The course at Tamarack Country Club was set out by Charles “Steamshovel” Banks (a former associate of Seth Raynor) in 1929 and it features a number of replica par threes; the 171-yard 3rd (based on the “Eden” hole at St Andrews), the 196-yard 7th (an imitation of the “Redan” at North Berwick) and the 214-yard 12th, a version France’s famous “Biarritz” short hole.
Much of the designer’s original “steep and deep” bunkering remains intact, most prominently at the 508-yard 17th, a sweeping doglegged par five, where an enormous sand trap named “Big Bertha” protects the elevated green. No doubt the Cardinal bunker at Prestwick was the inspiration for this sandy monster.Other holes at Tamarack that have been modelled on famous originals include the par fours at the 2nd (”Cape”), 6th (“Alps”) and 14th (“Road Hole”). Whilst some golfers will feel the use of template holes is all a little too contrived, many others will delight in their composition and celebrate their place in the modern game.
One of the best golf courses in the New York metropolitan area. This Charles Banks masterpiece is an underrated gem and is always in outstanding condition. A must play if you can score an invite from a member.
Seeing the former President of the United States naked was my strongest memory of playing Tamarack a couple decades ago.
My more recent visit revealed a delightful golf course, the result of Charles Banks' original work and a recent renovation by Brian Silva. Banks’ template holes are here, the finest being his par 3s. The Redan (#7) is even more wickedly sloped than the original and the Biarritz (#12) has a valley second only to Yales’ 9th in depth. Banks’ green are not nearly as diabolical as those of his mentors (e.g. #6 at the National or #10 at Yale), but there are enough contours to make for challenging putting (he favors mounds and ridges). Given the speed of the greens—13 on my stimpmeter in mid-October—and their size—more than half of them are over 40 yards deep—the softer contours are probably a good thing.
Silva restored the greens to their original sizes but left plenty of room in front for a variety of approach methods. Much of his work was adding fairway bunkers and Tamarack’s are placed to create strategic choices on nearly every tee shot. Purists might whine that they are not nearly as deep as Banks’ (or MacDonald’s or Raynor’s for that matter), but given their prevalence, that is also another good thing. There are a few places where Silva’s plethora of pits seems excessive (left of #2, right of #10, right of #16 and right of #18). The flat bunkers he added in front of the short 16th look completely out of place. One other oddity is in the course yardages. There’s a 700 yard difference between the forward (5694) and white tees (6391), with fewer than 200 from the White to the Blue and fewer than 200 from the Blue to the back tees.
But these are small matters. Yale, and perhaps Fairfield, are the only Connecticut course I’d rather play than here.
P.S. For any of you still reading, the ex-President was Gerald Ford. I had played in an outing there and since there was a formal dinner after, showers were in order. The shotgun start meant everyone descended on the locker room at the same time. So there was the former POTUS standing in line for one of the half dozen showers like everyone else.