Say “New York” to many and the likely association gravitates to Manhattan — the bustling borough — the magnet that draws people from around the globe.
Those who bring their golf clubs will find Manhattan a lonely place though — save for a quick visit to Chelsea Piers on the west side of Manhattan that provides an active practice range and is the only direct connection to the game.
But those intent on finding a meaningful golf connection — one available to the masses — can head to the immediate north and neighboring Westchester County.
Westchester County is the noted home turf for some of the finest private clubs in all of America. Names such as Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, Hudson National, to name just a few, are among the most rightly celebrated golf courses in the world. The lone main stumbling block? You will need a member to provide an invitation to play.
Quality public golf options do exist in Westchester and they span the scale in terms of challenges provided and costs charged. Westchester County owns and operates six (6) facilities and there are other options that provide a “country club” environment for golfers interested in a privately owned daily fee operated experience.
Off the course Westchester provides a mixture of urban, suburban and rural landscapes. The majestic Hudson River is the western boundary and the Long Island Sound provides a water frontage on the southeastern side. Westchester provides the perfect mixture — close enough access for the Big Apple but with enough top tier elements that make going there a special treat all into itself.
WHERE TO PLAY …
Opened for play in 2008 — Pound Ridge is the home of the only design by renowned architect Pete Dye in The Empire State. Located on the New York / Connecticut border, Pound Ridge is situated on 172 acres of rolling terrain. Dye was assisted with his son Perry and construction manager / lead shaper Michael Langkau. Built for golfers who relish a supreme challenge the layout is stocked with demanding shots that illuminate the tiniest of cracks in one’s game. From the tips Pound Ridge plays 7,165 yards as a par-72. The course rating is 76.0 with a 150 slope. No misprint.
Pay heed to Clint Eastwood’s famous Dirty Harry expression — “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Otherwise, you will be making a steady and consistent donation to the Pound Ridge ball fund. Be forewarned — the first three holes put you on notice right away — especially the arduous long par-4 2nd. Being properly warmed-up pays major dividends. On the inner half of holes — one of the best short par-3’s in all of Westchester comes at the 15th — the green angled behind a water hazard which includes a massive slab of rock devilishly located just beyond the putting surface. Frightening indeed without the proper execution.
Pound Ridge charges a hefty sum to play — in excess of $200 in season on weekends & holidays — although off peak rates are quite competitive. Playing in November costs $150 thru 1 PM — $100 afterwards. The fee includes a power cart and 9-hole rates are also available.
Pound Ridge is packed into a cramped piece of land, despite that – hats off to Pete Dye and his talented team in maxing out the vast array of different hole types encountered. Over the last few years the course has widened playablilty but make no mistake about it — Pound Ridge will “pound” you if you cannot play to a high level.
Located Pound Ridge, NY – T (914) 764-5771 – www.poundridgegolf.com
One of the great virtues in playing the 9-hole course at Doral Arrowwood is how well the overall course and facility work together. Opened in 1990 the par-35 3,115 yards course plays to a 69.4 CR and 130 SL when playing the course twice. Doral Arrowwood fits snugly and the layout by architect Robert von Hagge is sufficiently challenging. The course requires the wherewithal to keep the ball in play. There’s sufficient room but bear in mind there are severe moguls just off many of the fairways — get too near and the opportunity for a recovery shot is doubtful. Sacrificing distance for placement is what pays dividends.
Doral Arrowwood was created to provide a quick golf outlet for many in the area on business. It works well from that vantage point and there is a quality practice facility which gives golfers the wherewithal to properly warm-up prior to the round.
Doral Arrowwood gives you satisfaction in indulging your golf appetite — quick, fun and accessible to all the amenities a quality facility can provide. Just be forewarned — Doral Arrowwood can be a major magnet for families with young children on the weekends given the range of services provided so visits can sometimes be a bit crowded and noisy. Fortunately, the golf course provides a means to escape the commotion.
Located Rye Brook, NY – T (844) 214-5500 – www.doralarrowwood.com
Designed by Tom Winton and opened in 1940 — Sprain Lake is one six (6) county-owned golf facilities. The most noted dimension concerning Sprina Lake is the terrain the course features. The property is very attractive and provides a welcome disconnection from daily life. The downside is that the course is in need of a makeover to really showcase what it provides and there are plans in the works to do just that. Not long at 6,110-yards, the par-70 sports a 69.1 CR and 124 SL.
Sprain Lake has the potential to be an even better layout. Getting a solid makeover would go a long way in providing residents and non-residents with both a fun and scenic course to play. The details will need to be sorted but should that come to pass then Sprain Lake can be a even better course.
Located Yonkers, NY – T (914) 779-9827 – www.golf.westchestergov.com/sprain-lake-golf-course
The youngest of the six county-owned facilities — opening in 2004. Hudson Hills is also the finest of that grouping of layouts. Designed by Mark Mungeam, Hudson Hills provides an immediate golfing test as you stand on the first tee. The long par-4 provides a wonderful vista of the property and mandates well-executed shots to the opening par-4 hole. Managed by Billy Casper Golf — the atmosphere at Hudson Hills centers around providing a daily fee golf connection that goes far beyond the basic “muni” layout.
Hudson Hills offers plenty of hole variety and the challenge is most notably present when playing the inner half of holes. There’s room but none accepts haphazard play. Turf conditions can vary but generally are beyond the basic patterns one normally sees at taxpayer-owned courses. Playing from the appropriate tees helps immensely in terms of the enjoyment you can derive. From the championship markers the course plays to a 73.7 CR and 139 SL.
Located Ossining, NY – T (914) 864-3000 – www.hudsonhillsgolf.com
The most northern Westchester layout — Mohansic is the second oldest course owned by Westchester County — opening in 1926 and the handiwork of architect Tom Winton. Situated on rolling terrain Mohansic is well-crafted in testing better players while not being so penal as to thoroughly discourage new players and higher handicaps. There are blind tee shots and the rolling fairways often provide for uneven lies.
The key at Mohansic is handling the inner half of holes which is the more demanding side. Pay particular attention to the 14th and 15th holes — consecutive par-4’s that require well-placed shots from tee-to-green. The course is rated 72.2 with a slope of 130. Playing to a max of 6,558 yards the par-70 course was, until the opening of Hudson Hills, the most challenging of the county-owned courses.
Located Yorktown Heights – T (914) 862-5283 – www.golf.westchestergov.com/mohansic-golf-course
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OVERALL GOLF ASSESSMENT — The disparity between the quality of the top tier private clubs has been narrowed in the last few years and that’s a clear gain for those not able to access any of them. Public golf in Westchester has clearly advanced from the pedestrian level that existed 25 years ago. There are options and the various price points and different packages bodes well for the broader masses. The key issue is can the publicly owned courses continue to improve and provide a quality starting point for those looking to get started in golf.
WHERE TO STAY …
Located in Rye Brook with convenient location just off I-287. Facility is functional in all respects but needs a bit of a makeover to match what competitors are offering. www.Hilton.com/Rye_Brook
*Tarrytown House Estate
Located in Tarrytown approximately 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan and minutes from the Tappan Zee Bridge. Superb location away from the hustle and bustle and located on 26-acres — provides stunning views of the Hudson River landscape. Featuring two (2) mansions — King and Biddle — the estate is a very short drive away from the historic Village of Sleepy Hollow. Food quality is acceptable but certainly not exceptional. www.tarrytownhouseestate.com
Provides a slew of different options for the visitor to enjoy when staying in or around the Rye Brook area. The 9-hole course is complimented with a pool, health club and tennis. Specializes in corporate and business hospitality but also does well with visiting families and couples. Rooms are comfortable and located nearby to all the services provided. www.doralarrowwood.com
Pound Ridge provides a golf / lodging package that’s only 15-20 minutes from the course. The Delamar is an upscale lodging site located in the heart of Greenwich, CT — featuring 82 deluxe rooms and suites and 500 feet of waterfront and private docks. There is a golf package offered seven days a week and includes a round of golf person and one night’s accommodations. Weekday rates start at $455 — weekends at $499 – single occupancy. Value added additions include: golf shoe and club rental; bottle of champagne / wine delivered to the room; 10% off merchandise at Pound Ridge golf shop; and 10% off sports massage at the Spa at Delamar. Top tier in all respects and worth a visit when in area. www.delamargreenwich.com