Four of the wildest greens in Westchester were tamed over the winter at Saint Andrew’s Golf Club in Hastings. Three of them, the 4th, 7th, and 17th, had been redone years ago but had potential soil problems, so they were all rebuilt to USGA specifications and made about 25 percent bigger in the process. Contours were also softened, as were those on the 18th green, which was also made a bit larger.
“When Nicklaus built the course in the early ’80s, green speeds were different,” explains director of golf Greg Bisconti. “Today, we all like 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter, but those greens can’t support that speed. The rebuilds were all about playability.” Players who helplessly watched putts roll off the steep slopes in the past will certainly welcome the changes.
The new management team at Manhattan Woods is going all in to shape the golf experience for the new ways members use their facilities. Today, according to club manager Ian Gillule, golfers are deeply interested in improving their games, not just whacking the ball around for a few holes before heading to the grill room for a cold one. In response, the West Nyack club has created new instruction facilities, staffed a new golf academy, and invested in other game-enhancing amenities, like club fitting and indoor practice/lesson capability.
“Today, we all like 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter, but those greens can’t support that speed. The rebuilds were all about playability.”
The work, which started a couple of years ago, includes a double-end range seeded with the same bent grass as the rest of the course. It also includes a fairway bunker, as well as shaped hitting areas where players can practice hitting off non-level lies. Two new short game areas duplicate every short shot on the course, allowing players to play out of deep fescue, various depths of rough, and tight fairway lies. There are also greenside bunkers of varying depths.
New Range at Manhattan Woods
Perhaps the most significant investment is in golf instruction. Manhattan Woods brought in Jason Birnbaum to build a team of instructors intended to raise the teaching bar. Birnbaum has been voted one of Golf Digest’s “Best Young Teachers” and works with professionals on the PGA, LPGA, and European Tours.
New at Hudson National GC this year is Hudson House, a big addition to the massive new practice area that opened last year. Hudson House is roughly 3,000 square feet of enclosed instruction and socialization space with three hitting bays that open on to the range. The middle bay has enough room for two players to hit side by side. The facility has all the digital wonders the modern player desires including Trackman, force plates, teaching video and software, and club fitting capabilities, not to mention a lounge and mini-bar.