Jen’s Links at LBI a Hit With Mini-Golfing Masses So Far

By David Biggy | Jul 17, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy Miniature golfers of all ages packed the Low Tide course at Jen’s Links at LBI on July 5. So far, the reception of the two-course venue has been largely positive.

Barnegat Light, NJ — As she knocked down putt after putt through the “Low Tide” course of Jen’s Links at LBI, Magdalema Sulich didn’t seem intimidated in the least. In fact, she appeared so calm with every stroke, nobody would have guessed it was her first time playing miniature golf.

“We have it in Poland, but it’s not popular,” said Sulich, visiting Long Beach Island for the first time alongside boyfriend and former University of Colorado football player John Lisella, whose family has been coming to Loveladies during the summer since his childhood. “Everybody is shocked I did so well, but I loved it. I really enjoyed the hole where the ball goes into the water and through the log.”

No doubt, hole No. 11 on the “Low Tide” course was a popular one on July 5 – the day after the venue in Barnegat Light marked its second month in operation – but it likely wasn’t the only one, since both 18-hole courses had a steady stream of golfers plowing through from the minute manager-on-duty Robert Hanselmann unlocked the doors at 10 a.m.

“So far it’s been great,” he said. “It’s been really busy, especially on weekends, since we opened in May. We get our rushes when it’s sunny, but on cloudy days it’s been busy the whole day. It’s hard to say how many people have gone through either course, because we don’t have a turnstile, but the numbers for the rest of the summer are looking really good.”

Playing as part of an eight-person group, which broke into foursomes for ease of play and included Sulich, John, Michelle and Julia Lisella, Thomas Close, daughters Jackie and Gyanna and husband Todd, Yady Russell said the crew drove by and decided to stop and play a round.

“Todd’s sister mentioned it to us, and when we saw it we had to play,” said Yady, who had played miniature golf in her native Colombia and on LBI prior to last Friday. “I usually do pretty good, but not today. This is a difficult course, but I love it. I love the way it’s set up.”

Plumstead residents and family friends Ron, Karma and Taylor Rette and Chris, Jennifer and Christopher Cameroni each had their own reasons to be impressed with Jen’s Links. They first played the “High Tide” course before taking a break for something to eat at the concession stand and outdoor patio, then went through the “Low Tide” course.

“We have a summer home in Surf City, but we usually go crabbing up here so we saw that this was being built last year,” said Ron Rette. “What’s nice about having this course here is that you can make a day trip out of it. You can go to the lighthouse, do some fishing or crabbing, get something to eat and play miniature golf. It’s worth the trip up to this part of the Island.”

Chris Cameroni referred to the Harris Miniature Golf-designed courses as “challenging, but in a good way,” while son Christopher claimed the courses “have a better design than others I’ve played on the Island,” and Taylor Rette added the Jen’s Links courses are suited “for players of all ages.”

Meanwhile, Karma Rette said she was “pleasantly surprised by the price.”

“It’s really a good value if you’re playing both courses,” she said. “And the staff is so nice here. They really make it a comforting place to play.”

Surf City resident MaryAnn Lee – visiting for the first time with her niece, Christy Ihrig, and her children, Anderson and Ryan, along with her granddaughters, Harper and Rowan – has played every course on the Island at some point during the past 73 years, and she called Jen’s Links “impressive.”

“This is a very unique course in the way it brings the historical parts of the Island into the mix,” Lee said. “All the local elements really adds flavor to the experience of playing here.”

Harper – conceding that Island Golf in Surf City remains her favorite – gave Jen’s Links an 8 on a 1-10 scale, referring to it as “very creative.” Her younger sister also enjoyed the “Low Tide” course, noting the subtle undulations on many of the fairways and greens.

“It was a little bit hard,” Rowan said. “It was challenging with the way the ball would roll.”

Not surprisingly, Hanselmann said the management has received plenty of positive feedback from customers along with a few constructive criticisms. He said there’s still some work to be done “to make the courses perfect, or as close to it as we can get.

“A few people have given us some insights on how to improve some of the holes,” he said. “We’re listening to what people like and dislike, and we’re already starting to plan ways to implement some changes to improve things. This course was always intended to be a living, breathing thing, changing with the tides, so to speak, so we’re OK with making some small changes to make it a better experience for everybody visiting us.”

Hanselmann said one of the biggest criticisms has been that there’s no “catch hole” at the end of the courses, typically used at other courses as a way to retrieve players’ balls as they complete play and possibly offer a prize, such as a free game for the next visit.

“We’ve lost some balls because a lot of people don’t know what to do with them after they’re finished playing,” he said. “We have a bucket out there on the rail, but some people just don’t think to put their balls in it and walk out with them. We’re going to work on adding a 19th hole somewhere at the end, so we can offer a free game for a hole-in-one and get the balls back. We’re definitely going to make some improvements.”

— David Biggy

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