When golf course architect Devereux Emmet laid out plans for a new Eastchester golf course that was to open in 1922, the only “green” elements anyone worried about were the 18 putting surfaces spotted throughout the 99-acre property acquired by D.W. Griffith and other founding members of the Leewood Golf Club. When the members decided to replace the leaky, inadequate irrigation system in 2011, they found a way to not only make the course better suited to the modern game, but to clean up the water that flows through it in the process.
As architect Dave Heatwole, who managed the course renovation, explains, “The golf course environmentally takes street drainage and runs it through a series of ponds until it is usable for irrigation.” Drainage from the course itself runs through the same ponds, so when the sprinklers are running, they’re spraying recycled water. He adds that, in the event of a flood threat, the pond levels can be lowered in advance to handle excess runoff from the neighborhood—another positive benefit.
The ponds were expanded from existing water hazards on the course during the two-year renovation at Leewood. Even the excavated earth from the pond expansion was recycled into fill for new tees, greens, and newly contoured fairways throughout the course. Fifteen of the 18 holes were renovated during the project.
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The course is now longer and more logically routed, making play much more exciting. As Heatwole says, “It’s compact, but it makes a great golf experience.”
Leewood is known as a family-oriented club where new memberships are initiation-free and priced to attract younger, more active families. It’s also the home of “The Bambino,” an invitational tournament for local pros that commemorates the club’s most famous member, Babe Ruth, who donated two of his Leewood golf trophies for display in the Baseball Hall of Fame.