If you want to be challenged, I mean really challenged, by a golf course, the owners of Pound Ridge Golf Club in Pound Ridge, N.Y. have just the course for you.
Almost dastardly difficult, Pound Ridge, which opened in June of 2008, features over 100 bunkers, wildly undulating greens, severe elevation changes, doglegs, water, and deep rough lining most of the fairways. Once you’ve completed your round a feeling of either total frustration or exhilaration will flow over you like a tidal wave. Pound Ridge is that type of layout.
Pete Dye’s only design in New York State, the course is full of the master architect’s signature flairs, such as difficult green complexes that place an emphasis on short game skills. Of course, those skills come into play only after you’ve reach the putting surfaces, which is no mean feat.
Even played from the third set of tees down (6,229 yards), where most all visitors should play this incredible track, the course is an extremely stringent test of one’s ability. Not just on one or two holes but on all 18. There are a number of forced carries at Pound Ridge, not your garden variety, but massive natural areas that demand tee shots be hit at least 200-plus yards to find the short grass.
We played the second set of tees down, 6,787 yards, and the course ate our lunch. It isn’t that each hole when taken by itself is too difficult. It’s more the cumulative effect of facing complicated shots every time you step up to the ball--both on the tees and the somewhat wide fairways--that wears on the amateur golfer.
Visually, Pound Ridge GC is as stunning as it gets. The owners spent millions of dollars carving a magical routing out of a rocky landscape. Yet, despite massive amounts of earth moving, the course looks quite natural and in keeping with the local terrain. The conditions are impeccable.
An example of the challenge Dye imbued the course with can be found explicitly on the fifth hole, a par-four that looks inviting on the scorecard, measuring just over 300 yards from the tips. But stepping onto the tee one is greeted with the sight of over a dozen bunkers scattered about the fairway, to its side, and by the green. Just where do I hit the ball and what club should I choose?
The ninth, a 573-yard par-five that winds up a hill, calls for a tee shot of well over 200 yards to carry a natural area. The 10th, again, looks unimposing enough on the scorecard at around 400 yards from the back. But the hole doglegs left down a hill and there are nasty bunkers guarding the landing area. The tee shot must clear another natural area.
The 11th, a 208-yard par-three, may be the best short hole on the course. There is trouble all around and a lusty long-iron or fairway wood will be needed to reach the slightly elevated putting surface.
The 13th Hole
The 14th, a 426-yard dogleg left par four, calls for another long tee ball across a waste area, with the approach to a green complex that slopes off severely to the left and right.
Talk about tough finishes!
The penultimate hole is a 460-yard par-four that has deep fescue lining both sides, and the 477-yard 18th is a monster that demands a strong tee shot and a long iron or fairway wood to a green protected by bunkers and water to the left.
Make no mistake about it; Pound Ridge GC is one special course. Just check your scoring expectations at the bag drop. Enjoy the challenge and the views.
Pound Ridge Golf Club
Pound Ridge, N.Y.
Photos courtesy of Jim Krajicek