Metropolis is a course of inconsistency. In the golf rich state of New York, if a course is recognized as being in the top 40, it is a course very much worth playing. Metropolis currently resides at the 50th position indicating that it has several noteworthy holes and attributes, but ultimately not in the same class as others, particularly other clubs in Westchester County. I have only played 37 of the top 100 in New York, so I cannot yet say whether 50th is warranted. But it like
likely makes sense given the flaws of the course. There are several holes that are quite compelling and memorable, there are holes where one believes more should be done to optimize the hole, and there are several holes that likely cannot be improved without taking away the naturalness of the hole.
I like much of the work of Herbert Strong, having played the courses considered to be his best. I disagree with the comments by Ron Forse regarding the brilliance of the routing, although likely not the fault of Mr. Strong due to changes in technology and the decision as to the location of the clubhouse. I think the weakest holes on the course are a result of the location of the clubhouse, placed on the highest point of the land. Often clubs did this for the members to have a good view for post-round drinks or meals. At the opening of Metropolis in the 1920’s, golf technology did not have golf balls traveling the distances they do today, so the routing was likely fine. With today’s technology and the expansions made to the clubhouse and parking, some of the holes are weak or have been lessened. If the clubhouse had been built in a different spot while still offering a decent view, I believe the routing would have been much better. That is not the fault of Mr. Strong or the many architects that have worked on the golf course in the 100 years of the club; one works with what is offered. Yet I could not help think that the best land was given over to the clubhouse and the driving range, set next to the clubhouse between holes 17 and 18. The routing works around this high point of the clubhouse generally with holes going up and down to the two low points of the course, with only a few holes playing across the hills. Of the non par 3’s, this results in only three memorable par 4’s while the par 5’s are weak, with two of them being too short and one of them “shortened” by being sharply downhill. Note I played the sixteenth as a par 5 where it is too short; as a par 4 it becomes one of the better holes on the course due to a very good green. Said more simply, I wish the clubhouse parking, and range would have been built immediately to the left as you enter, the current site of the eleventh and sixteenth holes.
Memorable holes are the third, seventh, and fourteenth. Good holes are the fourth, ninth, twelfth, thirteenth, and fifteenth. Sixteen would be memorable as a par 4.
I found the par 3’s all to be good and offering a good variety of length, strategy, and difficulty. The are quite different in their visual look. All are well defended.
The par 5’s are generally weak.
The par 4’s are inconsistent. Most people consider the sixth to be the course’s signature hole. While I admired the visual from the tee and the shape of the hole, the green complex felt contrived and out of place with the type of greens built on the rest of the course. The green surround was less interesting, as the single bunker placed central front seemed inadequate, the green size is overly large, and the tier is too severe. If the rest of the course had green complexes like this, then one could understand it. I much preferred the false fronts, shaping, green side bunkering, and green surrounds such as on three, seven, fourteen, and the finishing hole. Sixth felt like a hole built by a different architect.
From the Black tees the course is 6827 yards par 70/71 with a rating of 73.6/138. The Blue tees are 6587 yards rated 72.5/135The members tees are 6307 yards rated 70.7/132.
1. Par 5 - 540/523. A downhill par 5 with thick trees down the right and scattered trees on the left as well as two bunkers shared with the third. One can get a very favorable rollout going down the left side. Longer hitters can easily reach this green in two. The fairways offers a few rolls until flattening out. The green complex is decent with four bunkers mainly in the left and a central plateau.
2. Par 4 - 369/362. A pond goes down the left with four scattered large, raised bunkers down the right. The green has good mounding in the right and a fall off at the back with a large rear central bunker and one on the left front corner. This green feels too large, probably done to try to bring the pond into play. While I liked the slope of the green to the front and left and the many subtle mounds, I felt the size too large. If you want water in play for the approach shot, simply cut off the right third of the green. The fairway could be made more interesting with rolls being built into the fairway.
3. Par 4 - 417/395. For me this was the second best hole on the course. My playing partner felt it to be the best. The drive is from a slightly elevated tee offering a choice. Down the right is fescue and bunkers as the hole rises to the turn of this sharp dogleg right. Down the left is the pond followed by taller grass at the turn. The fairway is banked to the left as it begins to rise. Five bunkers are set on the inner corner of the turn. Longer hitters will likely carry the first two of those bunkers which serves as a good line. Shorter hitters trying to cut the dogleg a bit will be taking on both the high fescue and those bunkers. The hole rises steeply to the green. Farther up the fairway are two bunkers on the left shared with the first hole but I felt them to be unnecessary. Closer to the green are flanking very large bunkers while the green itself has a large bunker right and a large bunker at the rear. That rear bunker is particularly troublesome as the green is sloped steeply to the front. There is also a hump left center on this green. It is one of the better holes one will play in Westchester County.
4. Par 3 - 188/174. I liked this par 3 set atop the hill playing level with a false front of its front right side. Four long bunkers are on the right beginning before the green continuing to the side. A rear bunker is also used. There is a final bunker on the left center built with a tall mound behind it. Any ball coming out of here will have to navigate the steepness of the mound if the pin is on the left. All of the par 3’s are good at Metropolis.
5. Par 4 - 390/375. The tee box is shared here with the eighteenth. We were admonished by one guy in a threesome on the other tee who asked us to wait to hit our tee shots even though they were waiting on their tee. Later as we approached the eighteenth tee, we saw a sign saying players on the fifth tee should be given priority. Either the one guy cannot read or he simply has that type of personality. As to the hole itself, it is a dogleg right with a long inner corner bunker of almost 50 yards. There are six bunkers that are part of the green complex including four on the right. This green is slightly raised with a vertical spine creating a higher left side tier with other more subtle movements throughout. I thought the green to be very good.
6. Par 4 - 441/416. I have already discussed this hole in my opening comments. The tee is elevated as the land falls away with thick trees down the left and scattered trees down the right along with higher ground creating a natural bank to stop balls from going too far right or Ethan’s kicking them back into the fairway. There is an outer corner bunker to be avoided. I loved the view from the tee. The land flattens at 150 yards with the approach shot needing to avoid a small pond right of the green and a large front central bunker that looks like cyclops. The green is very wide with a wider section on the left. There is a significant three-four feet tier running irregularly two-thirds of the way into the green consistent with the shaping at the front. As mentioned, I did not like the hole after the tee shot.
7. Par 4 - 461/438. I very much liked the seventh playing slightly downhill with higher ground to the right. Trees line both sides of the fairway. Two bunkers are down the right to catch those trying to avoid their ball landing and going left into the rough. A large bunker is further left for the longer hitters. The strength to the hole is the large, deep central bunker about 40 yards short of the green. Two large and deep bunkers are on the left of the green with a natural bank on the right. The green is large with a lot of inner movement to the front and left but with smaller inner shelves. It is a very good green.
8. Par 4 - 390/370. This hole is somewhat uphill before flattening out. There are two early bunkers on the left as well as trees. There is a collection area of numerous bunkers on the left side from the green but they seemed out of play. The green has a fall off on the right side and two bunkers while the surface is disappointedly flat. The green side bunkers are weak.
9. Par 3 - 158/137. I liked the short ninth playing over a valley to a green sited in a half bowl. There are six bunkers on this hole which has an irregular shaped green angled right. The bunkers fronting the green are deep. The green slopes to the front right. From the tee, the visual of this hole is very good.
10. Par 4 - 453/444. This hole plays as a dogleg right and one will want to hug the tree line right as much as possible to avoid their ball running through the fairway where it can be blocked by scattered trees on the left. The green complex sits on lower ground and one can run a ball onto the green. Three bunkers are left, the first beginning 25 yards before the green. A single bunker is on the right. The green is nearly squared and features small inner depressions. It’s an okay hole.
11. Par 5 - 587/573. Thicker trees are down the left with scattered trees down the right. This is a straight hole with three bunkers right and two opposite on the left. These are deep fairway bunkers. The ground falls sharply down about 175 yards from the green so even the shorter hitters can get a favorable rollout. The green has a deeper bunker left, a small bunker on the right. I found the green to lack character.
12. Par 4 - 457/445. This begins a stretch of four good holes. If the tee shot clears the rise in the fairway, one will get a favorable roll out. The left side has rough and a tree that can catch a ball trying to cut too much of the dogleg. There is a long bunker green side left set well below the green, one at the rear, and a small one to the right. The green is long sloped to the front.
13. Par 3 - 183/173. This uphill par 3 plays considerably longer. There is a long snake-like bunker on the left that is there for visual purposes. The bigger defense is the fall off left of the green and the two bunkers located there. It is not the prettiest par 3 on the course, but it’s a strong hole. The green has less slant to the left than one might think.
14. Par 4 - 428/408. This is the best looking par 4 on the course. The fairway is wide with scattered trees on the right. The hole bends slightly right. The view from the approach shot is special due to the various area of fescue and spying two ponds; the pond on the third and the one to the left of the green. There is a sizable false front of perhaps six feet. The green side bunker includes a small one on the back left and a large one on the front right continuing down the right side. There is a defined horizontal tier in this green almost halfway through.
15. Par 3 - 151/138. I liked this hole playing uphill with higher ground to the right and behind the green. The green has a narrow opening and a wider back half. Three bunkers are to either side. This hole is a good mixture of a strong visual and fun to play while requiring a well executed shot for distance.
16. Par 4/5 - 459/486. This can be played as a 4 or 5. There are no fairway bunkers, just scattered trees. The green is terrific, raised with a narrow opening and banks on both sides due to mounds created by bunkers. Four bunkers in total ring the green which has a much higher back half. It is likely the best green on the course.
17. Par 4 - 350/343. This short hole has trees and the driving range fence down the right. The left side also has scattered trees. The first bunker is 25 yards short of the green on the left followed by a green side bunker left and one at the rear. The green is raised about six feet and features a very narrow front third. The rear bunker is problematic as the green runs away from you and is not very deep other than to the narrow front. It is a terrific green.
18. Par 4 - 405/387. The fairway bends left a bit then to the right. Two long bunkers are at the bend. The green is slightly raised. Three bunkers are right with the first one beginning 15 yards short of the green and is very long. It has a second bunker to its right. The two left bunkers are near the back left of the green. The green has smaller shelves in it. It is a good green complex and a compelling green surface.
Thinking about Metropolis, the greens are the star of the course. Most of them are very interesting with good inner movement, size and shape. Sometimes tiers and plateaus are used, but not overly so. Metropolis is worth playing simply for the green surfaces. The par 3’s are also good. With 7-8 good holes, good greens, and good green side bunkering, the course is well worth playing.
Date: July 16, 2022