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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  New Jersey, Pennsylvania  »  New Jersey  »  Big Happenings at Union County Golf Courses
Big Happenings at Union County Golf Courses
By John Torsiello | Published  08/10/2010 | New Jersey | Unrated
Big Happenings at Union County Golf Courses

When Greg Ward, director of sales and marketing for the Kemper Sports management team at Ash Brook and Galloping Hills golf courses in Union County, N.J., says there’s lots going on at his clubs he isn’t overstating the facts.

Work is set to begin on a mammoth new 40,000-square-foot clubhouse at Galloping Hills GC that will house the headquarters of the New Jersey State Golf Association and a TaylorMade Performance Lab, in addition to the club’s offices, pro shop, locker rooms and dining areas. The club is already home to the First Tee of Raritan Valley. There is an extensive practice facility at Galloping Hill that includes a large putting green, a chipping area, practice bunkers and even a practice hole. A new 3,000-square-foot driving range clubhouse is also in the works.

Besides the 18-hole course at Galloping Hills, the facility boasts a nine-hole practice course that measures 2,200 yards and plays to a par of 33. The all encompassing golf experience at the County-owned facility makes it easy for players of all abilities, from raw beginners to accomplished players, to enjoy themselves in a welcoming atmosphere, says Ward.

“You can come here and visit us and use the practice facility, take a lesson or clinic, play nine holes on the practice course and then have at the regulation-distance course.

“We are making this a golf destination, where folks can come, use our practice areas, play the golf course, visit the NJSGA or TaylorMade Performance Lab, or take part in the First Tee programs,” says Ward, a former head professional at several prestigious clubs. “We are very excited about having the New Jersey State Golf Association move its headquarters and offices here, as well as serving as a host site for the TaylorMade Made Performance Lab. There are only six other sites the U.S. at this time.”

The labs utilize the most sophisticated motion capture technology to provide golfers a custom fitting experience. The first motion capture system was originally developed at TaylorMade Golf headquarters in Carlsbad, Ca. to offer Tour professionals a more efficient and effective club-fitting experience. Because of the great success of the technology and Tour player satisfaction with the labs, publicly accessible labs, such as the lab at The International, were launched to allow any golfer seeking a top-end club-fitting experience the access to one.

Using motion capture technology, fitting experts are able to dissect the golfer’s swing and provide valuable feedback to the customer. Meanwhile, a computer produces a detailed recommendation of TaylorMade golf clubs based upon the golfer’s swing characteristics.

The labs are manned by specially trained and certified PGA pros, and the sessions use the Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade, which works by gathering vital swing information and statistics by way of a launch monitor, six high-speed video cameras and a computer to capture the golfer’s swing in sharp, 3-D animation.

Galloping Hill and Ash Brook golf courses are owned by Union County, which has made a significant investment in improving the courses and adding to their amenities. Kemper Sports was brought in at the beginning of this year after the County reached a five-year agreement with the company to manage Galloping Hill and its learning center, as well as Ash Brook GC. Some $200,000 was spent on renovating bunkers at Galloping Hill and capital improvements are ongoing.

“We are only 15 miles from downtown Manhattan and we visualize our courses, the Galloping Hill practice facility and TaylorMade Performance Lab as draws for the multitude of golfers who reside or work in the area,” says Ward. “We were always known as County golf course where if you didn’t have a County card you had to wait around to make a tee time. We are expanding our focus to welcome players from surrounding counties, as well as continuing to meet the needs of our Union County residents.”

It is expected that work will begin on the new clubhouses at Galloping Hill this fall and be completed sometime in 2012. Kemper planned a special event in late July announcing the partnerships with the NJSGA and TaylorMade.

Galloping Hill Golf Course has been in existence for over 80 years, opening in 1928 as a public facility. The course features some elevation changes and is a bit tree-line, with the layout routed over a rather rolling terrain.

The course plays just under 6,700 yards from the tips and has a slope of 126 from that distance. The track is a pleasing mix of holes, from short par-fours to testy par-threes and long par-fives.

The course begins in a somewhat benign manner, with two short par-fours, measuring 346 and 341 yards respectively. It’s a nice way to loosen up before you hit the third hole, a 454-yard beast of a par-four that plays as the number one handicap hole. There’s nothing tricky to the hole, just two strong shots needed to reach the putting surface.

The sixth hole is a 556-yard par-five that plays through a chute of trees that encroach on the drive and second shots. The eighth is a nice dogleg that bends to the left. Put your drive on the right side of the fairway to set up a clear approach to the green.

The 12th is another demanding par-four, measuring 423 yards from the tips, while the 409-yard 13th asks for a drive that plays up to a pond that sits to the right side of the landing area.

The 17th is a drivable, 317-yard par-four, and the 18th is a very good finisher, a 546-yard par-five that bends sharply to the right, calling for a well thought out tee shot and then a crisp layup to leave a short pitch to the green.

Ash Brook Golf Course, built during the 1950’s, is more wooded than its sister course and plays over 7,000 yards from the championship markers, with a slope of 130.

You get tested right away with five extremely strong holes, including the 209-yard par-three fourth and the 511-yard par-five fifth, the latter bending ever so slightly to the right. The 429-yard par-four third has a pond to the right of the putting surface to gobble up errant approaches. The number one handicap hole on the course is the 447-yard par-four seventh.

The back side has a couple of short par fours, with the 320-yard 15th reachable for the big hitters. The round ends in unconventional fashion, with a 180-yard par-three that plays to the clubhouse.

“The season has been great so far, very busy,” says Ward. “We have seen a lot of activity at our new driving range and learning center and our course conditions have never been better. We get compliments each and every day.”

Peter Busch, formerly of Shackamaxon Country Club, is serving as the head professional at Galloping Hill.
Ash Brook is running a super summer special that offers golf, a cart and lunch for only $40 during the weekdays.

Galloping Hill Golf Course
Kenilworth, N.J.

Ash Brook Golf Course
Scotch Plains, N.J.