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