Appeared in April 1997 LINKS
As you approach the 4th green at New York’s Hudson National Golf Club, you cannot help but feel you have been enveloped in a time warp. You know you are playing a brand new golf course, but you are suddenly confronted with old stone ruins, the crippled foundations of a long-ago building. The golf course has thus far melded seamlessly into the slopes and rock outcroppings so characteristic of northern Westchester County, conforming so gracefully, in fact, on near-perfect turf, that you actually start to believe you’re playing a 75-year-old A.W. Tillinghast design instead of a Tom Fazio course that opened in June 1996.
Groundbreaking took place on October 5, 1994, and from day one Fazio and his design team, spearheaded by lead architect Tom Marzolf, couldn’t help but have a blast—literally. By blasting 100,000 cubic yards of rock, Fazio and his team rendered a relatively hilly site was easily walkable.
The end result of all the meticulous planning and shrewd forethought is a first-class club and course that looks like they have been around forever. Actually, back in the late 1920s, this same property had housed the Hessian Hills Country Club, a nine-hole course with nine more on the books, plus a stately wooden clubhouse. In 1932, according to local lore, the clubhouse suffered a “successful” fire, allowing the owners to recoup insurance proceeds at the height of the Great Depression. The club closed shortly thereafter.
Today, the remnants of that fire provide the instant character and identity that every new course craves. The stone foundations and chimneys from the Hessian Hills clubhouse remain in place, sandwiched between the 4th green and 5th tee.
If the ruins aren’t the most talked about feature of Hudson National, the views are. More than half the holes sport spectacular vistas of the Hudson River. “Inviting” is the word you think of as you gaze from the elevated 1st tee out over a 486-yard par-4 that plays into a wide valley of a fairway, nicely framed by another of the course’s trademarks: gorgeously sculpted bunkers.
Hole two is the first of Hudson National’s superior par 3s, a 211 -yarder with a stark granite outcropping to the right and a handsome white oak behind the green. Soon you begin to delight at the variety you are encountering, as the 421-yard 3rd eases downhill, with a pronounced right to left slope as you approach the green, while the 387-yard 4th climbs gracefully, until you are practically on top of the enchanting stone ruins to the left.
The back nine blossoms at the 14th, a lovely, option-laden par 5 that skirts a pond along its right side and features a stone wall directly behind the green. This sets the table for the 15th, a 434-yarder that many feel is the best hole on the course. Fifteen boasts a bedrock wall to the right of the tee box, then doglegs to the right and uphill, up and over a series of cross bunkers placed on the diagonal.
Finally, though, we arrive at the 16th, a much anticipated m oment. The tee boxes stairstep higher and higher into a bluff and when you reach the top shelf, your reward is a 249-yard, downhill par 3 with glorious views of the Hudson River, lower Westchester, Rockland to the right, the Tappan Zee bridge, pleasure boats and a large receptive green, open in front and flanked by bunkers.
In a neighborhood—Westchester County—already loaded with gilt-tinged properties, the new kid on the block— Hudson National—has every element in place to shine as brightly as any of the old guard.
Year founded: 1994
Architect: Tom Fazio