Located directly across the road from Winged Foot, the Quaker Ridge Golf Club is an equally prestigious, though quietly unassuming, club that was established in 1916 on the site of a short nine-hole course built the previous year. A.W. Tillinghast was hired by the founding membership to redesign these existing holes and add a further nine, his full course ready for play by 1918. During the mid-1920s the club acquired an additional tract of land and Tillinghast returned to rearrange their holes and extend the layout to its current configuration.
In between Tillinghast had designed the Winged Foot courses and comparisons between the two clubs are almost unavoidable. Like most old courses in the heart of Westchester County, both properties are now heavily treed and nicely undulating, with plenty of natural ground movement integrated into the design. If anything, the topography at Quaker is more uniformly interesting and the tight fairways less dependant upon choking roughs to provide a comprehensive driving examination. Although the bunkers aren’t as punishing as those at Winged Foot, nor the greens as severely contoured, the shaping is superb throughout the course with the targets nestled snugly into the terrain and built with more than enough slope to test the better players.
Essentially laid out in two loops, the opening eight holes are arranged in a counter-clockwise ring around the club’s perimeter, with the final ten mostly heading the other way across the interior. The 1st hole provides a marvellous introduction to the challenge that lies ahead here, the tree-lined par five rising beyond a large cross bunker and into the steepest green site on the property. The other par five is also very good, as are the set of distinguished par threes, but it’s the long two-shotters that really standout as exceptional. Ten measure in excess of 400 yards, and each has a unique green complex and fascinating strategic characteristics. The 4th, for instance, tiptoes along a skinny ridge with a high road/low road fairway and angled green. Both the 6th and 7th bend gently from left-to-right, the 6th featuring a tricky side-hill approach into a subtle target and the 7th heading toward a gloriously bunkered plateau green that leans ominously forward toward the approaching golfer.
Other high points include the narrow, rising 12th hole and uphill approach shots into the 15th and 16th greens. The 18th is also superb, its fairway climbing slowly into a target positioned beautifully beyond a soft ridge and beneath the classical Tudor-styled clubhouse.
Following a recent restoration program undertaken by the club with assistance from Gil Hanse, this Golden Age gem is back in superb shape with many of its intruding trees removed and its greens and bunkering as innovative and visually appealing as originally conceived. Tillinghast’s distinctive design style and clever routing, together with the club’s low-key elegance, have made Quaker Ridge stand out as one of the genuine golfing treasures of metropolitan New York.
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