Hidden behind the wrought-iron gates and stone pillared driveways of Westchester’s most exclusive golf clubs are hideaways of private enjoyment.
(page 1 of 4)
The 10th hole at Winged Foot West. The 16th at Sleepy Hollow. The ninth at St. Andrew’s. All great golf holes. We know them and love them, even revere them, but there are many other great holes in the county that please the eye and challenge the skills of those golfers lucky enough to find them.
Nearly every course has at least one—a hole that members love (or hate) but the media have ignored in deference to the famous fairways and often-photographed greens that usually fill the pages of magazines like this one. We compiled a 6,917-yard, par 72 course composed entirely of holes that haven’t been seen here before. Our goal? To give you a look at Westchester’s grassy glens of golfing gratification generally unnoticed by casual passersby but known to the cognoscenti of the game as special spots of secret pleasure.
14th, Anglebrook Golf Club
Anglebrook Golf Club
Lincolndale • Hole 14 • 409 Yards • Par 4
Teeing off into the sky and watching your drive sail forever before it drops to a fairway far, far below is a near-orgasmic experience for most golfers, which is one reason we open our course of secret pleasures with the 14th hole at Anglebrook. The view from the elevated tee box is pretty spectacular even before you hit your drive, taking in the hills surrounding the Amawalk Reservoir to the southwest as well as the award-winning clubhouse on another hill rising far beyond the green to the east. Pay attention to where you’re supposed to hit your ball, however, because the “Cape hole” layout demands you choose your line with precision to avoid driving through the fairway if you aim too far right or falling seriously short (and possibly blocked) if you try to cut off too much distance by driving left. A good line for a long hitter is the 200-year-old white oak tree that defines the right side of the green complex. The resultant second shot will be with a short iron—something you’ll appreciate when trying to find the right spot on the radical three-tiered green.
Sunningdale Country Club
Scarsdale • Hole 7 • 510 Yards • Par 5
The journey to the green is more than half the fun on this long, uphill, bunker-protected par five. It starts with deciding how best to navigate the cross bunkers that stretch across the fairway in the landing zone off the tee. A draw will put you in the best position for your second shot, but the bunkers are only 230 yards away on the left side while you have twenty more yards to play with on the right. Assuming your drive stays out of trouble, the next question is how best to reach the green perched far above you near the stone tower on the hilltop. Deep bunkers in front of the green discourage a go-for-it second shot, but laying up is no guarantee of success either, since you almost have to land your subsequent wedge within three feet of the hole on the three-tiered green to guarantee anything fewer than three putts.
Brae Burn Country Club
Purchase • Hole 8 • 210 Yards • Par 3
Sand, water, a huge rolling green—what more do you want in a par 3? Distance, you say? There’s that as well on this picture-perfect hole, with the center of the green a mere 210 yards from the back tee. Most of that yardage is carry, too, so you’ll never want to under-club on this hole. Behind the two-tiered green is a grassy berm and a backstop bunker just in case your testosterone gets the better of you on the tee. Try to control yourself, though, because playing from behind the green means you will be shooting back downhill toward the water. More than a few wily members at Brae Burn lay up to the pond, pitch it close, and one-putt for a par.
Photo by Jim Krajicek
10th, Hudson National Golf Club
Hudson National Golf Club
Croton-on-Hudson • Hole 10 • 425 Yards • Par 4
Visually, strategically, and athletically, the 10th hole at Hudson National is a pleasure to play. It offers a stunning view of the course’s namesake river in the distance from the elevated tee. The fairway is protected by bunkers on the right and an environmental area on the left, though, so tear your eyes off the scenery long enough to take careful aim for your drive. A good line is the left edge of the bunker complex midway to the green. It’s about 270 off the tee but uphill, so reaching it is unlikely and a well-struck drive will leave you with a short iron to the crowned green. Choose your club wisely and hit it straight—perdition awaits anything but a precise approach.
9th, Trump National Golf Club
Trump National Golf Club
Briarcliff Manor • Hole 9 • 401 Yards • Par 4
There are “only” ten bunkers on this fun little uphill par four, so bring your beach towel unless you’re ready to hit two perfect shots. Actually, the drive isn’t too bad—the fairway is pretty generous in the landing area, although you’ll want to favor the right side (which means challenging some of the sand) to leave yourself the best angle to approach the green. That’s when the real fun begins. The green sits at an angle behind a 40-yard-long bunker and climbs three big tiers, so make sure you check the distance to the pin and choose plenty of club to get there. The putting surface itself is as large at the Donald’s persona and even bigger than the bunker, measuring about 50 yards from front to back.