The golf course at Century Golf Club in White Plains is quickly approaching the goal established by its title, having been constructed during 1926.
The course, like many in the area, is awash with history. Although local Walter Travis consulted on the property during 1922, it was ultimately Harry Colt and C.H. Alison who were chosen for the job (with the latter handling most of the work). Alister MacKenzie, although not involved in the design at all, came by the site to converse with the pair. Eventually Robert Trent Jones would stop by for some updates during the late ‘50s but the course maintains a more Alison essence today, with greens tending toward straight lines and bunkers doing very much the opposite. That appearance is thanks in large part to a Keith Foster renovation during 2016-’17.
In a humorous anecdote, Ben Hogan was hired as the assistant professional for, in the words of the recommending member, “he made a nice appearance.” Hogan would eventually serve as head professional for two years before moving on to win nine major championships.
Westchester County is blessed with an array of top tier courses -- although Century Country Club does not occupy the top level with such giants as Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Sleepy Hollow and Fenway, it is a quality layout just behind the elite level. The architecture comes from the effort of Charles H. Alison and the design is replete with plenty of quality holes and bolstered by a routing that seizes every advantage the property provides.
A master plan was implemented in 2005 and the total length of the course was extended to just over 7,000 yards. The course is now a much stiffer test of golf. Interestingly, Ben Hogan was hired in 1938 as an assistant professional and actually became head pro for a short time in 1940 for two years before moving on and becoming the golf icon he ultimately became.
The opening hole at Century has you on your toes right from the start. The 444-yard par-4 is a strong driving hole but no less exacting is the approach. The green well defended and enough movement to force players to make the proper stroke. Century is not a brute of a course in the manner of Winged Foot / West -- it's quite beguiling and just behind the likes of Sleepy Hollow and Quaker Ridge. Tree canopies have been pushed back so that wider angles of attack are now doable.
The inward half is the stronger of the two and it commences with a trio of quality holes with the 443-yard 10th, the 563-yard par-5 11th and the fiendish par-3 12th at 152 yards with water awaiting those who don't select the proper club. The closing stretch simply mandates quality execution time after time.
Century is one of Westchester's true gems. For those who have the wherewithal when coming to the area it's best to see what one can do to play it because the recent master plan truly elevated what Alison so skillfully provided.
by M. James Ward