Mahopac, New York was once known as a vacation destination for those living in or close to New York City. As time progressed and it became easier to get to New York City, people made Mahopac their full time residence. While the lake is still very popular, it's less of a vacation destination and more of a town with a lake.
Once a private club for those vacationing in the area, Putnam National Golf Club is now a public course owned by Putnam County and managed by the RDC Golf Group. Although it doesn't border the lake, the elevation changes and tree lined holes make for some scenic views. On several holes I hit my approach shot into greens I couldn't see. Only the top of the flag guided me in the proper direction.
What I Like At Putnam National
When I arrived at Putnam National I had the sense it had been a private course at some point. As you enter the course the lengthy driveway takes you along the 9th hole. The layout reminded me of some of the private clubs I had played in the past. The use of elevation changes make up for the lack of distance on some holes while other holes can play as long as 470 yards, and that's a par 4!
The best part about Putnam National is the greens. The undulating greens make the placement of your approach shot even more crucial. Although I wouldn't say the greens were fast, the challenge of reading my putt was enough to make me smile and they were in excellent shape. I didn't notice too many ball marks or any burned out area.
My Three Favorite Holes at Putnam National
3. The 15th Hole: I can only assume this hole receives its name, "Battlefield", because so many players walk off the green wounded. This par 3 plays 215 yards from the tips to a perched green. You'll need every bit of the 215 to get to the hole especially if the wind is blowing.
2. The 8th Hole: Pictured above, the 8th hole is a short par 4 but accuracy is everything. Named "Agor's Farm", missing anything to the right almost guarantees a one stroke penalty even if it doesn't go out of bounds. The left side marked by trees and a driving range which plays as ground under repair.
1. The 3rd Hole: Named "Down & Away" for a reason, this 397 yard par 4 is entirely down hill. Standing on the tee box I initially thought it was a long par 3. It's no secret I love risk and reward holes and this is one of them. Out of bounds along the right side and trees left. Long hitters may be able to reach the green (especially from the White Tees) but the smart play is an iron and a wedge into the green.
Room For Improvement at Putnam National
I'll start with the fairways. It looked like they were heading in the right direction but for now they still need improvement. There were a few spots that were ground under repair from the winter and rain earlier this year but the biggest change I would like to see is the length. When playing from the fairway it felt like I was playing from the first cut of rough. Hitting the fairway can be challenging enough so when a player does, he should be rewarded.
The second place I would like to see improvement is the rough. I am all for long rough to make a course more challenging but the frustrating part is when the rough is covered in grass clippings from the mower. It's tough enough to find a ball in long, thick rough but when it's covered by clippings, it creates more frustration.
I'm not sure how to categorize the last part but overall etiquette. I have a few examples but I will only mention this one: We were waiting on a par 3 (the 12th) for the group in front of us to finish. The group left the green and my playing partner was set to hit his tee shot when he stopped. A member of the grounds crew had arrived, pulled the pin out and began cutting the green. We waited about 3 minutes while he did this. He eventually finished and put the flag back in so we could play. If there was a group behind us it would have made sense but we had two holes empty. Had he waited, it would have made more sense rather than us standing on the tee box even longer.
I could go either way on this course but I did enjoy the design and the greens so I will give it another chance later in the year. The winter we had and rain a couple of weeks ago really out the golf courses to the test. I think Putnam National has a lot of potential and if the County of Putnam and RDC Golf Group can continue to improve this could become a "must play" in New York.
Who: Putnam National Golf Club
Where: Mahopac, New York
Cost: $40-$70 (Great value I think)
Practice Facility: Grass range with irons only and putting green
Play Again: Yes, I'll give this course another chance.
Website: Putnam National Golf Club Website