Taconic Golf Club
‘medio tutissimus ibis’
Many a visitorinnocently remarks after his first round at Taconic, ‘My goodness, where has this Ross gem been hiding?’
Located inWilliamstown, Massachusetts, Taconic never fails toimpress the first time visitor. The only surprise is learning that Donald Ross had nothing to do withitbut rather full credit belongs to the little known New England design firm of Wayne Stiles & John Van Kleek.
Stiles, who was a low single figure amateur player, was a member at Brae Burn, a fine Ross courseoutside Boston. He played there countless times and bythe start of WWI,he was more interested in golf course design than in his Boston-based landscape profession. In 1924, he formed a partnership with John Van Kleek, another landscape professional. According to noted Stiles historian Gary Sherman, Stiles &Van Kleek builtmore than 60 courses between 1924 and 1932, mostly in New England (though Van Kleek was based in St.Petersburg, Florida).
Like such Ross gems as Holston Hills and Mid Pines,Taconic enjoysagreatnaturalness with an absence of any heavy handedness by man. This is accomplished largely through their routing in which they found so many natural green sites within the 130 acre property. Many of the greens are locatedatop aknoll or hillock(e.g. 3, 4, 5, 10, 12 and 16). Inothercases, Stiles & Van Kleek pushed dirt from the surrounds to createattractive green sitesas extensions of fairways (e.g.8, 11 and 15). As with the best Golden Age designers, Stiles & Van Kleek provided plenty ofroom off the tee with the real challenge being ahead at the green. To find oneself above the hole is to invite anxious moments into the round.
Holes to Note
3rd hole,410 yards; A classic example of a hole narrowing and becoming more exact the closerone gets to the green, which has some of the finestinterior contours on the course. Mindless length is rarely rewarded at Taconic.
4th hole, 360 yards; More charming than strategic, there is no reason to flirt with the meandering creek down the left of the fairway as the green’s angle best accepts approach shots from the right portion of the fairway.
5th hole, 170 yards; Stiles often spent quite a bit of time on sites getting the finer details of the greens correct and this hole is a prime example of his taking the time to get it right: the bunkers and the green contours are beautifully tied together.