Course Name: Minerals Golf Club
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr./Roger Rulewich (1987)
Location: Vernon, New Jersey
History: Minerals Golf Club was built in 1987 by the duo of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Roger Rulewich and is part of Crystal Springs Resort along with Ballyowen, Wild Turkey, Crystal Springs, Black Bear, and Cascades. It is the only 9-hole course of the group and only course to offer foot golf.
Conditions: 7/10, Although we played late in the season, Minerals was still in strong shape with lush fairways and rough and well-conditioned bunkers. The greens had been aerated and frozen so they were obviously not in peak condition.
Value: 7/10, Minerals offers good deals online with rates usually under $25.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 31 2305 31.5 114
White 31 2044 30.3 108
Red 31 1726 31.0 103
Yellow 31 1261 N/A N/A
Hole Descriptions: Ballyowen is considered by many the best public course in New Jersey, but golfers are often unaware that Crystal Springs actually has six public courses, making it one of the bigger resorts in the U.S. The Minerals Course is the only 9-hole option and is marketed as the “family” course. At just a par 31, this is an accurate description but there are some strong holes out here on a very hilly property in northwestern New Jersey. I enjoy this course, think it offers strong variety and value, and feel it is one of the better 9-hole public courses in the state.
The opening hole is a 346 yard tight, uphill par 4 that turns slightly left. With trees on either side, this hole is further defended by bunkers on the right at 230 and 250 yards. This approach plays uphill to a large, left-to-right sloped green with two tiers and a bunker short. I don’t have any strong negative feelings towards foot golf, but I must say it’s confusing seeing two flags on every hole. My partner and I both mistakenly went for the foot golf flag on this approach because the real green is slightly hidden around the corner.
After a lengthy and tiring walk up the side of a mountain, the 178 yard par 3 2nd awaits. A very strong one-shotter, this hole plays slightly uphill over creeks to a perched green defended by a false front and bunkers on either side.
The 363 yard par 4 3rd hole features a beautiful downhill teeshot from an elevated teebox to a generous fairway that narrows significantly with a bunker down the left at 250 yards. After this point, the fairway plays severely downhill with a diagonal creek running through it about 270 yards from the teebox. Golfers must carry this creek on their approach to a narrow, undulating green defended by bunkers on either side.
At 181 yards, the 4th hole is a difficult par 3 featuring a significant carry over water the entire way to a shallow, back-to-front sloped, two-tiered green. The hills and rocky backdrop behind this green enhance its visuals.
The 5th hole is the shortest par 4 on the course as a 323 yard dogleg right. A fairly forgettable hole, this fairway is generous until about 230 yards when it turns right with a bunker down the right. From here, golfers are left a simple pitch into a two-tiered, back-to-front sloped green defended by a bunker left.
At a prodigious 231 yards, the 6th hole at Minerals is a challenging and beautiful par 3 that’s easily my favorite hole on the course. Playing downhill with a beautiful backdrop, this hole features a fairway down the left but requires a forced carry over a valley of fescue to reach a large, back-to-front sloped green defended by bunkers short and right.
The 407 yard par 4 7th hole is a deserving number 1 handicap and another memorable hole. A severe dogleg left, this hole appears to have a minuscule fairway from an elevated teebox, as tall trees down the left around 160 yards obscure the fairway. Given that the dogleg occurs around 180 yards, the golfer should be trying to cut the corner over these trees but doing so requires a lengthy carry and leap of faith. A trio of hidden bunkers down the left between 180 and 220 yards further complicates the hole. From the start of the dogleg, this hole plays severely uphill to a large green with a back-right plateau defended by bunkers on either side. Pars here are well-earned.
After two difficult holes, Minerals closes in somewhat weak fashion with two par threes. The 8th hole is the tougher of the two playing 176 yards slightly downhill. A hidden creek runs just short of a flat, relatively small green also defended by bunkers left, long, and right.
It feels like the architects ran out of space by the time you reach the 9th at just 100 yards. Requiring a pitch over a creek to a back-to-front sloped green, this par 3 feels more like a “Bye” 19th hole than actual closer.
General Comments: While nearby courses at the Resort have practice facilities, Minerals does not so your first swings are often rusty here. While walking is an option, this is a very difficult course to walk given the elevation changes and distance between holes. Pace of play was very strong when I played.
Verdict: The only 9-hole course at Crystal Springs Resort, Minerals offers strong value, decent variety, and good conditions on a hilly terrain. At just a par 31, this is a course I recommend to both novices and better golfers looking for some practice.