Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Golf and Grub in Atlantic City

There may be no better way to end a winter of discontent than a round of golf and a world-class meal

(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) — As much as the mysterious game of golf can confound the mind, it also has the ability to accentuate the senses: The sound of a ball falling into the cup, the feel of a brand-new grip, the coolness of a late-day summer breeze on a charge up No. 18.

But the thing that a day on the course does best of all, perhaps, is stoke up an appetite — not just for more golf, but for fine food and beverage.

And that’s where a destination like Atlantic City can deliver like no other. Already famous for its White House Subs, Atlantic City is becoming equally renowned for its golf courses and array of dining establishments. After a full day of golf on one of the area’s 18 layouts, why not head for one of the various establishments that can more than satisfy a burning post-round appetite?

From the tastiest of steaks to the finest of wines, the region has been satisfying the post-round palates of golfers for generations. There may be no better place to start than at the course that’s “right on course.”

Dynamic Duo

There’s nothing more disappointing than finishing up a late-day round of golf, returning to the clubhouse and finding little or nothing to eat or drink. A long drive to the nearest watering hole is the last thing you want to find on the menu.

At McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links, that’s just not going to happen. That’s because Library III, a decades-old landmark steakhouse that operated for more than 40 years across town on Black Horse Pike, recently relocated to the former Clubhouse Bar and Grille at McCullough’s. Along with it came Library III’s well-known steak and king crab menu, salad bar, books, cooks and wait staff. The use of “bookshelf” wallpaper has nicely improved the ambiance of the former grillroom space and intimate lighting has increased richness and refinement. A wall now separates the bar from the dining area and the pub serves soups and sandwiches for lunch, replacing the prior menu of simple breakfast sandwiches and hot dogs.

Said owner Mike Castello, to his loyal customer base, on the move to the golf course site at McCullough’s: “It’s not the building that makes this place, it’s the food and the clientele and the service. It’s a great, central location near Somers Point, there are so many houses and developments around the new place and in the summer there are 30,000 golfers coming through.”

So players looking for a great après-golf meal and atmosphere can stay right on the block and eat at a place that doesn’t “cut corners.” And, of course, just outside the window is a wonderful Stephen Kay-designed link-style layout, complete with undulating greens, gentle rolling fairways, large grass mounds, small bunkers, scenic water hazards and elevation changes of 100 feet or more.

Those who partake in both will be hard pressed to figure out which one — McCullough’s or Library III — is the property’s “main course.”

Fine as Wine

Like so many areas along the New Jersey coast, the sleepy little vineyard hardly knows itself anymore.

Indeed, much has changed since the first vines — brought to America by Louis Nicolas Renault — were planted in the rich New Jersey soil to form the Renault Winery. The French immigrant transported original vinifera grapes from his native country. That was back in 1864, prior to the conclusion of the Civil War. Those very vineyards would eventually pave the way for golf to prosper along the New Jersey coast’s serene interior.

Opened to the public in 1870, the Renault Winery grew to become the largest producer of champagne in the Unites States at one point; it also survived the Prohibition era by obtaining licenses to produce sacramental and medicinal wines.

While the winery once cultivated 600 acres of grapes, much of the land it enriched has been turned into an even more romantic destination. A large portion of the space was developed into a resort starting with a restaurant in 1983. The marvelous Tuscany Hotel opened in 2001 and golf transformed the landscape in 2004. East Coast beach destinations are known more for their ocean-sprayed and sun-splashed coastal exteriors, but Renault certainly changed the way the game was played inland of the breakers.

Vineyard Golf at Renault, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014, seems to age like a bottle of vintage wine with a sound cork. Nestled away from the pounding waves of the Atlantic, the resort’s highly regarded 18-hole golf course remains a favorite among discriminating golfers. The unique 7,200-yard championship golf course designed by architect Ed Shearon features majestic views of the vineyards as it meanders subtly through South Jersey’s Pinelands. The course offers strategic elements that create risk/reward opportunities on every hole. The meticulously maintained tees, wide fairways, bunkers, greens and ponds accentuate the high quality of play embedded in Renault’s original plan.

Hole No. 7 is Vineyard Golf at Renault’s most memorable one, with an elevated tee box that is totally surrounded by the vineyard. You may feel like a grape alone on the tee box surrounded by vines, but you won’t be squeezed like one.

From its beginning, the owners of Renault Winery Resort & Golf aspired to create a golf course unique to South Jersey — one that would complement its award-winning restaurants, winery and fine hotel accommodations. They succeeded. Today, golfers from all across the land come to play the tasty design, and enjoy the yields only a place like Renault Winery Resort can provide.

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.

Table Manners

As the “crown jewel in Ron Jaworski’s golf holdings,” Running Deer Golf Club, located in historic Pittsgrove, is the place for serene golf. Word is also getting out that the facility’s Antlers Pub is another reason why Running Deer is the most “complete” golf and grub experience in the area.

It is easy to see — and taste — why.

Whether you want a full meal, a snack, a cold beer or just a glass of water after a round, Antlers Pub is the perfect place to relax. Its beautiful dark wood appointments and stunning view of the 10th hole give Antlers a special ambience you won’t find anywhere else. Add in its friendly staff, great food and wide drink selection and you will be pining for more. No matter what size your group, Antlers has plenty of room. A large, beautiful wrap-around bar has seating for 30 people and the surrounding tables can accommodate up to 40.

Out on course, you will find a wonderful display of holes. The lush green teeing areas, rolling fairways and dynamic, undulating terrain offer special challenges to golfers of every handicap. Best of all, Running Deer offers one thing that every golfer can appreciate: serenity. The course is set back among the trees, a world away from the hectic pace of everyday life. Even the holes themselves are set apart, conveying the sense that it is just you, your partner(s), the game … and a developing appetite.

A bit closer to AC, sister course Blue Heron Pines Golf Club announces the March 15 grand opening of its 7 Tap & Tavern. The name of the new establishment originates from Jaworski’s jersey number worn during his long and distinguished NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles. The friendly neighborhood tavern features craft beers, an exciting menu and an abundance of large screen televisions

Rooms with a View

Golfers can step back in time to where classic golf, fantastic food and a relaxing atmosphere are always on tap at the prestigious Atlantic City Country Club. As one of the oldest clubs in the nation — founded in 1897 — ACCC features its freshly renovated Tap Room Bar & Grille where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served with views to the lush fairways, tranquil bay and stunning Atlantic City skyline.
“The focus of upgrading the bar was to enhance the club atmosphere and introduce our new bar to the community,” said ACCC General Manager Charles Fahy. “The Tap Room has old ship-deck flooring with an amazing nostalgic feel and has been ranked among the Top 50 19th holes by Golf Digest magazine. We wanted to keep the old and historic look of the bar top, but we upgraded it and made it look new with a custom cherry-wood top and a Chicago rail. Best of all, we now serve the freshest and coldest beer in South Jersey.”

At ACCC, state-of-the-art chilling and gas mixing tap systems — with a staff specially trained to properly use them — were added to keep the beers chilled at precisely 37 degrees and served with the perfect pour.

The architecture and the décor reflect the style of when the building was constructed and history is preserved throughout its elegant rooms and especially in the Leo Fraser Library. The main dining room is another main attraction with magnificent views, which is perfect for small and large banquets served up for award-winning Executive Chef Edward Daggers. ACCC is a local favorite for all the holidays and special occasions, not to mention boasting the region’s “Best Brunch” according to Philadelphia Magazine.

The View II

Another timeless tradition is the dining experience up the road at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club. From casual fare in the historic Grille Room Pub to its award-winning Champagne Sunday Brunch, the dining experience at Seaview is one for the memory.

The Grille Room was founded in 1914 as part of the original farmhouse that became the center of the Seaview Resort. Stirring memories of a simpler time in our history, the warm and rustic restaurant will remind you of sitting at home dining with close family and friends. And Seaview’s executive chef has created a restaurant menu that supports local farms, fisheries and artisans.

Downtown Delights

To the world, the term “White House” has meaning – power, politics and prestige.

To the folks of Atlantic City, it means good, old-fashioned submarines. For golfers staying in the casinos downtown, there’s no better place to turn to for a belly buster than with an original.

The White House Sub Shop, located in the heart of downtown Atlantic City on Arctic Avenue, began operation in October 1946.  Under the leadership of Anthony Basile, his aunt Basilia and uncle Fritz Sacco, the store became one of the most popular sub shops in the country. It was their dedication and hard work that gave the White House the reputation it has today. It has been family owned and operated for more than 60 years.

Not much has changed for the thriving establishment since the day it began satisfying the appetites of locals and visitors alike. It still serves up a great atmosphere. It is still known for its A-list celebrities who often frequent the establishment. And like the sign out front says, it’s still “Famous for Submarines.”

Another classic establishment in downtown AC is Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern on Fairmount Avenue. Among many family owned and operated restaurants in the region, Angelo’s has been around since 1935. It is known for its Italian cuisine as well as steaks and seafood.

Additional AC mainstays include Angeloni’s II, Dock’s Oyster House, Knife & Fork Inn and Tony’s Baltimore Grill, plus newer independents like Ducktown Tavern and Tony Boloney’s.

Do AC in 2014

For all the glitz and glimmer of the high-rise gambling casinos that light up the night across this unique Atlantic Ocean-side city, there’s another side to the destination — a daylight version beyond the reimagined world-famous boardwalk and beaches. An easy drive from the major metropolitan areas along the East Coast, Atlantic City caters to golfers with a wide variety of accommodations from economy rooms to full-scale suites, casinos, more than 150 restaurants and bars, world-class spas, top name concerts and comedy shows, innovative nightlife, designer shopping, the beach, the boardwalk and pulsating casino games. These layouts range from links style to parkland style to classic gems to out-of-control modern marvels. Whatever your passion, every golf course within the Atlantic City arsenal has been ordered to deliver an experience that you will not soon forget.

Learn more about all 18 Atlantic City courses and book your 2014 golf getaway at

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