New and Old Design at Westchester Hills

The golf course has continually evolved to match the ever-changing nature of the game.

Creative design and near-continuous change of its playing field separates golf from every other sport. Nowhere is that more evident than at Westchester Hills, where the golf course has continually evolved to match the ever-changing nature of the game. The club recently completed a multiyear course overhaul and erected a plaque this past winter recognizing the contributions of member Mark Stagg to the latest changes.

There has been significant work throughout the course over the past few years, but the more recent alterations enhanced a series of four holes on the back nine known as “The Horseshoe.” While all four were substantially improved, some of the most apparent changes were on the downhill fifteenth hole where trees were removed along the fairway and a rock outcropping was moved away from the green. This also allowed a major change in the par-3 16th hole, where the tee box now provides tremendous flexibility in setting up the hole’s challenge.

This is far from the first major remodeling of Westchester Hills. The original design for the course, which opened in 1913, is credited to the club’s first head pro, Peter Clark, with some assistance from Donald Ross.  Less than 10 years later, Walter Travis, the architect who created the two fine golf courses at Westchester Country Club, had a hand in the design of Westchester Hills, too. According to club records that Brian Giordano and Ed Homsey of the Travis Society found, Travis prepared plans for significant alterations to the course that were put into place in 1922. Giordano is the new head pro at Westchester Hills, the club’s fifth in its 106-year history.

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In addition to his design work on the two Westchester courses, Travis was at one time America’s top amateur golfer, winning the US Amateur three times from 1900 to 1903 and, in 1904, becoming the first player from America to win the British Amateur. He won the MGA Amateur Championship four times before he retired from competitive play, in 1916. He was an active architect, too, with about 50 original design or reconstruction plans of courses to his credit.

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