Mountain Ridge was the venue for day 179 ‚?? a private club based in the Northern part of New Jersey.¬†¬† After a bit of a hike up from Princeton Junction we arrived at the club and met our host Ned Steiner.
Ned‚??s grandfather was one of the dozen or so gents who set up Mountain Ridge in the early part of last century.¬† Mr Steiner senior senior was one of a dozen members of the jewish community who were not welcome to join other clubs in the area and so did something about it, hired Donald Ross and created the Mountain Ridge Club. ¬†This culture of golf clubs segregated by race or religion is a long way removed from life in New Zealand as we know it today.¬† ¬†
Looking around the walls of the club through memorabilia and of past Presidents there were a number of ‚??Steins and even one Mr Goldstein who was a past President in the 50s.¬†
Ned is quite the player and I‚??m sure he has won the club championships here a few times (although he never admitted as such).¬† He now plays in the senior amateur events around the show and, like us and the many people we‚??ve been meeting, is a lover of the game of golf.¬† Not just for playing it, but everything that golf stands for.¬† We were put in touch with Ned through our friend Norman Swenson, and both of these chaps are also members of the R&A where we will be heading in a couple of weeks time.¬† It‚??s been a couple of days since we played Mountain Ridge but since then we‚??ve seen Ned again, buzzing in the Pine Valley locker rooms after coming in with a 33 to shoot a +2 round. ¬†Ned is a great ambassador for golf and is a member of the NY MET golf association, has involvement with The First Tee and still plays competitive amateur golf many years on. He‚??s also enthusiastic as anything and a hell of a nice guy.
Due to the weather we saw a fair bit of the Mountain Ridge clubhouse and the memorabilia inside it. One piece included a plaque to Ned for equaling the course record for the back nine at Baltusrol during a leading amateur tournament.¬† Ned knocked it around the back nine in 31 shots including 5 birdies in a row to finish.¬† Because of this feat Ned was invited to the US Open and introduced to the leading professionals most of whom congratulated him on his performance but for Tom Kite who scoffed ‚?? ‚??but was the course set up in the US Open condition?‚?Ě and walked away. ¬†Golf is more than just a game.. Back to the thunder storms and Big Rai which quickly flooded the car park, the golf course and everything in sight.¬† Of course, we needed to play on and complete the remaining 13 holes we hadn‚??t got around before the storms.¬† For the next¬† 2/3 hours we skirted on for a couple of holes here and there between the cells of lightening, until we got a good run and completed the last nine holes in an hour or so.¬† A disjointed round.
The golf course is a Donald Ross design and is blessed with those distinctive Ross characteristics ‚?? the coffin bunkering, demonic greens and a course that seems playable to golfers of all abilities.¬† What gives the course teeth is the rough ‚?? all around the greens you get in it and have to really hit your chip shots hard to get out. Similar to Olympic where it‚??s either a splash out of the rough or you‚??re putting on the greens.¬† The course also has long fescue rough dotted around the show, both on top of the fairway bunkers and in parts of the heavy rough.¬†¬† So it‚??s definitely penal.¬†
Despite the soaked nature of the course the greens were still rolling quickly and it was hard to remember to hit the putts softly when everything is so wet.¬† It‚??s tough to give a full review of the course because of the rushed manor in which we knocked around to complete our round.¬† But, as a Donald Ross course it had ‚??that charm‚?? and birdies were still very much on offer, as were less pleasant scores when you went awry! And I should note, this course has some very good drainage and we could comfortably play (cart paths only) despite the huge deluge of rain.¬† So we made it around to 18 (pictured below), and negotiated our way around the huge back to front slope on that green which has surely been a cause of much consternation to members and visiting players (Jamie putted it off the green from 15 feet), shook hands with Ned and went to grab some chicken soup and a root beer.¬†
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