One of the benefits architects had in the early part of the 20th century was being able to select land on behalf of deep pocket benefactors and not have to concern themselves with the slew of environmental rules and regulations that existing architects most routinely face.
Glens Falls will likely escape the radar of many. The course is near to Albany, New York's capital, but the course has maintained a very low-key profile and will likely be unfamiliar to many.
Ross faced a major challenge in getting a routing over and around a major hill that plays a prominent role in how the holes are featured. The 1st hole serves quick notice on what lies ahead as you face an uphill blind dog-leg right tee shot. The bold play can go for the corner and attempt to reach the par-5 hole in two shots. For many, the prudent play is taking the more conventional route.
The 2nd is a superb hole -- playing a good bit more than then 399 yards listed. Once again it's uphill but the challenge is entirely in front of you. The 6th and 7th are also very good. The former plays 399 yards and features a blind drive and then asks for a keen approach to a fine green. The latter is a drivable par-4 but that can only be accomplished with a marriage between power and accuracy. Failing that, the likelihood of birdie is far from a sure thing.
Glens Falls has one major weakness – the final hole. It's a quaint short par-3 hole that simply is lackluster. When courses opt to go with a par-3 closer, I think of such quality holes as the 18th at Garden City Golf Club or the finale at The Geronimo Course at Desert Mountain. The better option for Glens Falls would be to have the 17th hole serve as the closer since it's already near the clubhouse now. The existing 18th could be switched to the 1st hole and simply have it out of the way sooner than occupy the closing position it does now.
Ross did a fantastic job in creating a routing that maxes out the entire footprint of the property. Yes, the holes are close to one another but the separation between them avoids any claustrophobic impacts. The greens are also varied with all sorts of falloffs and a series of internal contours that will test one's ability to read greens and execute with precision. The same holds true when missing with one's approach shot – you’d best have a deft touch to leave unscathed.
Glens Falls was never really on my radar screen until I read Tom Doak's comments in his updated Confidential Guide series. I had to see firsthand if what was said of the course is anything close to his thoughts. I enjoyed the course immensely and urge anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood and can gain access to play it. Given the penchant for mindless slog courses with little more than formulaic designs Glens Falls is truly a special place.
M. James Ward
Date: March 10, 2019