September 16, 2014
When I met Kelly and Scott at Royal St. George's in July, and finished the back nine of that course with them, my quest to play the top 100 courses came up. They advised the next time I was in New York, that I should touch base with them and they could help me out with a few. At the time, I wasn't sure which few so I gave them my card, we finished the round, and I didn't think to much about it. A few weeks after the England trip, Kelly emailed me and confirmed that the invitation was still available. I mentioned that I would be in New York in September and he offered tee times at Garden City Golf Club (where he is a member), Winged Foot, and Plainfield Country Club. I heartily accepted with much gratitude, and dates and tee times were set.
The first stop of our three course tour was Garden City Golf Club. The day started off with relatively mild weather but half way through the round, the weather turned, and we ended up finishing the back half of the course in a monsoon. Unfortunately, my camera became waterlogged so I don't have as many shots or the quality I prefer. What you will see are the photos of the first 11 holes, excluding number 1, that I took before my camera decided to die on me on the 12th tee box.
The Garden City Golf Club is one of the few clubs that not only has only men as members, but men are the only ones allowed to play, with a very few exceptions and select days where women may join male members. The 1899 course has an old school feel from the moment you step foot inside the clubhouse. Before you an step foot inside, however, you must put on a jacket in the parking lot. The club requires patrons to wear a jacket since its founding. It is quite the site to see some members with shorts and a jacket as they enter the clubhouse.
|The clubhouse at Garden City Golf Club.|
Once inside, old lockers, doors, and photos adorn the property. The locker room is a throw back to the turn of the last century. You enter the locker room through two saloon-style swinging doors. The metal green lockers are the originals, as is almost everything found inside the clubhouse. There is a large moose head mounted high up in the arching ceiling at one end of the room and a deer head mounted to the opposite wall, facing each other in a timeless staring duel. The main part of the clubhouse is one of the more genuinely unique and traditional rooms, very much like a traditional English club that I experienced back in July.
|A look inside the locker room towards the entrance.|
|A look at the back half of the locker room.|
The course has only three par threes and plays to a par of 73. There are two sets of tee boxes, the Championship (or back) tees and the the Regular (or front) tees. Holes thirteen through seventeen make up the most challenging stretch of the course with a tough collection of par fours and fives. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of any of those due to my camera breaking due to the water that got inside.
Garden City Golf Club appears in The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes and holes 2 and 11 are ranked as two of the top 500 holes in the world.
The first hole is short 302 yards played from the championship tees and and is quirky with a semi-blind tee shot.
The second hole is a 137 yard par 3 that plays across a ravine and onto an elevated, relatively flat green. As noted in the book above, "The tee shot plays over the gaping 'Bottonless Pit'. If that's not enough to think about, three additional, albeit smaller, bunkers guard the right and rear of the green."
|A look into the green from the 2nd tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 3rd tee box.|
|A look into the 3rd green from 150 yards out.|
|A closer look at the 3rd green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 4th tee box.|
|A look into the 4th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 5th tee box.|
|A look into the 5th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.|
|A look at the shrub covered ridge that crosses the center of the fairway.|
|A look into the 6th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 7th tee box.|
|A look into the 7th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.|
|A look into the 8th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the 8th green from 100 yards out.|
|A closer look at the wide bunker that crosses the fairway just in front of the 8th green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 9th tee box.|
|A look into the 9th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 10th tee box.|
|A closer look at one of the fairway bunkers that always look to grab errant tee shots.|
|A look into the 10th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 11th tee box.|
|A closer look at the very tough 11th green.|
Overall, I had a very good golf experience at Garden City Golf Club. I know that some people are put off by the no-female policy. However, I believe that in America, people still have the right to decide what is best for their private club. Much like women who have women-only gyms, men also have the right to have a few places that are exclusive just for them. The club has an old world charm I really enjoyed. Unlike other top, exclusive and very private clubs, I found Garden City and all of the members and staff I met very welcoming.
After the round, Kelly, Andy and I had lunch and chatted a bit more. They were gracious hosts and I can not thank them enough for extending an invitation to experience one of my favorite golf clubs in the U.S. to date. If you ever get a chance to play a round at Garden City Golf Club, do not miss it. It truly is a memorable and enjoyable experience.