According to this story, it’s been purchased by West Orange and the rates are really appealing. I wonder what people think of the design and if anyone’s been out there to see what shape it’s in after reopening recently. Any other WO munis to give us a hint as to how they’ll maintain it?
https://www.njsga.org/news/post/township-of-west-orange-purchases-rock-spring-course-open-to-public

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  • NJgolfer11NJgolfer11  160WRX Points: 82Handicap: 8Members Posts: 160
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    I played it about 4-5 years ago when it was private. I loved it.
    Definitely check it out.

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  • th6252th6252  1207WRX Points: 156Members Posts: 1,207
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    I've always wanted to play that course. Considering it's operated by Kemper who also operates Galloping Hill, Skyway in JC, Heron Glen and the Knoll, I'd say they're in good hands as all those courses have a good track record.

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    On -, @th6252 said:

    I've always wanted to play that course. Considering it's operated by Kemper who also operates Galloping Hill, Skyway in JC, Heron Glen and the Knoll, I'd say they're in good hands as all those courses have a good track record.

    Yes, seeing Kemper was a VERY good sign.

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  • gregkellergregkeller  201WRX Points: 89Handicap: 6.9ClubWRX Posts: 201
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    I made a tee time for next friday and got a note that due to the late purchase and all the rain we've had that the course isn't in shape the way they'd like it, so you will get some kind of voucher/coupon for once they do get the course in tip top shape, doubt its a free round, but maybe some % off, which is nice.

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  • Bonneville85308Bonneville85308  1800WRX Points: 218Members Posts: 1,800
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    In that location, if they keep it in good condition and at the rates shown on their website, they will fill the tee sheet all day long.

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  • ButterCutter2ButterCutter2 NYC 338WRX Points: 95Handicap: 4Members Posts: 338
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    kemper knows better than i, but i have to think they could get more than $89 for a weekend round w/ a cart. these prices make this 1 of the best combinations of course/price within an hour of NYC, right behind the black & red. can't think of anything else that's this reasonable.

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  • NYCTUFanNYCTUFan  34WRX Points: 19Members Posts: 34
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    On -, @ bnr204 said:

    kemper knows better than i, but i have to think they could get more than $89 for a weekend round w/ a cart. these prices make this 1 of the best combinations of course/price within an hour of NYC, right behind the black & red. can't think of anything else that's this reasonable.

    I agree. Based on their warning while booking a tee time that the course is not up to their standards yet I’m guessing that by next season you’re going to see rates much more in the Ballyowen range of $135.00 on weekend mornings.

    Personally I hope they keep the rates in that premium range, Francis Byrne Golf Course is a great layout owned by Essex County and is 2 miles from Rock Spring. Because of their county rate of $54.00 riding in prime-time on weekend It’s never less than a 5 ½ hour round.

    Rock Spring is also showing a $3900 membership for the rest of 2019, I can see that pushing $5000+ next season as well. If they keep the rates at a premium I can see this being a great option, if not it will get overplayed and beat to ****.

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  • gregkellergregkeller  201WRX Points: 89Handicap: 6.9ClubWRX Posts: 201
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    A fried played this morning and said the course has rough that is pretty much beyond US Open length. Really tough time finding your ball if it didn't find the fairways. I had a tee time for this friday, but am cancelling it based on the info. He asked if they'd have it trimmed down to managable lengths by memorial day and they weren't sure. Depends on the weather.

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  • ButterCutter2ButterCutter2 NYC 338WRX Points: 95Handicap: 4Members Posts: 338
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    reiterating that kemper's running a biz and knows best, but i'd love to see them make that weekend premium TT in the $130 range to ride yet keep it closer to $100 to walk. in other words, jack up the cart fee from $17 to north of $30 for premium times.

    On -, @NYCTUFan said:

    On -, @ bnr204 said:

    kemper knows better than i, but i have to think they could get more than $89 for a weekend round w/ a cart. these prices make this 1 of the best combinations of course/price within an hour of NYC, right behind the black & red. can't think of anything else that's this reasonable.

    I agree. Based on their warning while booking a tee time that the course is not up to their standards yet I’m guessing that by next season you’re going to see rates much more in the Ballyowen range of $135.00 on weekend mornings.

    Personally I hope they keep the rates in that premium range, Francis Byrne Golf Course is a great layout owned by Essex County and is 2 miles from Rock Spring. Because of their county rate of $54.00 riding in prime-time on weekend It’s never less than a 5 ½ hour round.

    Rock Spring is also showing a $3900 membership for the rest of 2019, I can see that pushing $5000+ next season as well. If they keep the rates at a premium I can see this being a great option, if not it will get overplayed and beat to ****.

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  • Wander BreadWander Bread  81WRX Points: 35Handicap: 4.2Members Posts: 81
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    Very much looking forward to getting out once the conditions improve.
    Like Byrne a lot as far as layout and challenge goes, but the pace definitely sucks.

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  • NYCTUFanNYCTUFan  34WRX Points: 19Members Posts: 34
    Joined:  edited May 20, 2019 #12

    I was doing a little digging and found this.
    https://essexnewsdaily.com/headlne-news/79035
    A few highlights, the RFQ for management services that Kemper Sports won is only for 20 months. It looks like the city of West Orange wants the option to reassess at that time.
    It's looking like there is a fairly strong possibility that it will shift from an 18 hole facility to a 9 hole facility according to a representative of Kemper Sports.

    A quote is below:
    "Krakoviak also asked about the prospect of a nine-hole course, which Mayor Robert Parisi’s plan for the property proposes after the first two years that the township owns the club. In response, Blake said that, while it is up to the town to decide, Kemper would not be surprised if the traditional 18-hole course became a nine-hole course. The prices would change, but Blake said Kemper is familiar with and has experience operating nine-hole courses.

    “I think we anticipate there will be change,” he said. “We would hope that there’s a way to keep 18 holes, but we’re not counting on it. With the time compression, nine-hole courses have actually become quite successful. When we talk about this at the office, we could see a 12-hole golf course or a 13-hole golf course. You would price it accordingly and I think you’d have some real interest, so that wouldn’t scare us at all.”

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    Seeing that the mayor was talking about ways to use the property as a more inclusive space than just golf, it makes sense they'd consider alternative uses. Politically it makes sense, because now they win by saving the land as green space and it'll have applications for everyone, not just golfs. And they could actually be a bit of a leader in the 9-12 hole golf space. I think Hyatt Hills and Skyway are two muni 9-holers that have been well received. Let's just hope they choose the right holes to keep and retain as much of the Raynor work as they can.

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    Also, that said, I know there's a push here to raise rates to keep it from being overrun, but think of the purpose in the eyes of the township. They can't risk being pounded because they're charging $150 a round, unless they find a way to balance that with really low rates for township residents. They're seeing it as green space and a public park/setting, and the same way you're not going to charge big fees for a splash park or playground, they should be aiming to price it where they can maintain it well enough that the majority of golfers can enjoy it. No doubt Kemper can help them find that happy spot given their work across the spectrum.
    Last thing, it makes sense the heavy rough would be an outcome of the wet spring. If the course sat relatively dormant for 6 months, and now they can't get the mowers into the low-lying areas, it would just become a circle of rain-grow-no mow. Anyone whose lawnmower broke, or got lazy for a week or two knows how difficult it becomes to get it back under control.

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  • dmanzodmanzo  6WRX Points: 7Handicap: 10Members Posts: 6
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    any other info here? was going to check it out this week. Anyone play it in the last few days are conditions improving?

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  • NJGolfer0624NJGolfer0624  267WRX Points: 111Members Posts: 267
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    Any updates? I am off from work this week and was going to try to play the course but not if it is as bad as I am hearing.

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  • NYCTUFanNYCTUFan  34WRX Points: 19Members Posts: 34
    Joined:  edited May 28, 2019 #17

    I played it this weekend and I’ll give you the good and bad based on my opinion.

    The course has great bones. It’s an outstanding typical 100 year old private club layout. Great bunkering, contoured greens and rolling fairways. It’s a little cramped with some of the tees being in close proximity to each other and holes running parallel but in my opinion it’s a great classic old track.

    Given the fact that they just started maintenance 2 weeks ago conditions on a scale of 1 to 10 are a 6. It's like having a 150 acre wooded backyard and you haven’t done any yardwork since last fall, that’s the challenge they have getting it is shape. The fairways are good, the greens are slow and very inconsistent but ok. Many of the fairway bunkers and a couple green side bunkers are washed out and need repair. The rough is a little on the high side but the real problem is how thick it is. People were losing balls 3 yards off the fairway. This is part of the reason the pace of play was a death march. My group teed off at 7:30AM, we were maybe the 5th or 6th group out and it took 5 ½ hours to finish. The group in front of us was painfully slow. They are still short staffed so there were no rangers on the course keeping it moving. Spots in the rough have some deep tire tracks where mowers got stuck and you can definitely see some drainage issues and a few broken sprinkler heads. Still some sticks and branches are down in the rough as well.

    The clubhouse is great but tired and needs a little TLC. Landscaping is over grown and the outside needs a few shingles repaired and a fresh coat of paint, but it definitely has a lot of potential with a little polishing up.

    Overall I would say that once get fully staffed and have some time to work on it the course will be outstanding! The place is rough around the edges but you can definitely see a great golf course under it all. Weather permitting I would say by July it will be close to 100%

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  • NJGolfer0624NJGolfer0624  267WRX Points: 111Members Posts: 267
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    I’m surprised to hear some of the issues there. They must be so short staffed.
    I also heard the township is going to sell the place after about 18 months and re-zone it for a different use.

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    Not are they likely short staffed, they’ve probably been trying to staff up while doing the work. Guessing the staff from the private days moved on once sold. Now they’d likely be diverting staff from other Kemper properties or trying to assess/triage while also training. I’ve fallen behind on spring cleanup on my little yard. Imagine that on an 18 hole golf course? Makes sense especially given this growing season and all the wet weather, but I guess they felt it’s better to get open and get revenue flowing and get the word out.

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  • NJGolfer0624NJGolfer0624  267WRX Points: 111Members Posts: 267
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    Not quite sure I understand your yard comparison to a for profit business.
    Clearly they don’t have the maintenance staff onboard yet otherwise they should have been able to catch up over the last few weeks. It’s not like the property has been neglected for years.

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  • gregkellergregkeller  201WRX Points: 89Handicap: 6.9ClubWRX Posts: 201
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    I think that the biggest issue, from my buddy who played recently, was that the grass got so long that they couldn't just run a lawnmower over it. Once that grass gets too long, you need to remove all those clippings and stuff. Add to that how soft the ground is because of all the rain, and maybe they couldn't get the heavy mowers in to take care of that.

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    On -, @gregkeller said:

    I think that the biggest issue, from my buddy who played recently, was that the grass got so long that they couldn't just run a lawnmower over it. Once that grass gets too long, you need to remove all those clippings and stuff. Add to that how soft the ground is because of all the rain, and maybe they couldn't get the heavy mowers in to take care of that.

    Yes, this was my point. It gets to the point it’s a far bigger job than just mow the grass. And that can easily happen in a month in NJ especially given all the rain.

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  • Jersey golferJersey golfer  469WRX Points: 88Handicap: 14.9Members Posts: 469
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    Any updates on conditions?

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  • umassgolferumassgolfer  860WRX Points: 184Members Posts: 860
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    It was rough when I played a few weeks back (5/26). But we played in under 4 hours with a 2:00 . tee time, which was nice. I heard it has gotten better as they've been able to get out and mow some.

    My commentary: I really liked a bunch of the holes. My biggest concern with the 9-hole plan is trying to figure out how they'd do it. 1 and 18 were two of my least memorable holes, but would stand to reason that they'll stay. The holes across the street are as good as gone, which is a shame because of the crazy cool green on 4. I just really hope they don't lose the gem of a "short" template hole on 6. That was my favorite hole on the front-9 but with city views I can see that becoming condos or something. I'll try to get out there as much as I can the next two years, knowing it is unlikely the full routing and some of the best holes out there will survive.

    I think the course could thrive as a "Country Club for a day" experience - price around $100-$120, keep conditions up, offer some of the amenities that a public/muni course doesn't since you have a fully operational clubhouse. Maybe even open the pool up for daily admission use & host evening events in the clubhouse/outdoor patio space.

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  • NJGolfer0624NJGolfer0624  267WRX Points: 111Members Posts: 267
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    Any new updates from June?

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  • umassgolferumassgolfer  860WRX Points: 184Members Posts: 860
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    Played last week. Getting a little better. Rough was manageable, greens were a little quicker but certainly not "fast". A few bunkers still need work. Was paired with a former member who said a lot of the putts I left myself would have been impossible to keep on the green in prior/private years - but slower greens may be partially a pace of play thing now that they are public.

    The round was a little slow, but not unbearable. Teed off at 12:40, finished around 5:20. FWIW I was playing with a discounted round voucher emailed to me after the first time I played. Wondering if the crowded course and tee sheet had anything to do with those vouchers expiring end of June (combined with it being Fathers Day weekend, absolutely beautiful out and before Prime Time US Open coverage).

    There were a few greens where the size looks to be much smaller than original - with fringe collars eating up significant portions of green. Hoping they can pull those back to where they should be but not feeling too optimistic about it.

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  • NJGolfer0624NJGolfer0624  267WRX Points: 111Members Posts: 267
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    On -, @umassgolfer said:

    Played last week. Getting a little better. Rough was manageable, greens were a little quicker but certainly not "fast". A few bunkers still need work. Was paired with a former member who said a lot of the putts I left myself would have been impossible to keep on the green in prior/private years - but slower greens may be partially a pace of play thing now that they are public.

    The round was a little slow, but not unbearable. Teed off at 12:40, finished around 5:20. FWIW I was playing with a discounted round voucher emailed to me after the first time I played. Wondering if the crowded course and tee sheet had anything to do with those vouchers expiring end of June (combined with it being Fathers Day weekend, absolutely beautiful out and before Prime Time US Open coverage).

    There were a few greens where the size looks to be much smaller than original - with fringe collars eating up significant portions of green. Hoping they can pull those back to where they should be but not feeling too optimistic about it.

    Thanks for the response, not sure it sounds like its worth making the trip to play

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  • umassgolferumassgolfer  860WRX Points: 184Members Posts: 860
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    On -, @NJGolfer0624 said:

    On -, @umassgolfer said:

    Played last week. Getting a little better. Rough was manageable, greens were a little quicker but certainly not "fast". A few bunkers still need work. Was paired with a former member who said a lot of the putts I left myself would have been impossible to keep on the green in prior/private years - but slower greens may be partially a pace of play thing now that they are public.

    The round was a little slow, but not unbearable. Teed off at 12:40, finished around 5:20. FWIW I was playing with a discounted round voucher emailed to me after the first time I played. Wondering if the crowded course and tee sheet had anything to do with those vouchers expiring end of June (combined with it being Fathers Day weekend, absolutely beautiful out and before Prime Time US Open coverage).

    There were a few greens where the size looks to be much smaller than original - with fringe collars eating up significant portions of green. Hoping they can pull those back to where they should be but not feeling too optimistic about it.

    Thanks for the response, not sure it sounds like its worth making the trip to play

    I think whether it is "worth" it depends on what you are needing the course/day to be and how far away you'd be coming from. If you're looking to feel like you're spending a day at a high-end private club with amenities nearly perfect conditioning, that's not where they are yet. But, if you're interested in seeing the Seth Raynor design, routing, green complexes, etc. then I think it definitely is worth playing once, especially if you're able to get out mid-week.

    Shoot, if you wanted to you could do Rock Spring and Francis Byrne (about 6 minutes from each other) and get a Raynor and a Charles Banks design in the same day.

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  • NYCTUFanNYCTUFan  34WRX Points: 19Members Posts: 34
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    Just to give an update, I played Rock Spring again last Saturday. The conditions still have a ways to go but it’s improved dramatically in the last 30 days. Most of the rough has been cut to a manageable length, but what’s nice is it’s still very thick. Greens are overall pretty smooth, still a little on the slow side. Greenside bunkers are all in good shape along with most of the fairway bunkers, a few still need an overhaul. The bar is open along with the grill room, and they were actually having some type of outside event Saturday evening with lots of people in suits.

    It’s a great golf course with a classic old school layout, one of the potential problems I’ve seen the 2 times I’ve played it (in my opinion) is for the average 15+ handicapper it’s a really difficult course. Because of that pace of plan can be a challenge. It took us 5 hours to play as a 2 some teeing off at 3:00, we waited on every shot and the place was fairly empty.

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  • ButterCutter2ButterCutter2 NYC 338WRX Points: 95Handicap: 4Members Posts: 338
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    any additional updates on condition / pace of play? was thinking about playing there on 7/12 in the mid-afternoon

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  • philsRHmanphilsRHman  1355WRX Points: 174Members Posts: 1,355
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    Played it yesterday. If hadn't read the issues about conditions here I never would have given it a second thought, especially for $59. Pace wasn't great, but 4:25 wasn't awful.

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