Hudson National Golf Club was once home to the Kitchawan Indians when Henry Hudson first sailed downriver. Today this remarkable site houses a Tom Fazio signature course which stretches out to almost 7,000 yards and opened for play in 1996.
The elevated site – some 500 feet above the Hudson River – provides for stunning river views from all but four holes. Fazio certainly moved the earth to create Hudson National. 130,000 cubic yards of rock were blasted out before the holes could be routed through the second highest elevation point in Westchester County.
A 9-hole course, which belonged to Hessian Hills Golf Club in the 1930s, once occupied part of the site and Fazio routed the 4th hole alongside the ruins of their clubhouse as a “historical reminder” of the days of The Depression.
One of the real joys when playing the best courses in Westchester County is the quality of the land and how a number of the top tier courses had such land used in such a meaningful way. The old time architects -- who often did not have the advantage of modern earthmoving equipment -- were so skilled in weaving the nature of golf holes so that their mere existence gave the appearance in working in harmony with the land.
Hudson National is a beautiful layout -- as is customary from the hands of architect Tom Fazio. But, instead of working within the confines of the land -- the course has too many instances when the holes actually stand apart from the terrain. Personally, when a site is bereft of any real contour it may be necessary for any architect to add a bit of pizzazz at times in order to spice up the proceedings. But, when good land is available -- it's more important for any architect to favor a "less is more" approach. I often wonder if the Fazio approach realizes that one doesn't need to overdo things and still get a first rate product.
There are a number of solid holes at Hudson National. However, the feeling is less of a connectivity to the bigger overall picture and more of isolated gems one encounters when playing.
Clearly, the bar for golf in Westchester is quite high but other newer courses have done well in other competitive areas of New York -- such as the eastern areas of Long Island where such relatively new gems as Friar's Head and Sebonack came forward respectively in spectacular fashion.
Hudson National is generally in top tier conditioning and for many players the experience will be memorable. But, for true devotees of compelling architecture the time at Hudson National will have you wonder what could have been rather than what is.
by M. James Ward