4 Best Golf Courses and Country Clubs 2012 in the Hudson Valley, Upstate NY

If variety is the spice of life, golf in the Hudson Valley is a banquet of flavors. Whether you’re looking for a fun, quick nine holes or a serious threat to your handicap, you’ll find it at one of these four fine Hudson Valley clubs


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manhattan woodsManhattan Woods Golf Club, Hole 7

Photograph by Jim Krajicek

Manhattan Woods Golf Club

West Nyack, NY; www.manhattanwoodsgc.com
• 7,109 yards • Par 72

Rolling hills, protected wetlands, and devilish greens are the hallmarks of Manhattan Woods, although a view of the eponymous skyline to the south helps define the club as one of the metropolitan area’s finest golf experiences.

Gary Player designed the course, which opened in 1998. He carefully fit 18 holes into the wooded terrain, squeezing fairways between marshy wetlands and hillsides covered with knee-deep fescue while carving bunkers into the most challenging places. Five sets of tees stretch it from 5,090 yards to a championship-caliber 7,109. Choose your launching pad carefully. From the blues it’s less than 6,400 yards, but the course rating is a hefty 72.2 with a 141 slope.

You’ll also want to look before you leap on several holes, since many of the natural features can suggest strategies that aren’t wise. Several forced carries aren’t as long as they look, and many of the hazards have bail-out areas that are actually good strategic choices. On the other hand, sometimes there really is trouble everywhere you look, like on the 13th hole, a short (508 yard) par five where the bunker that lies between your second shot and glory is every bit as menacing as it appears. And the oh-so-innocent-looking par three seventh hole, just 168 yards downhill, can make club selection a nightmare when the wind is whirling and swirling around. Miss that green in any direction, and a five or six is entirely possible.

The Manhattan Woods greens are among the most difficult in the Hudson Valley. Not only are they strongly contoured, they have exceptionally pronounced grain that add an entirely new dimension to reading breaks. If you are trying to putt cross-grain your ball will break more or less than you think, while going down-grain is like rolling your pill on the hood of a Mercedes. You can’t rely on your eyes, either. If your caddie says your putt breaks uphill, believe him—he’s reading the grain.

Another thing you’ll notice the first time you play Manhattan Woods is what happens when your ball finds the hole. You won’t hear the usual satisfying rattle that comes when you hole out, but rather a distinctive “ping” that comes from the unique cups designed to let your playing partners know you didn’t give yourself that little two-footer while they had their backs turned.

» Next country club: The Sedgewood Club, Kent Lakes, NY


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