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Where to Pay and Play Golf by the Day Without a Private-Club Membership in Westchester

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Pound Ridge Golf Club

Pound Ridge

High on the bucket list of many golfers in Westchester, Pound Ridge continues to shine into its second decade. The course was designed by the legendary golf architect Pete Dye, the genius from whose mind also sprang TPC Sawgrass, Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, and Whistling Straits (among so many others) and brought into existence by owner Ken Wang after a 10-year campaign of planning and execution.

Today’s Pound Ridge is as spectacularly challenging as it was the day it opened. Somehow, Dye made nearly every hole memorable, from the bunker-pinched fairway on the 1st hole to the tree-blockaded tee shot on the 18th, each one has at least one feature to make you engage your brain before your brawn. Dye used the rolling wooded hills as perfect backdrops for many holes and the cliffs, streams, and rock outcroppings as hazards on others. Pound Ridge is absolutely unique among Westchester courses — public or private.

As the course matured, some of the myths about it have fallen by the wayside. Is it too hard to enjoy? Not at all, especially if you choose an appropriate set of tees — a choice that will wisely not include the 7,165-yard tips with their 76 rating and 150 slope. There are four other tee boxes identified by suggested handicaps on the scorecard, so tee it up wisely and play the game you have, not the one you would like to have.

What about cost? Yes, Pound Ridge costs more than your nearby muni. But with rates as low as $150 at certain times, even in peak season — including GPS-equipped cart and range balls — the journey is well worth the fare.

You may not ever play Teeth of the Dog or the Stadium Course at PGA West, but you can (and should) visit Pete Dye’s only New York masterpiece, Pound Ridge.

 

Centennial Golf Club

Carmel

The three nines at Centennial offer a nearly endless array of possibilities. They can be combined for challenges suitable for players at all levels of accomplishment, which makes the facility a favorite of golfers looking for a home course that never grows old. Designer Larry Nelson, winner of the US Open and two PGA Championships, used the 340-acre tract to build courses with breathtaking views and heart-stopping shot values.

The Meadows nine rewards good shots but punishes bad ones and gives you big, well-contoured greens to score on. It opens with a 618-yard par 5 but includes a 339-yard downhill par 4 that you simply have to go for from the tee. The Lakes nine features a lot of water but also has the longest par 3 on the facility, the 219-yard 3rd hole. Rounding out the group is the Fairways nine, which may have the toughest greens of the three courses but is a bit more forgiving tee-to-green with a little less elevation and slightly wider fairways.

Centennial also provides one of the finest practice facilities in the area. It includes a double-ended range with 65 tee boxes, three putting greens, and two separate chipping and bunker areas.

 

Doral Arrowwood

Rye Brook

The nine holes at Doral Arrowwood have just about everything you look for in a quality golf experience — plenty of playing challenges, a picturesque layout, thoughtful bunkering, and greens strongly contoured and well-conditioned. The architect, Robert von Hagge, used the naturally rolling terrain to sculpt fairways for maximum visual appeal. The shadows in late afternoons make the Doral a magical place for a quick nine after work.

Precision counts more than length, but there are plenty of opportunities when you can pull the trigger on your driver. Keep in mind, though, that you play over water on seven of the nine holes, so don’t let your testosterone get the better of you. The par 5s, at 450 and 503 yards, are reachable if you dare to try. Sharp iron play is essentially throughout the course, but never more so than on the 345-yard par-4 8th hole, where the fairway runs into a water hazard about 200 yards from the tee and placement of your shot on the green is crucial. The trio of par 3s at Doral are delightful, although the 221-yard second hole requires a carry of about 180 yards to reach dry land.

The Doral provides a full range, practice green, and short game area. One of the best amenities at the facility, though, is Mulligan’s, an excellent outdoor bar and grill overlooking the ninth green.

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