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Westchester’s Golf Landscape Sees Massive Changes With Renovations

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Pelham CC New Hole No. 3.
Photo by Dave Donelson

The bulldozers are finished, and the grass is growing on the new Pelham CC golf course, site of one of the most extensive renovations in the county in the last 20 years. Not only were nearly half the holes on the course redesigned and rebuilt, nearly the entire course was rerouted to enhance the playing experience.

Planning for the project went into high gear in 2016, according to Greg Coleman, who co-heads the Golf and Greens Committee with Bruce Dunbar. “The first important decision was to change the routing of the golf course,” Coleman says. “The most significant land feature on the property is a big rock formation in the middle of the course called Mount Tom. If we changed the routing, we could balance the nines from a difficulty perspective while allowing us to play in and around the Mount Tom area one more time.”

Starting with the 1st hole, which was converted from a mediocre par 5 to a killer par 4 last year, the club reworked seven of the existing holes. “The new 3rd hole is the old 12th hole,” Coleman explains. “Now it is a more than 600-yard par 5 with O.B. right and a creek left, fairway bunkers, and massive bunkers around the green. It will be our number-one handicap hole.” The new 4th hole is a straightaway, drivable 270-yard par 4 that replaced the long but boring dogleg par 4 13th hole. “It’s severely protected by land forms and bunkers. It may look like a breather on the score card, but there will be plenty of big numbers on that hole.”

The course was originally designed by Devereux Emmet in 1921 and hosted the 1923 PGA Championship, won by local legend Gene Sarazen. It was remodeled in 1954 by Alfred Tull when I-95 was built through the property. Coleman says this project was the first major renovation since that time.

Additional work was done to improve four other holes. The project also created new wetlands and water features that not only make several holes more interesting but greatly improve drainage and help the club become water self-sufficient. Architect Mike DeVries advised the club on the project.

Pelham was not the only club where construction crews were busy over the winter months. Siwanoy CC members and guests will be enjoying a greatly expanded clubhouse this year. Additions to the building made room for new dining and social areas, upgraded locker rooms, and numerous other amenities.

Sleepy Hollow CC has completed the Gil Hanse restoration that began in 2016. Among the most recent major changes was tree removal to improve airflow to the 8th fairway, thereby improving the health of the turf and eliminating chronic dampness. The changes allow for the full “humps and bumps” contours of the fairway to affect the player’s tee shot and stance for their approach shot. The hole, a 460-yard par 4, has a menacing pot bunker at the left front of the green, much like that of the famous Road Hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews.

Sunningdale went back to the bulldozers to re-create the new 16th hole, which had been controversially redesigned in the recent course remodel under course architect Mike DeVries’ guidance. The 560-yard par 5 now has more options for playing the second and third shots.

Westchester County tackled substantial drainage and other persistent problems at Maple Moor GC with a $5.5 million project. The 1st, 8th, 9th, and 18th fairways were completely recontoured to improve storm-water runoff, while the 3rd and 5th fairways were partially renovated and a new drainage system and holding pond were constructed. In addition, new tees were built on several holes, bunkers were rejuvenated, and new cart paths were installed throughout the course.