Wykagyl Country Club
New Rochelle, New York
United States of America

Seventh hole, 170 yards; This original Van Etten hole plays across a valley to a green benched into the far hillside. As green speeds increased, so did the hole’s infamy as it enjoyed more back to front cant than any green on the course. In recent times though, the green had become a caricature of itself with only three viable hole locations. Coore & Crenshaw worked as hard on this green as any to a point where some members voiced concern that its character might be too muted. Coore smiles because this remains the single toughest green on which to consistently get down in two putts.

Members will tell you that landing in the greenside bunkers is better than being long.

The golf bag provides a sense of today's four foot drop from back to front on the seventh green.

The golf bag provides a sense of today’s four foot drop from back to front on the seventh green.

After playing this par 3 in 1905, Van Etten had the golfer play another one shotter toward the red tree in the distance.

Eighth hole, 445 yards; As was common in the early 1900s when Van Etten built the course, the playing corridors were mostly straight with a only few that featured attractive bends. By today’s standards, Van Etten’s design was deficient of playing angles, save for today’s fourteenth. Ross’s bunkers and Tillinghast’s work and the fine-tuning by Coore & Crenshaw corrected that. Holes five, six, fifteen and this one provide testimony. Ross abolished Van Etten’s consecutive par 3’s in favor of this superb dogleg left. It is a contender for the best hole on the course and is certainly among the very best in Westchester.

A player in the group ahead hit a dream tee ball.

The bold line off the tee splits the two bunkers and the golfer is rewarded with a big forward kick off the far shoulder.

Once the golfer walks around that large protuberance, this vision unfolds.

Once around that large protuberance, this vista unfolds.

The largest greenside bunker on the course dominates the green's right side and places emphasis on finding the left center of the fairway off the tee.

The largest greenside bunker on the course dominates the green’s right side and places emphasis on finding the left center of the fairway off the tee.

Today’s view back up the eighth is vastly superior …

… to the one from days gone by.

Playing the Palm Beach routing has golfers go from the 8th green to the 12th tee seen above. The sequence becomes 8,12-18,10,11,9 which makes for a 5-3-5 finish where anything can happen.

Ninth hole, 495 yards; The most unusual aspect of Van Etten’s remaining work is embodied here. Fans of the Home hole at Yale Golf Club will appreciate Van Etten’s gumption in his take-no-prisoners approach of having this fairway scale a small mountain. He did something similarly at the last which prompted Harry Vardon to remark, ‘It is only by remembering that the clubhouse is at the top of this mountain that the portly Member even summons up courage to attempt the ascent.’ While Ross left the Home hole intact, Tillinghast did not but both men were thankfully content to leave the 9th as Van Etten routed it.

The ideal drive finishes in the flat near the top left man. From there, the golfer has a reasonable chance to crest the hill with his second and chase a shot onto …

… the open green that sits in an amphitheatre at the base of the clubhouse.

Tenth hole, 515 yards; How holes interact with those around them offers a good barometer of a course’s variety. At the three-shot tenth, the approach is uphill to a three-tiered putting surface that is generally out of view. The next is a one-shotter, steeply downhill and everything  is apparent while standing on the tee. Even more impressive is the juxtaposition of the 9th and 10th holes. The former features a flattish green well below the fairway while the latter possesses one of the course’s most severe greens situated well above the golfer. So it goes, throughout the round there are ever-shifting challenges. At the end, an inescapable conclusion is reached that everything has been asked of the golfer in a most delightful manner.

The course’s deepest greenside bunker and three-tiered green give the golfer pause from wildly slashing at the 10th in two.

Twelfth hole, 500 yards; Laid across a high section of the property, the 12th fairway actually enjoys the best micro undulations courtesy of boulders buried beneath. The course’s largest hazard pares the fairway width in half at the hitting zone and does what it should: make some members sob with regret, which is another way of saying that it is well-placed! Combined with the knob green perched at the edge of a ravine, the thinking golfer has to consider if a driver is the prudent play. It is a marvelous case study of how a spacious hole remains tactical.

Given all the valleys, one might think the course had more elevated bridges but this is the only one.

Ross’s massive central bunker was reintroduced as part of the Coore & Crenshaw restoration. It isn’t the only thing hazardous in the fairway …

… as this abrupt knob thirty yards beyond inserts itself into play.

The course’s most severe false front makes the pitch to the 12th anything but straightforward. Behind the green is a ravine and even more nerves would be frayed if its presence was felt more.

continued >>>