If you have driven along Route 9 in Poughkeepsie, New York, you may have passed right by Dutchess Golf & Country Club without even noticing. When I was going there to play I managed to drive right passed it. On a road full bright lights, restaurants and shopping, Dutchess Golf & Country Club made me feel miles away from everything while being so close to it all.
The moment I stepped on to the property I was greeted by my host Theresa (@TeeStark) who escorted me to the driving range where I learned more about this historic club. Founded in 1897 as a 9-hole club, it expanded to 18 holes in 1924 which were designed by the members with consulting done by the famed golf course architect Devereux Emmit. It would be 80 years before the next major renovation and in 2004 Dutchess Golf & Country Club welcomed a brand new clubhouse to the family.
The Golf Course
One of the criticisms I heard prior to my arrival was it wasn't a long golf course. Playing only 6,475 from the tips, what Dutchess Golf & Country Club lacks in length, it makes up for in character and layout. Tree lined fairways and deep rough around the greens make the course far more challenging than it looks on the scorecard. There are a few blind shots off the tee (second hole comes to mind) where knowledge of the golf course comes in handy. If you have great hosts like I did, they will guide you the entire way.
My Three Favorite Holes
3. The 13th Hole (92 yard, par 3): A 90 yard hole is one of my favorites? This unique hole comes with a great story. It's been said when the club moved to expand to 18 holes they designed the course and saw they had only 17. They found a small piece of land and created this hole to make 18. I'll offer you the same advice they gave to me on the tee box, don't miss the green or be above the pin, it's a guaranteed bogey. Exactly what I needed to hear before I teed off... and made bogey.
2. The 18th hole (319 yard par 4): I love a good risk and reward finishing hole. Hitting iron or a fairway wood is the right play but I decided to test out driver. A good drive leaves you a short approach or a chip shot to a small green guarded by bunkers on both sides and short. A great finishing hole especially in tournament play.
1. The 6th hole (194 yard par 3): The advice given to me was don't miss left. After promptly hitting my shot left (along with one of my playing partners) I learned why. Left of the 6th green is nicknamed Hell's Kitchen and deservedly so. A natural rock wall makes it nearly impossible to get on the green from there. I was lucky enough to hit the green where I met "Pete's Belly", the most noticeable undulation of any green on the golf course. This beautiful hole can quickly become a beast where par is an excellent score.
Located less than two hours from New York City, this historic club has stood the test of time and is one I recommend playing. What the course lacks in distance (it has two par 5's over 550 yards) it makes up for in character. A traditional course with small greens guarded by bunkers and deep rough, it requires you to hit almost every shot in your bag if you want to have a good round.
It's difficult to pinpoint the one thing that made me enjoy my experience here. The location, the golf course, the people and this history (they have a historian on staff!) make this private club one I recommend adding to your list for those of us in the New York City area.