Wykagyl Country Club is one of the many underappreciated gems located in Westchester County, just a few miles to the north of New York City. Surrounded by the likes of Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Westchester Country Club and dozens of other renowned layouts, this hilly course more than holds its own. Originally laid out by Lawrence Van Etten in 1905, the course has been tweaked several times since by a who’s who of American golf course architects, including Donald Ross, A.W. Tilllinghast, Robert Trent Jones Sr., Arthur Hills and in 2005, the team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore who recently renovated many of the greens and tee boxes, added 30 bunkers, removed numerous large trees whose branches had encroached toward the fairways over the past 100 years and made the sloping approach to the 18th hole less severe. All eighteen holes reopened for play in 2006, just over a century from the commencement of play at this location.
There are few flat holes among the 18. The 1st is a down hill par five to a green fronted by a burn that prevents all but the longest of hitters from trying to go for the green in two. 3rd and 17th feature fairways that slope severely downhill for 125 of the last 150 yards with elevated greens just beyond. Long hitters can reach the slope and, with the roll down the hill, have a short but tricky pitch up to the green. Shorter hitters will hit their approach from the plateau above. The course has five par threes and five par fives. There are two short (the 147-yard 4th and 164-yard 11th) and three long (172-yard 7th, 210-yard 13th and 226-yard 16th) par threes. The 4th and 13th each play from elevated tees over valleys to equally elevated greens, with the shorter 4th hole requiring almost all carry and the longer 13th providing some room for error in front, although the false fronted 13th green can result in shots hitting the front and rolling back ten or twenty yards back down the fairway. The greens on 4, 7 and 13 all slope severely making placement of the tee shot extremely important. The 11th plays at least one club shorter than its actual length from an elevated tee to a small green below which is surrounded by bunkers and thick rough.
The 8th and 15th are each right to left doglegs form elevated tee boxes. At only 362 yards the 8th can be birdied with a good tee shot, while 15 at 452 yards is the no.1 handicap hole on the course and a very tough par. Bunkers and high fescue protect the left side of the fairway, requiring a great tee shot to cut the corner. However, even if you clear the bunkers and fescue, a 200-year-old oak tree may still block the approach to the green unless you made it to the center of the fairway.
The 5th, 6th and 18th each start from elevated tee boxes and end at elevated greens, but that’s where the similarity ends. The 5th has a wide fairway area but requires that the tee shot be placed on the left side in order to have a shot at the small green guarded by bunkers left and right, The 6th is a 528-yard par five with a right to left dogleg with a burn running down the right side and thick rough and a steep hill on the left. The approach is best made from the right side of the fairway to a green whose distance is difficult to gauge due to the 60-foot rise and landing area in front of the green. The par five 9th requires a tee shot up hill which will likely leave a blind second shot to a landing area that overlooks the beautiful clubhouse (the LPGA play this hole as the 18th).
Wykagyl is a wonderfully traditional course in a beautiful setting amidst mature trees and hills with rocky outcroppings. Almost every hole is memorable and challenging. But the club is private, if you want to play a round you need to know a member.