Premier Golf in the Hudson Valley 2013
Classic golf course design didn’t stop when A.W. Tillinghast put away his pencils. Today’s architects have kept three Hudson Valley clubs up to date with the modern game
Paramount Country Club
New City • 845-634-4626 • paramountcountryclub.com
6,724 yards, Par 70 • Rating 73.5, Slope 134
The rejuvenation of Paramount Country Club put big smiles on the faces of those lucky enough to try out the A. W. Tillinghast gem in New City. Jim Urbina masterminded the nearly two-year project, working to recreate the ideas that Tillinghast incorporated into the original design while making it competitive in the modern game. The result is a course designed for golfers who use their brain as well as brawn in their quest for par.
More than a few holes on the 6,724-yard (from tips) par-70 course will make you stop and think before whaling away with your driver. The most controversial change was to the seventh hole, which is now a short, funky, and fun par 4. It’s now only 307 yards from the tee, making it driveable if you can draw your ball around the bunkers and fescue guarding the sharply slanted green. Big-hitting members (and those who think they drive the ball 350 yards) objected to the short hole, however, so a new tee box at 455 yards was built to accommodate them. In my opinion, those who opt to play from there will have made a mediocre choice.
In general, the bunkers and tee boxes have been tweaked throughout the course. The greens were restored to their original size (they tend to shrink over the decades), but the original Tillinghast contours weren’t changed much. The greens at Paramount have traditionally been the course’s main defense, and Urbina wisely kept them slick and curvy.
A prime example of how Urbina adapted Tillinghast’s design to the modern game is the 13th hole, a monster par 3 even in Tilly’s day. When most drives went 180 yards, it was a near-impossible 240 yards from the tips, which made it sort of a par 3 and a half. To keep up with today’s technology, Urbina put in a new tee box that stretches it to 250 yards, still beyond the reach of most players, even with a driver.
The pride and joy of the new Paramount is the 18th hole, a 179-yard par 3. Before Urbina gave it his special treatment, it was an anticlimactic finish to your round. Now, it’s a “reef hole”—a Tillinghast concept that Urbina refined to perfection. The player has three options created by bunkers, ridges, and rough that require absolute commitment to the shot strategy. It can be played short and right, leaving a pitch over bunkers in front of the green; long and left, where you’ll have a moderate (depending on pin position) chip; or right at the flag—as long as you can float the ball 180 yards and stop it on a dime.
Paramount Country Club (formerly Dellwood) got new owners a couple of years ago. They’re sinking money into all facets of the beautiful, classic property including significant upgrades to everything from the banquet facility to the tennis courts. They are to be most heartily commended, though, for their investment in this fine, fascinating golf course.
Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley
Hopewell Junction • 845-223-1600 • trumpnationalhudsonvalley.com
7,693 yards, Par 72 • Rating 77.3, Slope 147
Donald Trump’s rebuild of Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley has had a couple of years to grow in, and it was well worth the wait. The course, set on 300 acres overlooking the Stormville Mountains, now stretches to a full 7,693 yards, giving even the biggest hitter plenty of room to let it all out from the tee. There’s a fascinating mix of links-style and tree-lined parkland holes, not to mention three lakes to challenge your game. With six sets of tees, there’s a fair test of golf for players at every level.
Trump National Hudson Valley isn’t just a bomb-and-gouge fest, either. Players who do a little strategic thinking will be rewarded as much as those who just flail away with the driver on every tee. The second hole, for example, is now a 562-yard man-sized par 5 (from the blue tees) that forces you to place every shot with care. The split fairway that comes into play on the second shot presents a real conundrum: if you go for the left side for a better angle into the green, you have to carry an expanse of gnarly rough, but if you play the safe second shot to the right fairway, you have to carry a monster bunker complex to reach the green on your third.
You’ll want to build a big lead in your match before you get to the 17th hole. The 200-yard par 3 is fraught with danger that begins with a long carry over water just to reach the bailout area, much less the green. You’ll also want to carefully check the pin position before choosing a club—there are two tiers on the green and you’re looking at a three putt (or more) if you’re on the wrong one.
As with all Trump clubs, the amenities are top-notch. New this year is a family-friendly pool—with a separate, 16-inch-deep kiddie pool—along with a new pool house with locker rooms and a bistro-style restaurant. The Adirondack-style clubhouse has fabulous views of the course, not to mention locker rooms with all the comforts of home—Trump style.
Mahopac Golf Club
Mahopac • 845-628-9335 • mahopacgolfclub.com
6,514 yards, Par 70 • Rating 72.5, Slope 133
It’s not exactly a secret course, but Mahopac Golf Club in Mahopac may well be one of the most underappreciated golf opportunities in the Hudson Valley. The course is short but tough, with small, fast greens and vicious bunkering, not to mention gnarly rough and tight landing areas on most holes. The club has been around since 1898 and it’s about time it got its due. Extensive renovations guided by Ken Dye took place a few years ago to produce today’s 6,514-yard track.
Ask for advice in the pro shop, and the first words from head pro Terence Hughes or assistant Billy Ashford will be “stay below the hole” and not be long over the greens. In fact, they recommend landing your approach on the front (or even in front) of nearly every green to avoid some really ugly downhill putting disasters-in-the-making. Many of the greens—including the first four—actually slope from front to back, so great, great care is called for if you’re in the mood to go pin hunting.
The total course yardage may not add up to today’s supposedly necessary 7,000-plus yards, but there are more than enough long holes to keep your driver busy—and that may include one of the par 3s! There are five of them, with the shortest listed as 163 and the longest at 218 yards. That monster, the 12th hole, usually plays into the wind, though, so don’t be ashamed to pull the big stick and hit it with conviction.
The par 5s are challenges, too. Two of them, the 487-yard fifth and the 479-yard 18th, look like birdie pushovers. Both are heavily bunkered, however, and play uphill, so you can’t take them for granted. The other par 5, the seventh, is a brutal test at 601 yards with a fairway that slants big-time right to left all the way to the hole. Even a center-aimed drive (and second and third shot) will likely end up in the left rough, which makes the hole play even longer.
There’s a lot to appreciate at Mahopac Golf Club. The scenery is spectacular, particularly in the fall, and there’s both a range and a short-game area to tone up your scoring potential. Members also enjoy a generous slice of beach on Lake Mahopac.