Rockaway River to Host 121st New Jersey Amateur Championship July 11-13
Hole No. 14 at Rockaway River Country Club, home of the 121st New Jersey Amateur Championship presented by Provident Bank
KENILWORTH, N.J. – From July 11-13, 2022, Rockaway River Country Club will play host to the 121st New Jersey Amateur Championship presented by Provident Bank.
Rockaway River will be hosting its ninth NJSGA major championship and its 21st NJSGA Championship overall. The last NJSGA major held at Rockaway River was the 2015 New Jersey Open, when Tyler Hall captured his first of three Open titles.
The private Denville, New Jersey golf club opened in 1915 and owns a wealth of history. Esteemed golf course architect Devereux Emmet designed Rockaway River in 1922, establishing the framework for its unique layout and compelling green complexes. Emmet is well-known for his work at Congressional Country Club, Engineers Country Club, Garden City Golf Club and more.
J. Henry Bacheller, of Newark, along with a group of businessmen were responsible for the formation of the club. The original intentions of the club were to “operate a golf links, tennis courts, pool and billiard tables, bowling alleys and other athletic devices and to purchase or build a clubhouse or houses and other buildings for the accommodation and comfort of its members and to engage in games and sports which attend to physical development.”
Over the years, renovations and remodels to the course has allowed Rockaway River to evolve into a more demanding test of golf.
In the early 1970s, architect Hal Purdy was hired to create a plan that would resolve the effects of flooding and drainage issues due to the river which runs adjacent to much of the property and traverses the 18th hole. In 1985, Brian Silva put together a master plan that spanned over 20 years and was completed in the early 2000s, which was highlighted by lengthier championship teeing grounds.
Most recently, in 2019, Rockaway River completed a course enhancement project, which focused on installing a handful of new bunkers, adjusting others, and removing a few as well.
“The shape, design, and contours of all the bunkers have been redone,” said Greg Baker, Rockaway River's PGA head professional for 25 years.
In addition, Rockaway River saw modifications to its chipping areas throughout the course. Where there once was rough surrounding the green surfaces now features fairway-height grass, aimed at altering playing conditions.
“It gives the player more options, whether to pitch the ball or putt it,” explained Baker. “In some cases, it also makes it more challenging, because the better players are more inclined to use a wedge and you take that risk of good contact or not."
Rockaway River also made changes to its 12th hole, featuring a new teeing ground, adding about 100 yards of length to the hole.
Although Rockaway River is not a lengthy course, it requires accuracy off the tee.
"You need to be accurate off the tee and be patient, because we have a couple of short holes out here," said Baker. "We have players that are inclined to go for those greens with their drive and subsequently make a big number. You need to be patient, put the ball in the fairway and give yourself as many chances at birdie as you can."
The par-72, 6,811 yard course presents multiple routes to card low scores. Most notably, the par-5s at Rockaway River deliver multiple risk/reward scenarios, potentially allowing players to reach the green in two, or suffer a larger number on their scorecard.
“Most par-5s will leave you with 260 to 280 yards into the green, so it varies,” said Baker. “And, then there's the par-4, No. 12 where you might want to try and drive it to get yourself right in front of the green and chip it up. But, if you miss, you may end up in the bunker or in the fescue areas."
The field will be tested the entire 18 holes, however, Baker reveals that getting through the 12th hole will be critical to entering the clubhouse with a solid score. The 18th hole may decide the championship, as playing competitors will have to face the river that enters along the left side and crosses the fairway, with bunkers on the right.
"I always used to think when we hosted the Clambake all those years that if you get through the 11th hole at a decent number, then you’re in pretty good shape," explained Baker.
"In the past, I thought a good score was in a 68 to 70 range. Now, 70 to 72 is a pretty good score out here."
The 121st New Jersey Amateur Championship presented by Provident Bank will certainly be an exciting event, one that both competitors as well as Rockaway River membership and staff are looking forward to.
“It’s something that we’ve always done here at Rockaway (River),” expressed Baker. “They feel that giving back to the game is very important, at the amateur and professional level.”
A champion will be crowned after 72-holes of stroke play competition. Eighteen holes will be played on both July 11 and July 12, before a cut that will advance to the 36-hole Championship finale. The lowest aggregate 72-hole scorer will be awarded the Edwin M. Wild Championship trophy as the 121st New Jersey Amateur Champion.
Entry & Qualifying Details
Three Amateur Championship qualifying sites have been announced, including Lake Mohawk Golf Club (May 31), Quail Brook Golf Course (June 11), and Rossmoor Golf Course (June 13). Please visit NJSGA.org for updates over the coming weeks regarding the opening of entries and additional qualifying locations.
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