You might be hard-pressed to find a more demanding – and more unforgettable – golf course than the aptly named Pound Ridge Golf Club in Pound Ridge, N.Y.
This beefy layout is classic Pete Dye – stunningly beautiful but poised to punch your lights out if you arrive at the first tee with less than your best game. The par-72 course’s tips measure 7,165 yards (76.1/146 rating/slope), which is not unmercifully long by today’s standards, and there are five sets of tees. However, bite off too much and Pound Ridge will chew you up and spit you farther than a Bubba Watson drive.
It took Dye, his son Perry and construction manager/lead shaper Michael Langkau more than a decade to produce this masterpiece built on 172 acres of cliffs, streams, open meadows, wooded hills and rocky terrain common in Westchester County, just over the southwestern Connecticut border. Dye and company masterfully wove the layout through and around dramatic rock outcroppings and fescue mounds, creating a spectacular, unforgettable series of photo ops – not to mention migraine-inducing, accuracy-or-bust shots. More than 14,000 linear feet of picturesque rock walls surround tee boxes, wetlands and water hazards.
Concentration on this superb course is particularly imperative down the home stretch. My playing partner, long-hitting assistant professional Terry Slater (the course record-holder) and I had played well until reaching the 174-yard 15th, nicknamed “Headstone.” The tee shot must carry wetlands to an angled green that’s 62 yards wide but impossibly narrow front to back. Oh, and a large rock outcropping backs the green, necessitating a perfect shot squeezed onto the putting surface. Terry found a watery grave. My tee shot caromed high off the rock and onto a narrow, mowed collection area right of the green, from which I three-putted my foolish 200-foot-plus attempt.
We also folded on the brutal, “Dye-abolical” closing triumvirate – the 570-yard, uphill 16th; the 460-yard, par-4 17th and 477-yard, par-4 18th, all of which I double-bogeyed. The closer requires a 225-yard, uphill tee-shot carry to a raised fairway, whose left side is completely flanked to the green by bunkers and a lake. After we both flailed away in the sandy purgatory we finally putted out, physically and mentally exhausted.
I’m not guaranteeing this course will pound you into submission, but don’t take any chances. Bring your A-game – or at least a camera. Spectacular Pound Ridge may be a challenging test, but even those who struggle will never forget how much fun they had.
Pound Ridge Golf Club, Pound Ridge, NY
Rates: $115-$235 (May 1-October 31); $100-$150 (November 1-April 30).Check www.poundridgegolf.com for regular weekly golf specials.
Packages: For information on stay-and-play packages visit their website.