OCEAN COUNTY – Atlantis County Golf Course in Little Egg Harbor is past its rebuilding year and is expecting a strong 2017, county officials said.
In November 2015, a fire started in a golf cart and it spread to the maintenance building, adjacent to the pro shop. Initially police reports stated that explosions were reported from the clubhouse. No one was seriously injured, but some firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.
The cost of damage to equipment was approximately $1.5 million, according to county sources. Since then, there has been all new electrical systems, heating, insulation, garage doors, phone lines and a fire wall. The county then took this as an opportunity to upgrade the pro shop with a snack bar and some aesthetic improvements.
“The fire really reduced productivity,” said Michael Mangum, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation department. “We lost almost all of the maintenance equipment.”
In addition to the fire, irregular rains in 2016 hampered the playability. It would be very dry, and then there would be a deluge, he said. The problem with heavy rains is that the water does not get a chance to sink into the soil. It floods, instead. “We can’t get steady irrigation. Either too much or too little.”
In addition to the rebuilding that has been in motion, there are long-term projects that Mangum said he wants to achieve, such as rebuilding bunkers.
They are also trying to build forward tees on some of the holes. These are tees built on flatter parts of the fairway used to reduce the length to the flag. This helps people who have trouble driving the ball long distances.
Mangum had made a presentation about the status of the golf course at a recent meeting of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders. He thanked officials who helped them get back on their feet quickly. The Freeholders said they bought it more than 20 years ago to save it from development. It had been a golf course, but the owner was selling.
Freeholder John Bartlett said part of the challenge is that they did not want to be competition with other courses like Sea Oaks Country Club, also in Little Egg. Sea Oaks is in a different price range than more affordable municipally-run courses.
Atlantis fulfills the niche for an affordable course in southern Ocean County, he said. Financially, it breaks even.
Bartlett also credited Cuisine on the Green, the restaurant on location. It was started about five years ago, and operates as a teaching kitchen for the Ocean County Vocational Technical School adult cooking classes. It also helps tournaments, because people want an affordable meal after an event.
Freeholder Jack Kelly said the restaurant has been made into a recreational facility, hosting events like murder mystery nights. He also noted it was the first time a voc-tech had ever received a liquor license.