OLD BRIDGE – Come next spring, the township will open its very own golf course – Old Bridge Golf Club at Rose and Lambertson.
“It’s a project that has been talked about for decades,” Mayor Owen Henry said. “Land was acquired 30 years ago to have a golf course in town. [Previous administrations] got close a few times as it was advertised, posted and signed, but it just never came to fruition because of [outside financial] circumstances beyond our control.”
Three decades later, Henry said his administration is moving forward with construction of a golf course at no cost to the taxpayers because of redevelopment plans happening in other parts of the township.
Efrem Gerszberg, principal and president of 2020 Acquisitions, a national real estate development company, agreed to build an 18-hole golf course, a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with patio, a pro shop and food amenities, miniature golf and a putt and driving range at the former Rose Farm site.
The area is at the intersection of Amboy and Lambertson roads, which has been designated open space for future recreation.
The design of the golf course is largely driven by existence of wetlands and environmental constraints on the property. There are numerous ponds to help irrigation and water conservation on site, according to Township Planner Veena Sawant.
Also included in the plans are 110 parking spaces on the east side of clubhouse and a 5,000-square-foot maintenance building with 10 parking spaces.
Henry, Gerszberg, Sawant, Business Administrator Himanshu Shah and Township Engineer Nicole Shapiro appeared before the Planning Board on March 24 to update the board on the golf course project.
Shah said both the Rose and Lambertson tracts were purchased through Green Acres funding, which provide restrictions on rate charges. The proposed rate charge will be a three-tier rate for residents, statewide and out of state.
“A lower rate will be provided for township residents as required under Green Acres rules,” he said.
Henry said the golf course will impact the entire township, improve the quality of life for those who golf and provide an attraction to bring people to Old Bridge.
“It’s unique because there’s not a lot of golf courses being built these days,” he said. “We were adamant it would be open to the public and include activities for every age group with miniature golf. Not only does it give introduction to golfing at a young age, but [it provides an activity for] our special needs population with Camp Robin.”
Gerszberg said the golf course in Old Bridge is “first and foremost a community asset” for all ages and welcomes golfers and non-golfers alike.
“If you are into golf, you are worried about the health of golf,” he said. “We are worried about the next generation. The pandemic has been good for golf getting the younger people out.”
Gerszberg noted the miniature golf will have fancy water features and hills. He said amenities at the clubhouse will feature easy pick food items including ice cream.
Board member Kasey Lenning said he appreciates having a golf course and miniature golf so close to home. He said having three young children at home, it will be a fun family activity.
And although he is not a golfer, Lenning said it may spark some interest for him to start playing golf.
Minor site construction for the golf course commenced this week. The township plans for the miniature golf and driving range portion of the site to open in spring 2023 and the entire golf course open between Memorial Day and July 4 of next year.
Gerszberg has estimated the pitch and putt and mini golf course could generate more than $175,000 of cash flow for the township.
Management of the golf course is going to be outsourced, Shah said. The first five years, the redeveloper will operate the course. As part of the agreement, the township is guaranteed revenue regardless if the golf course makes profit or not, which Shah said is a “win-win” for the township.
Gerszberg is working with Stephen-Kay Golf Course Design architects, based in Egg Harbor City, for the design of the golf course. 2020 Acquisitions is spending $8 million to develop the golf course and modern amenities, which they will donate to the township.
As for the history of the farmhouse on the site, Henry said the farmhouse has deteriorated to the point of no return. He said he has commissioned a landscape artist to paint a rendering of the farmhouse and will work with the Madison-Old Bridge Historical Society to provide a plaque with factual years of when the house was built and what went on in the house during the farming days.