Taconic Golf Club
8th hole, 395 yards; A sleeper, this dogleg right seems innocent enough but the approach is more downhill than one suspects. When coupled with a green that runs from front to back,getting one’sapproach close to the hole is harder than appearances suggest.
10th hole, 505 yards; The most frustrating hole on the course, the tiger sees a reachable par five, especiallyas his teeball will pick up extra roll in the downhill hitting area. The apparent ease off the tee is balanced with one ofNew England’s most severely pitched greens. With almost five feet in fall from back to front, the golfer must stay both on line and below the hole at all time. On the other hand, theaverage golfer can blunder his way down the fairway, wedge on beneath the hole and leave with a simple par.
11th hole, 470 yards;A grand old fashioned hole where most players won’t have a clear look at thegreen for their approach shot over the brow of a ridge. The low lying mounds around the green are beautifullyintegrated into the green itself.
12th hole, 365 yards; The green and its bunkering encourage an approach from the left but alas, the ravine located down that side does not. The further right toward safety the player hits his drive, the correspondingly worse angle he gains into the green.
13th hole, 390 yards; From the tee, everything in the hitting area slopes sharply left to right with the natural consequence that the green is often approached from the right side of the fairway. If the green was circular, this wouldn’t matter but instead the architects built the deepest (40 yards) and narrowest (16 yards) green on the course and oriented it down the left of the fairway. To gain the best angle for one’s approach, the player can drive straight down the edge of the left fairway (with out of bounds twenty paces away) or draw his approach into the hillside to hold it in the left portion of the fairway. Holes that are laid across side slopes rarely look or play as well as this one.
14th hole, 175 yards; Another well defined hit or miss target, which Jack Nicklausonce didin a single stroke in the late 1950s.
17th hole, 220 yards; The penultimate hole completes a very impressive set of one shot holes. The green is wider (26 yards) than it is deep (21 yards) and is an elusive target. Given the domed green’s severe back to front pitch, the key shot is often the second one: a chip or pitch that gets above the hole may lead the player to take the same number of strokes here as on the three shot 18th hole.
Though Taconic is considered Stiles’s finest work for good reason, it does lack cross bunkers. Undoubtedly influenced by Herbert Leed’s masterpiece at the Myopia Hunt Club, Stilesdid not hesitate to employ cross bunkers where possible, with the 18th at Thorny Lea GC being the best example. At Taconic, Stiles placed little directly between the golfer on the tee and the green in the distance. Rather, he let the rolling terrain create the need foraccurate driving. Hence, the latin phrase on the front of the scorecard which translates to ‘safer from the middle.’
At 6,640 yards from the back, Taconic relies on its cunninggreen complexes rather than on any requirement for brute strength. The USGA was impressed enough to ask Taconic GC to host the 1996 U.S. Senior Amateur (its third USGA event) andTaconic has also twice hosted the NCAA Championship.
Massachusettswas indeed a very crowded neighborhood in the roaring 1920s. But of this there is no doubt: if Wayne Stiles had practised his keen hand at architecture in any other decade, he would be much more of a well knownfigure. His work demanded that kind of respect, with Taconic being the finest example.