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Sleepy Hollow Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

SLEEPY HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Scarborough-on-Hudson, NY – C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, A.W. Tillinghast

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Full disclosure: I love this place.  Sleepy Hollow is, quite simply, one of my favorite places in the country to play golf.  Exceptional golden age architecture, spectacular views, exciting shots, fabulous conditions — Sleepy Hollow has everything a golfer could want.  And to top it off, Sleepy Hollow is the course that sparked my interest in the work Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor, and subsequently my love for golf architecture generally.  So I’m biased.

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15th and 16th Greens

And of course, I’ve been wanting to do a photo tour of Sleepy Hollow for quite some time.  As with my tour of Old Town Club, Sleepy Hollow’s recent near miss on Golf Digest’s Top-100 list provided a perfect impetus and incentive to pull this tour together and shine a bit of a light on a place that, for me, is ranked about 100 spots too low.

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The “lesser” of the par-3s at Sleepy Hollow

The photographs you see below were taken over the course of two visits to Sleepy Hollow (which is the reason for the differences in light, course conditions and pin positions).

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Waking up at Sleepy

I hope you enjoy the tour.

SLEEPY HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB

Sleepy Hollow was built on the 338-acre Woodlea estate, which the club acquired in 1911.  C.B. Macdonald designed the golf course, with Seth Raynor on the ground as engineer, and the original 18 holes were completed that same year.  In the late 1920s, AW Tillinghast expanded the course to 27 holes, creating several new holes for the 18-hole “Upper” and 9-hole “Lower” courses.  Via the passage of time and the intrusion of several interim architects of more modern vintage, the course lost touch with its golden age roots for a period.  George Bahto and Gil Hanse were brought in to restore the course’s rightful Macdonald heritage.

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The result speaks for itself.  In its present form, the main course at Sleepy Hollow is rife with beautiful interpretations of many of the Macdonald templates, including Redan, Punchbowl, Double Plateau, and one of the most gorgeous Shorts this side of Fishers Island.  While the property has been owned by Colonel Eliot Shepard and William Rockefeller, and the course has been worked on by some of the great architects in golf, including Tillinghast and Hanse, Sleepy Hollow today stands clearly as a shining example of CB Macdonald’s design tenets and as a fitting monument to George Bahto.  Quite a lineage.

The Clubhouse

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No tour of Sleepy Hollow is complete without at least a brief discussion of its magnificent clubhouse.  Some of the best courses in the country are identifiable by their clubhouses alone, and in a few instances — Winged Foot, Oakmont, Myopia Hunt, Ridgewood, and Shinnecock, to name but a few — they become iconic in their own right.  Sleepy Hollow’s is one such clubhouse.

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Looming high above, the clubhouse, designed by Stanford White in 1893 as the manor house, is the first thing the golfer notices about Sleepy Hollow upon entering the gates, and it provides quite the first impression.  As the long entrance road makes way up toward the building, the loping route provides views of several holes on the lower course, the driving range, the stables, and the many rock formations that remind the golfer that he’s in Westchester.  But all the while, the presence of the massive clubhouse dominates.

The entrance road culminates at the south face of the clubhouse, seen in the photo below.  The parking lot is in the rear, to the right.

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The clubhouse has been the scene of several television shows and movies, and has hosted countless events.  And with views like this from its spacious lawn, it’s easy to see why.

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It is a beautiful building and a fitting way to begin a day at Sleepy Hollow.

The Scorecard, Logo and Haunted Bridges

A golfer senses a theme at Sleepy Hollow.  The club has named each of its holes in reference to Washington Irving’s story, which was set in the surrounding hills.  The course itself stretches to 6880 yards and plays quite pleasantly at 6377 yards from the white tees (which I use for this tour) to a par of 70.

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The club’s logo of the Headless Horseman, likewise taken from the Irving story, is one of the best in golf.

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Finally, the Haunted Bridges, encountered on the 3rd, 10th and 16th holes, appear to have been built by Irving’s contemporaries and provide a unique and fitting touch.

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THE GOLF COURSE AT SLEEPY HOLLOW

Hole 1 – “Sunnyside” – 406yds – Par 4

There is no more enjoyable way to start a round of golf that from a first tee that sits in the shadow of the clubhouse, as is the case at Sleepy Hollow.  The Hudson river just peeks out above the treeline, giving the golfer a small taste of what’s to come.

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The first hole is a downhill dogleg right which, while tree lined, has a more generous landing area and more room to work the ball than it first appears.  The ideal position is the left half of the fairway.

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The first green is of a good size, but the bunkering on both sides and the visually deceptive framing bunker short left make for a challenging first iron.

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The fairway runs seamlessly into the green, allowing for the ball to be run on to the putting surface, but the green slopes up from front to back.  The deep Macdonald bunkering is felt immediately.

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The view back up the first hole — steeper than it appears, and a solid start to what will become a memorable round.

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Hole 2 – “Outlook” – 321yds – Par 4

Reminiscent of the first hole at Myopia, the second hole is a short, uphill par-4 defended by a relatively severe, well-protected green.  The “eyeglasses” bunkers short of the fairway are not in play, but make for an appealing visual effect.

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The approach to the second green will almost always be from an uphill lie, making for frequent short-right misses.  This deep-and-steep wraparound front-right bunker is waiting to catch those misses.

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The climb to the second green at Sleepy Hollow is the first point on the course where the golfer is treated to both the stunning views of the Hudson River . . .

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. . . and to the sight of Sleepy Hollow’s one-of-a-kind walking bridges.  This is the point in the round where the golfer knows, beyond a doubt, that a special day awaits.

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Hole 3 – “Haunted Bridge” – 153yds – Par 3

Aptly named, the third hole may be the best par 3 among the standout collection of one-shotters at Sleepy Hollow.  Played over a deep ravine to a green elevated just enough so that the golfer cannot see the entire putting surface, the third provides one of the most exciting tee shots on the front nine at Sleepy Hollow.

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The way in which the land was sculpted and the third green was benched into the hill will appeal to even the most jaded GCA enthusiasts.

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To access the green, the golfer crosses the Haunted Bridge for the first time.  Simply beautiful.

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Hole 4 – “Brom Bones” – 404yds – Par 4

Cresting the hill after putting out on the third green, the golfer is afforded a wide view from the fourth tee over a large, open section of the golf course.  The fourth hole plays out to an open fairway that dips down, then crests a small rise before arriving at the green.

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Longer shots may clear the rise, offering the golfer an unobstructed view of the putting surface.  For those that do not, an aiming marker is provided behind the green.

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A precision approach shot is required, as the fourth green is well guarded with deep bunkers, and is itself riddled with undulations, allowing for difficult pin positions.

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Hole 5 – “High Tor” – 403yds – Par 4

Playing back in the direction of the fourth tee, the fifth hole plays over the rise in the fairway (which is an easy carry for all players), then drops quickly before again rising to meet the green.  The view from the crest of the rise is spectacular.

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The encroaching bunkers, which begin well short of the fourth green, provide for an added challenge on the player’s approach.  Shots that come up short are in danger of rolling several yards back down the fairway.

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Approaches that come up short face this shot, with only the green (with its false front and varying internal mounds) and the pin in view.

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The fifth green.  No words necessary.

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Hole 6 – “Headless Horseman” – 458yds – Par 5

The first three shot hole at Sleepy Hollow is short on the card but plays longer, thanks to the hill that must be climbed before reaching the second fairway.  Aggressive, longer hitters can carry the steep, mounded wall but many players are better off simply laying up short of it.  Right is dead, and the massive grass bunker on the left side of the hill just wishes it was dead.

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Once reaching the upper tier of fairway, the golfer must contend with the principal’s nose bunkering, which sits smack in prime lay-up territory some sixty yards short of the green.

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The sixth green slopes substantially from back to front — approaches that end up beyond the hole will result in a very tricky putt back down to the hole.

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Hole 7 – “Tarry Brae” – 193yds – Par 3

In your author’s humble opinion, the best downhill reverse-redan hole in existence.

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The steepness of the green from high left to low right is so pronounced that balls routinely roll for 30 seconds or more as they funnel down toward the pin.  A wonderfully exciting hole to play.

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Hole 8 – “Sleepy Hollow” – 439yds – Par 4

The eighth hole begins the stretch of holes that were originally laid out by Tillinghast, and which are, for the most part, on a flatter, narrower portion of the property.  Nevertheless, the rolling terrain provides for many interesting shots, as first seen on the par-4 eighth hole.  Off the tee, the preferred result is the left side, but the partially hidden low left fairway bunker must be avoided.  A large mound in the right half of the fairway can scatter balls in any direction.

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The eighth green is set perfectly among the hills and rocky outcroppings.  A false front repels indifferent approaches.

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The eighth green, with the eleventh green complex visible behind.

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Hole 9 – “Katrina’s Glen” – 377yds – Par 4

The ninth provides a generous landing area for tee shots, but balls that end up short and right will face a blind approach to a small, well defended green.

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Tee shots that find the high left side of the fairway will have the preferred look down the center of the slightly elevated green.

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As shown in this photo, missing left is bad, but missing far left is awful.  Note the many appealing pin positions in the rippling green.

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Hole 10 – “The Lake” – 136yds – Par 3

As noted above, the 10th is probably the “worst” of Sleepy Hollow’s four one-shot holes, which should tell you everything you need to know about the high quality of the quartet that the course presents.

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The only hole at Sleepy Hollow with a true water hazard (the 12th has a small stream crossing it), what you see is what you get . . .

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. . . but it sure is pretty.

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Hole 11 – “Ichabod’s Elbow” – 371yds – Par 4

The offset teeing ground of the eleventh hole, benched into the side of the hill bordering the property, creates a soft dogleg right which favors a cut first shot.  While there are rugged, wooded areas on both sides of this hole, even bad shots are typically found and played.

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The eleventh’s key feature is its elevated green and surrounding green complex.  As you would expect, the elevation of the green makes the bunkers much deeper and much more penal as a hazard.

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The green is also one of the most undulating on the golf course . . .

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. . . and this raised section in the right rear of the putting surface makes for both some interesting putts and some impossible recoveries from misses left.

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The wonderfully constructed eleventh green complex, as viewed from the left side.

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Hole 12 – “Double Plateau” – 513yds – Par 5

The second and last par 5 at Sleepy Hollow, the twelfth winds left between the varied hills and mounds that mark this section of the golf course.  This hole was one of the most modified by Bahto and Hanse, and it is safe to assume that Macdonald would approve.

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The hole is reachable in two by longer players capable of positioning their tee shots in a spot that allows the dogleg to be negotiated.  Those laying up must contend with a small stream that winds across the fairway a few dozen yards short of the green and down the left side of the fairway.

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The three-tiered double plateau green is exceptionally built and, while severe in spots (as it should be) it is also large enough to accommodate accessible pin positions.  The steep fairway-cut slope fronting the green adds another layer of challenge, especially to front pins.

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A look back down the twelfth hole.

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Hole 13 – “Andre’s Lane” – 384yds – Par 4

The thirteenth marks the golfer’s return to the area of the course originally developed by Macdonald, and it’s an excellent hole.  A wide, gently inclined fairway slopes gently from high left to low right, and while a line up the left side is ideal, it also confronts two fairway bunkers and a cross-hazard. A line up the right is safer, but not only risks caroming into the rough, but also requires an approach from a less-than-ideal line over perhaps the deepest bunker on the course.  At Sleepy Hollow, such risk/reward decisions are confronted on a continual basis.

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The raised thirteenth green complex is one of your author’s favorites.  In addition to the extremely deep front right bunker, the complex features a pot bunker cut front left, along with a large expanse of fairway cut that extends well to the left of the green before culminating in a kick-slope that tumbles to the putting surface.  This unique setup allows for players to play safely away from the righthand bunker and either benefit from the built-in slope or to putt from above the left side of the green.  An old stone wall frames the rear of the green.  A wonderfully designed feature.

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The thirteenth green as viewed from the fourteenth tee, showing the large area of fairway cut grass.  Putting from up there is both challenging and fun.

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Hole 14 – “Homeward Bound” – 378yds – Par 4

Yet another aptly named hole, the fourteenth tee is set at the eastern corner of the property, the farthest point on the course from the clubhouse, and the next five holes stretch across the property and return the golfer home.  The tee shot on the fourteenth appears simple but is deceptively complex.  From the tee, the righthand bunker juts into the rising fairway. But this small hill not only obscures the green . . .

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. . . but hides a similar, though larger, lefthand cross bunker that sits just beyond the high point of the fairway.  The firm conditions and the now-downhill slope of the fairway will carry most balls that crest the hill left of center into this bunker.

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The fourteenth culminates in a narrow, deep green – one of the smallest on the course.  The green slopes relatively gently from front to back before abruptly ending and falling several feet to a right rear bunker or the rough below.

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From the right side, the golfer is treated to a long view of the green, the multi-tiered bunkers that separate the fourteenth and fourth greens, and the ever-present rocky surrounds of Sleepy Hollow.

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Hole 15 – “Punch Bowl” – 437yds – Par 4

The fifteenth is your author’s favorite hole at Sleepy Hollow, and it is fantastic.  An Alps/Punchbowl amalgamation, the combination of features found on this hole are unique in my experience, and together, they combine to form one of the most exciting, rewarding golf holes that I have ever played.  From the slightly elevated tee, only the first 400 yards of fairway are visible to the golfer, along with the right fairway bunker.

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The fairway is generous but canted rather substantially from high left to low right.  The left side of the fairway is ideal, and anything right of center runs a high risk of catching the right fairway bunker.

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The long approach shot is entirely blind, as the green sits some 20-30 feet below the fairway.  The perfect shot is played out over the right hand bunker, left of the aiming flag. As the golfer crests the fairway . . .

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. . . he is rewarded with the breathtaking view of the punchbowl green, with the sixteenth green behind and the Hudson River valley far below.

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Looking back, the proper route to the green is revealed.  One could never tire of playing this magnificent hole.

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Hole 16 – “Panorama” – 150yds – Par 3

One of the most beautiful one shot holes in the country, the Short at Sleepy Hollow plays back over the gorge that was first confronted on the third hole to a green ringed almost completely by a trench bunker.  The club has wisely removed all of the trees that once marred this spectacular view.

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Gorgeous from any angle, the sixteenth’s views hide a surprising amount of slope within its putting surface.

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The golfer again crosses the Haunted Bridge over the gorge on his way to the sixteenth green.  The way that the third and sixteenth holes were laid out over this terrain is a brilliant example of an architect making the most of a unique but difficult feature.

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Hole 17 – “Hendrik Hudson” – 433yds – Par 4

The seventeenth plays shorter than its yardage, as tee shots will roll forever.  Given the heavy cant of the fairway from left to right, however, care must be taken to properly place one’s tee shot or risk it rolling into the right rough for the cluster of fairway bunkers which are just out of view below the crest of the hill.

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The cluster of righthand fairway bunkers, as well as the extended fairway, are revealed as the golfer descends the seventeenth fairway.  The firm, fast conditions make these bunkers play far larger than their footprint.

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Level lies on approach are few and far between, making this narrow, bunkered green a difficult target.  The fairway runs seamlessly into the front of the green, however, leaving the option for a ground attack open.

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The greenside view of the long downhill penultimate hole.

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Hole 18 – “Mansion Rise” – 401yds – Par 4

While the seventeenth plays shorter than its yardage on the card, the eighteenth, leading back up to the iconic clubhouse, plays much longer than its listed 401.  While tee shots up the left side of this relatively narrow fairway will bounce down into ideal position, the lefthand fairway bunker must be avoided, as it makes reaching the green (or anywhere nearby) a virtual impossibility.

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The beautiful approach shot with the clubhouse directly behind the green (and, often, the lunch crowd observing play) provides one last pleasant memory of a golfer’s round.  While getting up and down from a left miss is tough, missing right can lead to a 30 yard uphill pitch.

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The green, following the slope of the land, is pitched substantially from back left to front right.  Putting back to a front pin is a challenge.

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Like the first tee, the final green at Sleepy Hollow sits mere steps from the clubhouse.

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Sleepy Hollow is a must not only for any fan of CB Macdonald, but for anyone with a love for golden age golf architecture or just a love of fun, exciting golf.  Head Professional David Young, Superintendent Tom Leahy and the club’s members are rightfully proud of their golf course and have acted as outstanding custodians of this treasure.  Soon, as more raters see Sleepy Hollow in its current form, it will assume its rightful place on every top 100 list there is.  But until then, it remains an underrated gem that everyone should try to see at least once.

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Pops lets fly on 16

I hope you enjoyed the tour.


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Fishers Island Course Tour by Jon Cavalier

FISHERS ISLAND – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Fishers Island, NY – Seth Raynor

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The Biarritz

Some golf courses are special.  We all know that feeling we get when we play one of these courses.  Our senses are heightened, our memories are sharpened, our spirits are lifted, and our love for the game of golf is strengthened and vindicated by the experience.

Fishers Island is a special golf course.

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The Short

Designed by CB Macdonald protege Seth Raynor and opened for play in 1926, Fishers Island Club sits at the eastern end of Fishers Island, which in turn sits in Long Island sound.  Fishers Island is in many ways a throwback club — it has resisted adding length, which has enabled it to preserve Raynor’s original intent as well as the enjoyable nature of a round there.  It is also one of very few remaining clubs to have avoided installing a fairway irrigation system, which provides for some of the firmest, fastest playing conditions that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing on the east coast.

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The Eden

I had the great pleasure of playing Fishers Island on a perfect September day.  Bright sun, 70 degrees, enough wind to keep things interesting.  The combination of the setting, the weather, the club and the golf course combined to make my day at Fishers Island one of the most memorable experiences of my golfing life.

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The Punchbowl

I had been somewhat reluctant to do a photo tour of Fishers Island as, quite frankly, I was concerned about the difficulty of doing the course justice.  To that end, you may notice that this tour has more photographs and less words than some of my past tours — Fishers is that kind of place.

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The Home

FISHERS ISLAND CLUB

As noted above, Fishers Island is a 1926 Seth Raynor design.  As such, it is chock full of excellent template holes — Redan, Biarritz, Eden, Short, Knoll, Cape, Road and Double Plateau are all present, and arguments can be made for several templates as the best in class.  Fishers Island remains largely unchanged from Raynor’s day — the course tips out at a par-72 6556 yards.  While it is not “suited for championship play,” Fishers Island is suited to provide golfers of all abilities with an extremely enjoyable, exciting and memorable round of golf.  More’s the pity that so many other clubs have abandoned that noble goal.

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Getting There – The Ferry

As my private aircraft was in for repairs, I was forced to take the more common route to Fishers Island — I drove up from Philadelphia and caught the 8am ferry.  That one must take a boat to get to Fishers Island only adds to the experience.  I have made many long drives to play golf and I always enjoy the time that such a drive provides to look forward to the coming round, anticipation building as the course draws closer.  The 45 minute ride on the Fishers Island Ferry across Block Island Sound only heightens that sense of anticipation and further differentiates the experience of a round at Fishers Island from other clubs.

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The Clubhouse

I like clubhouses that suit the environs.  The austere and imposing clubhouses of Winged Foot and Sleepy Hollow fit their surroundings as well as the casual and charming clubhouses of Eastward Ho and Myopia Hunt.  Fishers Island’s clubhouse reminds the player of a weekend escape or an isolated beach house.

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The Logo and Scorecard

The iconic Fishers Island logo is a simple green outline of Fishers Island on a white background, with the red pin placed carefully at the location of the Fishers Island clubhouse.  No words necessary.  I am a fan of this logo.

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As many Raynor courses do, Fishers Island provides the names of each individual hole on its scorecard.

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A routing of the golf course is also provided.

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The course plays to 6544 from the back tees and 6138 from the white tees, with each set playing to a Par 72.

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The course mascot.

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The Putting Green

The practice green sits mere steps from the clubhouse and right next to the first tee, and the view gives a hint of the many spectacular views to come.

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THE COURSE

Hole 1 – “Raynor’s Start” – 396 yards – Par 4

While the first at Fishers Island is one of the longest two shot holes on the course, the landing area is quite generous, with fescue separating the first fairway from the 18th and a small pond down the right that is in play for well struck shots.

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Note the browning of the fairway, due to the lack of fairway irrigation.  Fast, bouncy conditions tee to green!

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The first green is open in front across the full width of the fairway, allowing for balls to be run on.  This front pin is treacherous, as anything short will roll back, leaving a very delicate pitch or putt.

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This view from the left side of the first green illustrates Raynor’s penchant for pushing up his greensites, which deepen the greenside bunkers and add to the challenge of the approach.

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The view from behind the first green, with the gorgeous clubhouse above.

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Hole 2 – “Redan” – 172 yards – Par 3

The first of the usual Raynor quartet of one shot holes, the Fishers Island Redan is a softer (though quite beautiful) version of this traditional template.

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All of the required elements are present, but the effect of the right side kick slope and the tilt of the green is less pronounced than on other Redans.

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The view from the right side of the green.

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The view from the left side of the green.

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What this Redan lacks in severity, it makes up for in setting.  The view from the back of the second green.

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Hole 3 – “Plateau” – 335 yards – Par 4

Standing on the tee of the third hole at Fishers Island is where, for the first time player, the fact that he’s playing a truly special and unique golf course really starts to sink in.

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A short par 4, the third reminded me of the “Cliff Hangers” game from the Price Is Right — it climbs and climbs, until it stops and dives off a cliff.  The challenge off the tee is to carry as much of the ravine as desired so as to leave the correct distance for an approach.

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There are horizon greens, and then there’s the third at Fishers Island.

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Once summitted, the third green treats players to a 360 degree view which includes the clubhouse and the fourth hole (visible in the left hand side of the photo below).

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The third green is a hit it or else proposition, but long is extra-dead.

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The third green provides the first of many incredible views at Fishers Island.

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This look back at the third green complex gives the player a feel for the incredible job Raynor did in siting and building his greens.

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Hole 4 – “Punch Bowl” – 397 yards – Par 4

An Alps/Punchbowl combination, the fourth hole at Fishers Island is your author’s all-time favorite version of the punchbowl template.

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A visually arresting hole, the fourth plays out over a chasm to an elevated fairway bordered by woods on the left and a steep drop to the sound on the right.  The Alps feature provides visual interest off the tee and a point of aim.

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This view from the far right hand edge of the fairway reveals the green.  The pin is just barely visible on the left.

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The Alps feature makes nearly every approach shot into the fourth green blind.

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Upon ascending the Alps, the incomparable Punchbowl green is revealed.

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One of the deeper Punchbowls still in existence, the walls of the fourth green are five feet high in spots, nearly sheer, and cut to fairway height.

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The putting surface runs back to front and is bisected by an internal ridge that makes three-putting common.

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Just beautiful.

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Hole 5 – “Biarritz” – 207 yards – Par 3

Narrowly edging out the ninth at Yale and the ninth at Piping Rock for the title of your author’s favorite Biarritz, the fifth at Fishers Island plays uphill to a tiered Biarritz green surrounded by deep bunkers.  A wonderful setting for this template hole.

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There are worse places to miss than short on this hole.

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The fifth possesses an added degree of difficulty as a ridge runs through the rear of the putting surface perpendicular to the Biarritz swale.  Even a pin-high tee shot does not guarantee a par.

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In your author’s humble opinion, the most beautiful Biarritz in the world.

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Hole 6 – Olinda – 520 yards – Par 5

The first three shot hole at Fishers Island, the sixth begins with a tee shot over the crest of a ridgeline which obscures the landing area.

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Cresting the ridge reveals the spectacular natural terrain and the remainder of the hole.

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The firm, fast fairways coupled with the substantial undulations make for some highly entertaining shots here.

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A look back up the sixth fairway reveals some of the most rollicking terrain on the course.

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Hole 7 – “Latimer” – 363 yards – Par 4

Some consider the seventh hole the signature hole at Fishers Island.  I would’t argue.

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A mid-length par 4 made shorter by the fast, downhill fairway, the seventh culminates at a green that appears suspended over the sound.

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Even shorter hitters off the tee must be careful not to lose their ball to this hazard on the right.

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Anything missing left will run straight through into the greenside bunkers . . .

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. . . and anything long is wet.

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Hole 8 – “Road Hole” – 465 yards – Par 5

A short par 5, the eighth is perhaps the most difficult tee shot at Fishers Island.  The fairway is hemmed in tightly on both sides by long grasses and water, and the firm terrain will magnify any ball not squarely struck.  The ideal shot is off the redan-like mound running down the right side of the fairway.

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Nearly all safely hit tee shots will have a legitimate chance to go for this green in two.

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The Road-style eighth green as seen from the right side, with the road bunker rapping around the right rear.

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The eighth green and large fronting bunker, as viewed from the left side.

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Hole 9 – “Double Plateau” – 364 yards – Par 4

Another exciting, unique and extremely fun hole, the ninth plays over a large ridge which houses the course’s lone fairway bunker (easily carried by most players) and obscures the landing area and the remainder of the hole.

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From the top of the ridge, the remainder of the wonderful hole is revealed.

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In typical conditions, this hole is reachable by longer hitters willing to take the risk, as tee shots run forever down the back side of the ridge.

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The gorgeous double plateau green adds challenge and excitement to both the approach shot and the putts.

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This view shows the heavy contouring of the double plateau green . . .

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. . . as does this view from the left side of the green.

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Hole 10 – “Knoll” – 401 yards – Par 4

Perhaps the most difficult hole on the course, the tenth begins with a drive to a generous landing area.  Care should be taken to find the preferred side of the fairway, as a difficult approach awaits.

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A level lie is seldom found on the tenth, which only adds to the degree of difficulty faced on approach to the elevated green.

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The hill fronting the tenth green is steep.  Anything short will roll all the way back to the base of the hill some 40 yards short of the green, leaving a very difficult third shot.

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The horizon green makes judging the distance to the target very difficult.

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Par is a good score on this beautiful par 4.

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Hole 11 – “Eden” – 164 yards – Par 3

Some consider this hole Raynor/Macdonald’s finest Eden, and the finest in the US as well.  Your author agrees.

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Everything about this hole is perfect, from the construction and placement of the deep Hill and Strath bunkers . . .

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. . . to the horizon green . . .

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. . . to the spectacular setting of the hole itself.  A wonderful hole.

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The “Eden” peninsula, as viewed from the fifteenth fairway.

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Hole 12 – “Winthrop” – 389 yards – Par 4

The twelfth plays as a two-shot reverse Redan, with the tee shot hit over a cross ridge protruding from the left into the fairway.

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The green at the twelfth plays more like a traditional Redan than Fishers’s second.

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The fronting kick mound is larger and steeper, the front bunker is deeper and more hazardous . . .

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. . . and the green slopes more severely from front to back.

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A thrilling hole to play.

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Hole 13 – “Waterloo” – 400 yards – Par 4

A longer two shotter playing through a rolling fairway, the thirteenth is one of the few holes at Fishers Island on which the green is fronted by a hazard.

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Ponds front both the left and right sides of the approach short of the green, leaving only a narrow land bridge for the player to cross.

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The ideal approach at thirteen to a front pin is to land short of the green and allow the ball to bounce on.  As you can see, this leaves little room for error.

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The green itself is heavily undulated, and tilted significantly from back right to front left, making any conservative approach hit long a difficult two putt.

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The view from the right side of the thirteenth green.

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This section of the golf course (holes 11 through 15) is one of the rare portions of the course at Fishers Island where holes run parallel and are visible to the golfer.  This panoramic shot shows the thirteenth and eleventh greens.

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Hole 14 – “Cape” – 425 yards – Par 4

A sweeping dogleg left around a large pond, the 14th is yet another gorgeous hole.  I have been told that long hitters can attack this green directly – I was not confronted with that choice, and played down the prescribed righthand route.

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From the fairway, the player must carry the pond.  The closer the player dares to come to the pond off the tee, the shorter the approach will be.

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A large oak guards the rear of the fourteenth green.

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The green itself is set perfectly in a grove of trees at the base of a hill, and provides one of the day’s many incomparable views.

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Hole 15 – “Long” – 545 yards – Par 5

The longest of the three shot holes at Fishers Island is still not long by contemporary standards, and the generous fairway beyond the ridge allows players to have a go at the green in two.  There is more room left than it appears.

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The fast conditions that predominate at Fishers Island turn the par 5s into potential birdie holes, but also bring an added element of danger on every hole.

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As so many greens at Fishers Island are, the fifteenth green is open in front the full width of the fairway, which further incentivizes the player to attempt to get home in two.

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Deep bunkers await less than well struck efforts.

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Hole 16 – “Short” – 146 yards – Par 3

In your author’s opinion, the sixteenth is in competition, along with the sixteenth at Sleepy Hollow, for the most beautiful version of the “Short” template ever built.  Note that this green is no pushover.

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While this Short does not have the full wraparound bunkering like the Shorts at places like Sleepy Hollow, Whippoorwill and Fox Chapel, the more natural-looking surrounding bunkers here are perhaps more appropriate for the setting.

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The view of the sixteenth green from behind, with the tenth and twelfth greens in the distance.

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Hole 17 – “Coast Guard” – 415 yards – Par 4

A long, straight par 4, the penultimate hole at Fishers Island is also one of the more challenging.  Over a pond (carry is not an issue) to a relatively wide fairway bordered on both sides by long grasses and hazards, the seventeenth requires both accuracy and distance.

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Once more, the green is fully open to the fairway across the front.  One of my favorite features of this golf course.

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The seventeenth green is one of the most testing on the course — many internal ridges, mounds, and swales make lag putting from distance very challenging.  A tough par before the easier eighteenth.

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Hole 18 – “Home” – 452 yards – Par 5

A short par 5 finishing hole, the eighteenth at Fishers Island is a fantastic match play hole.

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At only a hair over 450 yards, many players will find it within their capabilities to reach this green in two.

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The green is slightly elevated, sloped steeply from back to front, and defended by a deep pot-like left bunker.  However, as with the other three shot holes at Fishers Island, the majority of the green is again open in front, allowing for long second shots to be run on to the putting surface.

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The green itself is multi-tiered, with high right and rear sections bordering a lower left section.  The slope is substantial enough that a player can attack pins on the lower left shelf by playing the ball off the high right section, similar to a Redan.

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This view from the left side of the final green reveals the many undulations of the putting surface.

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A beautiful conclusion to a special round of golf.

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After the Round – The Ferry Home

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Much like the pre-round ferry ride over to Fishers Island allows excitement and anticipation to build, the ferry back to the mainland gives the player a chance to think back on the special day he has just had, to reminisce about shots made and shots missed, to talk with his friends and playing companions about their shared experience, and to pause for a moment of reflection to consider how fortunate he is to call himself a golfer.

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Fishers Island is a special place.  While it is frequently a point of discussion as to whether it is over- or under-ranked on the various top-100 lists, no golfer would seriously debate that a day at Fishers Island is as good as it gets.  Were I left with just one round to play, I might choose to spend that round at Fishers Island — there is no higher compliment that I can give.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour.


3 Comments

Boston Golf Club Tour by Jon Cavalier

BOSTON GOLF CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Hingham, MA – Gil Hanse

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Boston has long been known as one of America’s best cities for golf.  With classic gems like Myopia Hunt Club, The Country Club at Brookline, Essex County Club, Salem Country Club, Kittansett and Eastward Ho!, as well as modern entries like Old Sandwich by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the best of Boston-area golf can rival anywhere.

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Enter Boston Golf Club.  I had the privilege of seeing this 2004 Gil Hanse design on a beautiful late-October afternoon, and while I had heard good things about the club previously, to say that Boston Golf Club exceeded my expectations would be a dramatic understatement.

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Every hole at BGC offers something worthwhile.  The golfer is put to strategic decisions constantly.  Despite its location, the playing corridors are wide, encouraging thoughtful placement of one’s ball.  And the setting is gorgeous.  Boston Golf Club is the best work I’ve seen by Gil Hanse, and I would recommend it without reservation to any golfer looking to play in the Boston area.

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I hope you enjoy the tour.

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The first thing a visitor notices upon arriving at Boston Golf Club is the wooded setting.  After turning into the entrance, marked only with a stone post engraved with the number “19”, the visitor winds his way up a curved drive to the gravel lot and walks up to the wooden-shingled clubhouse, built to look like a relic from the revolutionary war.

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The club has a well-appointed golf shop, locker rooms and a second-floor bar and grill with a view overlooking the 18th green.  Such tastefully done facilities that mesh well with their location are always a refreshing sight in today’s game.  Now member-owned, Boston Golf Club clearly puts the focus where it belongs – on the golf course.

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In sticking with the revolutionary war motif, the club’s logo is a simple red and white striped flag.  It’s one of my favorite modern golf logos.

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The golf course itself plays to a championship distance of 7062 yards, par 71, while the members generally play to a more reasonable 6740 yards (the distances used in this tour) or a composite yardage of just over 6300.  The course slopes out to a robust 139 (74.8 rating) at the tips and a 136 (73.4 rating) from the next set of tees.

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As seen in this overhead, the course is divided by a public road – the front nine plays out across the loop to the east of the road, while the back nine plays on the western side where the clubhouse is located.

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Though the road is not visible from any part of the course and is completely unobtrusive during play, the unique routing does present a rather long initial walk from the clubhouse to the first tee, and from the ninth to the tenth tee.  But the course itself is very walkable.

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Superintendent Rodney Hine and his staff expertly tend to BGC with firm, fast greens and fairway and short rough, with an assist from the goats kept on property.

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Need trees removed . . .

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Happy to help!  Any course with goats on the maintenance staff gets extra points in my book.

Now, on to the golf course…

BOSTON GOLF CLUB

Hole 1 – 485 yards – Par 5

The course begins with a short but challenging par-5 that plays up over a blind rise to a fairway hidden largely from view.

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From the very outset, the player gets a sense of what they will encounter at Boston Golf Club – wide, heaving fairways and an abundance of gorgeous scenery – both natural and, in the case of the stone wall seen here, man-made.

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Though this sub-500 yard par-5 is reachable in two for some longer hitters, the challenge in attempting the hero play is stiff.  The elevated green is ringed with bunkers and fronted by a ribbon of gunch that will likely result in a lost ball for those whose attempts at the green come up short.

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Laying up presents its own challenges, and the elevated green is partially hidden from view from the end of the fairway.

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The view from behind the putting surface reveals the substantial undulation in the first green and the ample width of the playing lane, which while often appearing tight, always provides the player with room to maneuver.

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Hole 2 – 407 yards – Par 4

A beautiful two shot hole, the fourth calls for an ideal drive either short of or over the rocky outcropping that cuts into the fairway from the right side.

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Indifferent tee shots will find trouble on both sides of the pinched fairway.

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Once beyond the choke point, the fairway tumbles hard down to the large green, which is open in the front to allow golfers to use the slope and attack the green on the ground.

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As this view from the right rear corner of the green shows, both the putting surface and the surrounding mowed areas are rife with movement.  The deep valley to the left of the green adds considerable challenge to approaches hit to left pins.

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Hole 3 – 420 yards – Par 4

The outstanding third hole begins with another blind tee shot to a fairway that swells up before dropping and bending slightly to the left.

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Care must be taken to choose a line and a shot shape that will both enable the player to hold the fairway and to position himself to approach the angled, sloping green.

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A ravine divides the fairway from the large third green, which is angled from short left to deep right, and which is also sloped hard from left to right, making the angle of approach critical.

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The view from behind the green shows the exceptionally undulated fairway, uncommon elsewhere but frequently seen here.

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After bagging his (hopeful) four, the golfer sets off on this footbridge through a wooded marsh to reach the fourth tee.

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Hole 4 – 413 yards – Par 4

The third of three consecutive two shot holes exceeding 400 yards in length, the fourth hole requires a drive over the large framing bunker to the left over another rise, which hides . . .

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. . . these traps guarding the left side of the fairway, and which should be avoided at all costs.  Beyond this hazard, the fairway drops into a valley before rising again to meet the green.

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A common theme at Boston Golf Club is that many of the areas surrounding the greens are mowed to fairway height, accentuating the use of the ground game, providing recovery options for near-misses and exacting a heavier price for poorly hit shots that will not have the benefit of tall grass to stop the ball near the green.

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Once again, the green is open across the front, allowing a variety of shots to be played.

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Hole 5 – 313 yards – Par 4

One of the best modern short par-4 holes that I’ve seen, the fifth plays out through a chute of trees to an upsloping fairway with troublesome bunkering and mounds encroaching from the right.

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While the tendency of most from the tee will be to play safely out to the left of the open fairway to avoid these bunkers, which will certainly add at least a stroke to most cards . . .

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. . . those who do are confronted with an approach from a difficult angle to an extremely narrow green backed by a deep, tight bunker.

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At the same time, the closer one plays to the trouble up the right side of the fairway, the better the angle into the difficult green. From the right edge of the fairway, the player has the benefit of playing down the long axis of the green.

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The narrowness of this green and the shape of the bunkering to the rear is reminiscent of the ninth green at Myopia Hunt.  Though most will have but a wedge in, this is one of the most difficult approaches on the golf course.

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A brilliantly designed short two-shotter in every respect.

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Hole 6 – 157 yards – Par 3

The first of an exceptional quartet of one-shot holes at Boston Golf Club, the sixth plays from an elevated tee to an elevated green across an ocean of sand and shrub.

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The wide, shallow green is shaped almost like a figure eight and plays more like two small greens than a single large one.

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The left pin placements play easier than those to the smaller but shorter right side.

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As is the case with all of the par-3s at Boston Golf Club, the sixth perfectly balances visual appeal with a demand for quality shotmaking.

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Hole 7 – 423 yards – Par 4

The tee shot at the seventh must carry an expanse of sandy waste area, and a hidden valley on the right side (a smaller version of a similar feature on the second hole at NGLA) should be avoided.

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The wide fairway gives way to a reverse redan-like green that is one of the most severely sloping on the course.

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Serious trouble awaits the weak cut that misses the green short.  Even shots that hit the front right portion of the green risk being repelled into the bunker below.

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One of the more difficult pars at Boston Golf Club – a four here is an excellent outcome.

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Hole 8 – 210 yards – Par 3

The longest one-shot hole at Boston Golf Club, the eighth green is partially hidden from view by chocolate drop-style mounding that fronts the putting surface and makes this tee shot appear much more difficult than it is.

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As seen here, there is ample room between the drops and the green, which allows for the ball to be landed short of the green and bounced on to the putting surface.

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Likewise, there is substantial room to miss the green short or left and still have a good chance at par.

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Missing this green long, however, is quite bad – this nasty little bunker is more than ten feet below the putting surface.

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The green itself is rippled and mounded.  A wonderful par-3 hole.

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Hole 9 – 440 yards – Par 4

From an elevated tee, the golfer gives back the nearly 100 feet of elevation gained over the first eight holes.

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Though the elevation change and the angle of the fairway make this shot look rather tight, the fairway is wider and more accommodating than it appears from the tee.

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From the fairway, the player must first avoid a small area of hazard intruding from the left side as he approaches one of the more scenic and interesting greens on the property.

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The large green is nestled into a cove bordered in the front by the raised fairway and in the rear by a stone wall.  Missing this green long is not an option.

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The green itself contains substantial movement, and hitting it in regulation is no guarantee of a par.

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A tough, fair and pretty hole – a fitting end to the front nine.

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Hole 10 – 390 yards – Par 4

From a tee bordered by the foundation of an old ruin, the tenth plays out to a fairway sloping downhill and to the right.  The raised mound on the right of the fairway complicates this drive.

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As seen here, the ideal tee shot favors the right side of the fairway, as anything left bears a risk of running off or through the fairway.

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From the left edge of the fairway, the green is revealed.  Long is not an option, and the bunkers short of the putting surface make for a challenging recovery.

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The result is one of the more difficult approach shots on the course.

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Despite these challenges and the visual difficulties presented by the setting of the green, as is often the case at Boston Golf Club, there is more room to maneuver than first appears.

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All in all, an outstanding par 4 and one of my favorites of the inward nine.

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Hole 11 – 178 yards – Par 3

The penultimate one-shotter and the last until the eighteenth hole, the eleventh is a gorgeous par-3 playing out over a large wasteland to a green benched into the side of a hill.

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The large putting surface is heavily sloped, and the high mound to the left of the green again provides for redan-like characteristics and the availability of an indirect route.

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Today’s pin, which sits at the base of the elevated left side of the green, is one of the most player-friendly, but . . .

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. . . pins on the back left side of the green are difficult in the extreme.

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This is neither the hardest green to hit nor the easiest green to putt, but one thing is certain . . .

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. . . this is a beautiful golf hole.

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Hole 12 – 424 yards – Par 4

The tee shot here is over a long stone wall to a fairway angled from left to right away from the tee.

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The fairway itself is one of the most undulating on the entire course, and level lies are seldom found here.

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Bunkers guard the left side of the fairway, and a principal’s nose feature sits some 50 yards short of the green in the middle of the fairway.

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Beyond these hazards, the fairway dips into a wide gully before rising steeply to meet the green.

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The resulting false front can repel even marginally indifferent shots well back into the fairway.

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After negotiating these many difficulties, the golfer is rewarded with one of the most difficult putting surfaces on the course.  Putting from the rear of this green to a front pin can easily result in one facing a 30 yard chip on the following shot.

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A very difficult hole, and the first in a string of three.

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Hole 13 – 415 yards – Par 4

Playing over a framing bunker to a wide fairway, the ideal tee shot here is to the left of the fairway so as to provide room to clear the dogleg.

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Cut shots will often have to contend with the trees down the right side, but the green is sloped from left to right to aid such shots.

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In a vision of dark comedy, Hanse turned this old ruin located on the inside corner of the dogleg into a bunker.  While few find this diabolical hazard, even fewer of those who do escape.

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A welcome sight – yet another green open across its full width to the fairway.

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As this view from the left side of the green shows, the thirteenth is no pushover when it comes to putting.  A hard left to right slant and internal undulations provide a stiff test.

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In return for providing a green open to the fairway, the thirteenth severely punishes the overly aggressive golfer who ends up long.  As is the case with so many holes at BGC, the thirteenth strikes an ideal balance in strategic concerns.

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Hole 14 – 418 yards – Par 4

The last in a difficult three hole stretch, the fourteenth plays gently downhill and slightly to the right along the eastern edge of the property.

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This alternate tee to the left of the primary teeing ground provides the members with a different look at this hole.

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Once more, the ideal line off this tee is to the left side of the fairway, avoiding the bunkering . . .

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. . . and providing a straight-on approach to this green, which slopes away from the player.

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Again, the green is hospitable to a ground attack which, given the slope of the green, is often preferable here.

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An excellent two-shot hole.

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Hole 15 – 545 yards – Par 5

The longest hole on the course and the first par-5 since the opening hole, the fifteenth is also one of the more dramatic holes at BGC.  From the tee, the it plays out to a largely blind fairway that bends slightly right.

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The second shot must carry Hanse’s rendition of a Hell’s Half Acre bunker complex, which divides the fairway.

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Once clear of the cross hazard, the player confronts a gorgeously sloped fairway that pares down to a mere ribbon of short grass that bends left and dives down to the green.

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The beauty of the landscaping done on this hole cannot be overstated.

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Arriving at the green, the golfer confronts a putting surface that slopes up from front to back and which is riddled with small mounds and internal slopes.  The intricate green is a fitting culmination to this wonderful three-shotter.

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One of my favorite par-5s in New England.

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Hole 16 – 340 yards – Par 4

The final par-4 at BGC, and one of the shortest, the sixteenth doglegs left through a fairway punched full of rough bunkers, including a proper principal’s nose.

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The elevated green is fronted by several bunkers, including one of the largest and deepest on the course.

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Hazards surround the putting surface, and a raised ridge running around the green from the front right to back left provides a half-punchbowl effect, and makes reading this green difficult.

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Though a short par-4, the sixteenth is by no means without its teeth.

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Hole 17 – 538 yards – Par 5

The final full tee shot at BGC plays out to a wide, mounded fairway with a large, rocky mound down the center line.

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Once this initial hill is crested, the remainder of this downhill par-5 is revealed.

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One of the more straightforward holes at BGC, the sixteenth is a rather simple proposition – keep the ball in the middle of the fairway and avoid the many hazards dotting its edges.

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Yet again, this green will accommodate a shot played along the ground.  The putting surface is cut by a valley that bisects nearly the entire green and provides for some interesting and challenging pin locations.

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As this view back up the seventeenth shows, the fairways at BGC are some of the wildest this side of Eastward Ho!

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The view from the seventeenth green across the 14th fairway is one of the best on the course.

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Hole 18 – 180 yards – Par 3

Often, courses that finish with a par-3 are referred to as “controversial.”  But if a one-shot hole best fits the land and the location, as it does here, an architect does the course a disservice if he forces a hole that doesn’t fit.  The final hole at BGC plays uphill to a green located in the shadow of the clubhouse.  It is a difficult par-3 and a fitting test to conclude a medal round or a match.

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The green is fronted by a stone wall and deep bunkers – short is not an optimal miss here.

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As evidenced by today’s pin location . . .

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. . . and the mounding within the green, the final hole is no pushover, and provides a fitting finish to this brilliant golf course.

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Few courses that I played exceeded my expectations more than Boston Golf Club, and I had high expectations going in.  What I found here was an expertly designed golf course that was extraordinarily interesting in its strategic demands and, most importantly, extremely enjoyable to play.  Every hole, and every shot, at BCG offered a strategic challenge that required an evaluation of the various options available and the risks and potential rewards of each possible play.  As soon as I finished my round, I wanted to head right back out for another loop – only darkness prevented me from doing so.

Boston Golf Club has my highest recommendation and is a must see for any devout golfer in the Boston area.  Simply put, it is one of the finest modern golf courses that I have yet to play.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.

– Jon Cavalier / @linksgems

 

 

 

Copyright 2016 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Journey Along the Shores – Part 15a (Metra Corner Makeover)

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Native plant area behind #6 green

Our generous volunteers and donors helped us complete pilot projects along Sheridan Road at our north end (6th hole) and on Central Ave in our middle (12th hole).  We are grateful for their support and dedication.

Our attention has now shifted to the south end of the property, or what we call the “Metra Corner”.  This is the area that includes the 15th and 16th holes, which interact with the canal and the commuter train tracks.  It is also a point of major foot traffic, with commuters and school kids passing through the course in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Like most of Canal Shores, the Metra Corner suffers from several major issues:

  1. The golf on these holes is a combination of hard and boring due to a lack of interesting features and inherent strategy.
  2. Turf health and quality, and the general ecology of the area, has been degraded as invasive species like buckthorn have taken over.
  3. Safety issues exist because of the layout of the holes, and disorganization of space for golf vs. non-golf activities.

Our makeover of the Metra Corner has the overarching goal of the addressing the issues above, while improving the aesthetics of the property and fun of the golf holes.  A visualization of the makeover is below, with a descriptions of the steps.  As the makeover progresses, I will provide updates in additional posts.

 

 

THE STEPS OF THE METRA MAKEOVER

STEP 1 – The Principal’s Nose

The 15th hole is a short par-4 that is tight off the tee and plays straight, with little strategic interest.  Although the hole has great potential, it currently suffers from being boring and hard.

We are borrowing a simple strategy of positioning fairway and greenside bunkers to create options and angles for our golfers.  Aggressive players can challenge hazards to gain advantage on the hole and make an eagle or birdie.  Conservative players can navigate safely navigate around hazards while still having a chance at par.

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The staggered bunkering of Hollywood GC.

To add quirk and interest to the hole, we are creating a Principal’s Nose bunker complex, inspired by the original at St. Andrews and others around America.  There is an existing set of grass bunkers in the left center of the fairway that will be shifted and rebuilt.

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The Principal’s Nose at Boston Golf Club

 STEP 2 – Greenside Bunkers

The bunkers front left and right of the green are out of position and in a state of serious disrepair.  The left bunker will be removed and turned into fairway creating an alley for players to play running approaches.  The right bunker will be shifted and rebuilt closer to the green in a rugged, “gash” style.

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The gash bunker at The Rawls Course

The existing layout of the 15th hole provides only one good option for play – straight down the middle.  The new bunker configuration will introduce strategic options and risk-reward considerations for our players. Golf is more fun and interesting when it is a test of both the mind and execution.

(click on images to enlarge)

 

STEP 3 – Replacing the Spruce

There is a large spruce tree on the right side of the fairway on #15 that has was likely planted as a yardage reference marker.  It is a non-native tree in an inappropriate position.  We are exploring options for moving it, and will do so if it is cost-effective.  Otherwise, we have obtained permission from the City of Evanston Forestry Division to remove the tree and replace it with natives that are more appropriately positioned.  If funds allow, the new plantings will be incorporated into the establishment of a new native area.

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Red Oak

STEP 4 – Buckthorn Removal on #15

As is the case in many areas of Canal Shores, buckthorn and other invasive species have encroached on the canal side of the 15th hole, narrowing it considerably.  Previous efforts by our staff and volunteers on the 3rd and 12th holes have widened playing corridors, improved turf quality, highlighted specimen trees, and enhanced aesthetics.

We intend to remove the buckthorn and other invasives along the left side of the 15th fairway up to the canal ridgeline.  Going down to clear and restore the canal bank is a much larger project for which we are not yet prepared.  Our Ecology firm, Planning Resources Inc., has provided us with an advisory statement on the intended work on the 15th and 16th holes (click here to read the PRI letter).

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#12 after buckthorn removal

STEP 5 – Revealing the Stone Wall

With the help of our neighbors, we have discovered an old limestone wall along the right side of the 16th hole.  It is currently overgrown by buckthorn and other invasive shrubs.  This is exactly the kind of unique feature that makes Canal Shores so special, and we intend to uncover and restore it to the best of our ability.

Volunteer days for this work are currently being organized.  Email me, or sign up on the Canal Shores website if you would like to donate or volunteer.

STEP 6 – Round Rail Fence 

The wood round rail fence that we installed as a part of our 12th Green Project has been very well received by the community.  That fence style will be the standard for the boundaries of the property.  It defines a boundary but leaves an open feel, while drastically improving aesthetics.

The chain link fence behind the 16th green will be replaced, increasing visibility into the course for people driving and walking down Noyes Street.  A new section of fence right of the 15th green will be installed, which will help direct foot traffic away from the 15th green and the private neighbor property that borders that corner of the course.

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Round rail fence on the 12th hole

STEP 7 – Reconfigure #16 Tees

The current tee configuration on #16 is suboptimal.  The back tee position is dangerous – it is too close to the back of #15 green.  Shots that go long put players at risk.  The tee shot from the back tee is also too difficult for almost all of our players.  Further, there is no tee box on the near side of the canal.  The forced carry over the canal is mandatory, which is beyond the strength and ability of many of our players.

The back tee will be shut down, making room to reroute the walking path behind 15 green.  The right and left tees will be expanded, to create more day-to-day variety, and a new forward tee on the near side of the canal will be added.

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New teeing options on #16

STEP 8 – Reroute Walking Path

Although Canal Shores is welcoming to walkers of all kinds, we want to keep them safe and minimize potential damage to greens. The path that many school kids and commuters currently take through this section of the property has two main problems that we intend to address.

On the 15th, walkers tend to walk too close to the green, or on it.  The new fence and removal of the back tee on #16 allows us to route walkers away from the green and out of potential harm’s way from golfers.

The area between the 16th hole and 17th tee holds water, and so we will be creating a drainage feature and establishing a formal path for walkers to keep them out of conflict with golfers on #16 and the 17th tee.

STEP 9 – Expand #15 Fairway and Green

As a rule of thumb, more short grass equates to more fun for golfers.  Therefore, we will be working hard to improve turf health, and expanding the fairway and green on #15.  We will give our players a larger target, and more options for how to approach it through the air or along the ground.

CONCLUSION

Although this “bootstrap” work is nowhere near what could be accomplished with a larger scale renovation of Canal Shores, we do believe that we can significantly improve the experience that our visitors have in this section of the property and course.  While the Master Planning process unfolds, we look forward to pushing forward with improvements in every way that the commitment of our volunteers and donors allows.

For step-by-step updates on this project, and all other happenings at Canal Shores, follow us on Twitter (@CanalShores), Instagram (@CanalShores), and Facebook.

Bring on the spring!

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More Journey Along the Shores posts: