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Bayonne Golf Club: Links Masterpiece in an Urban Oasis

bayonne golf club featured

Mostly unintentionally, these posts usually start off with a “located off the remote, windswept coast” or something in that vein. This one is different. First, it’s slightly personal for me as I used to pass the course on my way to work in Jersey City every day for seven years. Second, because of the uniqueness and unlikeliness of the setting. However, I’ll give it a try. “In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a few short turns removed from the bumper-to-bumper traffic that is the NJ Turnpike, on the banks of the Hudson River, a few miles outside New York City, lies Bayonne Golf Club.”

Bayonne is a world-class links course featuring towering dunes, undulating fairways, and greens guarded by deep, penal bunkers. Instead of the “windswept shores” of Scotland or Ireland, this layout is nestled in the heart of an industrial, urban landscape. The course is a true engineering marvel, transforming a former landfill site between New York and New Jersey along the Hudson River, into one of the world’s most unique and visually stunning golf experiences.

Architect Eric Bergstrom took a page from the classic links of Great Britain and Ireland, with routings carved out of windswept dunes. He highlights courses such as Lahinch, Ballybunion, Royal Portrush, Royal County Down, Turnberry, Aberdeen, Royal Dornoch, Macrahanish, and North Berwick as inspiration.

In this post, we’ll discover Bayonne Golf Club, which is about as far removed from the last course I wrote about, Lofoten Links, as you can get! We’ll learn its origins and evolution and explore the course’s unique location and characteristics. We’ll close with further reading suggestions and videos that will bring the course to life.

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Origins and History

Rinaldo D’argenio conceived the idea for the Bayonne Golf Club in the late 1990s. He recognized the potential for turning an abandoned landfill site into a golf course in Bayonne, New Jersey. He brought this concept to Eric Bergstol, a New York developer with experience designing and building golf courses. Bergstol and his consultant Richard Hurley, a Ph.D. in agronomy from Rutgers University, embarked on an ambitious project to create an authentic links-style course reminiscent of the legendary seaside courses in Scotland and Ireland. From 1999 to 2005, the 150-acre site, located along the Hudson River, was filled with millions of cubic yards of dredged material, elevating the once-flat land to 90 feet above sea level.

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The construction of the Bayonne Golf Club was a remarkable feat of engineering and environmental remediation. The dredged material was transformed into a firm consistency and used to sculpt the towering dunes and undulating fairways, creating a unique and visually stunning landscape. The process took over six years and involved extensive planning and regulatory compliance.

The course was designed with a keen eye toward environmental sustainability, incorporating features such as wetland areas and native vegetation that enhance the natural beauty of the layout and provide habitats for local wildlife. This harmonious coexistence between a world-class golf course and its urban, industrial surroundings is a testament to the designers’ and developers’ vision and commitment.

The course opened in 2006 and has become a sought-after destination for golfers seeking an authentic links experience in an unexpected urban setting. Its blend of towering dunes, industrial surroundings, and iconic city views creates a one-of-a-kind experience that has garnered international recognition.

While many golf courses boast views of cityscapes or natural landscapes, Bayonne offers a truly unique visual experience. From various points on the course, golfers can take in the sights of industrial shipping yards, cargo terminals, and the bustling maritime traffic of the Hudson River. Not to mention the Statue of Liberty, a vista shared only with its neighbor, Liberty National.

Critical Acclaim

The Bayonne Golf Club has received widespread critical acclaim from various publications. Golf Digest has consistently ranked it among the top courses in New Jersey, praising its unique character, challenging layout, and exceptional conditioning. Sports Illustrated hailed Bayonne as “the most audacious golf course in the world” upon its unveiling, lauding its ambitious concept of transforming an abandoned landfill into a world-class links-style course.

The course’s challenging layout, with its undulating fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and ever-present wind, has earned it a reputation as a true test of golf. Golfers have praised the course’s ability to present a different challenge with each round, ensuring that no two rounds are the same. The Bayonne Golf Club’s commitment to preserving the links tradition, innovative design, and stunning natural beauty has solidified its reputation as a gem in the unlikeliest locale.

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Did You Know?

The 16th hole at Bayonne Golf Club is among the most unique and visually striking. The green is situated mere yards from the club’s private marina, where barges were used to dock and unload the dredged material from the Hudson River during construction. As golfers approach the putting surface, they are treated to boats bobbing in the marina, creating a surreal juxtaposition of the links-style course and its industrial surroundings.

The 17th tee box is also located right next to this marina, adding to the hole’s distinctive character. Golfers must tee off while taking in the sights and sounds of the marina, with boats coming and going and the gentle lapping of waves against the docks and bustling waterfront.

Another unique feature of Bayonne Golf Club is its driving range along the Hudson River waterfront. Here, golfers must hit balls directly into the river, creating a striking visual as the balls splash into the iconic waterway. The location also offers golfers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and New York Harbor. This combination of golf and stunning urban vistas is a true testament to the Bayonne Golf Club’s ability to blend the sport with its industrial surroundings seamlessly.

bayonne golf club range

The Course

The Bayonne Golf Club is a par-71 layout that plays 7,120 yards from the championship tees. It is a true links-style course, with no trees, wide fairways tumbling through towering dunes, and greens heavily contoured and guarded by deep, penal bunkers. The course features a variety of hole lengths, shapes, and elevations, including classic templates like Redan and Cape holes.

bayonne golf club  course

The opening hole, “Dell,” is a 392-yard par-4 that sets the tone for the links experience. It has a wide fairway flanked by dunes. The approach is partially blind, as the dramatically sloped green is obscured by a dune inspired by the “Dell” hole at Lahinch. The 3rd, “Redan,” is a short but deceptive 184-yard par-3, playing slightly uphill to a well-bunkered green. The hole is inspired by North Berwick’s original template and its diagonal green slopes from the front right to the back left.

“Salt Marsh” is the 8th hole, a 579-yard par-5 that runs parallel to the 2nd fairway before turning downhill. It requires a forced carry over a marsh to a peninsula green. The hole plays along a marshland vegetated with cordgrass and other salt-tolerant plant species. This wetland is the largest environmentally protected man-made site on the lower Hudson River.

Another standout is the 14th, “High Tide,” a 222-yard one-shotter. It plays 40+ feet downhill to a plateau green said to be inspired by the small, steeped greens at Royal Dornoch. The far left side of the green is obscured from the tee while the Statue of Liberty is visible in the New York skyline.

The signature 16th hole, “Heaven’s Gate,” is the most difficult two-shot hole on the course. A 486-yard par-4, it plays dramatically downhill from an elevated tee that provides the best view on the course. The generous fairway gradually tightens and turns slightly right as it approaches the green, with the Statue of Liberty holding her torch in the background, creating a stunning visual.

The impressive closing stretch starts with a 491-yard par-4, originally planned as a par-5 but made into a brilliant cape hole due to environmental restrictions. Routed along the Hudson, it capes right-to-left and features an expansive bunker between the water and the fairway, peppered with bushes. The home hole, “Lighthouse,” is a long uphill par-4 that plays between large, grassy dunes, with the lighthouse serving as the aiming guide to the partially blind approach.

Visit Bayonne Golf Club online at www.bayonnegolfclub.com. Their website contains flyovers of each hole and brings the setting to life.

PuttView Golf Books

PuttView Books are detailed yardage and green maps designed to help golfers save strokes, especially under tournament conditions. They offer precise visual representations of courses, including topographic slope percentages, fairway arrows for slopes over 4%, and a dual view of greens accurate to the millimeter. The books are printed on high-quality waterproof paper, sized to fit traditional yardage book covers, and are USGA legal. 

Customers praise PuttView Books for their stunning detail, stylish presentation, and the confidence they instill in decision-making on the course. With 30,000 courses represented, your home course is bound to be available, as is Bayonne Golf Club!

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Further Reading

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True Links
by Malcolm Campbell & George Peper

Summary: True Links by Malcolm Campbell and George Peper profiles over 240 of the world’s top links golf courses across the British Isles and beyond, examining their history, design features, and status as an authentic “true links.” Organized geographically, the book offers photos, maps, scorecards and playing tips for renowned seaside tests like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Cabot Links, Barnbougle Dunes and others that meet the authors’ criteria.  For links golf aficionados, True Links serves as an illustrated guidebook for experiencing the unique joys and challenges of the game’s most revered coastal courses.

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Sand and Golf
by George Waters

Summary: “Sand and Golf” explores how sandy terrain uniquely suits golf, studying similarities and differences between courses worldwide with sandy features. It examines all aspects of the relationship between sand and golf, from the sport’s origins in Scottish coastal dunes to its global spread onto sandy sites. Written by golf architect George Waters with a preface by renowned designer Tom Doak, it details through examples and illustrations why firm, rugged, windy sandy terrain makes creative shot-making integral to the game. The book appeals to knowledgeable golfers interested in course design and architecture, analyzing the art and science behind why golf belongs on sand.

Videos

Bayonne – Drone Footage
Inside Bayonne Golf Club
Bayonne with Eric Bergstrol

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