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Quaker Ridge GC (Tillinghast) in Scarsdale, NY

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Steve_ Shaffer:
“It is so much of a treat to play.  There is such a beautiful mix of holes at Quaker Ridge; it is truly a Tillinghast Gem.” --  Ben Crenshaw
“That may be, but there is quite a golf course down the street.” -- Jack Nicklaus, when asked if Winged Foot was the greatest course in the world.
“I’d like to go on record as saying it would be a tough test of golf for any tournament – the U.S. Open and the PGA included.”  -- Jimmy Demaret

I recently played Quaker Ridge Golf Club on a beautiful, crisp fall day without my camera. The pictures here are culled from various sites. Quaker Ridge is probably one of the least well known of the world's great courses. As is their right, the members like to keep it a low-key affair.I might add that I was very impressed with the clubhouse. The food was outstanding. There is no driving range but there is an indoor teaching facilty and a short game area adjacent to the 18th hole. Golf Digest now rates it 81 in their Top 100. This is a dramatic drop from its previous rating of 33 in 2007. Golf Week rates it 37 in its Top 100 Classics. Golf Magazine has it at 42. What's wrong with GD raters is all I can say.

Quaker Ridge is located in New York's Westchester County, immediately adjacent to Winged Foot, in Scarsdale, New York. The area has a bit of a New England feel to it with its rolling terrain, low stonewalls bordering many properties, and its stately, mature trees. Quaker Ridge takes its name from a group of Quakers who used this land for farming beginning in 1726. The "ridge" part of the name becomes obvious when you play the course. Quaker Ridge is blessed with much better terrain that its nearby neighbor Winged Foot, which is on more-or-less flat ground.

 This par 70, 6,880y golf course, designed by A.W. Tillinghast  has hosted three Met Opens, two Met Amateurs, two Met PGA Championships,the 1997 Walker Cup and numerous exhibition matches between golfing greats.  Throughout its history many prominent club members have attempted to conquer the course as well, among them: Louis Gimbel, Samuel Bloomingdale, Alfred Knopf, and world-renowned American composer George Gershwin.

John Duncan Dunn designed a nine-hole layout here in 1916, and A.W. Tillinghast was brought in during the 1920s to redo the course and expand it to eighteen holes. Tillinghast is responsible for the course that exists today. The course was re-bunkered by Rees Jones who made some other minor alterations before the 1997 Walker Cup. Gil Hanse is restoring many of the original Tillinghast bunkers now. As per GCA member Jaeger Kovich, here is a list of the work that has been done and is being done now:

#17 is a "new" green complex, where he reverted to original design.
#18 the fairway bunker was added, the fairway shifted and expanded and the greenside bunkers were reworked... he wanted to get rid of the right bunker, but the committee wouldn't let it go.
#7 all the bunkers were reshaped and the 2nd half of the fairway was expanded.
#5 the green was expanded, raised the depth of the right bunker, and reshaped them all
#9 (the redan-esque par 3) the bunkers were reshaped for the 2nd time in recent years

... I dont remember how far along the work was when you were there, but
#10 is now finished, the green has been expanded
#11 the fairway bunker on the right has been changed to a series of 3 (The wall over the creek is going to come down and the green expanded to create a false front)
#12 fairway bunker on right is now 2x the size, and fairway bunker on the left has gone back in (original design) and the green-side have been reworked
#13 (Reef Hole) both bunkers and the fairway being expanded
#4 will be getting a new specimen tree on the right (original design)

The defining characteristics of Quaker Ridge are the trees, the out of bounds and the greens. The greens are very good, subtle and very fast; sixteen of them slope back to front. The course is like many courses found in Westchester County,  tree-lined-as were the other 2 courses I also played- Sunningdale and Metropolis.  The other thing you notice about Quaker Ridge when you begin playing is that the angles you take coming into the greens are of paramount importance. Positioning your tee ball is very important.

A good example of why the angles to the green are important is the fourth hole above. The fourth is a 430y par four with a narrow fairway and a green that falls sharply off a hill on the left side. As you can see , if you are on the right side of the fairway, the trees come into play, making your approach shot likely to fall off left of the green in a large bunker.
The smarter play on this hole is to hit the ball to the left side of the fairway off the tee.  When you stand on the tee, you see a big grass bunker that slashes across the fairway, creating an intimidating line that you have to hit over to a blind landing area. This is a good example of the type of strategic Tillinghast design found at Quaker Ridge.

The same applies at the famous eleventh hole. There are two trees on the left side of the fairway that block your shot to the green if you are not correctly positioned on the right side of the fairway. The shot to the green is over a creek to a narrow green guarded by a stonewall in front . I pulled my tee shot to the left,pitched out to the fairway leaving a 100y shot to the green which I executed perfectly to about 10' and proceeded to make the putt.

The first eight holes at Quaker Ridge have an out-of-bounds along the right side of the hole and circle the property counter-clockwise. The next six holes at Quaker Ridge circle back in a clockwise fashion, before play goes back toward the clubhouse. The seventh hole has out of bounds long:

The eighth is a unique Tillinghast hole with a huge grass bunker in the middle of the fairway which rises up a hill and between rows of trees. This hole takes advantage of the terrain. It's a short par4 at 359y from the tips.It is one of my favorites.

The best stretches of holes on the course are six through eleven. Six and seven are back-to-back, dogleg right par four holes. Six and seven might be as difficult a pair of par fours as you will find on any course. They are the #1 and #3 handicaps, respectively. The sixth has a creek running down the left hand side and is in play off the tee. The right hand side of the hole has a grass slope on the right and the fairway between the slope and water is about twenty-five yards wide. The hole plays longer than its 446y because the shot to the small green plays uphill. The dogleg is quite severe and to add additional difficulty there is a big tree on the right side of the hole that must be avoided off the tee. In his book, The 500 Greatest Golf Holes, George Peper, ranks this hole in an unprecedented three categories of composite courses of eighteen holes. Among the 18 most strategic holes in the world, it ranks as one of the 18 best holes ever designed by A.W. Tillinghast and as one of the 18 most difficult holes in the world.
 The 14th, 15th and 17th holes have major undulations in the greens and several ridges and humps reminiscent of buried elephants.  They are quite good and add a lot of character to the finish at Quaker Ridge. Most of the other holes at Quaker Ridge have very subtle breaks to the fast greens; these are not subtle.

The course is VERY challenging. I played from the blues which were more than I could handle at my advancing age. Here are the ratings/slopes:

BLACK 6880y 74.5/145
BLUE   6418y  72.6/143
WHITE 6161y 71.2/140

Robert Mercer Deruntz:
This is the new 17th green, which is really the original green before RTJ added a left area siimilar to an upside down L.

This is the cleaned up 10th.  Probably over 50 trees have been removed.

Kevin Pallier:
I was there recently for a look as well. Was the grassed mound in the middle of the 8th original or Tilly ?

V. Kmetz:
While Bethpage B may reveal Tillie's eye on Pine Valley, QR can be seen to be nodding a bit towards Merion.  I don't necessarily mean architectural values, but the serenity of the property (though the Hutchison Pkwy parallels the 4th and the 8th parallels active Griffen Avenue) with a roughly similar sense of flats, valleys and heaving sweeps here and there.  Perhaps the layout similarities regarding holes right up against the clubhouse and goodly portions of the property flaring out on both sides of its hub also contribute this feeling, to me.

Though I'm going to spend a paragraph or two stating my opinion on its shortcomings, those shortcomings are only considered when I'm roaming around the Hall of Fame of GCA and considering Hall of Famers against one another.  Certainly, Quaker Ridge belongs in any such category; it is a Tillie-typical rigorous set of demands on the approach game, weak shots are not accepted - with little good fortune available for mediocre strikes.  The green sites are varied, some welcome shots, some appear dangerous.  Lots of beautiful contours.  The recent work on the 10th and 17th is first rate.  It's picturesque, plays from a fair and solvable yardage and is a pleasant walk through genteel Westchester surrounds.

My hesitations:

1. Only a duo of three-shotters - at the very first minute and then not until the last hour of the round - and back-to-back one-shotters in the direct middle of the round has me crying for relief from the Par 4s at different stages.

1a. In conjunction with the above, the closing stretch of four essentially straight Par 4s in a row, - the last three paralleling one another - rob your round of a little zip.  I like the holes individually, especially the 17th, but grouped together there is something flat and uninteresting about the psychology of the end of your round.

2.  Numbers 6 & 7 - most written reviews about QR invariably cite these two Par 4s (what else at QR?) as memorable holes and speak of them in lofty terms, but I'm not convinced.  While I am willing to say that the land form for 6th - wrapping around a sharp slope hill to a nookish green site - is interesting enough, the right side is far too overgrown for a hole that also presents a lateral hazard all along the left side of the same driving zone.  From the white or blue tees there really isn't a way to use that right slope in a pleasing or effective fashion, because of the thick trees and exposed roots on that side.  But deficient as I find #6, the seventh just seems like a indefinite and awkward hole, with poor turf that's either rocky or mushy.  The combination out-of bounds hard right (another repetitive thing at QR, appearing on 7 of the first 8 holes) and indefinite area, or length, or play in the left side of the drive zone deflect my commitment to a choice of strategy.

Again this is a generally fun, fair and playable course.  The stretch from 8-14 is filled with highest degrees of quality, interest, variety and challenge.  #9 is one of Tillie's unheralded Par 3s and I have never heard anyone give proper credit to the Par 5 14th which has an impressive look and a unique green site (and is the only dog leg left on the course)



Tom MacWood:
QR is actually a conglomeration of several men. JD Dunn was the original architect and he actually designed 18 holes. The first nine was completed and the second nine only roughed out when the fledgling club ran into financial problems. A new club was formed around a year later (Wiliam R. Hochster was among the new investors) and Tilly was brought in to complete and reform the design. Dunn's original concept was to include famous holes around the world. You can still see some remnants of that concept.

In the mid-20s the course was thought to be too short; it was only about 6000 yards. The two rival Jewish clubs in the area - Century and Fenway - had or were building brand new courses. Hochster, who dominated the Club as president and chairman of the green committee from 1916 to 1933 (when he died), was in charge of the redesign. It appears he was assisted by the greenkeeper Tom Winton. Tilly has mistakenly been credited for this work. Hochster added several new holes and lengthened others. In the 60s RTJ was called and he made a few changes too.


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