When measured by median income, New York’s Westchester County is among the most affluent areas in the United States. Located northeast of Manhattan, it is home to several Fortune 500 companies as well as some of the toniest towns in America.
With the U.S. Open being played in Westchester this week, it is worth noting that the county is also one of the most golf-rich regions in the world.
The best known of its layouts are the A.W. Tillinghast-designed East and West courses at Winged Foot Golf Club, which is hosting the national championship for the sixth time. Founded in 1923, the retreat also has been the site of two U.S. Amateurs, two U.S. Women’s Opens and a PGA Championship.
As good and prestigious as those tracks are, however, they represent only a small portion of Westchester’s golf wealth. Right across the street is another Tillinghast triumph, Quaker Ridge, where the 1997 Walker Cup matches were held.
Tillinghast did quite a bit of work in Westchester County. His original designs also include Fenway and Scarsdale Golf Clubs, and he restored or made additions to several others, among them the Siwanoy and Wykagyl (both of which are Donald Ross creations), Sleepy Hollow (Charles Blair Macdonald) and Sunningdale (Walter Travis).
Travis crafted the two 18-hole courses at Westchester Country Club, which for many years hosted an annual PGA Tour event. Ross built the original course at the Whippoorwill Club, and Charles Banks, the protégé of Seth Raynor, revamped it. Macdonald and Raynor fashioned the short but eminently playable track at the Blind Brook Club, famed for a membership roll laden with the names of top CEOs, past and present. As for Century Country Club, design credit for that celebrated course goes to Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison.
The county’s bona fides in golf are bolstered by modern gems such as Hudson National Golf Club (Tom Fazio) and the Golf Club of Purchase (Jack Nicklaus).
Then, there is the history of golf in Westchester, beginning with the Saint Andrew’s Golf Club. Established in 1888, it is one of the five founding clubs of the USGA. Not too far away is Knollwood Country Club. In addition to having a design pedigree that includes Raynor, Banks and Tillinghast, it also was where amateur great Willie Turnesa played for many years – and where his brother, Mike, worked as the head professional after leaving the PGA Tour. In addition, Knollwood counted Clifford Roberts as one of its members, and I cannot help but wonder how often the famously opinionated co-founder of Augusta National and the Masters raised his hand at annual meetings.
As for the Apawanis Club, it is notable for its heritage (founded in 1890), its architectural bones (Willie Dunn) and its tournament legacy (the club hosted the 1911 U.S. Amateur, best remembered for Harold Hilton caroming a shot off a rock and onto the green on the 37th hole to win the final match).
I also love that members have long called their par-4 fourth, “Eleanor’s Teeth,” for former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – and for the 12 bunkers that guard an elevated, two-tiered green.
All in all, it’s quite a place for golf.