There was already a club in Garden City by the name of “Garden City Golf Club,” so the members at Salisbury Links (right down the street) obviously needed to take on a different moniker. The good news is that they were able to hire the same architects from that seminal club — Walter Travis and Devereux Emmet — to design their own course.
This Garden City club is now called Cherry Valley and the course opens with one of the gentlest handshakes in the game (a par four, 280 yards from the back tees), it will soon grow teeth in the form of Emmet’s bunkering and Travis’s notorious putting surfaces. No. 13 is one of the more intimidating holes on the course, a 235-yard tee shot across a cross bunker and threading two greenside bunkers to find the green. Some long hitters may find the opening hole easier to drive than this one.
No. 8 is a true three-shotter, featuring a pencil-thin fairway bunker that snakes along the left side, a shared bunker with the No. 7 fairway, and finally a zig-zagging final stretch of fairway upon the approach.
Robert Trent Jones lengthened the course during 1962 and Stephen Kay did work most recently during 2012.
The main issue for Cherry Valley is that its more famous nearby neighbor -- Garden City Golf Club simply dominate attention versus what one will find at Cherry Valley. Like so many other mid-level Long Island layouts, Cheery Valley does not receive as much attention and that is truly indicative of far too many people only seeking out certain few more noted bucket list layouts.
The opening hole gets the juices going. At just 280 yards it's not uncommon for platers to salivate and think an easy birdie is coming. The hole does yield birdies but only when earned. Those venturing just a tad too far right can easily reach the boundary of the property with Rockaway Avenue. The best angle is getting one's tee shot to the right side of the fairway -- but that's the area where the aforementioned Rockaway Avenue pinches in from that side.
The diversity of holes is good and the style, positioning and varying size of the bunkers encountered is a rich collection of challenges that all players need to respect.
The 2nd and 3rd are back-to-back par-5s but they are anything but simply. Being able to shape one's tee shots is a constant element at Cherry Valley. The outward half is quite finicky on rewarding anything less than well thought out golf shots. Cherry Valley invites the bold play but being prudent and achieving key positions from the tee is central to one's overall success.
The detailing of the holes on the outward nine is particularly engaging. The putting surfaces are sophisticated to mandate that misfires on the approach must be left in certain positions if escaping with par is on the agenda. The inward half is a quality compliment to the front side ending in a strong manner with a first rate two-shot hole to conclude the round.
One of the more eye-catching elements when playing is the natural grasses that make their presence known when playing. The grasses have both a scenic and strategic dimension.
Cherry Valley is another quality example on the overall depth of private clubs throughout Long Island. Don't make the mistake in believing there's only one course of note in Garden City worth seeing.
M. James Ward