There are many classic golf courses in the area north of New York City, but few can claim beachfront property. The Mahopac Golf and Beach Club was founded very early in American golf history, when Tom Bendelow laid out just six holes for the club during 1893. More than 20 years later, another architect with significant New York history — Devereux Emmet — came and created a full 18 for the club. The course remains rooted in history more than 100 years after Emmet left, playing a touch over 6,500 yards from the back tees.
The majority of the holes play north or south, but one of the most notable holes is also one of the exceptions: No. 4, a 375-yard par four, plays east-to-west to offer the best views of the title lake’s waterfront down below. This is also one of just two holes that plays south of the clubhouse.
No. 9 features some of Emmet’s signature bunkering, featuring three small, irregular bunkers, surrounded by second cut. Not so strange a setup, it seems, until you consider that this collection is sitting in the middle of the fairway at the elbow of a dogleg left.
Mahopac is a layout worthy of a visit. The holes are quite varied but the main shortcoming is a routing that features holes mainly from south/north and north/south. Only the 3rd and 4th holes go differently. The bulk of the course plays down and up a hillside. The uphill par-4 2nd is a gem of a hole. Out-of-bounds is on the left side and the fairway tilts that way. The smallish green is well-protected and the internal green movement are challenging.
The club does feature a beach club but none of the golf actually touches it.
It's too bad that type of hole is not on the agenda for much of the layout.
Kudos to Ken Dye for the very deep greenside bunkers. They are to be avoided at all costs especially when the pin placement is near them.
The long par-5 7th is also a treat to play. This time you start from an elevated tee and descend into a fairway that moves left. Pity the hapless player who loses the tee shot to the left. The par-3 8th is also a nice touch. The single large bunker to the green's right is exceptional. Too bad the putting surface lacks any serious riddles to discern.
The uphill dog-leg left par-4 9th concludes the outward half in fine fashion. Here you encounter a hole with plenty of character. The green sits above the fairway and puts a premium in securing the right position in the fairway.
The inward half follows the same formula -- heading downhill before going through a few holes on flattish land before reversing course and heading upwards back to the clubhouse area for the final two holes.
Mahopac is well-served by the bunkering that Dye improved but it's too bad the routing could not have been a bit more inventive.
M. James Ward