The century-old Mountain Ridge Country Club in north-east New Jersey, is a Donald Ross design that was founded in 1912 by frustrated Jewish golfers unable to join nearby private country clubs. The site they offered Ross for their course appears modest at first, but boasts two of the most important ingredients for quality golf, and they are space and scale. Even today, the fact that the club has largely done well to keep internal trees under control means there is a breathing space between holes that helps to give them a genuine sense of quality and grandeur.
Mountain Ridge is a real golfing surprise packet, with its well-preserved Ross design oozing both class and simple olde-world character. The natural ground contours were beautifully incorporated into the holes by Ross, and his greens are immense and built with some truly dizzying internal shape. Putting from above the pin here in summer is a real recipe for disaster, but so too is missing in any of his distinctive greenside bunkers. More often than not deep traps line the entrance to the green, complicating play for those unable to hit their tee shot right down the middle of the fairway. As is the case on countless classic courses in this part of the country, the rough is also extremely penal making precise ball striking imperative if hoping to score well.
Like most of the best golden age courses, the strength of Mountain Ridge is that it is challenging for good golfers and a joy for the average amateur. There might be a little too much dense green grass around playing areas, but with broad fairways and big greens this is a test that most can handle and the vast majority will thoroughly enjoy playing. In a very strong golf region, Mountain Ridge stands out as one of the real highlights of northern New Jersey.