Memorial Day 2019
The Shore Club: The Old Wildwood Golf & Country Club is Rebranded and Re-Energized
By Dave Bontempo
Memorial Day brings a new economic swing to the area. It can be a tee shot, a meal, a band or a clinic.
Welcome to The Shore Club, formerly the Wildwood Golf and Country Club, in Cape May Court House.
Rebranded and re-energized the private club's $1.5 million expansion project is nearing the end of the second of three phases and reflects an intent to reinvent, on multiple layers. It’s an interesting balancing act, with renovations geared not only to entice foot traffic but also give full members a sense of exclusivity.
“The message we want to convey is that we are inclusive,” says general manager Kelley Nigra. “We are the place for you to come, make new friends and enjoy social opportunities.”
For members, The Shore Club features popular entertainer Jim Bannach every other Friday beginning May 31. Live entertainment will be offered on most weekends and additional summer events are being finalized. Social memberships are available for $155 annual dues and feature opportunities to participate in wine-pairing and chef-tasting dinners, along with some big game nights.
Starting in June, Tuesdays will be “Family Night,” in which both parents and kids experience “a little instruction, a little golf, and then grab a little bite to eat.” A new “Break 80” program allows golfers to track their progress through levels of achievement.
Overall membership has increased by 50 percent across all categories, with families driving the growth, Nigra says. The club’s full and intermediate golf members may add their children, up to age 24 at no extra charge and also gain reciprocal privileges at 250 courses around the world, including the TPC network. The lineup includes famed American establishments like Old Dominion and TPC Sawgrass, along with facilities in Singapore, China and the Philippines. That's a major perk, a transportable ticket to ride.
A look at MacKissic’s Pub at The Shore Club while renovations were underway ...
... and here’s the ‘after’ picture, once the renovations were completed.
On the grounds, there has been a lot for people to take in.
Earlier this spring, the club began renovating MacKissic’s Pub, turning it into a coastal chic, casual café and bar that matches the club’s new look. The modernized bar will “tap” into the local craft brew scene; having added four bar taps that will highlight some of the area’s best brews. The kitchen will roll out a new menu.
Refurbished men’s and women’s lobby lounges feature new flooring, tile, paint, fixtures, furniture, and counter tops. These projects complement the already completed modernization of the club’s main entrance and its expansive Grand Ballroom.
Previously announced amenities included upgraded dining and a transformative banquet facility. It holds 200 people for weddings and special events and has been adorned with a quartz bar, stone back wall and up-lighting for 96 colors. A crystal chandelier accents the dance floor area. Chiavari chairs add a touch of elegance.
New golf carts with USB ports arrived last September. A renovated pro shop, large driving range, two putting facilities and two extra holes provide a further monument to change.
“Every time members come in after they have been away for a while, it seems like a new club to them,” says Amanda Ruhl, the club’s director of membership, marketing and events. “There is always something different for them to see. We have extended our current restaurant, we are adding in more seats for dining, we are renovating the lobby facilities, adding in a bridal suite as another amenity to our weddings. It’s an exciting time here.”
The Shore Club’s renovated ballroom features a number of elegant upgrades.
On the course, The Shore Club is completing the next phase of its bunker restoration with the first, sixth and ninth holes slated for enhancements. It will also roll out a six-week Ladies Spring Tune-Up program, offer a Ladies 9 & Wine, begin its packed seasonal tournament schedule, and feature a nine-hole couples league.
Juniors gain access to the club’s summer camp programs featuring twice-weekly instructional sessions geared toward specific skill levels. Video instruction, TrackMan basics, and rules and etiquette sessions are also included. The Shore Club’s summer camps and instructional sessions are open to nonmembers.
Fred Riedel, The Shore Club’s head pro and director of golf, has observed the entire expansion. The combined effect could be one of massive intimacy, the crossroads of booming construction and social interaction.
Hole #12 at The Shore Club
“When you walk in the front door, it feels like you walking into your living room,” he says. “It has a homey feeling. It is not a pretentious place; it is an extension of your home.”
What makes the golf end of it home? A course worthy of playing every time must have a high – but not impossible – bar to good scoring. The player must always feel in contention if he/she is on.
“You have to hit good shots in order to score; it will challenge all aspects of your game,” Riedel says. “At times you must hit the ball long enough to get to a certain place and find the right angle and if you are short around the green, you will find a tough up and down. But, unlike some courses, you will not be penalized too severely if you hit a shot that’s just a little off line.”
The Shore Club’s inviting entryway.
The club has five sets of tee boxes, along with a junior set, ranging from 6,714 to 3,765 yards.
Though he hasn't labeled a signature hole on the course, Riedel has several favorites. The 17th demands a strong tee shot and precision around a “wonderful green complex” with bunkers on either side. It plays 353 yards from the mid tees. Thirteen is a dogleg left with a three-tiered green, requiring placement on both the tee shot and approach. Fifteen is a par-5, dogleg right going around a large pond. There is a generous landing area off the tee, “but you have your work cut out from there,” he says. It plays 501 yards from the next-to-back tees.
An aerial view of the beautiful golf course.
Riedel touts the breezes for “the only golf course in this area east of the Garden State Parkway. You really get the feel of playing at the shore,” he says of his facility, located at 1170 Golf Club Road, just off Exit 9 of the Parkway.
Finally, there is history. The late golf legend Arnold Palmer, before he became THAT Arnold Palmer, often played here while stationed in the Coast Guard in the early 1950s. Even after he became famous, Palmer remembered the course fondly, and he wrote it a congratulatory letter on its 100th birthday in 2016.