by Jeff Skinner
For all the golfers out there that are still dreaming about getting out to play all those “Golf Digest Greatest Courses” I am presenting an alternative. The cost of playing Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and many of those courses can set you back hundreds and hundreds of dollars. That’s fine if you have the means to jet from coast to coast playing all the best layouts. But, if you’re a regular Joe, looking for a great course at a great price I have a few worth trying. These are first rate courses with good pedigrees and you can get on these bargains for fifty bucks. These courses are all in New York’s Hudson Valley and are a little more than an hour out of New York City. Any of them is worth the trip up the Hudson from NYC if you have the time. If any of you bargain hunters have a course or two that fits our “Best Courses for $50 Bucks” list, send them to us and we’ll add then to our list. There nothing wrong with a little “Bargain Golf.”
Garrison Golf Club sits on a ridge above the Hudson River and offers some of the most beautiful views of the Hudson Valley. It was designed by prominent course architect Dick Wilson; his designs include Bay Hill, The Blue Monster and LaCosta. Garrison is cut into the hills and woods of the valley. It is quite hilly and has a good mix of challenging holes. The views of the Hudson and The US Military Academy at West Point are worth coming for, but you’ll love the golf. The fairways are lush and the greens are as good as you’ll find anywhere. It’s a great course. (See full review). At Garrison you can get The Early Bird Special, $45, with cart or sleep in and play after 2:00pm for $50. Either way it’s a steal.
Casperkill Golf Club is a little further north in Poughkeepsie, New York. This is a classic Robert Trent Jones course that opened in 1944. It is a gorgeous layout and a fairly easy course to walk. Casperkill makes great use of the hills and creeks that are on the property. This course has some classically beautiful holes. The par three third looks like a post card. It is a challenging hole with water in front and a green that begs you to shoot at the pin. At the par five fifth you stand on the elevated tee looking out at the fairway below, that rises up to the two tiered green. It’s the feeling that Jones must have had in mind when he built it. It’s beautiful and serene but challenging at the same time. The green complexes at Casperkill will reward your good shots and test your poor ones. Many have multiple levels and some pin placements could test you patience. Robert Trent Jones, challenging layout, beautiful course… you can’t go wrong. $30 to walk on weekdays, is a deal; add $12 for a cart, even $50 to walk on weekends can’t be beat.
If you’re looking for a little links style golf and don’t want to fork over thousands for a trip to Scotland or Ireland, The Links at Union Vale will save you a bunch of money and it’s sure to satisfy your “links style” craving. The Links came to be built when a group of Irish Golf Societies, based in New York City banded together to buy a cattle farm to build their dream course. Famed architect, Stephen Kay, heeded their wishes and built a course that will give you a “links feel” and challenge every part of your game. It’s only been open since 2000, but it looks like you could run into Old Tom Morris on the first tee. There are plenty of deep bunkers, mounds, rolling fairways and fescue grasses. On a gray, sunless morning with the wind blowing from the north, you’ll think you are on the Emerald Isle. This is a good, tough test of golf and a lot of fun at the same time. The closing five holes are as tough a stretch as you’ll find anywhere. They are long holes with doglegs and bunkers and greens that can roll at tour speeds. Weekdays there’s an Early Bird Special, $45 with cart and you can walk for $46 most of the day. It’s a bargain for a great taste of links golf.
Check out theses courses, and send us your “Best For $50!”