Old York At Chesterfield: Combining A Challenging Course And The Best Of Nature
For golfers who love going back to nature, Old York Country Club at Chesterfield is a perfect place to mix scenery with skill. With no houses on the course, a sense of privacy and natural beauty is only enhanced by an innovative course design that weaves in topography changes, creeks, wetlands, and forests.
Old York, in northern Burlington County, is a Gary Player Signature Course that has been ranked in the Top Ten in New Jersey by Golf Digest. In 1995, Gary Player and his design team sculpted a 6,903-yard golf course that uniquely blends the natural landscape of a former 180-acre equestrian estate with the standards of world-class course design. In 2012, the course was sold by owners Ed and Corrine Eget to Three-Putt LLC, consisting of partners Dr. Jim Rockwell, Gene Stravinsky, Dan Wheeler and Bill Miscoski.
“The new owners have invested a lot in the golf course” said Jim Vernon, Old York’s head professional for the past 10 years. We’ve redone multiple bunkers and combined teeing grounds to reduce maintenance. We’re known for the quality of our putting greens. They have a lot of undulations, and they roll true and pretty fast.”
In the 1960s and ‘70s, Olde (note the “e”) York Golf Course occupied this property. Then, for about a decade, the property became a horse breeding and equestrian facility. In the late 1980s, the Egets purchased the property and converted it back to a golf course. With Gary Player’s help, the club reopened in 1995, with several new holes and a fresh look. It also maintained some of it equestrian heritage; a few barns, no longer occupied by horses, still exist on the property; for example, the pro shop is uniquely referred to as Barn No. 1.
A COURSE WITH A LOT GOING ON
Vernon knows his course. A native of South Carolina and graduate of Clemson University, he didn’t take up golf until after college. He quit a job as a production manager for a major corporation to become a PGA professional in 1993 and never looked back. He worked at Cherry Valley Country Club in Skillman for 12 years before arriving at Old York.
“From the blue (middle) tees, the course plays at 6,359 yards. That may seem short, but it’s not. There are a lot of elevation changes, especially on the front nine. Overall, we have five par threes and four par fives. The par threes are challenging,” Vernon said.
He noted several standout holes: “We call No. 5 hole, a par 3, the toughest par five on the golf course. It is 186 yards from the blue tees to an elevated green. Often the play is to miss the green long and left because it leaves you with an uphill chip shot. “No. 8 plays 200 yards to an elevated green. No. 4 is a par 4 at 434 yards that goes straight uphill. Most people under club themselves there,” Vernon said.
There are a lot of rolling hills on the sides of the fairways, often leaving challenging shots because of the uneven lies. “It’s almost like two different golf courses between the nines. The front nine features hills and woods and the back nine is more level and open. On the front nine, holes 4, 5, 6, and 7 run along Black’s Creek, so water comes into play. There’s also a ridge that separates the two nines.
The interior of the course, for the most part, is wide open. Most people would characterize that part of the course as links style – without the ocean,” Vernon said. Club champion Dewey Bookholdt added: “You’ll never get bored playing here. It’s always challenging. Our holes feature a number of different teeing areas and great hole locations, so the course plays different every time. Usually, there is high fescue, but we’ve softened the course over the years.”
A CLUB OF PLAYERS
Bookholdt is one of several golfers from Old York who are making their mark in NJSGA as well as other events. This year, Dewey and daughter Haley Bookholdt won the NJSGA Mixed Pinehurst Championship. Haley has qualified for the US. Girls’ Junior Championship. In both 2017 and 2016, the partnership of Mike Decker and Jim Schulz won the NJSGA Ultimate Team Event..
Last summer, club member Samantha Perrotta was undefeated (16-0) in Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia team matches. Also, in 2017, Perrotta shot 2-under par to win the WGAP Tournament of Champions at Waynesborough Country Club in Pennsylvania. She also won the Executive Cup at the Vidanta Resort in Nuevo Vallarte, Mexico, shooting 144 in two rounds on courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Perrotta won the NJSGA Women’s Public Links Championship in 2013.
“Golfers who play well here can play well anywhere,” said Bookholdt, who has been a member for two decades. “Our handicaps travel well. This course teaches you to be patient, to have discipline and to employ course management skills. You can’t bomb it and gouge it out here. The fescue and the rough is penal and the greens have plenty of undulations.”
Old York is proud to show off its course. On June 21, the club hosted sectional qualifying for the 70th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. Over the years, the club has hosted both NJSGA Amateur and Open qualifiers and Golf Association of Philadelphia events.
A WIDE-RANGING MEMBERSHIP
“We have a very friendly membership, but what people like the most about the course is the scenic, natural property itself,” said Bill Marine, the assistant pro and former long-time head professional at Cream Ridge. The club draws from a wide geography. Membership at Old York comes from Burlington, Mercer and Monmouth counties in Jersey and Bucks County in Pennsylvania.
The club offers a variety of memberships. A full golf membership is available for singles or families. A “casual” golf membership includes 10 rounds of golf plus cart. There are also a casual golf / pool membership and a pool-only membership. A young executive membership exists for those age 39 and under.
The clubhouse, featuring a banquet room that seats 200, is famous for its weddings, business meetings and holiday parties. In nice weather, a popular spot is the covered patio in the back of the clubhouse that overlooks the 10th tee and 16th tees. Old York is easy accessible, just off exits for the New Jersey Turnpike, and Routes 206, 195 and 295.
Centrally located in New Jersey, it’s well worth a short ride from anywhere in the state for golfers who enjoy a challenging layout that features an eye-catching, natural landscape.