315 Stewart Ave,
New York (NY) 11530,
- +1 516 746 8360
No website available
25 miles E of New York city
Members and their guests only
Garden City Golf Club is very different to most courses that are regularly ranked in the World Top 100. The strict men-only policy of this exclusive club puts it in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.
In 1897, when the course first opened for play on the Hempstead Plain in Long Island Village, it was in the middle of rural countryside. Today, Garden City Golf Club is an oasis in the middle of suburban sprawl.
Devereux Emmet originally designed the course in 1896. In 1902, the 9th US Open was staged here – Laurie Auchterlonie was the eventual winner. Walter Travis made some modifications to the course in the Roaring Twenties and he can probably claim to have turned Garden City into the fascinating layout that it is today.
The ground is ostensibly light loam so many people classify Garden City as an inland links or a heathland course. Classifying Garden City as either a links or heathland course would be wrong, even though it does possess many of their characteristics.
Garden City is a course for the minimalists, so it's just as well Tom Doak completed a restoration programme here in 2015. There’s nothing bold or brash about Garden City it’s just a simple, natural course which does everything in a reassured but understated way.
In the book Planet Golf USA, author Darius Oliver writes: “The topography at Garden City isn’t overly dramatic, but the course is beautifully routed and the designers did a superb job squeezing quality holes out of fairly unremarkable landforms. With plenty of half-par holes and hazards arranged to create genuine risk/reward dilemma, Garden City is particularly well suited to matchplay… Steeped in the traditions of early American golf, Garden City is an unpretentious treasure that continues to excite and delight.”
Garden City is an amazing atmosphere although a mens only club it still has its formalities: men must wear a sports coat and no cell phones on the course. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming and even had another member walk me through the history of the club over a cocktail after my host had to leave.
Keep this in mind I’ve played other mens clubs and Garden City was the most welcoming and down to earth club. Moment I walked in til the moment I left membership made me feel like member. I loved how they took their traditions and history to heart.
The course starts out with an easy 4 holes with my last 5 holes being the best on the course. Loved 18 a par 3 over the pond that is well protected. The course looks like it should belong on Ireland and gave me that links type feel that Prairie Dunes has.
If you get an invite take it.
I most recently played Garden City Men’s Golf Club in the summer last year and hope to make another trip up this year. I have played it several times. This Deveraux Emmet/ Walter Travis design is a real treat and one of the best courses in the USA on a flat piece of land. In describing the overall look of the course, I could use links-like and heathland and most would agree, but I will instead merely say that it is relatively wide open as if someone put an oasis in the middle of a very populated area. It reminds me of a less brawny, more intimate course than Walton Heath Old. Some have said it resembles Kingston Heath but it does not have the interior bushes and trees that define many of Kingston Heath’s holes.
My round last year coincided with one of those summer days of 96 degrees and 95 percent humidity. For the first three holes I was fine but by the fourth hole the first glove was too wet to grip a club. From four through twelve I played poorly due to my inability to establish a good grip. By the twelfth hole I had gone through my third and final glove and finally went without a glove. Due to the humidity I instead decided to focus on the golf course’s architecture and features.
First, with regards to the clubhouse, you can show up without a jacket and use the locker room, but you cannot go into the main clubhouse or sit outside under the covered patio without wearing a jacket. I know this because I could not join the others outside for breakfast as I left my jacket in my car, instead going to the range. I retrieved it after my round and shower. The clubhouse is a gem filled with interesting photos and books. It is comfortable and historic. The real special place is the covered patio which can get so full that chairs need to be put on the grass near the putting green. From this patio the members watch the players come in on eighteen and offer their “encouragement and support” to their efforts to make a putt or try to save par. It is good stuff whether you are seated or are on the receiving end of the “good” advice.
I like that it remains a men’s club. There are hundreds of other options nearby to play in mixed company with a diverse membership or public. During my times there the conversations never go towards business. The conversations are golf, sports, golf, sports, golf, entertainment, golf, golf and maybe a few jokes and stories……about golf. Everyone cares about the score they shot that day, until the first drink is emptied.
Heat and humidity aside, this is a wonderful course to walk with a caddie or carry one’s own bag. The first three holes and the final two holes share a smaller piece of land with 10th Street and housing bordering the first three and Rockaway Avenue and housing bordering the final two. There is housing surrounding the rest of the course as well but the club has done an excellent job of hiding most of it with trees and bushes. The Garden City High School is right across Rockaway and you do not hear noise from there. The noise I hear the most often when playing there is from an overhead jet. The tees are generally right next to the previous green. There are no hills on the course with the biggest “climbs” being out a few greenside bunkers onto the green.
The course plays to a yardage of 6922, par 73 rated 73.5/139 while the next set of tees are 6591 yards rated 71.8/135. We played the 6922 tees as the course plays shorter as there are five par 5’s on the golf course.
The routing is defined by only two consecutive holes heading in the same direction which are seven and eight. I do not consider five and six to be in the same direction even if they both get one closer to Rockaway Avenue. A second characteristic of the course is that many of the holes are open to the green, including the first if one is a long hitter. While Devereux Emmet is responsible for the routing, his greens were relatively flat and his bunkers were shallow. Enter Walter Travis, a member of Garden City, a runner-up in the 1902 U.S. Open held at Garden City, and a person interested in golf architecture leading to him founding The American Golfer magazine. Mr. Travis thought American courses to be too benign and without character. In 1906 Mr. Travis wrote an article on his club suggesting the bunkers needed depth and more contours within the interior of the greens. As a result, Mr. Travers was asked by the club to make changes resulting in additional length, 50 new bunkers, adding depth to existing bunkers, and re-shaping every green with many greens sloped front to back. Sadly, the course is now considered short for the longer hitters due to technology, although the green complexes remain a sturdy test. Similar to Merion East or National Golf Links, there remains sufficient challenges at the green sites.
There are many holes that I thought to be really good including two, four, six, eight, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen. I liked fifteen the most. But one of the charms of Garden City Men’s is that someone might say they favor the first or the eighteenth and you will find yourself agreeing with them that they are very good golf holes.
From every tee except seventeen the hole is right in front of you. There are forced carries off the tee on every hole but they should not come into play as they are not lengthy and add to the beauty of the golf course.
There are so many subtleties to this course in the small land forms near the greens and greenside bunkers, yet many of the fairways also have some interesting characteristics. The best parts of the course are the routing, the green complexes, and the interior shaping of the greens. But the rolling nature of some of the fairways and the placement of the fairway bunkers also deserve praise. These fairway bunkers differ in depth with the reason being how many feet it takes to get to the gravel underneath them.
The bunkering is superb and I would put it against any golf course for having the best placement, number, and shape from length, depth, raised faces, irregular or regular edging or any golf course in the USA.
The course begins with a short par 4 right next to the driving range. I think players either rave about the hole or think it to be average. If you shank the drive, you will go through the driving range. This is a really good risk-reward hole except it is the first shot of the day. Longer hitters who have a good bunker game will go right for the green although perhaps the better play is to land right of the green. Shorter hitters actually do not have much to fear if they hit it straight but if they pull it left there is a long bunker. The right side is a mystery of tall grass, uneven land and a hodgepodge of sand almost as if one is trying to walk a labyrinth. It is a difficult recovery from this area. The green is expertly surrounded front, left and back by five bunkers. If one finds the fairway and has confidence in their short wedges, you can go right at the flag with your approach as the green can be read. But if you are short you could end up in a bunker that is deep enough to have steps in and out of it. The green slightly slopes front to back.
I love the second, a par 3 of 137/133 to a long green that looks narrower than it is. It is nearly surrounded by deeper bunkers going to about six feet on a green that appears to be elevated, but really is not, it is that the bunkers are deep. A forward pin is easily the most difficult because it is hard to stop one’s ball near the front except on a wet day as the green runs towards the back left. One can be more aggressive with a back pin location. The visual look of this hole is more terrifying than it actually plays.
Three is a par 4 of 407/376 to a very wide fairway that tilts slightly to the left. There is out-of-bounds down the right and a collection of trees on the left side of the fairway. On the right opposite the trees is a long, thin bunker while after the trees the left side has a couple of smaller bunkers. One can hook their tee shot onto seventeen and still have a good look at the green. However, fronting the green is a very unique dual set of cross-bunkers with the first set being large and nearly closing off the fairway while the second set has three smaller bunkers. The green goes left to right and a running shot can easily find the back bunker on the right.
The first par 5 is next at 523/502 with out-of-bounds on the right. Average hitters will likely find their ball on an upslope while bigger hitters need to avoid the deeper bunkers on the left with steep faces. If they do avoid it, they will get a favorable bounce forward and be rewarded with perhaps as little as a mid-iron in their hands for their approach shot. I usually play my second into the valley before the first large cross bunker about 75 yards in front of the green as failure to carry it results in a very difficult third to an elevated green with a false front. Laying back, though, will likely mean the third shot is from a hanging lie. The three bunkers right of the green are very deep and difficult as is the single bunker on the left. Going long over the hole on this squared, undulated green results in a very quick chip as the green is steeply sloped back to front with a back left plateau. This is perhaps the most difficult green on the course.
The fifth is a short par 4 of 360/353 with a wide fairway with a bunker that should be out of play on the left and mounds off the right of the fairway. Farther up the fairway at the landing zone the fairway shrinks to less than half as two flanking bunkers squeeze the fairway. At the green there are three bunkers on the right, one left and a small one behind the green. This is a really fun hole that perhaps I should have listed as a favorite.
Six is the second longest par 4 on the course at 440/418 and rated the hardest on the front nine. It has a string of bunkers off the right fairway with another one about 70 yards short of the green on the left and then flanking bunkers short of the green with rough mounds at their beginning points farthest from the fairway. There are some nice rolling undulations to the fairway.
Seven is the longest par 5 at 550/537 teeing off under a tree with cross mounding at the beginning of the fairway creating a distraction. The approach is divided similar to the seventeenth hole with bunkers on the right prior to the separation. The green is slightly angled to the right with two long flanking bunkers on either side of this fairly flat green. I liked the little bend in the fairway prior to the entry to the green.
The eighth is a par 4 of 418/406 playing as a slight dogleg right. There are flanking bunkers on the fairway but the real beauty of the hole is the approach shot. The front of the green is lined with bunkers as is the back with a small bunker to either side. It has a green filled with subtle breaks and one of my favorites on the course.
The ninth is perhaps the one hole I do not like as much as some others. It is a par 4 of 323/306 that feels like it plays uphill. It does go gently to the right with flanking bunkers, a long waste area before the green with chocolate drop bunkers scattered across the interior. The green is surrounded by small bunkers with a spine in it. I don’t really care for the chocolate drops despite their uniqueness.
Ten seems to always play longer than the yardage for me. It is a par 4 of 414/399 with a fairway bunker on the left side of the fairway and then cross bunkers for the longer hitters. This is followed by sand on either side set back 25 yards from the green with smaller bunkers on the left, although one can enter the large bunker on the left side of the seventh green. These are difficult fairway bunkers due to their raised lips.
The eleventh is a longer par 4 of 426/416 and basically a straight hole but the fairway first goes right then back to the left. There are three bunkers down the right as well as an encroaching tree line with a large bunker later on the left that cuts the fairway by half. At the green there are bunkers about 10 yards short on either side and one left. This is my second favorite hole on the golf course.
The longest par 3 comes next at 2014/184 and is a very good hole with bunkers around the entire circular green and nice contouring at the edges of the green. This is the most diabolically sloped green on the golf course with two raised slopes of about three feet on the green. This is my favorite par 3, despite the visual attractiveness of the second hole.
The fourth par 5 plays at 538/520. This thirteenth hole features out-of-bounds down the right side after the trees. The hole is a gentle dogleg left off the tee but straight thereafter. There is a sizeable, long and deep cross bunker cutting into the fairway on the left side again cutting the fairway I half. For the shorter hitter there is no reason to try to carry it as it is a three-shot hole and the second shot can take you to within a seven iron or less. Another set of bunkers are on the left followed by cross bunkers fifteen yards short of the green with three small surrounding bunkers. The left bunker is very deep with a raised face resulting in a use of a ladder to enter it. This hole is my favorite par 5 on the golf course.
Fourteen is a short par 4 of 343/333 that bigger hitters will try for as the green is open but it is angled off to the right with nine small pot bunkers on either side of the green. These are challenging bunkers as they do not have a lot of space to take a balanced stance. For the shorter hitter there is a carry across a cross-bunker prior to the fairway and then a collection of bunkers on the right that is shared with the fifteenth hole. Farther up in the main landing zone there are flanking bunkers. This hole requires strategy and precision no matter how far one can hit a tee shot.
My favorite hole on the course is the fifteenth, a par 4 of 447/405 and the longest par 4 on the course. It is rated the hardest hole on the back nine despite the widest fairway on the course. For the long hitter, there is a ten feet deep cross bunker at 300 yards. For the average length player, there are three staggered deep bunkers on the left and a collection of small bunkers on the right: I lost count of how many but more than fifteen. I like this green the most on the course with a severe left to right slope. There is little chance of recovery if one misses the green to the left and the cup is either left or left center. While there are two bunkers short of the green on the right, there are no bunkers at the green making recovery even more doubtful.
A friend of mine who is scratch lists the sixteenth as his favorite hole, a par 4 dogleg left of 405/388 with out-of-bounds on the right. There is sand everywhere on this hole from two centerline bunkers and three bunkers down the left, with three bunkers about 30 yards short of the green on the left, a long bunker on the entire left side of the green and four bunkers on the right. One has to be very precise on this hole although there is the opportunity to run a ball onto the green.
I like the seventeen because it offers every type of score here from a triple bogey to an eagle. This par 5 of 495/471 seems like it should be easy but it is not. There is out-of-bounds down the entire right side. It has a blind tee shot that has to content with bunkers cutting off half of the fairway on the left. Although easily cleared by the average length player, there are the trees from the third hole that come into play on the left side with two bunkers beneath them. The fairway separates with two more bunkers on the left. The green has a large bunker on the right and two smaller ones on the left. Behind the green are trees that appear much closer to the green than they are. Near the green are fall-off areas on an undulating sloped green. To the left of the green are some creative small grass mounding. I like this hole from tee to green because of the strategic options it offers.
The eighteenth is a par 3 of 190/153 playing over a pond to a green with a false front and a steep back to front tilt. The hole is connected to the putting green much like the ninth at Oakmont and not far from the members and guests on the patio. There is a deep bunker left with another set of steps and a shallower bunker behind most of the green. A small bunker fronts the green along with a very tiny pot-like bunker. There is a bit of room to miss short of the green and bunkers with that miss representing the best chance of recovery. A good shot is met with a shout of approval but only if you make the putt for a two while a poor shot is met with a humorous shout. Although I do not mention it as one of the better holes on the course, it is a good golf hole and likely the best par 3 on many courses.
You will likely not find a more natural course in the USA. Tom Doak has said he tries to build golf holes based on what the land presents. At Garden City, it begins with a short par 4 and a short par 3 and ends with a par 5 and a par 3 because this is what the land called for. I cannot think of a top course in the USA that “sits” on the land more than Garden City Men’s. Mr. Doak worked on the renovation of Garden City and one wonders how strong the connection was in his mind about the minimalism approach after spending a year abroad and then working at Garden City. It is one of the most pleasant walks in golf with the flat land and the tees so close to the green. Despite many short holes in terms of yardage, there is so much strategy to every hole due to the placement and type of bunkers resulting in the holes have a challenge level well above their yardage. The greens are very good. Actually, everything is good here.
Reading this review is somewhat akin to reading an excellent spy novel: exciting to read but in no way applicable to everyday life other than for a handful of people around the world. It's fun to fantasize, though!
Nice analogy Jeff - shades of Royal St Marks! Everybody loves a good spy novel - except my wife (which is just as well). This does sound like a great course - reads as an 18 hole version of Royal Worlington
Garden City is a wonderful old school US course that has managed to keep that old feeling and it's traditions in tact in an ever changing world of golf. First of all it's one of the few all mens clubs that is still around. They also maintain a policy of wearing a jacket when you arrive there. However, it's all about the jacket and there are plenty of stories of people showing up in their underwear with their jacket on. Whether they are true or not I can't say from first hand information. I did see plenty of people showing up with shorts on and there jackets on.
The clubhouse and locker room hasn't changed in over 100 years. (not sure of the exact time but that's my ball park estimate). It's also a club full of well respected members from the NY area not to mention many very accomplished players.
The course could easily be something you might find in England in terms of the layout.
The first tee shot can be quite unnerving to the first time guest. The very small make-shift driving range is right in front of it just off to the side. When it's your turn to tee off the guys on the driving range just kind of turn around and watch you, but they are very close so a proper shank could do some serious damage. The tee shot is also largely blind even though the land is flat. You can't see where the ball will land over the field of rough. The approach is to a green heavily guarded with huge bunkers. Interestingly enough it might be my choice for best hole on the course and has some of the most dynamic land as well.
Garden City is really characterized by flatfish land, a solid routing that keeps moving in various direction for the most part which helps as it's in a fairly windy area. There are not many trees so the main defense is the rough and the greens which are often tilted very strategically. At least one is sloped several front to back which makes for a very interesting approach. Another aspect that really makes the course much more interesting are the very firm and fast conditions. It's not target golf and in order to land the ball short and get it close to the pins to score well you really need to plot your tee shots out perfectly based on the pin positions.
Often the subtleness of the land is passed off as lacking in features but the architecture is such that the course remains strategic and interesting without all the wow moments created by huge dunes or sea views.
The 18th hole is a solid par 3 with the green literally right in front of the clubhouse patio where all the members sit in a huge peanut gallery comments, making fun and taking bets on who's going to make their up and downs and sink their putts.
A day at Garden City is a very memorable experience, it's a rare invite but one that you will absolutely love.
The most noticeable dimension of Garden City is how quickly you disappear from humanity when you enter the grounds. This is so remarkable -- even though the chaotic outside world is just beyond the club's property line.
Garden City cements itself among the elite architectural wonders in American golf because it has eschewed the desire to "modernize" as so many other clubs have seem fit to do.
Simplicity does not mean rudimentary design. Far from it. The Devereux Emmet / Walter Travis layout quickly separates those who can play a wide range of shots from those who are primarily one-way oriented players. Knowing how to work the ball and to understand how to factor in the "bounce" of the ball upon landing is what makes the layout so perplexing but so rewarding when one's execution is carried out at a high level.
The key to scoring is getting off to a fast start. The first four holes work you into the property and if played smartly can yield good results. The 302-yard opener is one that requires some keen understanding. The best line is more to the right thereby providing a far easier pitch to the putting green. The short 2nd -- one of only three par-3 holes at the club, is quite devilish at just 137 yards. The 3rd is mid-length par-4 that is fairly ordinary. At the par-5 4th you clearly have a golden opportunity in making birdie if the first three shots are played well.
The meat of the course begins at the par-4 6th and runs through the remaining holes. What you have at Garden City is an American heathland layout with some parkland and quasi-links added to the equation. Much is spoken about the bunkers at Garden City and they can be utterly fiendish at certain points. But the soul of the course rests with the putting surfaces. Many of them are at ground level and often an extension of the fairway of the hole being played. They are truly vexing because the breaks encountered are ever so subtle. Approach shots are equally tested as various greens have fall-offs to different sides. Combine this with the daily firm and fast conditions and you have a stellar layout.
It's no less important to point out that the rough at Garden City is equal to the meaning of the term. Pity the hapless wandering player who cannot summon enough accuracy when playing. The depth and consistency can prove fatal for the player who needs a compass. With that said, there's sufficient room so that the fairways can be found but the placement off the tee is crucial so that proper playing angles into the greens can be attained.
I have personally seen a number of top tier players chuckle at Garden City because the course does not provide the visceral sensation like other Long island layouts such as Bethpage Black or Shinnecock Hills or with nearby Meadow Brook. These same players believe they should always score lower than they actually do and much of that is tied to the rigorous nature of the shots one must play. The mental side is a fundamental dimension at Garden City. The course is not brawny but it will not yield low scores from just having one set of golfing skills. At the same time, the course wonderfully allows for elasticity so players of varying handicap levels can manufacture shots and use the ground to propel their ball to the given target.
So much of modern design fixates on the "eye candy" dimensions -- the inane over-the-top circus show productions. Garden City is completely removed from those clownish sideshows. One cannot presume that the understated elements are therefore underwhelming. Quite the contrary. Anyone who ventures to Long Island and can secure an invitation to play should clearly do so because your education in golf design will surely benefit from the time spent there.
by M. James Ward
Entering the clubhouse at Garden City is like entering a museum. You enter and the locker room is to the right hand side through two saloon-style swinging doors. The old low-slung open metal green lockers are the originals, as is almost everything. There is a large moose head mounted high up in the arching ceiling at the far end of the room. The main part of the clubhouse is one of the more genuinely warm and cozy rooms I've been in. In this regard, Garden City is more like a traditional English or Scottish club. If you were filming a period movie about a golf club at the turn of the century, you'd use the inside of the clubhouse at Garden City without changing a thing. There is no indication in the room that you are still not in 1899. The place is right out of central casting, with green leather chairs and sofas, a fireplace and dark wood.
The course itself is a natural style layout on flat terrain. The first hole is short (302 from the tips) and quirky with a semi-blind tee shot. The second hole is a great par three of about 150 yards. It features a green set at a diagonal with a "bottomless pit" of sand set in front. It is not a long hole, but plays much tougher than it looks. What you see is what you get at Garden City. The course is all right there in front of you. Avoid the penal fescue and you will have an enjoyable day. Many of the approach shots to the greens are either flat or slightly up hill. The greens themselves are subtly contoured away from you or slope downhill. One of the secrets to playing Garden City is figuring out how to hit your approach shots to the greens so they don't roll off. A Scotsman would be right at home, bumping shots onto the green as well.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs
Garden City is a terrific track, designed by Devereux Emmet. I don’t know if he ever designed another golf course, but he did a fantastic job on this one. The signature of the course is the thick rough and the grassy mounds. Many tees shots demand forced carries of more than 150 yards, camouflaging hidden trouble and proper line of play. Garden City was built to spur growth of a model community, and it has hosted the 1902 U.S. Open, four U.S. Amateurs, and a Walker Cup.
Every hole was unique and memorable. The Travis Invitational, one of the New York area’s major golf tournaments, was being hosted by Garden City the next week, and the course was being set up with high rough and fast greens to prepare for it. The rough was a real problem. I had a great front nine (5 over par) with several one-putt greens. The back nine was another story. I was in the rough too many times and ended the day with a 93. Larry Berle.
The moment I walked into the clubhouse I was struck by the history of the place. The clubhouse is a veritable museum of golfing history and the club history is taken so seriously that they even have an official historian. I was lucky enough to sit next to him at lunch, it was a real treat. The whole club is like one big family with friendly membership and staff who have worked there for over 30 years – the manager and the chef have over 70 years service between them. It really is a special place. I can’t begin to explain how generous and friendly the membership was, I really felt like I was being welcomed as a member of the family. It is a theme since they are a family there: with only 399 members they all know each other, and even though we were the only people on the course that particular day the dining room was still full for lunch. I got the impression that even if the course was covered in snow members would still be sitting in front of the open fire, enjoying a G&T before moving through to the dinning room for some delicious food.
So to the golf…the term ‘links’ is hugely over used in America, yet this was the first genuine inland links course that I have played in the States, and I include Sand Hills and Prairie Dunes in that list. About to head home to the UK after 2 years ‘stateside,’ I felt homesick for the first time when I left the club with pangs for golf by the sea. This golf course would not be out of place anywhere on the coastline of the UK or Ireland. Unfortunately, the greenstaff were still playing temporary greens when I played, but interestingly, and somewhat unexpectedly, it added to the charm of the experience. I felt like I had stepped back in time and imagined that I was playing golf as it was played hundreds of years ago! It was magical.
The first four holes offer a somewhat gentle start to the round: short par 4, short par 3, mid length par 4 and a short par 5. The second offers a glimpse of what is to come…some fantastic par 3s. Although ‘ gentle’ these holes remain great holes and offer challenges. Don’t think that they are pushovers, they are gentle in relation to what is to come! The first, for example, offers two choices from the tee: left is the easier drive but presents a tougher approach, or right which demands a lot off the tee but presents a straight forward pitch to the green. There are some fabulous holes at GCGC – the 8th and 9th are all that you could want from two par 4s. The 8th requires a arrow from the tee and a mid to long iron to a tough, slightly raised green. The 9th is a short par 4 which tempts a shot with the driver but the shrewd player hits an iron left and attacks with the approach over a waste area.
The last 6 holes are tremendous. Apparently, you can’t see the 14th fairway from the tee in the summer since the fescue is so long, the 15th is a very long par 4 (I think about 480 yards from memory) and has a hard sliding green running from left to right. The 16th is a par 4 which turns a corner to the left at the last moment with its green tucked away behind a small duck pond. 17 is a straight forward par 5 and then 18 a tough par 3 over a lake to a large and well protected green in front of the club house.
It is a sensational place and one of the very few clubs I’ve visited in the US at which I would love to be a member. I can say no more. Play it if ever you get the chance; I can’t recommend it highly enough.
GC Mens(as it is affectionately known) is a shrine to two greats of American golf, Walter Travis (a top amateur player in his day) and Devereux Emmet. Once you enter the club you are overcome with a sense of history, the clubhouse is like a museum and for all intents and purposes the Locker room still looks as though its th early 1900s, tremendous tradition. Once I settled down within the club I realised that it is a quite simply a club for men to socialise with one another over one common interest.....Golf! This is not the place to go and talk business, this is raw, pure golf at its finest.
The first 3 and last 2 holes play within an area directly in front of the clubhouse and are surrounded by houses on both sides, giving an almost modern feel to the place. But it is when you reach the fourth tee that your breath is completely taken away, it is almost like another planet, a huge expanse of heath type land and if one let the mind wander you could be mistaken for thinking you were on the Surrey sandbelt. The next thirteen holes are mind blowing, containing an exceptional mixture of challenges. Shot par 4's with small greens, par 5's which tempt the golfer to take chances which are one shot away from disaster(the 4th) and a great blend of par threes encompassing in my opinion an example of each type of veritable short hole. A medium length one over water(18), a short one to a small angled green(2) and a long one to a large green guarded by sand.
The course possesses no trick shots or gimmicks, good shots are rewarded and poor ones punished. The intelligent player should be quick to notice that many of the greens are open at the front and relatively flat, thus accepting a running onto the surface.
Gadren City Golf Club is a very special place, it embodies all that is central to the game of golf, camaraderie, respect for the game, dignity etc. It is a Club that doesn't look for praise or publicity and I feel we should respect this, but it doesn't need to, for anyone lucky enough to see this Club, its actions do the talking. Nick