Geeked on Golf

A Celebration of the People & Places that Make Golf the Greatest Game


Leave a comment

Field of Dreams – Peter Imber & Quogue Field Club

Benjamin Litman’s GolfClubAtlas article Timeless Golf at Quoque Field Club was a key contributor to the beginning of my love affair with 9-holers.  I wasn’t sure about how exactly to pronounce the name (it is “kwahg”, by the way), but I was absolutely certain that I wanted to play the course.  The chance to experience Quogue came for me during this season’s Noreaster, and as I wrote in my recap of that trip, it did not disappoint.

As a coincidental bonus, our host was Peter Imber, who also happens to be a principal player in Quogue’s restoration.  We connected after my visit, and hit it off over our respective efforts to revitalize our golf courses.  Not only did he give me guidance on how to approach my efforts at Canal Shores, but he also graciously agreed to do an interview.  With that interview, Jon Cavalier and I have partnered to bring you a QFC photo tour.  Enjoy!

Quogue-ClubhouseLowAerial-JC.png


THE INTERVIEW

How did you get introduced to the game of golf?

I first picked up golf in my teens.  A friend of my father’s took me to play my first round when I was 14 at Southampton Golf Club.  After that I basically lied about my handicap to get on my high school and college golf teams.  I didn’t play in matches, but I got to play a lot with better players.

When did you know that the game had a hold on you?

I was hooked from the start.  I love to practice and I love the feeling of hitting a pure shot.  There is always something new to learn, and there is no one way to play or one “right” course design.

How did you get interested in golf course architecture?

I have been very lucky.  Growing up in NY, summering on Long Island and also living in SF for a while, I have had access to amazing courses, public and private.  In most cases I didn’t fully appreciate where I was playing until later, but I would invariably remember something about them – a shot, a view, a feel.  The two places that probably had the greatest impact were (not surprisingly) Shinnecock and National.  Both amazing in totally different ways.  As the years have gone by, I have tried to distill why they are so wonderful and the answer is ever evolving…the research is fun.

Who is your favorite Golden Age architect, and why?

It’s so hard to pick.  I have always loved Tilinghast’s simplicity.  The courses are right in front of you; they are fair and they are challenging.  It wasn’t until I went to Scotland in my 20’s that I began to appreciate architects like Raynor and McDonald, whose quirkiness comes from the source and is historically significant and not contrived.

Tell us about the history of Quogue Field Club.

The Quogue Field Club was founded in 1887.  The original location was about a mile from where it currently resides.  The club did not include golf originally but RB Wilson (head pro at Shinnecock at the time) designed a crude 9 hole layout in 1897.  As the village grew, the old location became the business center of the village and the club was moved to its current location in 1900.  The current course was built in 2 parts.  The original 9 was designed by Tom Bendelow in 1901 and much of that course is what still exists today.  A 2nd 9 was added in 1921 under the supervision of James Hepburn (pro at National Golf Links of America).  As a result of damage from the hurricane of 1938 and a lack of interest in golf around WWII, the club gave back a chunk of land representing 9 holes and what was left is the current layout.  7 of the 9 current greens are original (#4 and #6 were redone in 1999 and 1974, respectively).

Quogue-AerialNeighborhood.png

How did you get involved in the restoration of Quogue?

For years golf has been a distant second to tennis at QFC.  Many of the better golfers are members of other 18 hole courses in the area (SHGC, NGLA) and play their golf at those courses.  As a result, the course didn’t receive the attention it might have, and over the years appreciation of the history of the QFC course was lost.  In 2008 I asked the chair of the Green Committee why our greens were so much slower than others in the area despite the same weather and same soil.  The next day I was on the Green Committee.  Two years later I was asked to replace the chair when he stepped down.  

The first thing I did was challenge the committee to see how they would like to improve the course.  We began to discuss what changes we felt were most important.  The single change that lead to the restoration was our desire to remove some non-native trees that had been planted along a number of fairways.  They weren’t in keeping with the links roots of the course.  In order to strengthen our case to the board, we asked to bring in an architect for a consultation.  That’s how we met Ian Andrew.  We were so impressed with his visit that we convinced the board to allow us to retain him for a full Master Plan…and so it began.

Did you experience any resistance to change, and if so, how did you overcome it?

There is always resistance to ANY change at a club that has been around as long as ours.  There are two ways to deal with this – either build consensus for the changes, or make the changes and explain it after.  I’d like to think that we pursued a balance of the two approaches.  We worked closely with the Board at all times, and, supported by Ian’s Master Plan, we made some significant but inexpensive changes (namely tree removal to resolve a safety issue).  We did so without building consensus, but with strong conviction that we were making the right decision and with the full support of an expert (Ian) and the Board.  As the membership digested these changes, we brought in Ian to present the full Master Plan to the membership which helped build consensus for the rest of the vision.  

We still fight some battles, even as we approach the final stages of the restoration, but more often than not, we are simply asked questions about why we are doing certain things and engage in a thoughtful discussion.  In the end, the course belongs to the members and we are not looking to impose our will come hell or high water.  On the other hand, sometimes change needs a little jumpstart.  Hopefully our members would agree that we found a good balance.

How has Ian Andrew impacted the work at the club?

Ian has a wonderful vision.  He does not look to put his fingerprints on the course.  He values the history of the course and treated it like an old gem that had been lost for generations – shine it up and put it in an appropriate new setting.  Ian focused on our links heritage.  He advocated tree removal for the most logical of reasons: “Your best asset is your views and your best defense is the wind…and the trees are interfering with both.”  Ian focused a great deal on presentation, and it was amazing how much he changed the course without us moving a shovel full of dirt.  Every change he has advocated was consistent with his vision and consistent with the history of the course.

(For more from Ian Andrew, read his GeekedOnGolf interview here)

Quogue-CourseAerialClose.png

What were the key areas of focus for the project?

The biggest focus was on improving sightlines and returning to a links feel.  Just removing the trees that lined the fairways changed the look and feel of the course.  We have three holes on the water, but you never used to be able to see the water except from two spots.  Now you can see the water from the clubhouse and almost every hole in between.  You can also stand in almost any spot and see every hole on the course.

What has member feedback been to the changes?

Overwhelmingly positive.  Even those who questioned it, now seem to love it.  As much as anything else, I think the members didn’t realize or appreciate the gem we have.  It was just a place they played.  Now their friends are asking to play it and they are proud of what we have restored.

What one piece of advice would you give to Green Committee or club members who are considering championing a renovation or restoration?

Communication is everything – whether to the Board or the membership at large.  Explain what you are doing and more importantly, why, to anyone who is curious.  Clubs can be very catty places where people make judgments without all the information.  A well thought out and well explained plan will almost always prevail.  It’s okay if it takes time.  It gives the membership time to digest the vision.  We have been implementing our plan for five years.  Trees one year.  Two new tees the next.  A new bunker the following year.  At this point I don’t think anyone even notices the changes anymore.

What do you love the most about the restored Quogue Field Club?

I love the walk and the views.  Where you used to play holes in a tunnel, now I see golfers on every hole across the course and I can see the water from every hole.  It makes me smile.  It doesn’t hurt that our Superintendent John Bradley has done an outstanding job of raising the bar on course conditions and presentation.


QUOGUE FIELD CLUB

Before diving into the hole-by-hole tour, two important notes about Quogue:

First, how it works.  The course has forward and back tees.  There are two sets of each, which are color-coded.  One color-coded set is played the first loop around, and if you want to play 18 holes, you play the other colored set the second loop.  The different sets are at meaningfully different distances, creating a distinct playing experience on each loop.  Genius.

Second, how it plays.  Superintendent John Bradley present a course that does now seem highly manicured or over maintained, and yet it plays absolutely perfectly.  The fairway run and bounce, the fescue is playable, the bunkers are rugged yet tidy, and the greens roll true.  To me, it is the model of maintaining a course responsibly and sustainably with regard to inputs, while at the same time providing players with an outstanding experience.

HOLE #1 – (Black) Par 5 – 528 yards / (Orange) Par 5 – 492 yards

Quogue1-Approach-JC.png

The opener is a five par that plays over a road and flat ground to a green flanked by bunkers.  The subtle, but infinitely interesting internal contours of Quogue’s greens are evident from the very beginning.

Quogue1-GreenBack.png

HOLE #2 – (Black) Par 3 – 148 yards / (Orange) Par 3 – 161 yards

Quogue2-TeeZoom.png

The green on the second sits surrounded by sand and fescue-covered mounding.  The putting surface is a punchbowl of a variety that not even Messrs Macdonald & Raynor ever thought to build.

Quogue2-GreenBehind.png

HOLE #3 – (Black) Par 4 – 270 yards / (Orange) Par 4 – 272 yards

Quogue3-ApproachLeft.png

Quogue’s church pews, and all manner of other quirky bunkering, are on display on the 3rd.  The yardage on the card begs for a heroic shot, but the members know that for most players, going for the green is a sucker’s play.

Quogue3-ShortLeft.png

HOLE #4 – (Black) Par 3 – 193 yards / (Orange) Par 3 – 171 yards

Quogue4-TeeZoom.png

The fourth is a mid-length par-3 with one of the coolest greens on the planet – the redan, biarritz combo.  The high front right feeder slope is separated from the back plateau by a shallow swale.  Fun to look at, and even more fun to play.

Quogue4-Green.png

HOLE #5 – (Black) Par 4 – 412 yards / (Orange) Par 5 – 470 yards

Quogue5-ShortLeft.png

The 5th is a slight dogleg right that ends with a green set hard against the water. Judging approaches at this particularly windy spot on the property is a devilish challenge.

Quogue5-GreenLeft.png

HOLE #6 – (Black) Par 4 – 281 yards / (Orange) Par 4 – 245 yards

Quogue6-TeeZoom.png

The tight 6th plays over a wetland, which also guards its entire left side.  The low set green is guarded by bunkers on both sides, including a unique grassy sand dune.

Quogue6-GreenLeft

HOLE #7 – (Black) Par 4 – 414 yards / (Orange) Par 4 – 434 yards

Quogue7-Short.png

The 7th is a tough four par which demands a tee shot placed between angled bunkers on either side of the fairway.  The large green is surrounded by bunkers on three sides including 2 nasty little pots.

Quogue7-GreenBehind.png

HOLE #8 – (Black) Par 4 – 379 yards / (Orange) Par 4 – 347 yards

Quogue8-Approach.png

The penultimate hole provides another dose of quirky challenge with a cluster of bunkers right of the landing area, and another cluster of cross-bunkers short of the green.  The green wraps around a circular bunker right making some pin positions dicey.

Quogue8-ShortRight.png

HOLE #9 – (Black) Par 5 – 534 yards / (Orange) Par 4 – 408 yards

Quogue9-ShortLeft.png

The closing hole heads back over the road and to the clubhouse.  One final seamless transition from fairway to straight-fronted green awaits the player upon the return.

Quogue9-GreenBack.png

A day spent at Quogue Field Club is a golf geek’s dream come true.  It is golf at its purest and finest.  Created before architectural egotism existed, lovingly restored, and masterfully presented, the course evokes joy from the deepest levels of a player’s heart.  That level at which each of us first fell in love with this great game.


Additional Geeked On Golf Interviews:

 

 

Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


2 Comments

LinksGems Walker Cup Course Preview

JON CAVALIER’S LINKSGEMS WALKER CUP PREVIEW

Los Angeles Country Club (North Course)

The 2017 Walker Cup is being contested at the historic Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course.  Originally opened in 1911 and redesigned by George C. Thomas Jr in 1921, the North Course was recently restored by Gil Hanse’s team, with an assist from Geoff Shackelford.

LACC-Sign.jpg

LACC is a wonderful setting for match play, with a variety of holes and plenty of risk-reward decisions for the players.  Let’s take a quick walk through each of the 18 holes before play begins on September 9th.

(click on collage images to enlarge)

Hole #1 – Par 5 – 544 yards

LACC1-Approach.png

LACC’s 1st is a wide, short par-5 (perhaps a par-4 for these players) that begins near the site of the now-removed fountain, and ends at a treacherous green framed by the Beverly Hilton.

Hole #2 – Par 4 – 484 yards

LACC2-GreenBack.png

Like many holes at LACC, the flat par-4 2nd seems simple at first, but positioning into its sloped, barranca-protected green is key.

Hole #3 – Par 4 – 400 yards

LACC3-Greenside

The 3rd at LACC is one of the best par-4s in the world – if the USGA pins this green on one of its two front prongs, watch out!

Hole #4 – Par 3 – 210 yards

LACC4-Approach.png

The 4th is a long, downhill par-3 over a barranca – Lionel Richie’s house is short right; the Playboy Mansion is long left.

Hole #5 – Par 4 – 483 yards

LACC5-GreenLeft.png

The 5th at LACC is a long, tough par-4 – a blind tee shot leaves an approach to a green open on one side and defended on the other.

Hole #6 – Par 4 – 335 yards

LACC6-GreenBack.png

The 6th is a drivable short par-4 down a chute bending right to a wide, shallow green benched between a barranca and hill.

Hole #7 – Par 3 – 282 yards

LACC7-Approach.png

The 7th is a stout par-3 from an elevated tee to a small, canted green.

Hole #8 – Par 5 – 537 yards

LACC8-GreenBack.png

For Walker Cup competitors, the all-world par-5 8th, halved by a barranca, is a very tempting risk/reward par-4-and-a-half.

Hole #9 – Par 3 – 181 yards

LACC9-GreenBehind.png

The par-3 9th at LACC plays over a ravine to a sharply sloping green; snow-capped Mt. San Antonio is visible some 40 miles away.

Hole #10 – Par 4 – 383 yards

LACC10-Tee.png

The epic back nine at LACC begins with the lovely par-4 10th – this wide, canted fairway is pocked with perfectly placed bunkering.

Hole #11 – Par 3 – 249 yards

LACC11-TeeZoom.png

The terrific 11th at is a reverse-redan style par-3 with incredible views of the LA skyline from the tee.  A personal favorite.

Hole #12 – Par 4 – 388 yards

LACC12-Short.png

The tee shot at the par-4 12th is blinded by a large hill – easy to get out of position on approach to this well-guarded green.

Hole #13 – Par 4 – 468 yards

LACC13-TeeZoom

The par-4 13th at LACC, as pretty as it is tough – occasionally, odd noises from behind the greenside hedge can be a distraction.

Hole #14 – Par 5 – 598 yards

LACC14-Green.png

LACC’s closing stretch begins with the 14th, a lovely par-5 featuring one of the best greens in golf.

Hole #15 – Par 3 – 133 yards

LACC15-Green.png

The short par-3 15th features an array of gorgeous bunkers and a huge crescent green reminiscent of the 7th at Crystal Downs.

Hole #16 – Par 4 – 465 yards

LACC16-Green.png

One of the most beautiful holes at LACC, the stout par-4 16th tips out over 500 yards, this hole will decide matches come Saturday.

Hole #17 – Par 4 – 455 yards

LACC17-Fairway.png

The closer the tee shot to the barranca on the right of LACC’s par-4 17th, the better the approach to its narrow, rolling green.

Hole #18 – Par 4 – 451 yards

LACC18-Approach.png

The 500-yard par-4 18th – as with so many great classic courses, LACC’s home green sits just steps from the beautiful clubhouse.

Little 17th – Par 3 – 110 yards

LACCL17-TeeZoom.png

This alternate par-3 was built by Herbert Fowler, adopted but ultimately abandoned by George Thomas, and lovingly restored by Gil Hanse.

Regardless of who wins the Cup, players, spectators, and TV viewers are all in for a treat.  It doesn’t get any better than Los Angeles Country Club.  Enjoy the match!

LACC-Skyline.png

 

 

 

2017 Copyright – GeekedOnGolf, Jason Way

 


4 Comments

5th Annual Noreaster – Back to Long Island

After two years in Boston, our group was longing for a return trip to Long Island, and Friar’s Head.  Planning began over the winter, but took a detour.  Two of the original four members of the Noreaster crew, Brian and Shawn, weren’t able to make the trip this year.  They are good dads, and had travel plans with their kids that trumped golf buddy travel.  I understand and respect those priorities.  Fortunately, my network of golf geeks who get it continues to expand, and the slots were filled by Jon Cavalier and Gary M.

We pulled together a lineup of Friar’s Head, Maidstone, Quogue Field Club, and Deepdale GC.

IMG_1009.JPG


FRIAR’S HEAD

Since my last visit to Friar’s Head, I have had the good fortune of playing several more of Coore & Crenshaw’s best courses – Old Sandwich, Sand Hills, Sand Valley and Dormie Club.  My love of their work continues to grow, but I admit to wondering if the additional exposure would in any way diminish Friar’s Head.  It most definitely did not.  Friar’s Head delivers, every time.

FriarsHead5-BackRight.jpeg

Behind the green at the short par-4 5th

The back nine gets most of the press, but on this visit I was much more taken with the front.  Those holes are brilliantly routed out to and back from the inland farm, and are packed with strategy and character.  I made the turn feeling that the front might be the stronger nine, especially with the recent tree removal.

FriarsHead9-Greenback.jpeg

The fairway rolls down to the 9th green

Whereas the outward nine meanders around in a wide open area, much of the back nine winds through dunes closer to the clubhouse and water.  Beginning with the par-3 10th, the inward nine has more of an adventure feel.

FriarsHead10-TeeBack-.jpeg

The view back from the 10th green

My feelings about the front side notwithstanding, there is a reason why the closing stretch from the 14th through 18th gets so much love.  It is all-world.

FriarsHead14-TeeShot.jpeg

The tee shot on the par-5 14th


MAIDSTONE CLUB

Maidstone-Aerial-JC.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier

Maidstone was one of the courses we visited on our first annual Noreaster, which also included Piping Rock, Shinnecock and Friar’s Head.  Truth be told, it was not our crew’s favorite from that lineup, but it didn’t get a fair assessment either.  We played Shinnecock that morning in a howling wind and spitting rain, and it beat us up.  By the time we made it to Maidstone, the rain has stopped, but the wind increased to silly levels and it was difficult to see Maidstone for how special it was.

That first visit to Maidstone was also prior to the renovation by Coore & Crenshaw.  I filed it away in the “nice course” category until Jon Cavalier did his LinksGems course tour.  Reviewing Jon’s tour, I could hardly believe that it was the same Maidstone I had played.  From that day forward, a return to East Hampton has been on my mind.

Expectations were high as we made the drive east on Long Island on a perfect June morning.  18 holes later, my high expectations were thoroughly exceeded with Maidstone entering my Top 10 all-time favorites.  Willie Park’s routing – beginning and ending with a wide open field in front of the clubhouse, transitioning to the wetlands around Hook Pond, and featuring the seaside dunesland at its heart – is masterful and varied.  C&C’s work on the greens and bunkers is mind-blowingly cool.  And the stewardship of GM Ken Koch and Superintendent John Genovesi is spot on.

Still absorbing the morning months later, I am left believing that a fair argument could be made that Maidstone belongs in the same conversation with Shinnecock and National Golf Links as top dog on Long Island.  As was the case when I first saw Jon’s photos, I am once again counting the days until a return visit.

MAIDSTONE COURSE TOUR

(click on circle images to enlarge)

Hole #1 – Par 4 – 424 yards

Maidstone1-Approach.jpeg

The opener plays downhill away from the clubhouse to a green that is both elevated and canted.  Long approaches are in danger of finding the road, which backs the green.  The Coore & Crenshaw team’s bunker rework is on display and gives a hint at the polish that has been applied to this Willie Park Jr. gem.

Hole #2 – Par 5 – 537 yards

Maidstone2-GreenLeft.jpeg

The first of the “wetland” holes plays straight through flanking bunkers to a stellar green featuring a low front tier and a long, angled back tier.  Approaches must be precisely played to find the correct section, while avoiding the large bunker that runs the length of the back right.  The renovation took this hole from ho-hum to holy moly!

Maidstone2-ShortRight.jpeg

Hole #3 – Par 4 – 408 yards

Maidstone3-Approach.jpeg

A straightaway two-shotter, the third demands proper positioning off the tee to access various pin positions on the green which features a false front and two tiers.  Great greens make great golf holes, and this hole is proof positive.

Hole #4 – Par 3 – 176 yards

Maidstone4-Bridge.jpeg

The first one-shotter marks another transition, with three of the next four holes playing over or around Hook Pond.  Bunkering rework around the green has added even more character to this thrilling hole, where two realizations hit the player on the tee: 1) The wind is really blowing, and 2) If I don’t make committed approaches, I will be watching balls roll back down false fronts ALL day.

Hole #5 – Par 4 – 325 yards

Maidstone5-Approach.jpeg

Multiple options are available to the player on this short four, including going for the green when the wind is right.  Bunkers guard the landing zones and the green, which backs up to Hook Pond.  Reward awaits the bold, but not without risk.

Maidstone5-Shortleft.jpeg

Hole #6 – Par 4 – 403 yards

Maidstone6-BackRight.jpeg

The green on this hole, featuring bold contours, and surrounded by jaw-dropping bunkering is a harbinger of the architecture to come.  Hit the approach on the wrong tier, and you may as well try and negotiate a three-putt with your playing partners as you walk up the fairway.

Maidstone6-Approach.jpeg

Hole #7 – Par 4 – 341 yards

Maidstone7-BackLeft.jpeg

The best cape hole in America?  An argument could be made.  Step on the tee, gauge the wind, check your pucker factor, and let er rip.  A thrilling tee shot, followed by an approach into a green with killer contours and creative flourishes in the surrounds.  Sublime.

Hole #8 – Par 3 – 151 yards

Maidstone8-GreenAbove.jpeg

The tee shot plays blind over the large dune to an elevated green.  A wise man once said, a shot is only blind once.  That wise man may have been right, but he would be intimidated on the 8th tee too.

Finding the 8th green – wonderfully contoured, floating on a sea of sand – with one’s tee ball is an exhilarating relief.

Hole #9 – Par 4 – 415 yards

Maidstone9-TeeShot.jpeg

Ahhhh, the iconic 9th.  With the ocean on the right and the whipping wind, the player must focus to find a safe landing in the fairway winding through the dunes.

A service road left of the green has been replaced by a wild runoff shaped by Dave Zinkand.  Continuous improvement and relentless attention to detail.  What separates the good from the world class.

Hole #10 – Par 4 – 387 yards

Maidstone10-Short.jpeg

This unique hole is one of Maidstone’s most natural and rugged looking, with sandy wastes, long grasses and colorful dune vegetation.  Standing in the fairway looking at the green set atop a dune, the player can be forgiven for concluding that there is no safe place to land an approach.

Hole #11 – Par 4 – 464 yards

Maidstone11-GreenLeft.jpeg

This slight dogleg left is an elegant hole with bunkers guarding the drive zone and green.  It highlighted for me just how perfectly balanced Maidstone is.  From turf maintenance, to bunker treatments, to tree management, nothing has been left undone, and yet nothing is overdone.

Maidstone11-ShortLeft.jpeg

Hole #12 – Par 3 – 181 yards

Maidstone12-Tee.jpeg

This used to be a nondescript connector hole.  Thanks to C&C, that is most definitely no longer the case.  The forebunker confounds depth perception, the flanking bunkers intimidate, and a back left bunker lies out of sight, waiting to punish misjudged shots.  All this sand, defending a green that is tough enough to not need defending.  The 12th is now up to the standards of Maidstone’s other wonderful one-shotters.

Maidstone12-ShortRight.jpeg

Hole #13 – Par 5 – 500 yards

Maidstone13-GreenAbove.jpeg

The 13th plays back toward the ocean and the fairway narrows as it nears the green.  A green that, now running at an angle between two bunkers and featuring a large false front, might be the most improved on the course.  This hole used to be “the one before the iconic 14th”.  Post-renovation, it is THE 13th.

Hole #14 – Par 3 – 152 yards

Maidstone14-Tee.jpeg

This all world one-shotter can play dramatically differently from day to day based on the wind.  Whether holding a wedge or a long iron, the player is guaranteed a dose of beauty to soothe their frazzled nerves.

The view of the 14th from behind shows a) how close to the ocean the green sits, and b) how little margin for error there is for tee balls. Find the green, enjoy the sound and smell of the ocean, and consider yourself among the fortunate few.

Maidstone14-GreenBehind.jpeg

Hole #15 – Par 5 – 493 yards

Maidstone15-ShortLeft.jpeg

Playing straightaway from the ocean, the green is reachable in two with the right wind.  Multiple subtle plateaus mean that an eagle or birdie are far from guaranteed even if a bold approach safely finds the green.  This hole marks the end of the seaside adventure as the course heads back to the clubhouse.

Hole #16 – Par 5 – 485 yards

Maidstone16-GreenRight.jpeg

The par-5 16th ends the fun 3,5,3,5,5 stretch. The cape-style tee shot plays back over Hook Pond to a fairway that makes a right turn toward the low-set green.  Judging the wind and playing the angles well can result in birdies.  Picking the wrong lines…different result.

Hole #17 – Par 4 – 328 yards

Maidstone17-FenceRight.jpeg

This short four starts with a second straight cape tee shot, playing in the opposite direction.  Yet another fun little routing quirk.  The player can take multiple lines off tee to gain the most advantageous position to approach a green set intimately at the intersection of two roads.

Hole #18 – Par 4 – 390 yards

Maidstone18-ShortLeft.jpeg

The home hole plays uphill toward the clubhouse and ocean.  The shared fairway makes for an expansive view and provides plenty of room to get way out of position for the approach.

Maidstone’s final green setting is so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost masks the sadness the player feels to be walking off this all-world course.  The adventure ends, but the memories last forever.


QUOGUE FIELD CLUB

QuogueFieldClub-AerialSouth.jpeg

Photo by Jon Cavalier

Fortunately for me, my golf buddies are willing to indulge my recent obsession with 9-holers.  I could not have been more excited to experience Quogue Field Club, thanks to our host Peter Imber.  It did not disappoint.

Peter has been at the forefront of the restoration of Quogue, and he has graciously agreed to participate in an interview and course tour on which Jon Cavalier and I intend to collaborate.  With that closer look on the docket, I won’t dive too deeply into the course here.  I will say, however, that Quogue Field Club embodies everything that I love about the game.  It is both simple and intensely interesting at the same time.  It provides plenty of challenge, especially when the wind blows, without sucking out the fun.  It is a joy.

I could go around and around this course endlessly…

QuogueFieldClub2-Short.jpeg

The green at the par-3 2nd

Quogue’s nine holes have nine terrific greens, as well as plenty of old-timey quirk – grassy mounds, church pew bunkers, shots over roads, a punch bowl surrounded by sand.  The list goes on and on.

QuogueFieldClub4-Green.jpeg

The redan-biarritz 4th is one of a kind

The course is open to and intimately embedded in its community.  It is a source of inspiration for what community golf can be, whether public or private.

QuogueFieldClub9-ShortRight.jpeg

The 9th green, set close to the understated clubhouse


DEEPDALE GOLF CLUB

On a trip that was packed with high notes, the highest relative to my expectations might have been our visit to Deepdale.  I must admit that I did not know much about the club, other than that the course was designed by Dick Wilson, an architect whose courses I had never played.  Sometimes, going into a golf adventure “blind” makes it all the more enjoyable and that was certainly the case here.

The course was wonderful, from the routing, to the imposing bunkering, to the sloped and contoured greens.  Wilson created a course that challenges the low handicapper, without punishing those who are less skilled.

The club is outstanding.  A great mix of old school charm with new school amenity.  The showers are almost as good as Friar’s Head (and that is saying something), and the seafood cobb salad might be the best post-round meal I have ever had.  Deepdale is the kind of club that would be a pure pleasure to frequent – a golf getaway from city life that isn’t even all that far away.  It was the perfect end to our trip.

Deepdale1-Approach.jpeg

The approach to Deepdale’s 1st

From the first hole, several things are evident about Deepdale.  It is immaculate, the doglegged fairways sweep beautifully over the land, and the greens are anything but boring.

Deepdale11-GreenBack.jpeg

From behind the 12th green

I had no idea that the land so close to the highway and airport could be so stunning, with rolling hills and plenty of elevation change.

Deepdale15-Tee.jpeg

From the 15th tee


CONCLUSION

The more golf adventures I have, the more I come to realize that the enjoyment of the experience is as much dictated by the quality of the company as it is by the quality of the courses.  I am fortunate to be able to play the courses I do, but my fortune is exponentially better because of the company I keep.  These are simply stellar dudes.

Reflecting on the trip, there was one missing element – immersion.  Because of some last minute shuffling, we were not all staying in the same place.  A big part of what I truly enjoy about buddies trips is the camaraderie, on the course and off.  Car time and meal time, talking golf, architecture and life, add richness and depth to these trips.  The logistics robbed us of a bit of that this time around.

The 2017 Noreaster consisted of our most eclectic group of courses and clubs to date, in terms of both vibe and architecture.  We had modern and classic, understated and luxurious, big and small, modern and classic.  One common thread that runs among them all – greatness.

Familiarity born of return visits to the area, and Friar’s Head and Maidstone, increased my appreciation.  These trips are often a blur and repeat visits help to crystallize memories and perspectives.  I often wonder, which Noreaster area has the strongest collection of courses?  Boston, Long Island, or Philly?  The answer came to me this year.  Whichever area I just visited.


6 Comments

Eastward Ho! Tour by Jon Cavalier

EASTWARD HO! – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Chatham, MA – Herbert Fowler

EastwardHo-Feature1.jpg

Homeward bound at Eastward Ho!

I was in the general area on for a round at Wannamoisett.  On my way up to the course that morning, I noticed that Eastward Ho! was a mere 90 minutes further along, and having missed an opportunity to play there a few months back, I decided to try to head over later that day.  After a very enjoyable round at Wannamoisett, and having been well and duly throttled by both my host and the course, I headed over.

EastwardHo-Feature2.jpg

Lone tree at fifteen

The place is, in a word, wonderful.  I arrived at 2pm on Sunday, and with sunset for Cape Cod creeping up to before 4:30pm, I knew that I had limited time to get a round in.  I also knew I would need to take a cart.  But no matter.  The weather was perfect, and I enjoyed every minute of my time on the property.  I have had the great pleasure and fortune of playing some of the most “charming” golf courses in the east — Myopia Hunt, Garden City, Maidstone, Fishers Island, etc. — and Eastward Ho!, in my opinion, belongs on any list of such courses.  It’s an exciting, fun, playable and unique golf course that deserves more than the share of accolades that it currently receives.  I can’t remember having such an enjoyable time on a golf course.

I hope you enjoy this tour.

EASTWARD HO!

EastwardHo-FeatureAerial.jpeg

The incomparable setting of Eastward Ho!

Set in Chatham, Massachusetts, the drive to Eastward Ho! takes you through some beautiful countryside.  The anticipation builds as you get closer to the course, and you begin to get glimpses of coves and small bays.  It’s a quiet, peaceful area – ideal for golf.

The course was designed by Herbert Fowler and opened for play in 1922.  The course is laid out in a figure 8 routing, with the front 9 on the northeastern side of the clubhouse, and the back 9 to the southwest.  It sits on a glacial moraine, which resulted in some one-off landforms rarely found in the United States.

EastwardHo-Logo.jpg

The Scorecard

The course plays to a par 71 over 6,372 yards – short by today’s standards, but as the 71.7/135 rating and slope indicate, it is no pushover.  I thought the mix of holes and the terrain compensated well for the lack of overall length — the course played longer for me than the yardage on the card.

EastwardHo-Scorecard1.jpg

EastwardHo-Scorecard2.jpg

Hole 1 – 380 yards – Par 4

Some courses, Maidstone and Fishers Island for example, hide their charms until several holes into the round.  No such wait is required at Eastward Ho!  As soon as you pull into the small parking lot, the first hole and ninth fairway are visible to the right of the gorgeous clubhouse, and you know immediately that you are in for a special round.

EastwardHo1-TeeZoom.jpg

Doglegging slightly left, the first plunges down into a valley and then back up to the green at the top of a long hill.

EastwardHo1-Approach.jpg

Looking back toward the clubhouse from the first green reveals the tumbling nature of the land.

EastwardHo1-Greenback.jpg

Hole 2 – 350 yards – Par 4

After crossing a small road to the second tee, the player is confronted with a tee shot over Crows Pond to an elevated fairway and a partially blind landing area.

EastwardHo2-TeeZoom.jpg

Upon cresting the hill, most players will have only a delicate wedge into a green defended by a banked fairway and collection area to the right, and a small but deep bunker short left.

EastwardHo2-Approach.jpg

As is so often the case at Eastward Ho!, a look back down the fairway from the green shows the astonishing ground features that are present on almost every hole.

EastwardHo2-Greenback.jpg

Hole 3 – 326 yards – Par 4

Walking across the small road from the 2nd green to the 3rd tee reveals one of the most incredible views that I have ever seen on a golf course.  To the player’s left, the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th holes are visible, as is the expansive bay to the right of the 7th green.  The excitement for the player is palpable as he knows that these four holes remain ahead.

EastwardHo3-Tee.jpg

The tee shot on the 3rd is over a valley, and again the landing area is obscured.  This hole is reachable for longer players, and that fact coupled with a blind landing zone make for an exciting combination.

EastwardHo3-TeeZoom.jpg

Those that don’t go at the green will likely have a half-wedge to a small putting surface that is well-guarded by both bunkers and slopes to all sides but the front.

EastwardHo3-Approach.jpg

Looking back up the 3rd fairway from the green – note the tiered descent from the crest of the fairway.

EastwardHo3-Greenback.jpg

Hole 4 – 182 yards – Par 3

The first par 3 on the course, and perhaps the prettiest, the 4th green hugs the cliff long and right.

EastwardHo4-TeeZoom.jpg

The beautiful setting for the 4th green.

EastwardHo4-Green.jpg

Hole 5 – 525 yards – Par 5

The 5th hole at Eastward Ho! begins one of the most remarkable series of holes that I’ve had the privilege of playing.  The terrain over which these holes play is unlike anything I have ever seen before, and the expanse of this section of the golf course is literally breathtaking.

EastwardHo5-Tee.jpg

The heaving 5th fairway.

EastwardHo5-Fairway.jpg

The approach to the 5th green, which sits so close to the 8th green that on first glance, it appears to be a shared green.

EastwardHo5-Approach.jpg

The 5th and 8th greens.  The surrounding banks create an amphitheater effect.

EastwardHo5-Green.jpg

Hole 6 – 421 yards – Par 4

The 6th hole at Eastward Ho! is one of the most spectacular par 4s in American golf.  Plunging sharply downhill through a valley created by some of the most severely sloping fairways you’ll ever see, the 6th plays shorter than its yardage but is far from easy.

EastwardHo6-TeeZoom.jpg

The stunning approach to the 6th green requires a shot to a raised green.  Absolutely beautiful.

EastwardHo6-Approach.jpg

The view back up the incredible 6th fairway.  Hard to believe that a golf course was built over this land more than 90 years ago.

EastwardHo6-Greenback.jpg

The elevated 6th green sits hard on the water’s edge, providing panoramic views of the bay and the small islands in the distance.

EastwardHo6-Green.jpg

Hole 7 – 181 yards – Par 3

The second par 3 at Eastward Ho! calls for an uphill shot to a green sloped back to front.  The putting surface is not visible from the tee.

EastwardHo7-TeeZoom.jpg

While short is the preferred miss, due to the slope of the green, deep pot bunkers guard the short sides of the green.

EastwardHo7-GreenRight.jpg

Looking back from the elevated 7th green provides one of the best views on the course, with the 6th green, the bay, and Strong Island in the background.

EastwardHo7-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 8 – 348 yards – Par 4

A stiff par 4 running uphill along the bay to the right, three bunkers set into the hillside provide both a target and a hazard off the tee.

EastwardHo8-TeeZoom.jpg

The many hazards surrounding the raised 8th green are not visible from short of the fairway bunkers.

EastwardHo8-Approach.jpg

The vantage point at the top of the ridgeline above the 8th green affords absolutely stunning views of 6 of the 9 holes on the outward nine.

EastwardHo8-GreenAbove.jpg

Hole 9 – 396 yards – Par 4

The 9th meanders downhill back to the clubhouse and toward a green set on a small ridge fronting the clubhouse.

EastwardHo9-Tee.jpg

Framed by the gorgeous clubhouse, the 9th is an excellent green, though the only unoriginal putting surface at Eastward Ho.

EastwardHo9-Short.jpg

The view from behind the 9th green reveals how the fairway rolls seamlessly into the green.

EastwardHo9-GreenBehind.jpg

Hole 10 – 208 yards – Par 3

The 10th takes the player around the clubhouse to the southwest side.  The green is benched into the side of a large hill.  Another fine par 3.

EastwardHo10-Tee.jpg

Wide view of the 10th green and the clubhouse.

EastwardHo10-Green.jpg

Hole 11 – 485 yards – Par 5

A very short par 5, the 11th appears rather benign off the tee.

EastwardHo11-TeeZoom.jpg

But upon reaching the crest of the hill, the player is confronted with an abrupt plunge down the roller coaster fairway.  While many players can reach this green in two shots, there is little margin for error as the fairway is bordered closely by trees and vegetation on both sides.

EastwardHo11-Fairway.jpg

The incredible 11th fairway.

EastwardHo11-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 12 – 333 yards – Par 4

If Eastward Ho! has a weak spot, it is to be found at hole 12 and 13.  These two short par 4s are inland and deliver the player to the furthest part of the back nine to begin the home stretch.  They are fine holes, but they are subtle as compared to the rest of the course.

EastwardHo12-Tee.jpg

The short approach to the raised green at 12.

EastwardHo12-ShortRight.jpg

A more gently rolling fairway.

EastwardHo12-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 13 – 336 yards – Par 4

The landing area is blind to the tee at 13.  The green is marked by the aiming post to the left center of the frame below.

EastwardHo13-TeeZoom.jpg

The 13th green at the far end of the property, before turning for home.

EastwardHo13-Short.jpg

Hole 14 – 371 yards – Par 4

After finishing 13, the player turns back toward the clubhouse for one of the most spectacular finishing stretches on the east coast.  The 14th plays downhill the entire way to a fairway sloping hard right to left.  A draw off this tee will run forever.

EastwardHo14-TeeZoom.jpg

I, unfortunately, did not hit a draw, and so had a short iron into this gorgeous green.  The middle of the 14th fairway is yet another remarkably beautiful spot at Eastward Ho!.

EastwardHo14-Approach.jpg

As is the 14th green near sunset.

EastwardHo14-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 15 – 153 yards – Par 3

A stunner of a short par 3, the 15th is tucked into a nook along the edge of the bay.

EastwardHo15-TeeZoom.jpg

Fowler placed the green to blend elegantly into the hillside on which it sits.

EastwardHo15-Short.jpg

A ridge cuts the 15th green from left to right.

EastwardHo15-GreenAbove.jpg

A beautiful setting for golf.

EastwardHo15-Green.jpg

The view from above reveals the contour of the green, perhaps inspired by the movement of the water beyond.

EastwardHo15-GreenAbove.jpg

Hole 16 – 380 yards – Par 4

The 16th turns back to the southwest and runs slightly uphill and parallel to the 14th.

EastwardHo16-TeeZoom.jpg

The view from the 16th green back down toward the tee, the 14th and 15th greens, and the bay.

EastwardHo16-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 17 – 537 yards – Par 5

In my opinion, the 17th is the best of the three par 5s at Eastward Ho!.  It begins with a tee shot over a small rise which obscures most of the fairway.

EastwardHo17-TeeZoom.jpg

The second shot is over a sharp dip and rise – the green is reachable for longer players if the ball can be carried over the depression in the fairway.  The clubhouse barely peeks over the right shoulder of the green.

EastwardHo17-Fairway.jpg

The green is built to catch and direct long running approaches that can scale the far wall of the fairway depression . . .

EastwardHo17-Short.jpg

. . . as seen in this shot from behind the 17th green.

EastwardHo17-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 18 – 460 yards – Par 4

The longest par 4 on the course starts simply, with a tee shot through a wide chute to a fairway that appears to bank left toward the clubhouse.  What comes next is . . .

EastwardHo18-TeeZoom.jpg

. . . simply amazing.  Most tee shots will carry this rise and tumble down to the flat area at the bottom of the fairway, shortening the hole.  Before arriving at the drive, however, the player cresting the 18th fairway is presented with one of the finest views in golf.

EastwardHo18-Fairway.jpg

The approach on 18 is demanding, as the hill on which the green sits is quite steep, and very close to the gorgeous clubhouse.

EastwardHo18-Approach.jpg

Looking back from the 18th green at the fairway and the bay at sunset, made me happy to be a golfer.

EastwardHo18-GreenBack.jpg

In the end, Eastward Ho! was one of the most enjoyable rounds of golf I’ve ever played.  Being out on this course alone, as sunset approached on a perfect November afternoon was an amazing experience.  The club staff was very nice and extremely welcoming, the few members that I ran into were most hospitable, and the course was in beautiful condition.  As I made the long slog back to Philadelphia that evening, I continually replayed scenes from the course in my mind.  Although I only spent a few hours there, it is a round I will always remember quite fondly.

EastwardHo-Sunset.jpg

Sunset at Eastward Ho!

Eastward Ho! is a unique experience, and I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this golf course.


2 Comments

Old Sandwich Tour by Jon Cavalier

OLD SANDWICH GOLF CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Plymouth, MA – Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw

OldSandwich-Feature1.jpg

After a recent round at Old Sandwich at the peak of fall, I thought that the many fans of the work of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and fans of New England golf in general, might like a look at this terrific course.  All of the photos in this tour were taken by me on October 20, 2016, with the club’s permission to shoot and share.  I hope you enjoy the tour.

OLD SANDWICH GOLF CLUB

OldSandwich-Feature2.jpg

Boston is rightly regarded as one of the five best metropolitan areas in the United States for quality golf.  Despite the relatively short season, the greater Boston area is blessed with more than a dozen bucket list golf courses, including classic gems like Myopia Hunt Club, The Country Club at Brookline, Essex County Club, Salem Country Club, Eastward Ho Country Club, Charles River Country Club, and Kittansett Club among others.

OldSandwich-Feature3.jpg

Any modern architect working in the Boston area faces the challenge of designing a course that will inevitably be measured and compared to these venerable courses, which were built by Golden Age titans with names like Donald Ross, William Flynn, Herbert Fowler and Herbert Leeds.  Such is the tall task that faced Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in the early 2000s.  Suffice it to say, these two gentleman, as they have so often done, rose to the occasion with gusto.

OldSandwich-Feature4.jpg

The result is a masterpiece incorporating the best traditions of the game — huge, undulating fairways; natural hazards affording all manner of heroic recoveries; greens and green complexes that hold interest in round after round; and firm, fast conditioning permitting players to play the type of shots they choose.  Soon after completing their work, Coore and Crenshaw said about the course, “Through time, we hope that Old Sandwich will be viewed as a compliment to its beautiful surroundings, to golf in general, and to the long and storied tradition of golf course architecture in Massachusetts.”  Twelve years later, it’s clear they succeeded.

THE GOLF COURSE

OldSandwich-Course1.jpg

A round at Old Sandwich begins with a walk out of the gorgeous clubhouse, nicely attired in stone and wood, and along a sandy path across a bridge spanning a serene pond.

OldSandwich-Course2.jpg

From the clubhouse, nearly the entire course is hidden from view, but as one makes his way across the pond, the first tee comes into view.

OldSandwich-Course3.jpg

Notably, there are no water hazards on the course at Old Sandwich.  How many architects working today would have routed a course on this site to finish with a “heroic” carry over this pond to a green in the shadow of the clubhouse, perhaps while sacrificing the flow and playability of the golf course?  Credit to Coore & Crenshaw for putting quality golf first.

Hole 1 – 531 yards – Par 5

The round begins with a true gentle handshake – on his first shot of the day, the player is greeted with a massive fairway and an uphill par-5 of reasonable length.

OldSandwich1-Tee.jpg

Although the fairway is quite large, the player must nevertheless pay attention to positioning, as a tee shot which strays too far left may be bunkered (hidden by shadow in the photo below) or out of position for a layup.

OldSandwich1-TeeZoom.jpg

For the player’s second shot, the two fairway bunkers to the right draw the eye and focus, but the cant of the fairway will direct indifferent shots into the less-prominent but no less dangerous bunkers running the left of the fairway.

OldSandiwch1-Fairway.jpg

The green at the first is a true work of art.  Open across the entire width of its mouth, running approaches are welcomed at this green, but care must be taken to account for the steep false front on the left…

OldSandwich1-Approach.jpg

… as well as the bunkering bordering the left side and left rear.  Note the many appealing pin positions on this large green.

OldSandwich1-Greenback.jpg

This bunker on the right side of the green is hidden from view on most approaches, while the green itself blends wonderfully into its surroundings.

OldSandwich1-GreenBehind.jpg

Hole 2 – 403 yards – Par 4

At this par-4, the primary objective off the tee is avoiding the center-fairway bunker complex.  The more aggressive right hand side leaves a shorter approach, but forces the player to confront the right-hand fairway bunkers.  Left is easier, but leaves a longer approach.  Finally, the player may elect to lay up short of the bunkers, but faces a long and difficult approach.  Choices like this are ever present at Old Sandwich.

OldSandwich2-TeeZoom.jpg

Regardless of the route chosen, execution is key.  Anything in the center traps is essentially a one-stroke penalty.

OldSandwich2-FairwayBunkers.jpg

The elevated green, tightly mown surrounds, and firm conditions make this approach particularly interesting.  This bunker sits some 20 feet below and to the left of the putting surface, but an approach that comes up just inches short of the green is in real danger of rolling back into it, leaving an extremely tough third.

OldSandwich2-GreenLeft.jpg

This view of the second green from the third fairway affords perspective and shows the movement of the landscape.

OldSandwich2-Green.jpg

Putting from beyond the pin at the second is a frightening proposition; chipping from behind the green is even worse.  A stout hole.

OldSandwich2-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 3 – 450 yards – Par 4

This long par-4 plays shorter than its yardage on the card due to the fact that it is typically downwind, but it is nevertheless a challenging hole.

OldSandwich3-Tee.jpg

As the hole doglegs left, the best line is down the right side, but the right is guarded by several menacing bunkers.  Any ball finding these pits will also find it nearly impossible to reach the green.

OldSandwich3-FairwayBunkers.jpg

Once past the bunkers, the fairway opens considerably and falls off into a depression short and right of the green.  The green itself is one of the best at Old Sandwich — its many elements include a false front short right followed by a large, slightly-domed area, followed by a swale cutting across the surface horizontally, followed finally by a back right tier on which that day’s pin was placed.

OldSandwich3-Short.jpg

A bunker wraps around behind the green from the left.  Given the slope of the green, this bunker is a common destination for approaches when the pin is back.

OldSandwich3-GreenBehind.jpg

The hazards protecting the left side of the green make an approach favoring the safer right side attractive, but beware the pot-like bunker long right, as it is a truly brutal hazard.  An excellent golf hole where options abound.

OldSandwich3-GreenAbove.jpg

Hole 4 – 209 yards – Par 3

The first one-shot hole at Old Sandwich, and a beauty.  As is often the case at Old Sandwich, looks here can be deceiving, as the view from the tee leads the golfer to believe that he has less room and more carry than he actually does due to the slight rise in the landscape and the framing bunker left, which prevent a perfect view.

OldSandwich4-Tee.jpg

However, as this elevated view shows, there is ample room on this hole to land short of the green and bounce a ball on to the putting surface, as well as room to play left away from the deep greenside bunkers.

OldSandwich4-Above.jpg

In following the natural contour of the landscape, the huge green feeds gently from front to back, while the high left shoulder allows players to use the ground to feed shots into pins on the right side.

OldSandwich4-Greenback.jpg

Hole 5 – 336 yards – Par 4

Generally considered the signature hole at Old Sandwich, the fifth is a stunner and a unique hole in American golf.

OldSandwich5-TeeAbove.jpg

A short, cape-style par-4, the hole presents the golfer with an incredibly rumpled, elevated fairway moving left to right.  The sight of this fairway is one that a golfer does not soon forget.

OldSandwich5-Tee.jpg

The fairway on this hole will direct well-hit, aggressive tee shots toward the green, with the potential to reach the green in one.  However, as is always the case with a well-designed cape, the higher the reward sought, the greater the risk taken.  Any shot that fails to carry the chosen line is dead.

OldSandwich5-FairwayAbove.jpg

As noted above, the fairway mounding can both redirect ideal shots to the green while also presenting a difficult, uneven lie on approach for more conservative tee shots.

OldSandwich5-Approach.jpg

Looking back toward the fairway, the elegance of the transition to putting surface is revealed, as the fairway bleeds seamlessly into the green.

OldSandwich5-GreenBack.jpg

The tee-to-green theme of contour is carried through to the green itself, creating putting adventures for those whose approaches are imprecise.

OldSandwich5-BackRight.jpg

As this elevated view from behind the green reveals, there are plenty of ways to get yourself in trouble on this hole, but also plenty of ways to play the hole which will result in a good score.

OldSandwich5-GreenAbove.jpg

The key to scoring well on the fifth is knowing one’s own abilities and limitations, choosing a line that fits within those criteria, and executing one’s chosen strategy.  And isn’t that what golf is supposed to be?

OldSandwich5-AboveBack.jpg

A brilliant rendition of a modern risk-reward hole.

OldSandwich5-Aerial.jpg

Hole 6 – 562 yards – Par 5

The second three-shot hole at Old Sandwich is the longest on the course, and requires an uphill tee shot and carry over gunch to an elevated fairway turning right to left.  This corner of the course is one of the prettiest spots on the property.

OldSandwich6-Tee.jpg

The fairway is guarded on both sides by deep bunkering.  The right bunkers (out of frame) catch tee shots on an overly conservative line, while a pot bunker in the middle of the fairway complicates the second shot.

OldSandwich6-Fairway.jpg

The green is tiered from front to back, and contains ridges running both vertically and horizontally, which effectively quarter the putting surface.

OldSandwich6-Greenback.jpg

When looking back at the fairway, the golfer is likely to be surprised at just how much elevation he has scaled while playing the hole.

OldSandwich6-BackAbove.jpg

Hole 7 – 391 yards – Par 4

The seventh is yet another standout hole at Old Sandwich renowned for its uniqueness.  From the tee, most of this dogleg left par-4 is visible, including the green and the pin, although much of the interest surrounding the green remains hidden.

OldSandwich7-Tee.jpg

From the fairway, the incredible greensite is revealed in full.

OldSandwich7-Approach.jpg

Sitting elevated in a lake of sand, the green functions as an island, repelling poorly struck approaches into the surrounding sand.

OldSandwich7-Short.jpg

The green is deeper than it appears from the fairway, offering ample room for shots struck on the appropriate line.

OldSandwich7-GreenBack.jpg

Easily one of the prettiest greensites in golf.

OldSandwich7-GreenAbove.jpg

And in full fall color…breathtaking.

OldSandwich7-Green.jpg

Hole 8 – 379 yards – Par 4

The eighth is a transition hole, transporting the golfer from the seventh green to the ninth tee, where a run of spectacular golf begins anew.  The canted fairway tilting opposite of the hole’s direction adds an element of difficulty here.

OldSandwich8-Tee.jpg

Mounding to the left protects and obscures the left side of this green and makes judging distance difficult.

OldSandwich8-Approach.jpg

The bunkerless green appears to have been mowed directly from the fairway, so perfectly does it blend with its surroundings.

OldSandwich8-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 9 – 131 yards – Par 3

This gorgeous little one-shotter plays to a large but multi-tiered green isolated in a sandy basin.  Bunkers guard on all sides.

OldSandwich9-Tee.jpg

While hitting this green is no easy feat, neither is doing so any guarantee of a two-putt par.

OldSandwich9-Green.jpg

The back portion of this green shunts balls into this nasty bunker, or to a tightly mown area adjacent to the green.  Neither is an ideal spot for recovery.

OldSandwich9-GreenBehind.jpg

A birdie is a possibility here, but any player should be pleased to escape this little beauty with a par.

OldSandwich9-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 10 – 516 yards – Par 5

The back nine begins with with a Coore & Crenshaw homage to Hell’s Half Acre.

OldSandwich10-Tee.jpg

The Hell’s Half Acre bunker divides the fairway in two and requires a second-shot carry.  In addition to being an intimidating hazard, the feature also obscures a large portion of the fairway landing area.

OldSandwich10-HellsHalfAcre.jpg

Three center-cut bunkers dot the fairway in the landing zone for second shots which, along with the slope of the fairway, add interest to what is often one of the more boring shots in golf — the second on a par 5.

OldSandwich10-CenterBunkers.jpg

Looking back from the elevated green reveals the gorgeous movement of the landscape.

OldSandwich10-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 11 – 244 yards – Par 3

A monster from the back tees, this par-3 is the longest on the course, the most difficult and perhaps the prettiest.

OldSandwich11-Tee.jpg

A sandy ridge cutting in from the left side of the hole adds visual interest and hides the fact that the landing area for shots unable to make the carry is larger than it appears from the tee.

OldSandwich11-TeeZoom.jpg

The green is open in front to accommodate the longer approaches, but danger lurks to all sides.  A hole as tough as it is beautiful.

OldSandwich11-GreenBehind.jpg

Hole 12 – 455 yards – Par 4

From the tee on this par-4 running left to right, the golfer is tempted to shun the safer right side and play down the left to shorten the hole.

OldSandwich12-Tee.jpg

This cluster of bunkers, largely hidden from view from the tee, play much larger than their actual footprint, and will exact a stiff penalty on any stray shots attempting this more aggressive line.

OldSandwich12-FairwayBunkers.jpg

Yet again, the green sits naturally as an extension of the fairway, open across the full width of its mouth.

OldSandwich12-ShortLeft.jpg

As a result, the hole appears as natural as they come.

OldSandwich12-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 13 – 560 yards – Par 5

The last of the four par-5s at Old Sandwich, and this author’s favorite of the bunch, the thirteenth asks for a carry over a sandy waste area to the crest of a fairway rolling downhill and from left to right.

OldSandwich13-TeeZoom.jpg

Upon reaching the fairway, the player is confronted with the gorgeous sight of a wide, downhill fairway dotted on both sides with bunkering.  The closer one gets to the green, the more the short grass seems to narrow.

OldSandwich13-Fairway.jpg

The green itself is benched into the side of a sandy ridgeline, creating an amphitheater effect.  Once more, the green is open to running shots.

OldSandwich13-Approach.jpg

The putting surface is protected on three sides by trench-like bunkers and a sharp fallaway to the front left.

OldSandwich13-GreenBehind.jpg

The surrounding bunkers present a difficult recovery, as the green slopes toward the front left fallaway.

OldSandwich13-GreenAbove.jpg

An exceptional par-5.

OldSandwich13-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 14 – 369 yards – Par 4

The fourteenth plays back up the hill toward the 6th tee and the highest point on the property.  Here, the left-sloping fairway aids the player in positioning his ball on the proper side.

OldSandwich14-Tee.jpg

Players taking the more aggressive right-side line may find themselves blocked out (your author has experience with this scenario).

OldSandwich14-RightSide.jpg

Even from the fairway, the elevated green presents an elusive target, as balls left short (where deep bunkers await), right or long will be repelled.

OldSandwich14-ShortRight.jpg

Accuracy is at a premium on this deceptively difficult par-4.

OldSandwich14-Green.jpg

Hole 15 – 168 yards – Par 3

The artfully sloped and bunkered fifteenth, tucked into a corner of the property, is a favorite par-3 of the group at Old Sandwich.

OldSandwich15-Tee.jpg

The bunker to the right cuts deeply into the green, and a high right shelf beyond this bunker can be used to funnel balls down to most pin positions.

OldSandwich15-TeeZoom.jpg

The green itself is moderately narrow but very deep, providing a safe landing area for shots struck on the intended line.

OldSandwich15-GreenRight.jpg

An aerial view of the uniquely heart-shaped fifteenth green.

OldSandwich15-Aerial.jpg

One of a superb quintet of one-shot holes.

OldSandwich15-GreenRight.jpg

Hole 16 – 486 yards – Par 4

The finishing stretch at Old Sandwich is a challenging test and ideally suited for determining matches that reach this point.  The sixteenth begins with a tee shot over a crested fairway to a blind landing area and, although the fairway is wide, the shot is one of the toughest on the course.

OldSandwich16-Teezoom.jpg

The fairway tumbles down on the approach to a green running front to back, affording the golfer the opportunity to hit a shot landing some 50 feet short and to watch the ball bound and run on to the putting surface.

OldSandwich16-Approach.jpg

Given the slope, a player may choose to hit as many as three or even four clubs less than standard for a given yardage.  Care must be taken to avoid the collection area that will gobble shots offline right.

OldSandwich16-Green.jpg

The beautiful sixteenth is one of the most strategic and fun holes (of the many strategic and fun holes) at Old Sandwich.

OldSandwich16-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 17 – 191 yards – Par 3

The final one-shot hole at Old Sandwich is all carry to a slightly elevated green ringed with bunkers.

OldSandwich17-Tee.jpg

Golfers must remain focused to avoid being distracted by the stunning natural surrounds.

OldSandwich17-RightTee.jpg

Balls left short will be shunted back toward the tee, while shots tempting the edges of the putting surface will likely be redirected into bunkers.  There is no cheating this hole – a well-struck shot is required.

OldSandwich17-GreenLeft.jpg

A look back from behind the green.

OldSandwich17-GreenBack.jpg

And one from above.

OldSandwich17-Aerial.jpg

Hole 18 – 498 yards – Par 4

The longest par-4 on the course, the eighteenth presents the player with a fairway that is quite wide and quite blind from the tee — he must pick his line and trust that he has chosen wisely.

OldSandwich18-Tee.jpg

Cresting the rise in the fairway, the player is afforded a view of the remainder of the hole, which is divided by long grass and bunkers.

OldSandwich18-FairwayBunkers.jpg

The gentle downhill slope, open front of the green and generous short grass surrounding the green all mitigate the length of this hole and provide opportunities for the creative shorter player to match the advantage of his competitor’s distance.

OldSandwich18-GreenAerial.jpg

An excellent finishing hole, as befits an exceptional golf course.

OldSandwich18-GreenBack.jpg

BONUS – Hole 19 – Par 3

For those matches (and wagers) left unsettled after 18 holes, Coore & Crenshaw thoughtfully provided an extra hole to ensure everything is settled up properly.

OldSandwich19-TeeZoom.jpg

This final green is a hit-it-or-else proposition and contains significant internal undulation, ensuring that matches needing extra holes will be won by the player able to hit this green and lag it close or make his putt.

OldSandwich19-Green.jpg

Like many of Coore & Crenshaw’s other courses, a round at Old Sandwich leaves a golfer with no doubt that they have just been afforded the chance to play a course built in the mold of the great classics.  As with other modern gems like Sand Hills, Ballyneal, Stonewall, Kingsley, Friar’s Head and Pacific Dunes, Old Sandwich was built and is maintained with one goal in mind — providing its members with the best and most enjoyable golf possible.  And when golf architects and clubs find themselves on the same page in that regard, modern masterpieces which can stand proudly next to their classic sisters can often result.  Old Sandwich does her neighbors proud.

OldSandwich-Conclusion.jpg

I hope you enjoyed the tour.

 

 

Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


1 Comment

Old Town Club Tour by Jon Cavalier

OLD TOWN CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Winston-Salem, NC – Perry Maxwell

Old Town Club in Winston-Salem, NC is a 1939 Perry Maxwell original bordering the campus of Wake Forest University.  I had the great pleasure of playing several rounds at OTC on a perfect early-November day.  And while I am a few months late in getting this tour together, OTC’s recent near-miss on garnering the threshold number of Golf Digest rater plays necessary for inclusion in the Top-100 make this a particularly appropriate time to shine a bit of a spotlight on this architectural gem.

OldTown-Feature1.jpg

Old Town Club

When it became apparent that time had taken its toll on this old beauty, the members and their Golf Chairman, Dunlop White, chose Coore & Crenshaw to perform an extensive restoration of the property.  For a more detailed discussion of this process and the work performed by Coore & Crenshaw, be sure to check out the excellent profile at http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/old-town-club/ .  Suffice it to say, the duo did a magnificent job.

OldTown-Feature2.jpg

Late Afternoon at Old Town

Before we begin, a few notes about OTC and these photos.  I was told, on good authority, by members of OTC and by Dunlop White, that the absolute peak time of year to play the course is November/December.  I certainly cannot disagree.  OTC played firm and fast throughout, and given the exceptional green- and green-side features, this made for some very exciting golf.  OTC is not built for lush, soft, ultra-green conditions.  My first round of the day was played during a persistent light rain under continual cloud cover, and the course stayed firm as ever.  After a quick lunch, the sun came out, dried the course immediately and put an entirely new look on it.  So, while these photos were all taken on the same day, you may notice differences based on the time of day that a particular photo was taken.

OldTown-Feature3.jpg

The Spectacular 8th/17th Double Green

I hope you enjoy the tour.

OLD TOWN CLUB

OldTown-Sign.jpg

At a macro level, Old Town Club has a few standout architectural features that demand mention at the outset.  The first thing that GCA aficionados seem to talk about when they talk about Old Town is Maxwell’s brilliant routing of the golf course.  To me, the routing of a golf course has always seemed equal parts engineering discipline, artistic ability and black magic — I’ve never quite been able to grasp how it’s done, much less done well.  But when it’s done well, I know it when I see it.  And OTC is it.  Maxwell’s routing begins a three hole loop to the south of the club house in a Par 4, Par 3, Par 4 arrangement.  The members must love this feature.  Beginning with the 4th hole, the course meanders up, over and around various landforms and features such that no two holes play similarly, no part of the walk is too steep, and never is there a hint of boredom.

OldTown-Club1.jpg

The 17th, 8th and 9th Holes

The second feature is the openness of the property and the manner in which the golf course uses that openness to bolster the way the course plays.  Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Dunlop White deserve great credit for this feature.  From the first tee, the player can view most of the three hole starting loop.  From the crest of the fourth fairway, more than half the course (and its wonderful landforms) are in full view.  And from the double green at 8/17, the player can look back and see four connected fairways — the 17th, the 8th, the 9th and the 18th — quite an amazing sight.  Coupled with the minimal use of encroaching rough, the openness of the course provides for a wide array of options on every hole (in fact, the rough is so minimal, it is possible to walk up 4, across 7, up 17, across 8, across 9 and up 10 back to the clubhouse without every stepping on a line of long grass).

OldTown-Club2.jpg

From the 4th Fairway

The Clubhouse

Old Town’s gorgeous brick clubhouse fits in perfectly with the rest of its surrounds. The fried chicken special on the lunch menu is spectacular.

OldTown-Clubhouse.jpg

THE COURSE

Hole 1 – Par 4 – 407yds

A round at Old Town begins on the first tee in the shadow of the clubhouse, looking out at the generous first fairway, which disappears from view down into a valley before rising to meet the green.

OldTown1-Tee.jpg

Often, players will face an uphill shot from a downhill lie into the first green.

OldTown1-Approach.jpg

Though the first green looks inviting, it has serious teeth.  The false front is visible in this photo, as is the abrupt falloff to the left of the green.  Indifferent approaches can land on this green and still end up 15 yards from the putting surface.

OldTown1-Short.jpg

The view back down the 1st hole, illustrating the rolling terrain and the spaciousness of the first fairway.

OldTown1-Greenback.jpg

Hole 2 – Par 3 – 145yds

A short par 3 that has been beautifully reworked by Coore & Crenshaw, the second plays slightly downhill over the same small creek that bisects the first fairway.

OldTown2-Teezoom.jpg

The second green is wide, shallow and full of undulation.

OldTown2-Green.jpg

This view from behind the second green reveals some of the terrific available pin positions on this hole.

OldTown2-Greenbehind.jpg

Hole 3 – Par 4 – 361yds

The third hole plays back toward the clubhouse and ends the opening three-hole loop.  From the tee, the player sees only the flagstick and the looming bunker planted high on the right shoulder of the fairway.

OldTown3-Teezoom.jpg

Cresting the hill reveals the low-left bunker, which, due to the firm and fast conditions and the slope of the fairway, plays much larger than its actual footprint.

OldTown3-Approach.jpg

This view from behind the third reveals the internal mounding and the importance of being on the proper tier of the green.

OldTown3-Greenback.jpg

Hole 4 – Par 5 – 520yards

A quick walk past the clubhouse and down a small pathway brings the golfer to the fourth tee.  The remaining 15 holes at Old Town are laid out on the northern side of the clubhouse.  The first par 5 on the course, the fourth hole becomes reachable with a well struck tee shot, as any ball that clears the crest of the hill will bound past the trees at the corner of the dogleg.  For longer hitters, however, this is one of the tighter tee shots on the golf course.

OldTown4-Tee.jpg

After reaching the crest of the hill, the course opens up to the golfer.  The hole itself doglegs right and follows the tree line down the hill.

OldTown4-Fairway.jpg

Those who don’t (or, like me, can’t) reach the green in two face either a short, sharply downhill approach or a half-wedge from the bottom of the hill into the third green.

OldTown4-Approach.jpg

This view from the right side of the fourth green reveals the wonderfully nuanced putting surface.

OldTown4-Green.jpg

This view from the right rear portion of the fourth green shows both the fairway’s long descent and the expansive nature of the property.

OldTown4-Greenback.jpg

Hole 5 – Par 4 – 354yds 

The fourth tee is carved into a sheltered nook on the side of a hill.  The sixth green is visible to the left.  A perfect draw will shorten this hole considerably, as it is possible to carry the bunkers set in the inside corner of the dogleg.  Another tee shot with a variety of options for the player.

OldTown5-Tee.jpg

The fifth green is benched into a small hill at a far corner of the property.  This green slopes substantially from high left rear to low right front, making accuracy critical on this short approach.

OldTown5-Approach.jpg

This view from behind the fifth green shows the contour of the fairway and the steepness of this green.  The sun is providing a helpful spotlight on the area from which you do not want to be putting at today’s hole.

OldTown5-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 6 – Par 3 – 173 yards

The beautiful sixth hole plays back toward the fifth tee.  This hole offers a clinic in visual deception.  From the tee, the large bunker on the right looks to be greenside, but in fact there are forty-plus yards between its back edge and the putting surface.  Add to that a horizon green with no landmarks between it and the far hillside and a green that falls away dramatically on all sides and the player is confronted with a fun puzzle. Long or left is no picnic.

OldTown6-Teezoom.jpg

The view from the sixth green is one of the prettiest on the golf course.  No fewer than half the holes on the golf course are at least partially in view from here.

OldTown6-Greenback.jpg

Hole 7 – Par 4 – 340yds

Once more, the player is confronted with options off the tee.  Challenge the bunkers on the left and have a better angle and a flatter lie into the tiny seventh green, or bail out to the ample fairway to the right and face a more uphill second from a less favorable angle?  A gorgeous, fun hole.

OldTown7-Teezoom.jpg

The approach to the seventh green, seen here through the morning raindrops, presents one of the more difficult short shots on the golf course.  In addition to the small green, the player must contend with a long bunker running along the high side of the green (no easy task getting up and down from there) and more bunkers and a falloff to the right.

OldTown7-Approach.jpg

The view back down the seventh hole.

OldTown7-Greenback.jpg

Hole 8 – Par 4 – 358yds

The tee shot on the eighth hole is blind to the player, as the fairway drops out of view past the first bunker.  Like Lanny Wadkins was fond of saying, the dome and steeple of the Wake Forest library provides an aiming point (barely visible in this photo at the tree line above the bunker).

OldTown8-Teezoom.jpg

Reaching the crest of the eighth fairway provides one of the most thrilling views at Old Town – the downhill approach to the immense green shared by the eighth and seventeenth holes.  The eighth plays to the red flag on the left.  An absolutely exceptional use of a double green, and a truly special feature of this golf course.

OldTown8-Approach.jpg

This view from the left side of the double green shows just how much contour this massive green contains. The two pins are about 200 feet apart.  The high point of the green is in the middle, and each side has plenty of interest of its own.  During our round, Will was faced with a nearly 100 foot putt from the high rear portion of this green — his picture perfect putt hit the hole and somehow lipped out.

OldTown8-Green.jpg

From behind the double green, the player is presented with a panoramic view of the seventeenth, eighth, ninth and eighteenth (out of frame to the right) fairways, each of which join together to create a swath of fairway several hundred yards wide.  Quite a sight.

OldTown8-GreenBack.jpg

Hole 9 – Par 4 – 360yds

In sticking with the shared theme, the ninth and eighteenth holes share a tee box, with a directional stone pointing the golfer in the right direction.  Both holes play back toward the clubhouse.

OldTown9-Tee.jpg

The refreshing openness of Old Town is felt during the walk up the shared eighth and ninth fairways.

OldTown9-Fairway.jpg

The ninth doglegs right around the trees, with the sharply banked fairway and firm conditions helping to scoot the well struck tee shot around the corner and into a position from where the green can be reached.  On the flip side, not many level lies are to be found on the ninth, making the approach to an elevated green more difficult.

OldTown9-Approach.jpg

The view back down the beautifully natural ninth hole (one of my favorites at Old Town).

OldTown9-Greenback.jpg

Hole 10 – Par 4 – 389yds

Holes 10 through 13 play along the edge of the property at Old Town.  The tenth begins with a tee shot over a rise in the fairway that obscures the landing area from the player’s view.

OldTown10-Teezoom.jpg

The approach to the tenth is one of the most enjoyable on the golf course.  While all golfers profess to love firm and fast conditions, it is only when a golf course takes advantage of such conditions to enhance the playing experience that a player really sees their true value.  Old Town’s tenth is such a hole.  The approach plays slightly downhill to a small green that slopes left to right.  Target golf is available here, but a miss right is deep trouble.  The golfer also has the option of playing a low running shot over the left bunker, which is far short of the green, and watching his ball take the natural contours of the land to bound down and to the right on to the putting surface.

OldTown10-Approach.jpg

As this view from behind shows, the terrain and the seamless transition from fairway to green practically begs the player to show off his ground game.

OldTown10-Greenback.jpg

Hole 11 – Par 3 – 170yds

One of the prettiest holes at Old Town, the eleventh hole plays downhill to a green guarded up the right side by a small creek.

OldTown11-Tee.jpg

Again, the player has the option of running the ball on to this rather well defended green.  This view from the left side of the eleventh also shows the shared fairway of the eighth and seventeenth holes.

OldTown11-Greenbehind.jpg

A gorgeous setting for golf.

OldTown11-Greenback.jpg

Hole 12 – Par 4 – 409yds

Options – there are many at Old Town.  At the twelfth, the player must navigate an alley of trees before reaching the wide, open fairway.  But before hitting the shot, the player must decide whether to play up the high left side of the fairway, leaving an approach that is slightly shorter but blind to the green and likely from a sidehill lie, or to play right to a lower, flatter part of the fairway from which the green is visible, but from which a longer approach is required.

OldTown12-Teezoom.jpg

The twelfth green is benched nicely into a small hillside, and again, this green is receptive to a low, running shot.  The massive back left bunker provides visual interest and makes the green appear far smaller than it is.  The bunker is visible from many different parts of the golf course.

OldTown12-Approach.jpg

The variety of the landforms and terrain at Old Town is staggering, as this view back up the twelfth hole shows.

OldTown12-Greenback.jpg

Hole 13 – Par 4 – 419yds

The thirteenth hole plays slightly uphill initially and over a small rise.  The ample fairway can be deceiving, as the approach from the left side is far preferable to the right.

OldTown13-Teezoom.jpg

Some golfers will find the approach on 13 the longest of the day.  This green occupies the westernmost extreme of the property at Old Town, and once again, a low running shot is welcomed here . . .

OldTown13-Approach.jpg

. . . as the fairway runs downhill and seamlessly into the green.

OldTown13-Greenback.jpg

Hole 14 – Par 4 – 354yds

The fourteenth hole at Old Town is, quite simply, one of the best short par four holes I’ve played.  The fairway slopes high right to low left, with the ideal position off the tee largely dependent on which way the player likes to work the ball on the approach.  A tee shot to the high right side leaves a perfect look at the green but presents a hook lie, while playing to the low right side off the tee leaves a flat lie but requires an uphill approach to a green largely out of sight.

OldTown14-Teezoom.jpg

The right side of the fairway allows a full view of the green but increases the likelihood of the deadly left miss.

OldTown14-Approach.jpg

The steep fall off short and left of the fourteenth green is severe.  The approach is complicated by the subtle false front – anything coming up short will roll all the way back down the slope, leaving a very difficult pitch back up to the green.

OldTown14-Short.jpg

Shots that miss long left run the risk of reaching the hazard.  It’s a short approach, but one rife with challenges.

OldTown14-ShortRight.jpg

A spectacular hole.

OldTown14-Greenbehind.jpg

Hole 15 – Par 3 – 180yds

The last, and the longest, par three at Old Town, the fifteenth plays back along the creek bordering the previous hole.

OldTown15-Teezoom.jpg

Though the fifteenth green is generous in size, the internal contours allow for pin placements that can change the dynamic of the hole considerably, as this picture from the fourteenth fairway shows.  Pins on the right side are particularly challenging.

OldTown15-Green.jpg

Hole 16 – Par 4 – 354yds

A short hole that plays longer due to the change in elevation, the sixteenth sits on some of the most “extreme” terrain at Old Town.  The tee shot plays uphill to a landing area canted from high left to low right, making the ideal aiming point farther left than it appears from the tee.  The righthand bunker is not in play but frames the tee shot nicely.

OldTown16-Teezoom.jpg

The sixteenth fairway crests and then plunges downhill, where it flattens briefly before abruptly rising again to the green.  Longer hitters can reach the downslope, but must decide whether they prefer a shorter shot to a green far above them, or a longer shot to a green at the same elevation.  The sixteenth was one of my favorite holes at Old Town.

OldTown16-Approach.jpg

This view from behind the sixteenth green shows both the varied slopes within the putting surface and the rolling terrain that must be negotiated to reach it.

OldTown16-Greenback.jpg

Hole 17 – Par 5 – 555yds

The seventeenth is a gorgeous par 5 that proudly displays the best of what Old Town has to offer.  From the elevated tee just steps from the sixteenth green, the player is afforded one of the best views on the golf course.  The small creek forces the player to a decision – to the left is an easier carry but will require the high route into the green, while to the right provides a better the approach shot along the low route.

OldTown17-Teezoom.jpg

The large ridge that must be negotiated on the second shot.  The bunker in the center of the fairway breaks up the visual while providing a small but menacing hazard.

OldTown17-Fairway.jpg

After cresting the ridge, the player once more gets to play to the wonderful double green, this time from an oblique angle and to the right hand side.  The high left side allows a full view of the green . . .

OldTown17-Approach.jpg

. . . while the low side allows a shorter third from a level position.

OldTown17-Short.jpg

This view from just behind the green illustrates how the seventeenth provides plenty of room but requires careful thought and solid decision-making for each shot.  A standout par 5.

OldTown17-Greenback.jpg

Hole 18 – Par 4 – 417yds

The finishing hole at Old Town plays parallel and to the right of the ninth hole.  The bunkers on the left side of the fairway gather everything in the vicinity, as the fairway slopes and feeds directly to them.

OldTown18-Teezoom.jpg

The approach to the well-bunkered eighteenth green provides one final test for the golfer.

OldTown18-Approach.jpg

The view from behind the day’s final pin shows the long, gentle climb up from the seventeenth to the eighteenth green.

OldTown18-Greenback.jpg

Old Town is a true gem with a wonderful vibe and is, most importantly, an extremely fun place to play golf.  The members here are a happy, welcoming, friendly bunch and with a golf course like this, it is easy to see why, as they must always be in a good mood.  Many thanks to Will Spivey, my excellent host and playing companion, who was kind enough not only to invite me for a round but generous enough to share his substantial knowledge about his course.  Many thanks also to Dunlop White, a great ambassador for Old Town and a true asset to the club, who was nice enough to chat with me at several points throughout the day about the course and the improvements made.

The beautiful home green and clubhouse as dusk approaches.

OldTown18-Green.jpg

Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed the tour.


1 Comment

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

SleepyHollow-Feature1.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Feature2.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Feature3.jpg

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).

SleepyHollow-Feature4.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Feature5.jpg

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

SleepyHollow-Clubhouse1.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Clubhouse2.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Clubhouse3.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Clubhouse4.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Scorecard1.jpg

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

SleepyHollow-Logo.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow-Bridges.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow1-Tee.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow1-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow1-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow1-GreenRight.jpg

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

SleepyHollow1-Greenback.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow2-Tee.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow2-ShortRight.jpg

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 . . .

SleepyHollow2-Green.jpg

. . . 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.

SleepyHollow2-GreenBridges.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow3-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow3-Approach.jpg

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

SleepyHollow3-Bridge.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow4-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow4-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow4-GreenLeft.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow5-Fairway.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow5-Short.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow5-Horizon.jpg

The fifth green.  No words necessary.

SleepyHollow5-GreenView.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow6-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow6-PrincipalsNose.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow6-Short.jpg

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

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

SleepyHollow7-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow7-Greenback.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow8-Teezoom.jpg

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

SleepyHollow8-Approach.jpg

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

SleepyHollow8-Green.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow9-Teezoom.jpg

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

SleepyHollow9-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow9-ShortLeft.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow10-Teezoom.jpg

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 . . .

SleepyHollow10-Bridge.jpg

. . . but it sure is pretty.

SleepyHollow10-GreenLeft.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow11-Tee.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow11-Approach.jpg

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

SleepyHollow11-Short.jpg

. . . 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.

SleepyHollow11-Green.jpg

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

SleepyHollow11-GreenLeft.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow12-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow12-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow12-Green.jpg

A look back down the twelfth hole.

SleepyHollow12-Greenback.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow13-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow13-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollw13-GreenAbove.jpg

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 . . .

SleepyHollow14-Teezoom.jpg

. . . 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.

SleepyHollow14-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow14-GreenRight.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow15-GreenRight.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow15-Tee.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow15-Fairway.jpg

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 . . .

SleepyHollow15-AimingFlag.jpg

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

SleepyHollow15-Green.jpg

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

SleepyHollow15-GreenBack.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow16-Tee.jpg

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

SleepyHollow16-TeeZoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow16-GreenBehind.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow17-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow17-Approach.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow17-ApproachCenter.jpg

The greenside view of the long downhill penultimate hole.

SleepyHollow17-GreenLeft.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow18-Teezoom.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow18-Short.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow18-GreenBack.jpg

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

SleepyHollow18-GreenStairs.jpg

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.

SleepyHollow16-Pops.jpg

Pops lets fly on 16

I hope you enjoyed the tour.