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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Tenth To Vineyard Golf at Renault

7th hole Vineyards Golf Par 4

Vineyard Golf at Renault, a delightful course in Egg Harbor City, NJ, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.  It's great addition to the long list of excellent golf opportunities within a few minutes drive of Atlantic City. With a fine hotel, restaurant, and namesake winery, Renault Winery Resort is actually a worthwhile destination of its own.

The unique 7,200-yard golf course was designed by architect Ed Shearon and features intriguing views of the vineyards as it meanders through the south Jerseys Pinelands.  Every hole seems to offer risk/reward opportunities and thoughtful strategic elements. Wide fairways are inviting but reward the well-placed tee shot, fairway bunkers and water are in play often enough to provide some variety, and the undulating greens place a premium on an accurate approach game.

Five sets of tees give golfers a course to suite every game, ranging from 5,176 to 7,213 yards.  From the recommended white tees, Vineyard Golf measure 6,358 with a 70.2/123 rating/slope.  Any number of holes are standouts, but the seventh is perhaps the most memorable.  From the whites, it plays 400 yards from an elevated tee box surrounded by the vineyard. The right-to-left dog leg is protected by bunkers on both sides of the curve and the approach to the green is guarded by trees left, so club selection off the tee is critical.

The owners of Renault Winery Resort created the golf course ten years ago, but the winery itself dates back to the 1864.  The first vines were brought to America from his native France by Louis Nicolas Renault.  Opened to the public in 1870, the Renault Winery eventually become the largest producer of champagne in the United States at one point; a distinction it was able to claim (and retain) since it was made before the term "champagne" was reserved by French producers.

The winery once had 600 acres of grapes but a large portion of the space was developed into a resort starting in 1983 with the opening of a restaurant. The resort's Tuscany Hotel opened in 2001 and golf was added in 2004. In addition to the small, European-style hotel, Vineyard Golf at Renault features a gourmet restaurant, a historic winery building offering tours, lavish banquet rooms for weddings and celebrations and, of course, a golf course that is as fine as the wine.

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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