Staff Writer: Jeff Skinner
In the heart of New York States’ Hudson Valley, sits Garrison Golf Club. On a ridge overlooking the Hudson River, this Dick Wilson design has plenty of ups and downs, and a view of the Hudson River that may make it difficult to keep your mind on your game. Rolling hills and streams make this wooded property a real gem of a course. Garrison has many fine holes that offer a challenge to all levels of player.
Garrison opened in 1961 and prominent course architect Dick Wilson followed the lay of the land in forming this routing. Wilson designed many famous and popular courses. His work includes The Championship Course at Arnold Palmers’ Bay Hill Resort, The Blue Monster at Doral and La Costa in Carlsbad California. While most of Wilsons’ courses are in the South, he had no problem adapting to the landscape of New York. The natural contours of the hills and the winding streams that meander through the land combine to give you the feeling that you are here as Nature’s guest. There is no intrusion by the course upon its surroundings and it flows down and around and up along brooks and ponds and fieldstone walls. Nothing seems unnatural or forced and all the holes float along the land melding into a fine trip through the Hudson Hills. Wilson surely let the natural surroundings set the direction of these holes. Garrison’s management has taken a proactive role in maintaining a cleaner and safer golf course through its certification by the Audubon International program.
The village of Garrison played an interesting role in our Revolutionary War. Near this spot on the Hudson, Continental troops spread a huge chain across the river to prevent the British ships from advancing up the river. The surrounding area is now home to many well to do families that commute in to New York City via the Metro North Railroad or by car since it is just a little more than an hour into the city.
A traditional par 72 with two par 3’s and 2 par 5’s per nine and 6497 yards from the blue tees a good score will require plenty of shot making, a deft greenside touch and a couple of boomers off certain tees. The greens are meticulously maintained and roll very true. But be warned, that beautiful terrain you have been traipsing over means there are plenty of contours on the greens.
The First hole has you teeing off from a very elevated tee, with a very nice view, to a fairway that doglegs right. Enjoy this green it is probably the flattest one you’ll see all day. The next hole is so visually intimidating you may need to take a breath while you tee it up. Again you are teeing from a raised tee through a chute of trees down onto a sloped fairway guarded by trees left and right. After playing this hole a few times you will realize that this tee shot is really not that difficult. All you need to do is to drive it straight! The green here is not visually intimidating. It is just plain difficult. It is severely sloped from right to left with only a small flat portion at the back left. If you are fortunate enough to be on in regulation, two putts for par is still a challenge. It is these sloped, quick greens that keep par a well guarded reward for all players.
After a few twists and turns you’ll find the par four sixth. The number one handicap hole plays 389 yards from the whites (404 blues). It is a sharp left dogleg from a secluded tee that needs a right to left shot and a roll down a sloped fairway which rarely yields a level lie. From here you understand why this is ranked as the hardest hole. Now, you’ll need to hit a shot into a wide but shallow green off a sidehill, downhill lie over the lovely brook that fronts the green. Par here is treasured. The next hole, a lush, picturesque par five will give you a shot at birdie and a chance to appreciate the splendor of this strikingly beautiful hole. With a healthy drive you’ll be tempted to go for the green. Beware of that lovely brook that protects the right fairway and fronts the green. The stream bank seems to take joy in kicking short shots into the water.
On the next hole you start the climb back up from those delightful hills you have been roaming around. The eighth hole a long, uphill par three plays much longer then the 194 yard listed on the card. The green here is severely sloped in front and only less so in the back. If you are past the hole here, good luck. A three putt is definitely a possibility.
As a reward for surviving the front nine, Garrison’s tenth tee presents you with “the view”. Take a minute to revel in one of the best views of the Hudson you’ll ever find. Across the river to the west sits West Point, the United States Military Academy. West Point has educated presidents and generals that led and shaped this country. Grant, Lee, Custer, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton and Schwarzkopf are a few of the famous alumni. West Point’s Michie Stadium, which looks back at the Garrison hills, has been called the Best Place to watch college football in America. The spectacular show continues with a look to the north. You get a wide look up the Hudson River as it winds up through the hills of this scenic valley. This is how it looked to Henry Hudson when he explored this region hundreds of years ago. It is this dramatic panorama that draws thousands of visitors to the valley and keeps the locals thrilled to see it each day.
Once you realize that golf is the reason you came here, you’ll have to focus and tee off the par 5 tenth to a sloped but wide fairway. Here again the contours of the hills translates onto the green. A very deep but very sloped green awaits your approach. There are plenty of breaks on all putts on this green. The eleventh is the longest par four and needs a solid drive down the middle. The fairway drops off steeply to the left and slightly less on the right. The approach to the green is a distracting shot because of that wonderful view that forms the backdrop of the hole.
Over the next few holes the course flattens out and protects par with its doglegs, well placed bunkers and of course those sloping greens. This is the fun part of the layout. You’ll be able to attack some holes from a level lie but still have to be sharp to avoid the greenside bunkers. The par 3 fourteenth can play from 140 to 220 yards over a small lake that protects the entire front as well as the right side of the green. There is no safe area to the left and an old stone church that sits behind the green and roadway makes this tee shot quite intimidating.
The tee ball off of Garrison’s last needs a little extra pop and a bit of a draw if a par is expected on this par five. Sitting to the right of the fairway is an old stone well. It is a scene like this that makes this course so picturesque and a pleasure to play. The green is well guarded by four bunkers that sit next to this narrow but long green. Once you are on the green take sometime to check your line. While this green appears flatter then the rest, there are subtle breaks that each of the bunkers seem to influence.
A day spent on the course at Garrison Golf Club will give a player an exciting round that will most likely result in many fine and fun memories. This natural flowing layout has a feel to it that will stimulate the inner golfer in all of us. The grounds are wonderfully kept, the setting is magnificent, the course is challenging and the views are certainly worth the price of admission.
Garrison Golf Club
Route 9 at Snake Hill Rd.
Garrison, New York 10524