Public Golf is Good Golf
Daily-fee and public memberships allow every golfer to tee it up on high-caliber courses.
Elevation and bunkers tell the story of this fascinating golf course. The tale starts on the first tee, where you hit every golfer’s favorite shot, a bomb into the sky that falls to the fairway far below and hopefully avoids the cluster of bunkers on the right side. That drive off an elevated tee never gets old, which is good, since it’s a shot you’ll see several times at Patriot Hills.
At 6,485 yards from the tips, Patriot Hills isn’t long, but the elevation changes make it quite a test. Accuracy off the tee is essential on every hole, but particularly on the short par 4s, where the driver is probably not going to be your friend. The 2nd hole, a tempting 290-yarder with five bunkers and a fairway the width of a one-lane highway, fits that description perfectly.
The par 5s on the front nine can be birdied if your drive finds the right place on the fairway, giving you an angle to get home in two strokes. The back-nine par 5s are longer and tougher, especially the 568-yard 14th hole, which requires you to navigate two waste areas across the fairway to reach the green.
Stony Point and Rockland County residents receive somewhat better rates, but non-residents are welcome at Patriot Hills. Several types of memberships that give you preferential booking privileges and unlimited play are available, too.
Like its namesake city, Rye Golf Club hugs Milton Harbor and Long Island Sound. Members, who don’t have to be residents of the city, enjoy one of the best public courses in Westchester. The short but demanding Devereux Emmet course uses the rolling terrain, small greens, and wonderful views of the Sound to make golf interesting in many ways.
The front nine features narrow landing areas and some long par 4s like the 1st hole, which stretches 429 yards, and the 7th, a 469-yard monster that plays downhill but doglegs into the prevailing wind off the Sound. Your second shot on that hole, assuming your drive makes it around the corner, will be blind, but there’s a well-placed tree directly behind the green giving a line to your target. The front side ends with two short, fun par 4s, where water shapes your tactics. The 333-yard 8th is one of only two holes in the county where Long Island Sound is actually in play — the other is on the back side of this course.
Variety is the spice of the closing nine, with three par 3s, two par 5s, and four par 4s. At 574 yards, the 11th hole is the longest on the course and plays uphill. The last three holes take you to the Sound and back in a fun loop that includes the 427-yard par-4 16th hole, the 187-yard par-3 17th (the other hole where the Sound comes into play), and the 473-yard par-5 18th, which has the most radically sloped green on the course. It’s a great finishing hole because harder-than-it-looks birdies will upset many matches.
The Westchester County Park Commission was established in 1922, and it opened Maple Moor, its second course (Mohansic was first) in 1927. It’s been a favorite of county golfers ever since. The 6,374-yard track can play tight and tough for those golfers with an erratic driver swing, but otherwise Maple Moor’s par 71 is achievable on days when your putter is working.
You’ll know which way your day is going early in the round, since a wayward fade from the tee on the 383-yard 1st hole will leave you playing over a line of trees to the elevated green, while a strong draw/hook flirts with out-of-bounds. The 3rd hole, a 548-yard par 5, has a straight but narrow fairway and a green where both water and bunkers are in play.
The 13th hole, a 265-yard par 4, may be the most fun on the course. It’s certainly drive-able, but there are trees to the left and right, as well as bunkers on both sides of the green, so consider the consequences before you whale away with your driver.
Some of the highest public-course ratings in the metro area indicate the quality of the golf at Centennial Golf Club in Carmel. Three distinct nines can be combined into 7,000-plus-yard courses with ratings that range from 74.2 to 75.3, and slopes as high as 145. If you want a true test of your game, Centennial is the place to tee it up.
You can start with the Meadows nine, which has big, well-contoured greens and a layout that richly rewards good shots while brutally punishing mediocrity. It opens with a 618-yard par 5 (from the tips) that is followed by a quirky, short 352-yard par 4. The 339-yard 8th hole is a gotta-go-for-it downhill par 4 — but be prepared for some sand play if you’re short.
As you might expect from the name, the Lakes nine features water on several holes, including the 567-yard par-5 1st hole, which snakes through not one but two hazards on the way to the green. It also features the longest par 3 on the facility: the 219-yard 3rd hole.
The Fairways nine may have the toughest greens of the three nines, but a little less elevation comes into play, and the fairways are a bit wider. At 501 yards, the downhill par-5 8th hole is a birdie-fest.
Centennial also has a fine practice facility. Features include a double-ended range with 65 tee boxes, three putting greens, and two separate chipping and bunker areas. The Dave Pelz Scoring Game School offers instruction on several dates throughout the season.
The nine new holes that opened in 2012 at Lazy Swan have fully grown in and proven excellent additions to the scenic layout. Fun, exciting Lazy Swan plays to par 70 at 6,216 yards, as it was designed by architect Barry Jordan, making it a player-friendly layout that uses water, elevation changes, and well-contoured greens to keep you on your toes.
Smart players will use their drivers judiciously. In the right place, length can be a real asset at Lazy Swan, but many times the better play is the safe one. The 6th hole, a 310-yard par 4, is a good, safe place, since the sharp dogleg has more bunkers than you can imagine, as well as a nasty water hazard between the tee and green. The 8th hole, however, a 485-yard par 5, is definitely a driver hole. Be sure to take a moment to savor the views from the tee of Kaaterskill High Peak on the horizon.
Water comes into play on half the holes on the course, although straight shooters won’t have much trouble with it. Par 3s play a big part in the redesign. In fact, there are six of them, ranging from 155 to 203 yards. While the par 3 greens are fairly generous, every hole is well bunkered and/or protected by water, so misses can be costly.