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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crystal Springs Makes Golf More Playable And More Fun

We all know golf needs a shot in the arm, which is why Crystal Springs Resort has stepped up with several initiatives based on the PGA of America's Golf 2.0. The northern New Jersey resort, which features seven golf courses just 60 minutes from New York City, is dedicated to finding ways to bring new and lapsed golfers into the game by offering packages and programs for families as well as players of all ages and skill levels.

For families, Crystal Springs has turned its two nine-hole courses, the regulation-length Cascades and par-3 Minerals, over to junior golfers and their kin. During the week, rounds on the 2,305-yard Minerals Golf Course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., are only $15 per person all day long (slightly higher on weekends and holidays). On the 3,627-yard Cascades, afternoon rounds are as little as $79 for a twosome as long as there’s a junior in the group (rates are valid for 9 or 18 holes). Family golf also includes:

  • Special tees and larger cups for young players 
  • Four-seater carts 
  • TaylorMade clubs available for rent ($1 per child; $15 per adult) 
  • Roving golf staff to dispense advice and instruction to kids while they play 
  • Kid-friendly menu items, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the dining cart 
  • Children’s golf apparel in the pro shop 
  • Parent-Child tournaments (http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/Golf/Events.aspx) 

The resort’s commitment to junior golfers comes naturally, says Art Walton, vice president of golf. “We’re hoping more and more parents will encourage their kids to take up the game and Minerals Golf Course offers an easy environment to accomplish this, without the pressures and restrictions found on some adult-oriented courses.”

In another Golf 2.0-influenced initiative, the resort’s new “Fast Track Golf” program promises golfers will be able to play 18 holes in under four hours with no waiting on the group ahead and getting off the course before noon. “Fast Track” is the result of talking to hundreds of Crystal Springs’ golfers, who expressed overwhelming support for a quicker pace of play. On summer weekends, designated “Fast Track Golf” tee times will be in effect on the 18-hole Wild Turkey and Black Bear courses before 7:30 a.m., and on the 9-hole Cascades course before 10 a.m. “Fast Track Golf” is available both to daily-fee players and resort guests. To keep things moving, golfers taking “Fast Track” tee times agree to:

  • Maximum 7 strokes per hole 
  • Maximum 3 putts per hole 
  • Lost balls must be abandoned after a 60-second search 
  • No “honors”—play when ready

“We want our guests to have a great time here,” says Art Walton, Vice President of Golf Operations, “even if that means we actually shorten their time playing golf.”

The resort is doing even more to bring new players into the game. For those not ready to make a big investment in golf, starting in May Crystal Springs is initiating a “Pay Per Hole” program at Cascades Golf Course, charging just $4 per hole played with rental clubs included. And there’s more, including:

  • Free golf clinics from the David Leadbetter Golf Academy (Crystal Springs is Leadbetter’s northeast headquarters), held on the newly renovated Leadbetter practice range 
  • Use of the resort’s one-of-a-kind natural grass putting course. This massive, 18-hole putting green—home of the annual New Jersey Putting Championship—features multi-tiered greens, rolling terrain, rippling streams, and colorful landscaping. It’s perfect for fun and games or serious practice with the flagstick 
  • Coming this summer, the new Skills and Obstacles Challenge 

Purists may shudder at the thought of hearing childish giggles on the green or giving up on a lost ball with less than a full five-minute search while the rest of the course backs up behind you, but I'm delighted to see a facility take these creative steps to keep golf alive. In case you haven't noticed, golf is teetering on the brink--we need more places like Crystal Springs to bring more players into the sport and make it more playable for the rest of us.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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