My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences
The Golf Bucket List
#11, Par 4, 372 Yards
The creek is the primary issue on this hole. It runs the length of the hole on the left side and then cuts in front of the green. The green is really tight against the end of the creek--there is barely any fringe to stop a ball that spins back off of the front. Some precision is definitely required to avoid disaster on the 11th.
#12, Par 4, 403 Yards
The water shouldn't come into play here. As long as you can carry it a little past the beginning of the fairway, you'll be past eh bond on the left. What you see if basically what you get on this straight-away hole.
#14, Par 5, 517 Yards
The 14th is the second and final par 5 on a course with only two of them. Tillinghast was known on many of his courses to have a "Great hazard" which was often a large bunker or collection of bunkers that would need to be navigated on the second shot into a par five. In the Great Hazard hole at Quaker Ridge, there are not only bunkers that cross the fairway and need to be carried on the second shot, but also a ton of bunkers that line the fairway almost the entire hole. If I counted right, there are 20 bunkers on the 14th! It makes for one of the most complicated holes in a yardage book I've ever seen with distances to, and to carry, everything!
#8, Par 4, 335 Yards
Here is another example of what I said on the 7th hole. The patch of rough in the middle of the fairway looks really good, but I'm not sure it's achieving much as far as challenging a good player. The bomber would either try to drive the green or hit a mid iron to avoid the rough in the middle of the fairway. This is the last hole on the outside boundary of the course, so it should be the last time you have to worry about out of bounds on the right side.
#3, Par 4, 424 Yards
Playing to the northern tip of the property, the third hole is on the longer side and plays straight-away. The fairway bunkering encourages a draw, and O.B. must be avoided on the right again. In fact, there is O.B. on the right on each of the first eight holes, which play in a counter-clockwise loop along the club's border.
#16, Par 4, 414 Yards
The last four holes are all par fours. #16-#18 run parallel to one another with #16 going to the clubhouse, #17 going away from the clubhouse, and #18 returning to the clubhouse. #16 is fairly straight with the fairway bunkers on the right the primary hazards should be avoided from the tee. Three bunkers are around with a green with the front open to allow for a run-up.
#13, Par 3, 209 Yards
The last "short" hole at Quaker Ridge comes at the relatively long 13th. A large spine runs diagonally near the center of the green. There is quite a bit of room between the left bunkers and the green which make a run-up shot possible--it's deceiving. Depending on where the pin is, try to get your approach on the same side of the spine to leave a makeable putt.
#4, Par 4, 408 Yards
Heading back to the south, the fourth hole plays over a cool little ribbon of rough, right in the middle of the fairway. It's less than 200 yards to carry this feature, but it provides a unique aesthetic to the hole. A pond is to the left of the green, but there's a good amount of room to miss the green on that side and still stay dry.
#6, Par 4, 434 Yards
After the first short hole on the course comes the longest par four on the course. This hole is a bear! On the drive, you must avoid the bunkers on the right as well as the creek that meanders down the left side of the landing area. For ladies, this plays as a Par 5, and there are actually two bunkers that straddle the fairway in the landing area if you were to play it as a three-shot hole. After the drive, the hole takes a soft bend to the right, and goes to a green with a bunker on the left and OB on the right--just a tough and demanding hole.
#15, Par 4, 375 Yards
The length of the 15th is fairly modest, but a creek that cuts across the fairway will make the bombers think twice before just flailing away. It crosses that around 100 yards from the green and meanders further away from the tee on the right side. The smart play is just to lay short of it, which was still a driver for me! A wedge from there will set up a chance to score.
#18, Par 4, 410 Yards
The final hole at Quaker Ridge is a pretty burly one. There are no fairway bunkers to worry about off the tee, but the fairway is still pretty narrow, so hitting it straight is still your best play. The right bunker up by the green is well short of the surface, and only the bunker on the left should really come into play. While the long is a bit on the longer side, it's gettable for a good finish to your round.
#1, Par 5, 510 Yards
The first tee at Quaker Ridge sets up right next to the pro shop, which is a free-standing building--pretty typical for Golden Age courses to have the clubhouse and pro shop be separate. The landing area for your first drive of the day is fairly tight. A fairway bunker is on the right side, and starts about 270 yards from the tee. The key to this hole is what to do on the second shot. An enormous bunker sits in the middle of the fairway around the landing area for a second shot. Those going for the green in two need to carry over it. Those laying up need to lay short of it. If you are going for the green in two, even if you carry it over the big bunker, you still need to avoid two bunkers that flank the front portion of the green. One of the knocks on Winged Foot's West course is that there are bunkers on both sides of the green on nearly every hole--Quaker Ridge is often similar in this feature.
Loosening up on a third day of a three-day 36-hole stretch can be a bit rough--aches, pains, and fatigue starts to kick in a bit. However, I tried to rally--since we seemed to have a window of no rain, I didn't take any time to putt and headed right to the first tee to take advantage of the dry weather, while it lasted. Quaker Ridge is a par-70, which means the length of the course is a bit longer than you think, when comparing it to the more typical par 72 courses. The back tees are called the Black Tees, and stretch to 7,008 yards, playing to a rating of 74.8 and slope of 140. Given all the rain that fell overnight, I wasn't counting on much roll, so I skipped those tees. The next set up is the Blue Tees, which measure 6,456 yards and have a rating and slope of 72.0 and 138. That seems reasonable for a day like this (not to mention I was a little sore and tired!). I'll quote the Blue Tees below:
#2, Par 4, 405 Yards
When it comes to the second hole, it's impossible to discuss it without mention of a lawsuit that was filed in 2010 and battled in court until 2016. The suit was filed by a homeowner who built a home to the right of the second hole in 2007. Allegedly, everything was fine until a large storm took out several trees in the summer of 2008, which resulted in errant tee shots ending up on their property. New trees were planted, nets were built, and even the tee box was moved--all to attempt to resolve this dispute. Eventually, the case was decided upon, and limited damages were awarded. When I played the course, almost two full years after the case was completed, the club still had an unusual policy in place, which they had enacted during legal proceedings to attempt to monitor exactly how many balls entered the complainant's property. When I finished the first hole, I was handed a Quaker Ridge logoed ProV1 to use just on the second hole. Once finished, I was to deposit it in a basket adjacent to that green.
Avoiding out-of-bounds to the right is the key on the tee shot, and it's even more never-wracking when you consider the potential trouble you're going to get the club into if you slice once into the Behar's home! If you make it safely to the fairway, it's a fairly straight-forward shot around a slight dogleg right into a well-contoured green that is flanked by bunkers.
Well, I got the round it. When I was finished, I was awfully wet, and the concept of heading to Fairfield for my afternoon round wasn't terribly thrilling. However, it looked like I might have a window of dry weather, so I'd give it a try. I ended up getting 12 holes in at Country Club of Fairfield before a monsoon came in and flooded the course for what looked like would likely be the remainder of the afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to get back there another time. Quaker Ridge was a fun round and a really underrated golf course, in my opinion. You can make an argument for whether its between or worse than Winged Foot West, but if you asked me which course I'd rather play if I was looking to have a nice fun round, I'm almost certain it would be Quaker Ridge--Winged Foot just relentlessly beats your head in! I'd love to get back on a day where the sun shines to see Quaker Ridge again, in all its glory.
On the third and final day of a whirlwind trip to the New York City area, I was set to play two great courses. In the morning, I would be making a short drive from a hotel in New Rochelle, NY to Quaker Ridge Golf Club. From there, the plan was to head out I-95 into Connecticut to see the Country Club of Fairfield, an under-the-radar Seth Raynor gem. While this sounded like a wonderful day, on paper, mother nature wasn't going to make it easy--and ultimately, she wasn't going to let it all happen.
This trip started two days prior with a 36-hole day out on Long Island with a morning round at The Bridge and an afternoon round at National Golf Links of America. A close friend joined me for those two rounds on a sunny fall day that couldn't have been much more beautiful. From there, he would drive back home and I would continue on with another 36 holes on my own the following day--first at Nassau Country Club, and then at Piping Rock. On my final day, I woke up to steady rain, which put a bit of a damper on the prospects of the third 36-hole day in a row. However, I wasn't going to go down without a fight. When I arrived at Quaker Ridge, the rain had stopped, and I thought I had a reasonable chance of getting the round in. It wouldn't be dry the whole round and I'd be playing with rain gear through on-and-off precipitation, but for Quaker Ridge, it was worth battling the elements.
Golf at Quaker Ridge dates back to 1915 under the name of a nine-hole course built by John Duncan Dunn called Metropolitan Golf Links. That course didn't make it for long, and financial issues purchased the property a year later and re-organized under the current name of Quaker Ridge Golf Club. The group wished to expand the golf course to 18 holes and hired renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast to redesign 7 of the existing holes and build 11 new ones on the club's 125 acre property. This transition took a couple years to complete, and the Tillinghast course opened for play in 1918. The club would attract many notable members through the years, including the founders of retail giants like Gimbels and Bloomingdales and one of America's most successful musical composers--George Gershwin.
While Quaker Ridge has had a splendid reputation as a golf course since inception, it seems to have always taken a back seat to neighboring Winged Foot, as far as notoriety. Winged Foot's world famous 36 holes are literally across the street, and also the work of Tillinghast. Both club's have gorgeous Tudor clubhouses, and both serve wealthy memberships. However, Winged Foot is the one who is known for hosting countless major championships, while Quaker Ridge is a relative unknown. Much of this is probably due to the ample space that Winged Foot occupies, with two golf courses, which serves well to stage modern championships. Laying on only 125 acres, Quaker Ridge is admittedly quite cramped. In fact, due to space restraints, it doesn't even have a permanent practice range--more on that in a bit. With all that said, after playing Quaker Ridge, and both courses at Winged Foot, one could make the case that Quaker might actually be the more interesting, more fun, and perhaps even better golf course. The USGA acknowledged its process when the 1997 Walker Cup came to the club--a tournament that is awarded to some of the best and most prestigious clubs in the world. The Curtis Cup would later be played in 2018. Tournaments like these are great fits for Quaker Ridge. With few players, the practice area probably isn't an issue, and the small acreage isn't a problem when galleries and tournament staging areas are limited.
I arrived at the club quite early in the morning and was to tee it up at 7:45 AM, which I think was the first tee time of the day. After changing my shoes, I was directed to the "driving range" which is nothing more than a few bays that were set up on a fairway area cut between the tee boxes of the 17th hole. It seemed like they kept this available in the morning for those who wanted to loosen up prior to play and then took it away once players reached the 17th hole. I had never seen anything like it, but it worked plenty good enough for my needs. It even gave you some practice on the tee shot on #17 that you'd face later in the day! The club has built indoor hitting bays behind this teeing area as well that likely get used during the winter, at which time it can probably be more permanent.
#10, Par 3, 186 Yards
The second of back-to-back par threes, this one plays a good amount longer and to a larger green. However, if you miss the green, you're more than likely to end up in one of six bunkers that surround it (a seventh is behind the green and shared with the sixth hole.
#17, Par 4, 344 Yards
When you get to #17, you'll remember that it's probably the hole you already played on when you loosed up before your round. You'll see the yellow balls in the fairway on the second picture below--these are practice balls. The first picture is from the range tee, and it's the same one I used above, but it's roughly the view from the tee box. Two bunkers encroach on the right of the fairway and tighten the landing area are the main items that bring strategy to the hole. Fly it over them or lay short.
#74, Top 100 Golf Courses in the World (2020-2021)
#39, Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. (2020-2021)
#71, America's 100 Greatest Courses (2019-2020)
#12, Best in the State of New York (2019-2020)
#5, Par 3, 151 Yards
The first par three at Quaker Ridge plays over the pond that was also to the left of the fourth green. It's the only pond on the course, though there's a small creek that flows from it that you'll face on forthcoming holes. After you clear the water, there are three bunkers that protect the deep but narrow green.
#7, Par 4, 416 Yards
Unfortunately, as the weather deteriorated, so did the frequency and quality of my pictures. I missed a picture from the tee box, but this is a fairly hard dogleg to the right where most people will just hit a drive of 220 yards or so, depending on how reliably you can hit it left-to-right. The second shot needs to carry over the creek, and then a couple bunkers before ending up at an elevated green with bunkers on either side. If I had a complaint about Quaker Ridge, it's that some of its bunkering and mowing lines really only punish the poor player. They definitely make the courses prettier, but they're not doing a great deal to challenge the good player.
#9, Par 3, 143 Yards
The remaining ten holes at Quaker Ridge play in the interior of the property. Since there is no out of bounds to content with, there are more bunkers to serve as hazards to catch errant shots. The ninth hole is the first of two consecutive par threes. It's played to a tiny triangular green that's surrounded by four bunkers. There's technically a fifth bunker short and to the right, but that would only catch a shot that is already really lousy--perhaps it's there to serve as protection for the putting green?