Winged Foot (west) - 18 points
So, I kind of played Winged Foot by accident. We were due to play a course in Long Island of good repute and highly ranked but they decided to dump several tons of sand on every green and it was simply unplayable. So on a late October morning we found ourselves being transported to Winged Foot. 30 minutes north of Manhattan and a dream of a course.
Frankly, I was a little worried. I thought that it would be too tough for me and my party and it was going to be a long slog with little joy. I simply couldn't have been more wrong. The first decision we made was probably the best one which was to play off the white tees which were around the magic 6,500 yard mark. It too a little of the sting out of the course and meant that only a couple of holes were totally out of reach.
For some reason, I had in my mind a course crafted our of a forest where any shot off line would be hard to find with no shot back into play. Wrong again. The rough was clingy and thick but still possible to advance if you're not too greedy, often recoveries would get just short of the green with a good chance of knocking it on to experience the treacherous greens with a putt for par, and bogey, and double.....
The par 5s were all very accessible, I was up on 2 of the 4 and I'm not a long hitter. Conversely the 3s are long, with 3 or the 4 being over 190 yards. The standout would be the 10th, with the pin at the back we were playing 195 yards over a valley but a well hit tee shot was all it took to have a massively sloping 60 footer for birdie (not made!).
Winged Foot is a pretty historic place to play golf too - founded in 1906 there are many anecdotes to be had but the 2006 US Open had a bucketful to keep the magic alive. For us Brits, Monty's 7 iron short of the green, pitch and three putts for double lives long in the memory. For what it's worth I found a different way to a one shot better result.
I won't attempt to dissect the holes one by one. Suffice to say, off the right tees I think that any golfer would have a great time at Winged Foot. The fairways are wide enough, the greens well bunkered but not all crazy sloping and it's steeped in history without being pretentious.
For me, this is one of the very best parkland courses I have played. Possibly only Morfontaine has left me with as big a smile - I look forward to seeing whether Augusta and Pine Valley knock it off its perch. If you get the chance to play it then definitely the offer up and get down there, you won't be disappointed. It's a very strong 18 points!
BOOKING THE COURSE
Well, this is a hard one. We actually only ended up playing here because we had a bit of a nightmare elsewhere and had a generous host. It is a high end course which isn't particularly accessible. However, if you are really set on it then my advice would be to look out for the charity auctions as New Yorkers are a benevolent lot and there are a few opportunities a year. Failing that, I would suggest writing a letter. Not sending an email, a tweet or calling but an old fashioned letter. The worst they can do is say no and I suspect if you show a passion for golf there's a chance that you may be accommodated at one of the most respected courses in the United States.
If you are playing other courses in the area (Quaker Ridge may be the pick of the lot) then there are tips for staying locally on the Westchester page. Failing that though you are only 30 minutes from Manhattan so you can savour what the attractions of the bog smoke before heading up.
851 Fenimore Rd,
Phone: +1 914-698-8400