Mansion Ridge takes its name not from the well-to-do region of upstate New York where it resides, but from its former identity as the estate of a wealthy New York, dating back to the Revolutionary War. The clubhouse itself is a restored 18th Century construct.
Despite that history, the golf course itself is a relatively modern design from the pen of Nicklaus Design. The course is a true out and back, heading to the farthest portion of the property before coming back toward the clubhouse. It’s at this point where players will witness the most distinct piece of the landscape, a towering rock wall that edges the outside of the dogleg-right par four at No. 14.
Although this geologic formation won’t act as a hazard upon players, the region’s prevalent wetlands will; many a tee shot will require significant carry to reach the fairway on the other side. The course waits until the seventh hole to present a par five, but it will then give three in quick succession, at holes Nos. 7, 9, and 11. The first two among these will both require multiple carries of the wetland to get home safely.
Tough to compete in New York. Of playable options, Mansion Ridge is definitely up there. Great use of elevation and contours. In very solid condition, some classic Nicklaus holes. If it was closer to Manhattan it would get discussed much more than it does.
Give a skilled designer a quality piece of land with sufficient acreage and a routing plan that recognizes the economics of golf course development without acquiescing to the point where the golf is merely a second-tier appendage and you can get an outcome that resonates after the round is finished.
Mansion Ridge is the only Jack Nicklaus Signature layout open to the public in The Empire State and to Jack's credit the issue of playability -- something the Golden Bear has been ignorant of in many earlier designs -- is clearly present given the daily audience that plays the course.
Having 220 acres of land clearly helps because the routing takes advantage of the natural hills and rock outcroppings during the course of play.
Mansion Ridge starts slowly with five basic holes The 1st is a short par-4 and the 2nd is a rather pedestrian par-3. Two par-4's follow from that before you encounter another modest par-4 at the 5th. Mansion Ridge picks up considerable steam with the demanding par-4 6th. At 422 yards one has to be especially mindful of losing a tee shot to the left. Hard to explain but I've always believed that creating mid-to-long two-shot holes has always been a strength for Nicklaus the 6th here is a clear example of that.
The par-5 7th features a fairway separation as wetlands must be crossed following the tee shot. For strong players the green is reachable but similar to the 15th at Muirfield Village the risks are ever present.
Hole 8 and 9 are a short par-4 and par-5 hole respectively and round out the outward half rather well. The inward journey kicks off in the same manner as the front with three successive holes that are rather benign and having a hideous series of step tee pads at the 12th is something that should have been better thought out.
When reaching the 13th, the run of exceptional holes commences. The 13th and 14th are demanding long par-4's with the latter especially so.
The ending stretch of holes is testing with the penultimate long par-3 17th being especially particular about accepting anything other than well-executed approach shot. The round ends in stellar fashion with a rollercoaster 470-yard par-4 that requires a long and accurate tee shot and then an approach well-protected by a menacing pond to the left. The main issue with the conclusion is a routing that works its way back to the clubhouse on a fairly straight line starting at the par-5 15th.
Turf quality can vary at different times of the year. To the credit of the maintenance team the desire to keep the turf as firm as possible only enhances the experience. There's also been a concerted effort to thin out the areas not too far removed from the fairway in order to locate balls and keep the parade moving.
Mansion Ridge is held back by having just too many adequate holes before ramping out matters considerably. Nonetheless, it's worth a play just to see those specific holes.
M. James Ward