The course at Arcola Country Club is largely the product of three English-born architects.
The first of these was Herbert Haydn Barker from Huddersfield who, whilst working as the professional at Garden City Golf Club, set out the club’s original 18-hole course shortly after it was founded in 1909.
The second designer, Willard G. Wilkinson from Wimbledon, an assistant to A. W. Tillinghast, remodelled the course in 1930 due to the expansion of the 11-mile Route 4 highway between the Hudson River Bridge and Paterson.
The third architect, Robert Trent Jones Snr, from Ince-in-Makerfield in Greater Manchester, remodelled this layout in the late 1950s when the routing of another road, the Garden State Parkway, almost caused the club to move elsewhere.
In the end, fourteen new holes were constructed, with only the 1st, 2nd (present 9th) and 9th (present 18th) remaining largely untouched. The 12th hole was used for practice and holes 5 to 8 were completely abandoned.
Today, the course can be extended to 6,872 from the back tees, playing to a par of 72, and it features back-to-back par fives at holes 8 and 9. The best birdie opportunities are on the two short par four holes, the 348-yard 3rd and the 346-yard 13th, which doglegs right around water from tee to green.
Three of the four par three holes have water in play to the front or side of the green and the round ends very strongly with a trip of testing par four holes.
In more recent times, Florida-based designer Steve Smyers has been involved in a renovation project at the club.
The history of Arcola is certainly an interesting one. But, the recent improvements to the course are not only noticeable but also significant from a design standpoint. When Paramus golf is mentioned it's usually the name of neighbor Ridgewood CC that gets the fanfare. Arcola is not in the same league with Ridgewood but the recent upgrades by architect Steve Smyers and the clear improvements from a course presentation standpoint have really helped bring to life a number of items -- most notably long term drainage issues that impacted a few holes near the rear of the property abutting the Garden State Parkway.
Arcola starts with a quality long par-4 and the much hiller portion of the property helps the opening series of holes immensely. The uphill par-4 4th is very good and the downhill par-4 5th is far from easy as the tee shot is tested. The dog-leg right 6th is also a quality two-shot hole at just over 400 yards.
Native grasses have been permitted to grow and the resulting contrast between the finely manicured turf and the adjacent "wild" areas makes for a very pleasing contrast.
The inward half of holes is the better of the two sides. The downhill dog-leg left par-4 10th is both a scenic wonder with the NYC skyline in the distance and the rigors the hole provides. The short par-3 11th at 164 yards is a quality contrast with a hungry frontal pond that awaits the poorly played shot. The next few holes keep the momentum going with a quality par-5 and an even better short par-4 at the 13th.
The concluding two holes force players to bear down. The 17th is well defended off the tee and is well done. The closer is even better -- listed at 409 yards and playing slightly uphill to a well contoured green.
Arcola provides a very fair challenge. To be clear, the architectural elements are good -- just not exceptional. But, the key that has helped the club is the wherewithal to better present what it does have. In that manner -- Arcola clearly has bolstered itself.
by M. James Ward