From the championship tees, Harbor Pines measures 6,827 yards and sports a 72 par and 127 slope. From the blues, Harbor Pines plays to a very manageable 123 slope; from the whites, 120.
In many respects, Harbor Pines calls to mind three-year-old Blue Heron Pines in nearby Galloway, no doubt because the course is carved from similar topography by the same golf architect, Steven Kay. That said, Blue Heron, with its long carries over wetlands on several holes, has a little more diversity in its layout and is probably a bit more intimidating than Harbor Pines for high-handicappers and seniors. Blue Heron's slope ratings - 136 from the back, 128 from the middle - are significantly higher than Harbor Pines'.
Unlike so many modern courses dominated by unruly fescue grass and marshland, Harbor Pines is characterized more by generous, often forgiving fairways. A topped tee shot needn't spell utter disaster.
And, even though there is water on eight holes at Harbor Pines, in most cases only the truly errant or awful shot gets wet. Only two holes - the par-3 No. 8 and the par-4 No. 12 - require a significant carry over water, and even there danger can be minimized by carefully choosing from the five sets of tees.
Because of its proximity to the Shore, Harbor Pines is flat - no hilly lies and very little of the fairway perimeter mounding overdone on so many new courses. But there are plenty of vast, sprawling collection bunkers and grisly greenside bunkers to present problems.
The greens, like those on most new courses these days, are huge and undulating; the pin placement can radically change the difficulty of a hole.
Harbor Pines has the look and feel of a young course - in places, its otherwise natural setting also has the look and feel of a construction site. Owned and developed by Max Gurwitz & Son Inc. of Northfield, N.J., Harbor Pines is the centerpiece of a pricey residential community.
Harbor Pines opens with a fairly forgiving, short par-5 - 480 yards from the blues, 465 from the whites - that should cough up more than its fair share of birdies.
In fact, the course doesn't take a turn for the tough until No. 4, a 370-yard par-4, the sharpest dogleg in the layout and the No. 5 handicap hole. That's followed by the third and seventh handicap holes, both par 4s with water ready and willing to become home to sprayed tee shots. The most scenic hole on the course may well be No. 8, a 190-yard par 3, with water as a threat from the back tees and a green encircled by sand, sand, sand.
Designer Kay reserves the toughest challenge on the backside for Nos. 16 and 17, both long par 4s, and the fourth and second handicap holes, respectively. No. 17, at 437 yards, has trees left and right and a half-acre collection bunker plopped down right in the middle of the fairway that comes into play on the second shot. Steer clear unless you packed sandals and a camel.
For now, facilities are minimal. A two-trailer combination serves as the pro shop and snack bar; there are rest rooms, but no locker rooms. An 18,000-square--foot clubhouse overlooking the first and ninth holes is scheduled for completion next spring.
The bottom line on Harbor Pines: It's a fun golf course, not great, not awe-inspiring. But in an area with few quality daily-fee courses, Harbor Pines immediately vaults into the top two or three.
IF YOU GO Getting there: The Harbor Pines development entrance is at 3071 Ocean Heights Ave., Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Phone 609-927-0006 or 1-800-GOLF-222.
Green fees: Through Sept. 29, $75 weekdays with cart; $85 weekends with cart. From Sept. 29 through Oct. 27, $65 on weekdays with cart; $75 on weekends with cart. Rates lower during late fall and winter.
Carts: Mandatory; cartpath only.
Amenities: Minimal for now. Small pro shop and snack bar in trailers until the clubhouse is completed next spring. Driving range.
Rating: Welcome. One of the two or three best daily-fee courses at the shore. Note: Harbor Pines is a nonmetal-spike course. If you don't have nonmetal spikes, the staff will change them.