Fenway Golf Club
New York, United States of America

Eighth hole, 355 yards and twelfth hole, 455 yards; These holes parallel each other, have a similar right to left bend to their fairways, and their greens are beside one another and share a bunker complex. Otherwise, they play as differently as two holes can!

The 8th green is fronted by this unique bunker complex which is also shared with the 12th green.

Looking across the 12th green complex over to the 8th. Typical of the long two shotters, the 12th green is open in front.

Ninth hole, 400 yards; Once Tillinghast found this natural shelf green, the rest fell into place.

The 9th green is well defended.

Tenth hole, 450 yards; Tree removal has turned this into a striking hole, with the ground game again being of paramount importance: can the golfer carry a pair of bunkers 100 yards shy of the green and have his ball chase onto the open green? Tillinghast was a great admirer of links golf so it comes as no surprise to see him incorporate this attractive dilemma into his design.

Once past this pair of bunkers, the 10th green is open in front.

Thirteenth hole, 410 yards; The Cape green, which is angled from front right to back left, makes this one of the more interesting uphill approach shots that the golfer will find. To be sure, the green is wide open in front, and a drawn approach will use the slope of the ground perfectly to work back to certain hole locations.

Fourteenth hole, 435 yards; The boldness of the green complex is not out of some text book but rather took plenty of flair and imagination, traits that Tillinghast enjoyed more than almost any architect, dead or alive.

The green is open for twenty yards in front if only the golfer can carry this serpentine bunker.

Fifteenth hole, 300 yards; After the beating administered from the 10th through the 14th hole, Tillinghast throws this little gem into the mix. Similar to the 11th at Country Club of Charleston, to miss the green left or right is to court a big number and many of the finest amateurs keep their approach shots short and straight in hopes for a chip and a putt par.

The golfer struggled mightily from this greenside bunker just to get a bogey.

Best to approach the tiny 2,500 sq.ft. 15th green from head on.

Sixteenth hole, 430 yards; The only hole on the course where both the tee ball and approach shot are downhill, the last forty yards of the fairway feeds directly onto the green, which is ringed by mean spirited, little bunkers.

Gauging where to land your approach on the downsloping fairway takes some local knowledge.

Eighteenth hole, 570 yards; Just as the 290 yard 1st hole makes for an excellent start to a match, the Home hole at Fenway is equally appealing as a finishing hole as anything from an eagle to a double is possible. What makes both holes are the interior contours of their respective greens. In the case of the 18th, the green is 65 paces (!) deep and the different hole locations on certain plateaus bring each of the various greenside bunkers into play.

At over 10,000 square feet, the 18th green affords numerous interesting hole locations.

As one may gather from the above hole descriptions, within Fenway’s 6700 yards, par 70, there exists great variety. There are two potentially drivable short two shotters (the 1st and 15th) yet there are also two par fours on each side playing over 450 yards and two others over 430 yards. The one shotters range from 145 yards to 245 yards. This variety dictates a constantly changing test for the player, be it a fairway wood, long iron or tricky wedge into a demanding set of greens.

What then are the weaknesses of the course? Surely there are some? Well, maybe and maybe not. The average player may grouse that he has to hit driver to two uphill par threes but Tillinghast lived up to his own words in that he beat character into each and every hole, principally around the greens. The authors imagine that Tillinghast’s sole reservation in how the course plays today is that there are too many trees (perhaps several hundred) in play which also mask the inspired nature of the property. Some of his features like the mounds in between the 8th and 12th fairways are obscured under trees while a skyline green like the 2nd would be better showcased if the trees behind it were felled.

However, the membership deserves to enjoy the course and receive the accolades that are due to it based on Hanse’s work over the past few years. As selective tree clearing continues to show off both the rolling nature of the property and the skill of Tillinghast’s own work, the authors have no doubt that Fenway will be perceived amongst architecture students as the equal to any of Tillinghast’s designs. After all, it has the greens that make Winged Foot and Somerset Hills so special; there are no indifferent holes much in the way as the courses at Baltusrol retain such a high standard; Fenway’s topography is pleasantly rolling as at Five Farms; with only two par fives and no let-up holes, the course keeps the pressure on the golfer as at Bethpage Black; and finally, Fenway enjoys the same superb conditioning as San Francisco Golf Club. All in all, you can’t ask for more than that!

The authors wish to acknowledge and thank Dr. Geoffrey Childs for his photographs and contribution to this course profile.

The End