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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the July 3, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
A Field of Greens Becomes a Reality
Joel Moore woke up with a start one October morning
three years ago. "I’m going to build a world class, golf only
club," he announced to his slumbering mate. He reports that his
wife, Pam Moore, muttered something like "sure you are," before
going back to sleep.
Fired up by his early-morning vision, Moore contacted every landowner
with sizable holdings in central New Jersey. "It was discouraging,"
he recalls. He walked farm after farm, seeing nothing but flat land
to the horizon. "I was about to give up," he says.
Then he went to inspect a 300-acre parcel on Wertsville Road in Ringoes.
There he found elevations, rock outcroppings, ridges, and streams.
"The properties around it don’t have these features," he marvels.
"It’s only this site."
The next step for Moore, who has had an accounting practice at 9 Tamarack
Circle since 1983, was to bring a big name golf architect onboard.
Through friends in Florida, he contacted Tom Fazio, who agreed to
come have a look at the property. Moore had signed a contract for
the land, but it was contingent on discovering whether it could be
molded into what he terms a "world class" golf course. "I
didn’t want just a good course," he says. "There are plenty
Fazio agreed to take on the project, and will be present at the grand
opening of the course, called the Ridge at Back Brook, on Thursday,
July 11. Call 609-466-7702.
Moore got his first introduction to golf when he went out a couple
of times with his father, Harry, a textile chemist who is now deceased.
"He played every weekend," Moore recalls. "He made me
carry his bag. I hated it." Young Moore was into basketball, and
did not take up golf until after he graduated from college — Quinnipiac
University in Connecticut, Class of 1976. But once he started to play,
like his father, he soon became hooked. "Once the golf bug gets
you it’s like an addiction," he says.
He was the first president of the Cherry Valley Country Club, serving
from 1993 until 1998. He resigned both as president and as a member
at that time. "The emphasis was no longer on golf," he gives
as a reason. "The emphasis was on residential." Cherry Valley,
like many golf courses, snakes through a housing development. He says
the conjunction is not always good for the course, often compromising
He wanted his course to be for golf only. No swimming pool, no tennis,
and definitely no family room decks overlooking the links.
Moore financed the purchase and early development of the Ridge with
his own money. Cash from early memberships carried the project along.
He now has a construction loan to finance the building of a club house,
which is set for a late-summer ground breaking. The rustic club house,
to be build of stone and logs, says "the Rockies," or perhaps
"the Adirondacks." It will include a 75-seat restaurant in
its "great hall."
At capacity, the Ridge will have 275 members. Moore says 205 people
have signed up to date. The cost of a membership is now $105,000,
and will rise, he says, to about $150,000 by the time the last members
sign on. This one-time fee entitles a member — and his wife and
his children — to unlimited golf. It doesn’t matter whether the
member is a single man or woman, or a married individual with a mate
and seven children, as long as each child is under 23 and living at
home, the price of membership is the same.
Annual dues will be charged, and are to be calculated on a year-by-year
"The course is very private, very exclusive," says Moore.
Each and every person who plays a round must be a member or must be
accompanied by a member. No unaccompanied players are allowed, he
emphasizes, saying this is different from the policy at many other
courses. Corporations can purchase memberships, but only in the name
of one executive. More commonly, he says, golf clubs allow a corporation
to include a number of individuals on the membership.
Moore is quick to differentiate his golf club from Jasna Polana, the
Princeton Tournament Players Club. "We’re totally different from
Jasna," he says. "They’re really a corporate club. The majority
there is guest play."
But while the Ridge is not a corporate club, Moore says he expects
a great deal of business will be conducted on his fairways. A member
can put together a foursome by inviting three business associates
or potential clients. No cash will change hands, says Moore. The member’s
account will be billed — probably something in the area of $100
— for each guest’s play.
In addition to the golf course, the Ridge will have
a 25-acre practice area, including a "very large" driving
range, putting greens, pitching greens, a sand shot area, and a section
where golfers can work on their short games.
Golfers at all levels and of both genders are welcome. There are up
to six or seven tee boxes on each hole, Moore says, explaining that
this means the beginner will not be overwhelmed and the polished golfer
will be challenged. There will be no "ladies tee times." On
the course, says Moore, everyone is equal.
One of the three pros Moore has signed up is a woman. She is
Jaskol from Winged Foot in Westchester. She is the associate pro.
The assistant pro is
head pro is
Moore, who arrives at The Ridge at or before dawn seven days a week,
still devotes substantial time to his accounting practice. For his
wife, who is building the membership and scheduling events, the Ridge
is a full-time job.
Moore says he doesn’t expect to make an enormous amount of money from
his dream come true, his private golf course. He says he will be content
with break even, or a little better. Meanwhile, some of his members
have nearly tripled their investments — at least on paper. The
first memberships sold for $40,000. Members who decide to resign could,
potentially, make a fair amount on that investment.
As for Moore, he is looking forward to getting in some golf. "During
the past few years, I’ve only played when I’ve been traveling,"
he says. His handicap is 14, a number he plans to ratchet down when
his golf club is open, and running smoothly, and he can get out and
actually enjoy it.
— Kathleen McGinn Spring
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