A quick scan of most lists that rank the best golf courses in the country reveals an unprecedented cluster in the neighboring communities of New York, Westchester and Long Island.
“The history of golf runs very deep in Westchester County,” says Natasha Caputo, County Director of Film and Tourism. St. Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings-On-Hudson was the site of the first round of golf played in America, she points out.
Westchester County Manager George Latimer notes that the more famous courses draw people to the county to play or watch tournaments. The classes, he says, are part of Westchester’s appeal to business executives who play and chat simultaneously. The clubs are frequently used for movies and TV shows, which boosts their visibility and appeal to tourists, Caputo adds.
But Latimer points out that the county also offers six public golf courses. “And they’re nice,” he says emphatically. “It’s not open pasture for cows where you hit a ball on flat ground – I’ve seen places like that.”
The six public courses in Westchester that Latimer refers to are: Dunwoodie in Yonkers, Hudson Hills in Ossining, Maple Moor in White Plains, Mohansic in Yorktown Heights, Saxon Woods in Scarsdale and Sprain Lake in Yonkers. Visit www.visitwestchesterny.com/things-to-do/sports/golf/.
Here is a brief tour of the county’s four most famous clubs.
Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck
The club’s two renowned courses were designed by architect AW Tillinghast, with recent restoration by architect Gil Hanse.
The Winged Foot club has hosted many major tournaments, including a PGA Championship and six US Opens – only two other clubs in the country have hosted more US Opens.
Members also reportedly voted against holding more US Opens in recent years, preferring to keep tee times to themselves. The last Open there, won by Bryson DeChambau in 2020, took place almost a century after Bobby Jones’ triumph in 1929.
Jack Nicklaus was asked to rate the difficulty of the West Course on a scale of 1-10, and he gave it a 12.
It was such a challenge that Hale Irwin’s victory at the US Open in 1974, 7 over par, was dubbed “Winged Foot Massacre”. The club is extremely desirable. Despite a registration fee of $150,000 and annual dues exceeding $15,000, the waitlist for membership, which is by invitation only, is expected to last more than a decade.
The most famous (fictional) caddy, Danny Noonan, was played in Caddyshack by actor and Larchmont native Michael O’Keefe, who actually caddyed for two years at Winged Foot.
Quaker Ridge Golf Club, Scarsdale
This course, also designed by Tillinghast, was also restored by Hanse, who removed many trees and modified everything from the bunkers to the greens, some of which had shrunk but expanded to their original dimensions.
It may not be as famous as its neighbor Mamaroneck, but when told that Winged Foot was considered by some to be the best course in the world, Nicklaus replied: “Maybe it is. , but there is a whole golf course across the street.
He was talking about Quaker Ridge.
Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Sleepy Hollow
The club, which offers majestic views of the Hudson River from the course, was founded by a group that included an Astor and a Vanderbilt. Newer members range from the Rockefellers to Bill Murray.
The original course had 11 holes designed by CB Macdonald. Tillinghast added seven holes, but over the past decade has been redesigned to follow Macdonald’s original style throughout.
He’s a screen star, having starred in The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, 30 Rock, The Blacklist and Ray Donovan.
Westchester Country Club, Harrison
In 1963, when the Thunderbird Classic came to Westchester, it featured some of the sport’s biggest stars, with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus winning it in two of the first three years. In 1967 the tournament, a key development of the US Open, was renamed the Westchester Classic. Although this tournament ended 15 years ago, the club has since hosted the Senior Players Championship and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The club’s roster of members over the decades included boxer Gene Tunney, Shirley Temple, Howard Hughes and TV stars Jackie Gleason, Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson.