Farewell fellow golfers

As the last week of the semester comes to a close, this will be my final post on the South Jersey Golf guide for quite some time. I thoroughly enjoyed providing you with information about one of the best areas for golf in America.

As you know, my three main types were stories about the golf community, game improvement, and course profiles. The golf community posts contained information about the people and the news surrounding golf in South Jersey. I had two quality golf community posts including: my Q & A with Pitman Golf Course’s PGA Professional Orist Wells and my interview with former South Jersey high school golfer Joe Kendall. The game improvement posts contained information about where to go and who to see to get better a golf. My best game improvement post was my aggregate of local golf ranges in South Jersey. The course profiles posts were overviews of various courses around South Jersey. I had two posts stand out to me: the course profiles on Valleybrook Country Club and Riverwinds Golf Club.

I believe my greatest success this semester was communicating with golfers to find out how golf has impacted their lives. This blog would not have functioned successfully if golfers were unwilling to talk to me. I also believe I wrote my course profile posts well. I have a deep knowledge of golf courses in South Jersey from playing in high school, so with a combination of my knowledge and other golfers opinions, the course profiles gave a good overall summary of the courses covered.

This blog was not perfect however, as I struggled to get hits and had even more trouble with doing original reporting. Sharing my stories never seemed to work, so I relied on the viewers who used search engines to look up various South Jersey golf topics to gain hits. The reason for my struggles with original reporting lies with the timing of the blog. While the fall golf season is fantastic, many people golf less during the and there is no high school golf to cover on a weekly basis.

As of the last week of this blog, I had 206 hits over the course of roughly four months. While that is not spectacular, I’d like to give myself credit because I know many people cannot afford golf and therefore it is not a topic that trends on the internet. South Jersey golf is a very limited market, so considering the circumstances I think I did well.

One thing I learned about golf this semester is that the best golfers are the ones who don’t worry about their score until the end of their round and most importantly they have fun while playing. I learned that I’m very lucky to be able to play golf, and I will use the things I learned while maintaining this blog in the future.

One thing I learned about journalism this semester is that it takes a lot of time and effort to write a good post or story. Going into this class, I thought I would be able to start and finish and one night and after one week of difficulty, I learned that you need to take your time and have a back-up plan when preparing and writing a story.

Overall this blog has been a great experience and I learned a lot about a wide variety of topics. From audio and video editing, to interviewing people and finding helpful links, this blog has provided a foundation for my future as a journalist.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Operation: Save Maple Ridge

Although Maple Ridge Golf Club in Mantua and Deptford has been closed since 2006, the land is currently being used more frequently than it was when it was a golf course owned by Ron Jaworski.

That could soon change if the current owner decides to follow through with a 123 home development plan. As a result, residents would lose one of the most popular recreational areas in Gloucester County.

Two organizations have been at the forefront of the opposition to the housing plans. The Friends of Maple Ridge and The South Jersey Land and Water Trust have spent the last two years attempting to corral South Jersey residents and borough councils to find the funding to purchase Maple Ridge and convert the land into a park.

At the October 2011 meeting held in the community center of Wenonah, whose borough limits lie across the street from Maple Ridge, Richard Dilks, creator of the Friends of Maple Ridge, and Christine Nolan, director of the South Jersey Land and Water Trust, updated residents on three recent developments regarding the 112 acre plot.

The first development is that Gloucester County conducted two new appraisals of the land on Maple Ridge. According to Dilks, the new value of the land is expected to be in the $4 million range, significantly lower than the $5.8 million appraisal in 2008.

The second development is that the current owner of Maple Ridge, IBG, is now willing to sell the land for preservation at the revised appraisal price.

The final development is that Mantua Township has committed to taking ownership of Maple Ridge and would be in charge of policing, maintaining, and controlling the land. They have also secured a $250,000 grant from the Frank H. Stewart Trust and have applied for Green Acres Funding.

“We want everyone to be a part of this movement to preserve Maple Ridge so that it becomes a park for everyone to enjoy,” said Dilks, “It’s a diverse and beautiful place, and if we don’t save places like this when we have the chance, soon there won’t be an opportunity in the future.”

Residents from all over South Jersey support the effort as signs, donation boxes, and tee shirts have been distributed to all who are willing to help.

“We’ve set a goal of $500,000 for public donations from residents, businesses, and fundraising plans at schools and events,” said Nolan, “We need help putting everything together. It’s about who you know and how you can get them involved.”

Although it’s currently posted as private property, residents continue to flock to Maple Ridge to enjoy all the land has to offer. Bird watching, recreational walking and jogging, dog walking, and bike riding are all popular activities in the spring, summer, and fall. During winter, Maple Ridge has become a popular sledding spot.

While there’s no guarantee the land will be preserved, support from residents only continues to grow and if they can achieve their goal, all will be able to enjoy Maple Ridge as a park long into the future.


Below is a slide show of various pictures taken at Maple Ridge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Audio interview with Wenonah resident Nicole Clark about Maple Ridge.

Nicole Clark has been a resident of Wenonah for over 25 years. She’s seen every up and down that Maple Ridge has had and since the course closed down, Clark has been using the land for recreation and nature walks. Like most people in the area, Clark is a big supporter of the efforts to turn Maple Ridge into a park. Below are audio highlights of my interview with Clark in which she talks about why Maple Ridge is so important to the residents of Gloucester County, the potential problems caused a new development, and the job that the Friends of Maple Ridge have done in the past year and a half.

Below is a map of the location of Maple Ridge.

  • Click on the blue place markers for pictures of specific spots around the course.
Posted in Golf Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming soon: A profile of the efforts to preserve the land on Maple Ridge Golf Club

"Save Maple Ridge" signs can be seen throughout Gloucester County.

My next story that will be posted this week will feature a complete overview of the defunct Maple Ridge Golf Club and the community’s quest to turn it into a park. I will introduce you to the two organizations, Friends of Maple Ridge and South Jersey Land and Water Trust, who are pushing the hardest for the old course to be preserved.

In addition, I will be providing information discussed at the previous meeting in October that includes state funding opportunities, donation plans, and reasons why the land needs to be saved.

The post will also include a lot of multimedia aspects. There will be over 25 pictures posted of the land in various spots, a map of where the land is located in Gloucester County, and an audio clip from my interview with a local resident who thinks the course should be saved and turned into a park.

While Maple Ridge is currently owned by a company who had plans to turn the plot into 123 homes, the recent economic downturn has pushed the company to sell the land. The next year should be filled with interesting developments, so I hope to get you completely up-to-date on where the issue stands currently.

Posted in Golf Community | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Q and A with former All-Gloucester County golfer Matt Jakubowski

Matt Jakubowski is a former high school golfer for West Deptford High School in West Deptford, NJ. One of the most successful high school golfers in South Jersey during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Jakubowski was awarded 1st team All-Colonial Conference , 1st team All-Group 2 high school, and 1st team All-Gloucester County in both his junior and senior year. Now a sophomore at High Point University in the great golf state of North Carolina, Jakubowski still doesn’t forget his roots. He took time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions about golf in South Jersey.

What’s your favorite course in South Jersey?

Deciding on my favorite golf course in South Jersey is difficult with so many great courses molded in one area, but I would have to say Tavistock Country Club trumps the rest.  Since my sophomore year in high school, I have been a caddy at Tavistock during the summer and have many fond memories of meeting great people, watching some great rounds and spending some time with my clubs as well.

What makes golf in South Jersey so great?

Golf in South Jersey is unique.  With so many great golf courses in one area, it is inevitable that an influx of great golfers will be produced.  Not only are there great courses but there are great teachers as well.  Guys like Orist Wells at Pitman and Rick Hughart at Tavistock are just a couple of examples of great players and teachers in the area.  Maybe the weather is not always accommodating for year round golf, but great teachers offer a better advantage than great weather.

What’s one tip you would give golfers playing a course in South Jersey ?

It’s tough to give one tip because of the variety of different courses, but always try and have fun. Golf is a stressful, pressure packed sport but many players spend too much time worrying about those pressures instead of appreciating the game of golf itself. It teaches players accountability and social skills all while playing a sport that is respected worldwide.

How would you describe your experience as a high school golfer?

Arguably the best experience of my high school career.  I met so many great people including my mentor and coach John Cobb.  Golf has this ability to bring people closer than you can imagine.  It is a sport that brings out a person’s true character.  John Cobb is one of the most competitive, hard-working and unique individuals I have ever encountered and I can thank golf for our great relationship.

Being that Riverwinds was your home course in high school, how would rate the course?

The conditions and lay out of Riverwinds Golf Club make it much more difficult than the average course.  Golfers at Riverwinds are forced to factor in prevailing winds that are unique to South Jersey.  Players need to be patient.  There are definitely holes you can birdie but you need to focus on playing smart and strategically taking on the course.  It is not a place for constant aggression and sometimes laying up is the best answer.

Posted in Golf Community | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gary Johnson describes his favorite holes at Pitman Golf Course

Gary Johnson has played Pitman Golf Course at least 75 times in the past 5 years. Over his many rounds, he has developed two favorite holes and was willing to tell me how he shoots well on them. On November 15, 2011, Johnson let me follow him for a round at Pitman where he shot an 80. The video below highlights what he told me and some shots from his round.

Posted in Game Improvement, Golf Community | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A round at Riverwinds Golf Club

There’s nothing better than a round of golf in the Fall. The leaves have changed, the temperatures are perfect, and the conditions are just right. On November 7, 2011, golfer Kevin Tirsch let me follow him as he played various holes at Riverwinds Golf Club.

If you are interested in more information about the course, I have previously done a course profile that will tell you everything you need to know. If you’re interested in playing Riverwinds Golf Club, call the clubhouse at 856 848-1033 to make a tee time.

Posted in Golf Community | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Future of Woodbury CC remains uncertain

 Image courtesy of Jrcla2 via Creative Commons

There is still little hope for Woodbury Country Club to return as a golf course, but there is reason for optimism regarding the overgrown property.

Since filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009, the grounds of Woodbury Country Club have remained vacant. The demise of the club came when it was reported that it was $2.5 million in mortgage debt and owed approximately $500,000 in back taxes. In addition, the club also was to have their liquor license revoked, leaving little hope for keeping the 112 year old golf course open.

Because the former owners of the property had been unable to sell the land, they foreclosed on the property and Woodbury Country Club was put up for auction. In 2010, Parke Bank purchased the plot through a Sheriff’s sale with the intention to sell it to a developer.

After letting the property overgrow, early in 2011 the city of Woodbury placed a $24,000 lien against Parke Bank and ordered them to cut the grass and maintain the property.

Recently, developer Woodbury Club Investments LLC has shown interest in the property, but the sides have yet to agree on a price. If purchased, potential future plans would be to build homes on the former course and turn the clubhouse into a restaurant and fitness center.

While other developers have not completely ruled out that the land could be reopened as a golf course, the odds seem stacked against Woodbury Country Club.

Prior to being shut down, Woodbury Country Club had been a private course established in 1897. The course only had nine holes, but its design was still known to challenge players of all skill levels.

Posted in Golf Community | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment