Westchester Country Club
West Course, 1922
Arch: Walter Travis
Rye, New York
First, the place was in awful condition. While sometimes, poor conditioning can be over looked due to weather/season/budget issues, WCC had more than enough $$, plenty of man-power and absolute ideal conditions for this time of year. I have been to 6 different golf courses over the last 5 weeks, and not one of them has been in this poor shape. The practice green was running somewhere around 11-12. You couldn't leave a downhill putt short if you tried, but the championship course was the worst I have seen. The caddy said it had been like this for a while, since they lost the greens last year.
After that, I just find it hard to believe that there are only 99 pre-modern golf courses better than this one. I can think of a bunch that aren't included on "the list" that I would rather play.
The entire club is set on very sever and rocky property. A less than ideal start. The routing is simply a product of the environment. Like in life, to much of one thing is never good, and having to add/subtract distance on every shot, adjusting for extreme lie's every shot is not a characteristic of the ideal golf course to me. Sometimes you have to give one to the golfer, the game is about enjoyment, and everyone likes to make a par.
Note how the routing doubles back around the outside
of the property for the back nine
The front 9 (tourney back9) I didn't consider to be very strong. #1 is a solid starting hole, but #3 the par-5 and #4 the short par-4 work poorly back to back. In both cases you are hitting to extremely elevated green sites to, and just don't offer excitement. The short par-3 #5 plays from an elevated point to another elevated point. Even though this hole offers lots of variety, which is usually something I love, if you are a bogey golfer and dont hit every green, you are freaking tired already. The next few holes travel some of the more uninteresting property before you get to the famous #9 (or 18) which is a much less climactic than the real 18. In fact the reason they switch the 9's is because it makes a better tv shot on 18, the other is to steep for spectators.
The strategy for the par-5 #9 revolves around the trees inside the dogleg
The golf course finally gets good at #13 with a dramatic tee shot over a ridge. On the closing stretch, you see water, play a better short hole and finally wind around the terrain, instead of over it, untill 18 that is. Only fitting #18 is uphill all the way, but a good fit to end the day.
Shotlines illustrating why Tiger Woods hates playing WCC. Its hard to picture anyone who calls themselves a traditionalist (not me) liking the use of the trees
Would I turn down another round here?.. no way. but there are definitely better options in the area.
The thing that sums it up best to me, is to compare it to Ridgewood, the other home of the pga tournament that used to be called the westchester classic. To me, its not even close. If you gave me 10 rounds, I would probably play 8 at Ridgewood, but is subject to change due to conditioning.