Best in State

The best golf courses in New Jersey

New Jerseyans live their life in the shadows of New York—forever being lumped in with their famous neighboring state. When it comes to golf, New York golf is top of the heap, but the depth of great golf courses in New Jersey is undeniable.

It starts with what many consider the best course in the world, Pine Valley Golf Club. Though closer to Philadelphia than most parts of New Jersey, Pine Valley has ranked No. 1 on our rankings in every edition of our America’s 100 Greatest rankings except four times—when it was second each time. You’re only just beginning the state’s golf conversation there with 10 layouts in the Garden State ranked among our top 200.

Some of the best designs by the game’s classic architects—A.W. Tillinghast lived for much of his life in New Jersey and gave us both courses at Baltusrol, a unique masterpiece at Somerset Hills and a fabulous 27-hole facility at Ridgewood Country Club, plus Donald Ross gems at Plainfield Country Club and Mountain Ridge Country Club (among other unranked standouts), plus entries from Seth Raynor, Charles Banks and Walter Travis.

Then there are the modern marvels that can be equal parts awe-inspiring and polarizing, such as Liberty National and Bayonne, ultra-difficult and expertly crafted like Galloway National and bold and beautiful like the Ridge at Back Brook and Trump Bedminster from Tom Fazio. And a newcomer, a bold and mesmerizing redo of the old, flat Sand Barrens—the new Union League National in Cape May Court House—has the potential to give New Jersey yet another top nationally ranked course within its borders.

Below you'll find our 2023-'24 ranking of the Best Golf Courses in New Jersey.

We urge you to click through to each individual course page for bonus photography, drone footage and reviews from our course panelists. Plus, you can now leave your own ratings on the courses you’ve played … to make your case why your favorite should be ranked higher. 

(Parentheses indicate the course's previous ranking.)

1. (1) Pine Valley Golf Club
Carlos Amoedo
Private
1. (1) Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, NJ, United States
5
267 Panelists
A genuine original, its unique character is forged from the sandy pine barrens of southwest Jersey. Founder George Crump had help from now-legendary architects H.S. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr. and Walter Travis. Hugh Wilson (of Merion fame) and his brother Alan finished the job, and William Flynn and Perry Maxwell made revisions. Throughout the course, Pine Valley blends all three schools of golf design—penal, heroic and strategic—often times on a single hole. Recent tree removal at selected spots have revealed some gorgeous views of the sandy landscape upon which the course is routed, and bunker reconstruction by Tom Fazio has given the barrens a more intricate and ornate look.
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2. (2) Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower)
Private
2. (2) Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower)
Springfield, NJ, United States
4.7
145 Panelists
Jack Nicklaus won two U.S. Opens on Baltusrol's Lower Course, setting a tournament record each time. Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker won PGAs on it. But the Lower’s most historic event was the ace by architect Robert Trent Jones in 1954 on the par-3 fourth, instantly squelching complaints of critical club members who felt Trent’s redesign made it too hard. Trent’s younger son, Rees, an avowed A.W. Tillinghast fan, lightly retouched the Lower’s design for the 2016 PGA Championship. But there has been another changing of the guard at Baltusrol, as architect Gil Hanse and his team took over as the club’s new consulting architects, and re-opened the restored Lower course—after carefully examining Tillie's old plans and reclaiming green size and rebuilding bunkers—in May 2021. The results, while praised, did not alter the course's standing in the 100 Greatest ranking--it remains at no. 45.
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3. (4) Somerset Hills Country Club
Jeff Bertch/Courtesy of the club
Private
3. (4) Somerset Hills Country Club
Bernardsville, NJ, United States
4.8
185 Panelists
Somerset Hills is another marvelous A.W. Tillinghast design, one of the few that has remained virtually unchanged since it opened in 1918. So it may be the most authentic Tillinghast course on the 100 Greatest. It’s a charming, laid-back design that works through seemingly undisturbed rolling terrain, past rock outcroppings and around small-but-distinctive water hazards. Tilly designed this with a spoonful of whimsy, with “dolomite” mounds edging one green and startling knobs within another putting surface. Like Baltusrol Upper, Somerset Hills has a Tillinghast version of a Redan par 3.
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4. (3) Baltusrol Golf Club (Upper)
Courtesy of Baltusrol GC
Private
4. (3) Baltusrol Golf Club (Upper)
Springfield, NJ
4.5
173 Panelists
It’s believed that when A.W. Tillinghast began constructing the Upper and Lower Courses at Baltusrol in 1919 (replacing Baltusrol’s existing 18 holes), it was the first contiguous 36 holes built at the same time in America. Because of the Lower’s tremendous major championship record, most consider the slightly shorter Upper to be a secondary course at the club. But between the two, it was the Upper, not the Lower, that hosted the first U.S. Open (and third in the club’s history) in 1936, won by Tony Manero. The Lower didn’t get its first Open until 1954, won by Ed Furgol. Baltusrol Mountain, just 200 feet high, looms above the right flank of the Upper, complicating drives and putts with a landscape that tilts more than appears to the eye. Just like he did at the Lower, Gil Hanse and his team began work on the Upper at the end of 2023.
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5. (5)  Plainfield Country Club
Laurence Lambrecht
Private
5. (5) Plainfield Country Club
Edison, NJ, United States
4.7
228 Panelists
In the late 1990s, Gil Hanse and his team gradually began restoring all of Plainfield’s Donald Ross features, including many that had become covered by trees or lost over the years. During the early 2000s, every green, fairway, teeing ground, chipping area and bunker was restored, and excessive trees were removed. The result is an exceptional restoration/renovation of one of Donald Ross’ very best designs, and it could not be more fun to play every day. The tree removal also opened up strategic playing angles, optionality and stunning views across the property. The course remains a great venue for competitions, too, with USGA and PGA Tour events producing an impressive list of Champions including John Cook, Laura Davies, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
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6. (7) Ridgewood Country Club
Courtesy of Evan Schiller
Private
6. (7) Ridgewood Country Club
Paramus, NJ, United States
Ridgewood was always one of A.W. Tillinghast’s favorites. He lived nearby, was a club member and a close friend with the club's longtime pro, George Jacobus, who served as president of the PGA of America for seven years. (It was Jacobus who brought the 1935 Ryder Cup to Ridgewood.) The 27 holes that Tillinghast created were some of his most demanding. Not surprisingly, the course has long been a tournament venue, particularly in recent years, following extensive tree removal and bunker renovation by Gil Hanse. Ridgewood’s tournament 18 consists of holes from all three nines, but our survey ranks the East and West 9s, because the composite 18 isn’t routinely available for panelists. That means the club’s drivable par-4 sixth on its Center nine, the famed “Five and Dime” hole, isn’t evaluated by Golf Digest. Yet Ridgewood continues to be one of the top-ranked clubs in the nation. That tells you just how strong all the holes are at Ridgewood.
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7. (6) Galloway National Golf Club
Courtesy of Jon Cavalier
Private
7. (6) Galloway National Golf Club
Absecon, NJ, United States
Galloway National occupies a very fine stretch of South Jersey-pine barrens, a site that before construction had been compared to nearby Pine Valley. But Tom Fazio felt the land more favorably compared with that of Pinehurst, and his dream was to reshape this course the old-fashioned way, using horses and slip-scrapers much as had done a century ago at Pinehurst. But the economics and timetable didn’t allow him such a fanciful luxury. Instead, bulldozers were used to shove the sand around into graceful fairways and low-slung, fall-away greens. Pines and roughs of pine needles frame most holes and the eastern flank of the course runs directly along a tidal marsh that leads to the Atlantic. Galloway National now has enough exposed sand, by the way, that golfers today are reminded of both Pinehurst and Pine Valley.
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8. (14) Hollywood Golf Club
LC Lambrecht
Private
8. (14) Hollywood Golf Club
Deal, NJ, United States
Walter Travis was a man of many talents. As a player he won three U.S. Amateur titles and one British Amateur, and his 80-percent match win percentage ranks among the sport’s all-time best. He was a writer, editor and publisher of The American Golfer in addition to designing over two dozen golf courses. His greatest skill might have been bunkering courses. His work revamping no. 64 Garden City in the early 1900s—adding, moving and deepening the bunkers as well as rebuilding the greens—transformed that course into what it is today, but his most artistic work is at Hollywood. The elaborate bunker shapes and arrangements are nothing short of dazzling, especially as they’ve been sharpened and polished by Brian Schneider of Renaissance Golf, along with shaper Blake Conant. They lay out like arrangements of gemstones and the spots on a jungle cat, varying from the size of a mansion parlor to little more than a bread box. Anything like it attempted today would be considered garish, but Travis’s Beaux Art bunkering at Hollywood is a study in artistry.
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9. (8) Bayonne Golf Club
Courtesy of Jon Cavalier
Private
9. (8) Bayonne Golf Club
Bayonne, NJ, United States
Both Bayonne Golf Club and its neighbor, No. 197 Liberty National G.C., were built at the same time, part of a massive transformation of the Jersey shoreline along the Hudson River and New York Harbor. Bayonne was built on an old sanitary landfill covered with 7 million cubic yards of fill, much of it dredged from the harbor to efforts to make the harbor deep enough for supertankers. The deposits were piled up to 10 stories high, which developer-designer Eric Bergstol then shaped into towering faux sand dunes. The course is an ode to Irish links, with no trees, cart paths or level lies. Fairways flow down narrow valleys, edged by steep slopes laden with tall, wavy fescues. Bunkers are deep and often fearsome. A few greens sit right above the harbor and all putting surfaces have confounding humps, bumps and rolls. Tucked away down a bumpy, unpaved road past a strip mall in blue-collar Bayonne, N.J. is this private, walking-only enclave.
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10. (12) Liberty National Golf Club
Courtesy of Evan Schiller
Private
10. (12) Liberty National Golf Club
Jersey City, NJ
Like Bayonne Golf Club to the south, Liberty National Golf Club was a reclamation project, a super-expensive Superfund clean-up of New York harbor, replacing a putrid assortment of oil refineries and storage tanks with an intriguing combination of green grass and golden rough. By spreading 2 million cubic yards of fresh soil over the capped toxic wastes, architect Bob Cupp and pro-consultant Tom Kite started building something meant to be a major tournament venue. It has narrow bent-grass fairways, just 25 to 27 yards wide, and tiny, flawless bent-grass greens, averaging just 3,400 square feet. With several hundred mature hardwoods transplanted along the fairways, a couple of rock-lined streams edging greens and winding cart paths fashioned from brick, Liberty National looks like what Central Park might be if it were a golf course Liberty National sits just three miles southwest of the tip of Manhattan, so the views of the NYC skyline, and the Statue of Liberty, are tremendous.
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11. (9) Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old)
Courtesy of the Trump Organization
Private
11. (9) Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, NJ, United States
4.3
43 Panelists
The highest-ranked Trump-owned course, the Old course at Trump National Bedminster hosted the 2017 U.S. Women's Open and was set to host the 2022 PGA Championship before the PGA of America moved the event to Southern Hills. The Fazio design, which opened in 2004, was ranked as high as 141st on our America's Second 100 Greatest rankings in 2013-2014—and 165th in 2015-2016—before falling off our rankings for not having enough ballots to meet our minimum evaluation count.
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12. (11) Mountain Ridge Country Club
Evan Schiller
Private
12. (11) Mountain Ridge Country Club
West Caldwell, NJ, United States
4.5
84 Panelists
Mountain Ridge Country Club has forever been one of North Jersey's great hidden gems, and after fabulous restoration work done over the past 10 years by Ron Prichard, the club is starting to get its due after hosting a number of events, including the 2012 U.S. Senior Amateur on its centennial, the 2020 MET Open and the 2021 LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup. This 250-acre site, perched atop an enormous ridge in West Caldwell, was acquired by the club after a move from nearby West Orange, and the club hired Donald Ross in the late 1920s to route a new 18-hole course, which traverses varied, interesting topography and features some genius putting surfaces. Mountain Ridge had a large-scale celebration in June 1931 to dedicate the Clifford Wendehack clubhouse and new course, of which Ross himself attended. The club has hired Andrew Green to complete a long-term plan to ensure that Mountain Ridge continues to be in the conversation as one of the country’s best-known secrets.
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13. (13) Essex County Country Club
Stephen Hennessey
Private
13. (13) Essex County Country Club
West Orange, NJ, United States
4.2
126 Panelists
Essex County Country Club has been touched by some of the game’s best designers, with A.W. Tillinghast routing a new layout on the current site in 1918. Seth Raynor kept seven of Tillinghast’s original holes (Nos. 1 through 6 and the ninth) during a 1925 redesign. Before construction began, Raynor passed away, leaving his associate and Charles Banks to do the rest. Banks favored the template holes of Raynor and Macdonald and his brilliant renditions are still standouts today, including a Redan, Double Plateau, Alps, Punchbowl and Eden. A young Gil Hanse extended the course to 7,100 yards, added fairway bunkers and removed thousands of trees. In the fall of 2023, Hanse and his team will return to perform some updates—most notably reinvigorating the dogleg-left opening hole—continuing the portfolio of great architects to have worked at this storied New Jersey site.
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14. (10) The Ridge At Back Brook
Jon Cavalier
Private
14. (10) The Ridge At Back Brook
Ringoes, NJ, United States
4.3
92 Panelists
Northeast of Princeton is The Ridge at Back Brook, another of those great pieces of property Tom Fazio is given on which to build a course. With 150 feet of natural elevation change, Fazio had little need to reshape the landscape, although he still had crews re-carve fairways for visibility and flow. With patches of mature forest of hardwoods and cedars, Fazio had little need to import trees, although a few were transplanted to emphasize seclusion on particular holes. The front nine sits in a valley formed by meandering Back Brook, while much of the back nine is on a plateau high above the front nine. Rock outcroppings are a prominent feature, including a massive one that poses a cross-hazard on the par-5 seventh, veins of rock behind the ninth and 18th greens and the namesake vertical cliff that provides a stunning backdrop to the par-3 eighth.
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15. (NEW) Union League National Golf Club
Evan Schiller Photography
Private
15. (NEW) Union League National Golf Club
Cape May Court House, NJ
The backbone of this super-maximalist design from Dana Fry and Jason Straka in the South New Jersey cape are a pair of constructed 40-foot-high central ridges that that half of the complex’s 27 holes scramble up and down. The design is a head-spinning presentation of three different nines that show off electrified putting surfaces stuffed with all manner of tiers, baubles and side slopes, big sandy dunes, scrubby barrens, cavernous bunkers, a section on the north end that mimics holes forged from a quarry and a kaleidoscope of native New Jersey vegetation. The new Union League National earned second-place honors on our 2022 Best New private award.
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16. (19) Arcola Country Club
Courtesy of the club
Private
16. (19) Arcola Country Club
Paramus, NJ, United States
4.6
65 Panelists
Big and brawny Arcola Country Club continues to get better year after year—as competitors found out at the 2022 U.S. Amateur when it co-hosted stroke-play qualifying with neighboring Ridgewood Country Club. Robert Trent Jones redesigned the course in the 1950s after the state acquired part of the property through the construction of the nearby Garden State Parkway, which eliminated four existing holes. Paul Dotti, the club’s Director of Grounds since 2009, has conducted some major projects to elevate Arcola’s stature in the state, performing major drainage work, tree removal, and rebuilding and reshaping bunkers and fairways. Dotti’s crew maintains some of the best conditioned playing conditions in the tri-state area—a bold statement given the depth of great layouts with incredible maintenance staffs—but on any given day, golfers will encounter firm-and-fast conditions with putting surfaces rolling above 14 on the Stimpmeter. The championship venue also hosts the annual Arcola Cup, which hosts some of the best amateur players in the area.
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17. (15) Metedeconk National Golf Club: 1st/3rd
Courtesy of the club
Private
17. (15) Metedeconk National Golf Club: 1st/3rd
Jackson, NJ, United States
Set in the northern portion of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, the course weaves through pine trees on gently sloping ground. Opening and closing holes on each nine play down and then back up the hill, which is the dominant landform that adds interest to the routing. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Roger Rulewich routed all 27 holes through the pines and local marsh, creating a course that challenges a player’s ability to navigate uneven lies and elevation changes. Missing the fairway here will leave a golfer amid the pines often with a difficult recovery. A recent bunker renovation opened up views on some holes while widening the landing area on others. Originally opened in 1987, Metedeconk National has occupied a spot in Golf Digest’s Best in State almost every year since, coming in at No. 15 in New Jersey in the most recent ranking.
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18. (17) Hamilton Farm Golf Club (Highlands)
Dana Fry
4.4
99 Panelists
Dana Fry designed and built this course in 2001 with then partner Dr. Michael Hurdzan and in 2022 came back to do a renovation with current partner Jason Straka. The original design featured elaborate MacKenzie-inspired cape-and-bay bunkers, now replaced by what might be considered a more traditional, or New England, style of shaping with less formality. Their placements have also been adjusted, as have tees, while some fairways were re-graded and hundreds of trees were removed to better show off the 730-acre estate’s surrounding pastures and woods.
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19. (16) Hidden Creek
Courtesy of Dormie Network
Private
19. (16) Hidden Creek
Egg Harbor Township, NJ, United States
4.3
103 Panelists
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are known for their minimalist designs with quiet undulation and ridges, and Hidden Creek fits nicely in their portfolio. Like many other Coore-Crenshaw works, Hidden Creek offers wide fairways that emphasize finding the best angle in to give yourself the best chance to score. The course offers a great mix of doglegs in both directions, and there is quite good variety in the par 4s, including the short par-4 8th that is one of the highlights of the round. The par 3s are quite impressive as well as they range from 230 to 115. Hidden Creek is one of the best courses in the Dormie Network’s stable and more than holds its own in comparison to the other courses in the region.
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20. (21) Atlantic City Country Club
LC Lambrecht
Public
20. (21) Atlantic City Country Club
Northfield, NJ
4
40 Panelists

Atlantic City Country Club is now private, but if you're headed to AC for a golf trip—do your best to try to get on. The par-70, 6,577-yard course dates to 1897 but has been updated several times, including in 1999 by architect Tom Doak. He did his best to restore many original features, including firm, undulating greens and tall, native grasses that frame bunkers and fairways. Willie Park Jr., the British Open champion in 1887 and 1889, is often credited as the primary designer, though at least four others are responsible for this classic layout.

 

ACCC is routed along marshland and back bays and has the feel of a classic Northeast country club, which it once was. The course opened to the public in 1998 when Hilton Hotels bought it, then was owned by Caesars Entertainment but now went back to being private.

 

As you play several holes along the shoreline, the neon-and-concrete kingdom of AC looms in the distance. The front nine is a brute with four par 4s longer than 445 yards. One of those, the opening hole, charmingly uses a portion of the practice putting green as its tee box. The back nine is much shorter (3,125 yards compared to 3,452 on the front) but also a lot tighter as you wind your way around the marsh. Several shots bring the hazard into play, and the 157-yard 17th is a blind shot over massive sand dunes.

 

ACCC's clubhouse is akin to a golf museum. ACCC played an important part in the history of American golf. Not only did the terms birdie and eagle originate from rounds played there in 1903, but the course was the site of six USGA championships, including the 1901 Amateur and the 1948 Women's Open won by Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Bob Hope regularly played the course. So did boxer Joe Louis and quarterback Joe Namath. Arnold Palmer spent a couple of summers there in the 1950s while serving in the Coast Guard nearby. Everything from the wood lockers to the spike marks on the 19th hole's floor lets you know that you're experiencing a piece of golf's past. --Ron Kaspriske, senior editor

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21. (22) Morris County Golf Club
Courtesy of the club
Private
21. (22) Morris County Golf Club
Convent Station, NJ
4.5
61 Panelists
Morris County Country Club gets lost among the unthinkably good golf in the Tri-State area, but the Seth Raynor design is finally getting its due, thanks to recent tree-removal work and impeccable conditioning—allowing the bold landforms and land movement shine. The Morristown club also holds the distinction of being the first club in the country organized and managed by women. The course continues to make improvements, now under the supervision of consulting architect Jaeger Kovich of Proper Golf, who previously worked under Gil Hanse and Tom Doak as a builder and shaper.
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22. (20) Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia
Courtesy of The Trump Organization
3.8
42 Panelists
Trump National Philadelphia, in Pine Hill, N.J., is a Tom Fazio design with some rolling terrain down the street from Pine Valley. Donald Trump told our John Barton in 2014: "I think it's as good as Pine Valley, OK? People from Pine Valley are playing it all the time, and some say it's just as good, and some say it's better."
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23. (23) Hackensack Golf Club
Evan Schiller/evanschillerphotography.com
Private
23. (23) Hackensack Golf Club
Oradell, NJ, United States
4.5
56 Panelists
Hackensack is an incredibly enjoyable Charles Banks design that incorporates several template holes as well as original ones to create a great golf course in North Jersey. The course includes a Redan (12th), Biarritz (3rd) and one of the best punchbowls in Banks’ portfolio at the 16th. Over the past few years, the club has embarked on a massive renovation overseen by Steve Weisser and Rees Jones with the goal of restoring most of the course and adding a few new ones, like the 150-yard fairway bunker at the 11th, which sits nearly eight feet deep. In addition the club has removed many trees, opening up the property and allowing golfers to see much more of the property.
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24. (25) Forsgate Country Club (Banks)
Private
24. (25) Forsgate Country Club (Banks)
Monroe Township, NJ, United States
4.1
61 Panelists
Any fan of the Mac/Raynor/Banks style of architecture must go see Forsgate Country Club’s Banks course, which features an outstanding quartet of par 3s, including the bold and dramatic Biarritz 17th. Though Forsgate often struggles in our conditioning category, its landforms and deep bunkering are worth studying and experiencing—and make it deserving of its place among New Jersey’s best courses.
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25. (24) Canoe Brook Country Club (North)
Private
25. (24) Canoe Brook Country Club (North)
Summit, NJ, United States
4
66 Panelists
Canoe Brook’s championship pedigree runs deep, ranking among our list of America’s 100 Greatest Courses from 1967 through 1970. The 36-hole facility hosts U.S. Open sectional qualifying every other year (on off years with Old Oaks and Century) on its North and South courses. With its thick rough, towering trees and difficult but well-conditioned greens, Canoe Brook is a mainstay among great New Jersey golf venues.
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