Glens Falls Country Club opened for business in 1912, with a Donald Ross-designed 9-hole course appearing two years later. The same architect returned eight years after that to add another nine holes to the layout and today– apart from an alteration to the 16th hole in 1985 – the course that’s now in play is largely the one that Ross laid out a century ago.
Feature holes include short par fours at the 5th, which plays to a wickedly contoured “top hat” green, and the 7th, where three bunkers cut into the front and left side of the green on a diagonal line at the top of a ridge. The par four 17th is regarded by many as the best two-shot hole on the course, routed downhill into a valley then up towards a false-fronted green.
Tom Doak speaks highly of Glens Falls in the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses book, volume 3: “There is a broad hill in the center of the property, perhaps 50 feet high, and the routing works around it and across it and twice up and over, so even though there are many parallel holes, you never have the sense of playing Army golf… I would put it comfortably in Ross’s top ten courses, and that’s a pretty special list.”
A below the radar design of Donald Ross that shines. The course features many blind shots starting from the first tee, which asks the golfer to hit his tee shot up a huge hill with no flag visible anywhere. The fourth, sixth and tenth also feature blind tee shots, and approaches to six, seven, eight and several more holes are also blind. Ross used multi-tiered greens in abundance and incorporated swales, hollows, dips and punchbowls into the putting services to great effect. The routing flows beautifully through the hilly property, with nary an uneven lie. Especially noteworthy is the stretch of holes beginning with the sixth and ending at the ninth which fit into the landscape perfectly. Although the last three of them are short (a par four of 292, a par four of 362 and par three of 146) because of the hills and the green designs they command total precision and respect. A course that you would be lucky to call your home and to play every day.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs