Piping Rock Club

The elegant 450 yard 14th hole

How could Charles Blair Macdonald remain mad at such a club? Honestly!

To play the course today, one can only think of the great pride thatany architect would take in such a course. However, notMacdonald. Ever the perfectionist, he wanted the complete run of the 340 acres for his beloved game of golf when he was awarded this project in 1911. Unfortunately, polo was the glamour sport at the time and the founders remained adamant that the land sprawling beneath the north side of the clubhouse be reserved forthat gentlemenly pursuit.

Macdonald could often dominate a group of powerful men through the sheer force of his commandingpersonality butnot at Piping Rock. The men who founded this Gold Coast club in Locust Valley were equally unyielding.

Taken from the 1st fairway, this view is across the one time polo fields that led to so much friction.The 2nd fairway is in the distance.

Macdonald was thus forced to route the holes aroundthemassive pair of polo fields. From some unclear reason, he never became comfortable with this task. He must not have felt that the best holes would resultand yet, the holes that occupy the perimeter of the polo fields contain the better movement anyway. The elevated tees on the first two holes make them. Indeed, three other holes in close proximity to the polo fields (the Redan, the Road Hole and the Biarritz) areamong thebest on a course that has no poor holes. Macdonald may have preferred not to route the 4th and 5th holes against the side of a hill, but the holes are plenty fineas they turned out.

With Macdonald perpetually at odds with the club board, Seth Raynor oversaw much of the construction work and began liasing directly with the board. Raynor went on to build his first solo courseat the Westhampton Country Club the following year and perhaps his experiences in dealing with the board here helped to give him the confidence to go at it alone.

Holes to Note

A view seventy yards short of the Redan with its intimidating left front bunker barely visibile

3rd hole 185 yards; The Redan hole for many. Who can argue? The front left bunker is a fulltwelve feet deep, making it the most intimidatingof Macdonald/Raynor’s Redan front bunkers. Still, the bunker should be avoided as the green has greatsweep fromfront right to back left. The proper aim can be as much as twenty yards right of certain hole locations, and seeing the ball take the slope just perfectly is the favorite shot for many on this course.

The golf ball in the Redan bunker is feeling lonely indeed.

6th hole, 525 yards; An appealing serpentine three shot hole that is capped off by a green that can make this hole a bear.An abrupt three foot rise in the green creates a back plateau that provides hole locations that increase the day’s stroke average by almost a full shot. This backplateau isringed by a series of deep bunkers, from which recovery is a major accomplishment.Thus, many approach shots stay on the lower two-thirds portion of the green. The resulting sad three putt to a back hole location is of little comfort.

The End