There are those I’m sure, mostly the politically correct and the political left (probably with long hair, sandals and beards), who lament the existence of the Garden City Mens Club. Thankfully, I am not one of them and, moreover, I am extremely fortunate to have been the guest of the club last week. Garden City is one of the most welcoming, generous and fun clubs I have ever had the pleasure of playing.
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.
Date: April 05, 2011