Set on the South Shore of Long Island, Inwood Country Club is not only steeped in history but the golf course was also built originally as a romantic gift.
Founded in 1901, the golf course at Inwood was established as a gesture of love from a wealthy tobacco merchant to his fiancée who wanted to play golf on a course reminiscent of the famous seaside courses of England and Scotland. William Exton and Arthur Thatcher laid out Inwood on a humble old potato farm and a rudimentary 9-hole golf course soon opened for play. Edward Erikson extended the golf course to 18 holes in 1906 and, a decade or so later, the English ex-pat and resident Inwood club professional, Herbert Strong, completely redesigned it. Strong went on to design the course at the Engineers Country Club but his work at Inwood Country Club went largely unheralded. Inwood, however, never looked back, becoming one of a few elite golf courses to host two different Major golf championships.
“Despite my failure to win the British Open, 1921 was a great year for me.” Wrote Walter Hagen in The Walter Hagen Story. “I won my first PGA Championship at Inwood, Long Island when I trimmed Jim Barnes 3 and 2. It was one of my prize championships. In the morning I scored a 69 yet I was only 1 up. In the afternoon I fired a 33 on the outgoing nine to go 4 up. Barnes rallied late, but I was too far ahead for him to catch me.” Walter Hagen went on to win four further PGA Championships, a feat matched only by Jack Nicklaus.
The closing hole at Inwood Country Club is perhaps the most famous finishing hole in the New York metropolitan area, not least because this was where, in 1923, Bobby Jones won his first Major championship, the US Open. “Shot of the Century” was how Golf Magazine described Jones’s 2-iron approach that finished 6 feet from the pin. Considering water cuts across the front and right side of the green, the approach to the 18th is not for the faint-heated.Tom Doak has been engaged at Inwood Country Club on a programme of course improvements for the last fifteen years. Commenting on the excellent Golf Club Atlas website, Doak stated: “Inwood is a neat golf course, and one of our favorite places that we've worked. We pretty much completely rebuilt the bunkering and took out a lot of trees – there aren't any trees at all now on the peninsula of 13-14-15. The original H. Strong bunkering was almost too wild to reproduce, and they didn't have many good photos of it left... but what we had, we used as license to do some pretty wild stuff. It's a very quirky routing, with three par-5's in a row on the front nine, followed immediately by back-to-back par-3's. It's also one of the busiest courses I've ever worked on... right up there with Pasatiempo.”
You pull up to Inwood and you feel somewhat like you are in a time warp. At one time this was a top shelve club. Today it is staying above water and making things work. The course is in good shape. Not great shape but good. They are working with it and my belief is it will be in great shape by next year. The course has a strong group of par 4's. The 3's are a little week. One being a 90 yarder with a pond short. The real issue is it is par 71 with 3 par 5's. And they are holes 3,4,5....Then 6 and 7 are 2 of the 4 par 3's...
The course sits right on the water across from JFK airport. Planes take off or land every minute. That actually isn't a distraction. Rarely is the sound enough to be bothersome. It's actually a nice setting for the course.
The final 4 or 5 holes are very nice. A couple playing along the water and a couple very good par 4's. The back side is much better than the front.