By TIM BAINES
An eastern-seaboard city that calls itself a year-round golf destination has a bit of naughty to go with a lot of nice.
There’s no question Atlantic City, N.J. has plenty of wow factor in its mighty fine golf pastures, dining, casinos and nightlife, but there’s also an opportunity, for those so inclined, to take a walk on the wild side.
Atlantic City Golf After Dark, has come up with an idea that’s one-stop shopping that can set up your tee times, restaurant reservations, access to nightclubs and, oh, you can also get a stretch limo, a stripper bus, entrance to prime strip clubs and have a private dancer in your room. No shenanigans, it’s above board, but it’s becoming a popular option for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
The guy behind the idea, Mike Charlton, managing partner of GolfAC.com, said the idea appeals to a certain segment of those looking for an Atlantic City vacation.
“I have an established golf vacation business. And I have a bachelor party business,” he said. “It’s like chocolate and peanut butter. Next thing you know, you’ve got a Reese’s peanut butter cup. There’s nothing illegal. There’s no funny business, it’s just a fun time. This is edgier and edgy for Atlantic City is good. You can come here and have the time of your life, a wild and crazy time, and then you can go home. I don’t think I would ever say this is going to be a family destination. I see it as being an edgy adult destination where you can bring your kids along – there are a lot of family things to do. But I’m not ashamed to bring gentlemen’s clubs or nightclubs into the mix. If we’re ever going to attract the next generation of golfers here, we need to have a broader appeal.”
Charlton came up with the idea after a conversation with GOLF Magazine’s Tom Perlozzo.
“Tom told me the No. 1 question he was asked by golfers was: ‘Do they have any strip clubs?’ I’m like, ‘Wow, I like to hear that.’ It’s not offered to people. We’re Atlantic City. That’s part of what you expect when you come here if you’re a young guy. You can add some spice to your average golf vacation.”
Over the years, the Atlantic City landscape has changed. The vibrant casino scene was the focal point. But that’s not enough anymore. The golf courses have become important, not so much making the city a golf destination, but giving it some added oomph. In a city (about a nine-hour drive from Toronto and eight from Ottawa) that was long ago given a push into the spotlight by the Miss America pageant it hosted, the golf is good … really good.
And as it turns out, the weather is usually especially good in the fall with the courses remaining open year round thanks to the ocean which acts as somewhat of a neutralizer and, for the most part, keeps the snow away. It’s an East Coast golf gem that you don’t hear nearly enough about.
You can tee it up at courses like the Atlantic City Country Club where the lockers have plates on them with names like Roger Clemens, Willie Mays, Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples, Michael Phelps, John Daly and Julius Erving. The rich, the famous and the not-so-rich-and-famous folks are brought together Known as the Birthplace of the Birdie, the course, with its spectacular setting along Lakes Bay overlooking the Atlantic City skyline, has been listed among America’s 100 greatest courses.
In Golfweek’s 2015 Best Courses You Can Play rankings, Atlantic City scored four of New Jersey’s top six courses (topped by Atlantic City Country Club).
“The Golfweek rankings are more positive proof that Atlantic City really delivers a high quality golf experience across the destination,” Harry Bittner, President of the Greater Atlantic City Golf Association and GM of Shore Gate Golf Club, which was recognized, said at the time.
Twisted Dune Golf Club, possibly the most visually striking golf course in the Atlantic City golf arsenal – maintains its No. 3 position. One local pro described it as the spot where “Phoenix meets Scotland.” Designer Archie Struthers moved two million cubic yards of earth to bring this remarkable course to fruition; creating a true taste of the Scottish Coast, right along the Jersey Shore.
Though situated only a couple of miles from the beach, the landscape at Shore Gate is surprisingly diverse. “Everything they’ve done, they’ve done well,” said Bittner of the design team. “The whole goal was to build a golf course that was pretty dramatic and different to give people something special — something they will remember. They had a really great piece of land with which to work and they really delivered.”
Atlantic City is hoping its diversity attracts tourists.
“We’ve lost the traditional bus-trippers,” said Charlton. “There are other places here – the beach, the boardwalk and not everybody can say they have the ocean. And we still have the greatest collection of casinos on the east coast.