In hosting this year's Curtis Cup Matches, Quaker Ridge will move out of the shadows -- self imposed at that -- and shine some light on an underexposed A.W. Tillinghast gem. Quaker Ridge also hosted the 1997 Walker Cup Matches.
Unlike its more illustrious nearby neighbor Winged Foot, Quaker has not really wished to host various national championships on a regular basis. That would mean potentially changing the fundamental character of the Tillinghast design and given the relatively modest footprint the club has in terms of total acres available, the likely outcome would mean an imposition that the club's leadership has wisely chosen not to undertake.
The noticeable Tillinghast design features are present -- challenging greens with a myriad of different movements. Missing approach shots to either side of the greens makes for daunting recovery situations.
The course fits squarely in the "good member's" type course. There's sufficient length but not where inane back tees being inserted mindlessly in order to pump up the difficulty meter. The opening sequence of holes is sufficient but not in a breathtaking manner. That commences at the 4th hole and continues through the middle of the inward half of holes. The terrain then becomes a quality brew, mixing various land movements where shotmaking requirements are elevated.
The par-4 6th and 7th holes respectively are a fine one-two punch. This is especially with the latter as the hole swings to the right in the drive zone. Players must be conscious of greedy attempts that cut off too much off this dog-leg right hole. The uphill par-4 8th is not long at 359 yards but an enlarged elevated grass hump in the middle of the fairway forces players to think carefully at the tee.
Having back-to-back par-3 holes can often prove hard to accomplish because architects are hard pressed to create real differentiation. That's not the case at Quaker. The 9th and 10th holes are both uniquely different in their presentations and positioning for different wind velocities.
The par-4 11th rightly gets plenty of attention. Striking for its visual appeal and architectural merits., and just over 400 yards, the need for precision with the approach -- a staple feature for any Tillinghast design -- is front and center as a stream cuts immediately in front of the green.
The only downside to Quaker is that the ending trio of holes does not rise the bar in ending the day in a fitting manner. Capable holes for sure but hardly closing out the course so that the memory is indelibly seared into one's consciousness.
Quaker has long benefited in being in the golf rich area of Westchester County. For a number of years the top golf publications in the States have had the course included among the top 50 layouts in America. I don't see it being consistently good enough to warrant such a lofty position and even a top 100 position is debatable given the rise of plenty of top quality competition. Nonetheless, Quaker Ridge demonstrates another fine Tillinghast contribution and the Curtis Cup Matches will provide sufficient visibility in showcasing a course that few outside the immediate NYC metro area ever discuss.
by M. James Ward
Date: May 29, 2018