WESTCHESTER GOLF CLUB - 17 points
You’ve no doubt when you’ve arrived at Westchester Country Club, the place is quite something.
This is no folksy golf club from the days of yore but rather a behometh. There are 2 full-length golf
courses, a par three course, tennis courts galore, a fitness centre, a barbers (!) and a mammoth
clubhouse/apartment block/restaurant complex which dominates the landscape. You’re at a proper
US Country Club here.
The West Course is the senior partner and hosted a PGA Tour event, latterly known as the Barclays, from 1967 to 2007. There are various stories as to why the association ended but one that rings true is that the members didn’t want to have to stop playing tennis while the PGA’s finest were doing battle just yards away. There's a good read about it here.
If truth be told our expectations weren’t great going into Westchester. It didn’t have the same reputation as nearby Winged Foot or Quaker Ridge and the greens had been sanded pretty heavily that morning. However, we ended up proved wrong – this was a great morning out on a lovely course.
The land which the architect, Walter Travis, had to play with was pretty tough. This is a hilly terrain and after playing 18 holes here it is unlikely you will head to the first tee to go round again with a spring in your step. It’s also now very much a woodland course, something Travis wouldn’t recognise apparently from the land he worked with originally and this is a course where you need to have some game going to score well. Having said that, it didn’t seem too intimidating either. We played off the members tees and at 6,500 yards it was eminently playable – if tiring.
The course opens with a gentle par 4 – just an iron from the tee leaves a wedge into the green but things got a little more tricky from there as you head out to the trees which hug many of the holes to come.
A couple of points to note. Firstly, our caddies were pretty good. They didn’t get in the way too much on the front 9 and were helpful. However, it became apparent as the back 9 unfolded that they had a side bet on our performance, my game had deserted me on the front but my partner and I came back from a few down to win the match much to the disgust of our opponents caddy who wasn't shy at explaining his concern at their loss of form under pressure!
Secondly, there was a great shack on the 14th fairway which you should definitely stop by. A bit like the halfway house at the Kings and Queens in Gleneagles it is at the intersection point between the two courses. You call them in from the tee at this par 5 and they delivered a cheese dog, various alcoholic beverages and cigars in just a few minutes so it hardly breaks your flow as you walk down
the fairways. I would recommend playing to the right hand side though to make it a seamless journey
All in all Westchester was a really enjoyable track. It s parkland with a sprinkling of water but the rough was playable and it was hard to get into too much trouble. As you would expect of a course that played host to the PGA for so long it is no slouch, but also it won’t kill you if you play half decently. It is one course where I would consider taking a cart (especially if you are thinking of 36 in a day) as the hills are quite hard work. The mammoth resort feeling to the place definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste but if you can get past that you should thoroughly enjoy it!
BOOKING THE COURSE
Despite being a private members’ club Westchester isn’t quite as hard as some other tee times from what I can see. Firstly, I have heard they have been responsive to a well crafted email to the Director of Golf requesting the privilege of a tee time. Secondly, on the website they actually do have a section regarding outings on Mondays and Tuesdays in the down season so with a little creativity you may well manage to get on.
We played Westchester along with Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge in the area – all courses well worth making a trip for. If you are just in and out for the day then there it’s very easy to do from Manhattan. We stayed at nearby Stamford which was actually quite a lively place. There was a Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza hotel just out of town which did the job accommodation wise and then we went in to town for a couple of nights. There were plenty of fairly lively bars and some good restaurants – we went Japanese and Italian. OK, this isn’t New York but 2 of the party managed to stay out until the early hours of the morning so there are enough diversion if you want them!
Westchester Golf Club
99 Biltmore Avenue
Phone: +1 914.967.6000