Course Name: Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
Designer: Jack Nicklaus/John Sanford (2015)
Location: Bronx, New York
History: Sitting at the base of the Whitestone Bridge, plans had been in the works since the 1980’s to build a championship golf course on top of an old landfill in the Bronx. 31 years and $269 million later, the team of Donald Trump, Jack Nicklaus, and John Sanford was finally able to realize this goal. The resultant course has received both praise and criticism alike, but nevertheless Ferry Point has earned several accolades:
- #95 Best Public Course in America – Golf Digest (2017-2018)
- #43 Best Public Course in America – Golf Magazine (2016-2017)
- #2 Best Public Course in New York – Golf Magazine (2016-2017)
- #2 Best Public Course in New York – Golfweek (2017-2018)
Don’t be surprised in the slightest if the USGA or PGA of America decide to make a stop here in the coming years.
Conditions: 9/10, Unsurprisingly, the conditioning at Ferry Point is superb. The fairways, teeboxes, and bunkers were meticulous and the only minor complaint I have is that the green speeds were a bit slow. However, I think it’s fair to point out that Ferry Point is routinely vandalized, including several incidents of people carving words or pouring acid on the greens.
I don’t intend to make this blog political, but I feel inclined to say this: If somebody’s politics affect you so much that you go out of your way to vandalize a public golf course, then you are pathetic. End of story.
Value: 2/10, The worst thing about Ferry Point is the price. I understand this is the Big Apple and Donald Trump, but $227 ($175 for NYC residents) to walk eighteen is egregious, especially when you consider Bethpage Black is half as much.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Black 71 7407 76.3 146
Gold 71 6867 74.2 135
Blue 71 6404 71.4 130
White 71 6038 69.7 127
Green 71 5227 71.3 124
Best Score: 84 (Blue Tees), 9/30/2017 with Will S. and two others we met at the course
Front 9 Best: 40 (Blue Tees), 9/30/2017 with Will S. and two others we met at the course
Back 9 Best: 44 (Blue Tees), 9/30/2017 with Will S. and two others we met at the course
Hole Descriptions: Coming into Ferry Point, the best way to describe my expectations would be “cautiously optimistic.” True, Ferry Point photographs well and has received many accolades, but I had been underwhelmed by nearly every Jack Nicklaus course I’ve played in past. The problem I have with Jack’s courses lies not with the conditioning or aesthetics, but in the design itself. As a great player himself, I feel Nicklaus too often resorts to “target golf” to challenge the golfer, a design feature I despise.
After playing Ferry Point, however, I was pleasantly surprised. This is easily the best Nicklaus course I’ve played and features almost no target golf. On the contrary, Ferry Point plays as close to a links-style course as it gets in America, with firm and fast fairways, numerous pot bunkers, and wide fairways lined by dense fescue. Most importantly, Ferry Point’s difficulty is dictated by the wind coming off the nearby East River. We played on a cool Autumn weekend, and the wind was steadily gusting upwards of 30 knots.
The opening hole is one of the more difficult on the course playing slightly uphill at 376 yards. Like most holes at Ferry Point, this fairway is lined on either side by thick, gnarly fescue that will likely cost you a shot should you find it. The 1st fairway is a bit tighter than most, with several swales and well-placed deep bunkers between 190 and 240 yards off the tee. This green features two-tiers and slopes back left-to-front right. Playing heavily into the wind, I holed out for birdie here from about 40 yards and thought I was in for a special round.
Ferry Point is a lengthy golf course, stretching to over 7400 yards from the Tips. Combined with the constant wind and fescue, this is a course that would surely challenge the Pros. From the Blue tees, the 2nd is the longest par 4 at 439 yards. This slight dogleg left is again lined by fescue. Although the fairway is quite generous, several bunkers on either side of the fairway between 170 and 230 yards force you to be accurate with your drive. This diagonal green slopes left-to-right and features a giant false front and shaved collection area.
Another long hole, the 210 yard 3rd is the longest par 3 on the course. This hole is relatively flat and features a large undulating green. The worst misses here are short and right, where two deep bunkers await you. A par here is a great score.
At 490 yards, the reachable par 5 4th plays along the edge of the property. With a fescue-lined fairway snaking around large bunkers, finding the fairway is required to give this green a go in two. This back-to-front sloped green is elevated, with a large bunker and steep embankment just short.
Playing back into the wind, I found the 406 yard 5th to be one of the hardest holes at Ferry Point. This hole features a narrow fairway with only one bunker – at 230 yards on the left. For the final 120 yards, this fairway slides to the right and golfers on the right side of the fairway might have a blind approach due to fescue mounds. The major dangers near this green include deep bunkers just short and behind.
The 6th is a blind, uphill 400 yard par 4 that provides you your first view of the Manhattan skyline. Another notable feature of this hole is the fact that it’s lined on the right by the historic St. Raymond’s Cemetery. This fairway is extremely wide, but take care to avoid a bunker on the right at 190 yards and a small one in the middle of the fairway at 230 yards. This green is rather large and flat and guarded by two bunkers.
If you’re a fan of short par fours, there aren’t many better than the 279 yard 7th. With water between the teebox and green, you have to option to lay-up on the left or go for glory over the water. I foolishly went for it because the hole was dead downwind, but faded my drive to far to the right into the hazard. Most golfers who successfully carry the water will find a giant bunker complex just short left of this green.
At 170 yards, the 8th at Ferry Point feels very linksy as a straightaway par 3 with a giant green with fescue and bunkers guarding all sides. A hump running through the middle of this green combined with its size makes two-putting a difficult feat. This green is connected to the 10th green via a pathway, which I thought was a neat touch.
While the front 9 isn’t nearly as interesting as the back 9, the front certainly finishes strong with the 372 yard 9th. With the Whitestone Bridge featured prominently in the background, this medium-length par 4 is a tough driving hole with four bunkers on the right side of the fairway between 180 and 250 yards. After the final bunker, this fairway constricts tightly all the way to this green. I was able to avoid the fairway bunkers here, but wasn’t as lucky on my approach, as I found a giant bunker short left.
Playing adjacent to the driving range, the 404 yard par 4 10th is an interesting dogleg left with a wide, hilly fairway. There are bunkers on either side of the fairway at about 250 yards, but these weren’t even reachable with the wind howling in our face. This green is guarded on all four sides by bunkers.
While I enjoyed the back 9 immensely, the 11th is easily the worst hole at Ferry Point in my mind. Playing only 302 yards, Nicklaus reverts to his target golf ways on this strange short par 4. With eight bunkers situated between this teebox and green, I’m not exactly sure how you’re supposed to play this hole, especially considering several of these bunkers are in the middle of this fairway. This shallow green is perched on top of a false front.
The shortest hole at Ferry Point is the 139 yard par 3 12th. This is a cute little one-shotter with big, deep bunkers for those who miss on either side. This hole is most notable for the (in)famous plaque Donald Trump erected for his hole-in-one in the inaugural round here.
The 391 yard 13th is most remarkable for the incredible view it provides you of the Manhattan skyline. Architecturally this a relatively straightforward par 4, but for many, this will be their favorite hole. This fairway is extremely generous, with the only danger being a mound of fescue in the middle at about 270 yards. This large green is slightly elevated and guarded well-short by a deep, devastating bunker. This bunker plays more as an optical illusion than true hazard but it does its job nevertheless.
The 14th is another strong par 4 playing at 403 yards. This straightaway hole is fairly generous off the tee save for a bunker on the left at 200 yards and one jutting out on the right at 240 yards. This long oblique green is guarded by a small bunker short right and features two tiers.
The longest hole at Ferry Point is the 545 yard uphill 15th. A true three-shot par 5, this hole features OB down the entire lefthand side and not much other danger. The hardest aspect of this hole is arguably the lay-up, with a series of three bunkers running through this fairway about 70 yards short of a very receptive green.
Up to this point, I was already a “yuge” fan of Trump Ferry Point, but the final three holes really put this course over the top. It all begins with the fantastic 437 yard par 4 16th. Running downhill (and downwind) towards the East River, this is one of the most beautiful holes I’ve played. Mounds of fescue line both sides of this fairway and a small pond lines the right side beginning at 290 yards. This green plays hard back-to-front with a bunker short right.
At only 142 yards, you’d expect the par 3 17th to be one of the easier holes on the course. With your back to the East River, however, the wind was howling so hard that no one in our foursome was able to reach the green with 4-iron. This large two-tiered green runs back-left-to-front right and is guarded by bunkers to the left, right, and long. Water runs down the right side of the hole but shouldn’t be in play.
You’re in for another treat on the closing hole, a reachable 499 yard par 5. This is a fairly simple driving hole for longer players, with the only danger being two bunkers on the middle right of the fairway at 210 yards. At about 300 yards off the teebox, marshland encroaches on the left side of the fairway, leaving a narrow window for the lay-up. As any good short par 5 should, this green is well-guarded, surrounded on four sides by deep bunkers.
Best Par 3: 17th Hole, 142 yards, 16th handicap. In the midst of an amazing three hole stretch, this hole runs from the banks of the East River back towards the clubhouse. This is one of the windiest parts of the property, making club choice extremely difficult. A par here is rarer than you’d expect.
Best Par 4: 16th Hole, 437 yards, 8th handicap. This was my favorite overall hole at Ferry Point, narrowly beating several other fantastic par fours. With mounding framing the drive, and water framing your approach, this hole keeps you engaged for the entire 437 yards.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole, 499 yards, 12th handicap. An extremely fun finisher, this reachable par 5’s green is basically at the base of the Whitestone Bridge. As a testament to the strength of this hole, the MET PGA chose this hole to close out their “Modern Dream 18,” featuring the best 18 holes in the NYC metropolitan area.
General Comments: The current clubhouse is sufficient, but nothing spectacular. Don’t worry though, a “New, $10 Million Clubhouse is Coming!” While the mounds lining individual holes provide some protection from the wind, the practice facilities at Ferry Point are on the most exposed parcel of land. Having said this, the range is expansive and features unlimited range balls.
While we played on an unseasonably cold September day, the course was rather empty for a weekend, with many of the golfers being foreign tourists. Somehow, we still waited behind a foursome on almost every shot, which is borderline unacceptable on a course of this stature. Caddies are available upon request but we chose to carry our own bags.
Verdict: Trump’s Ferry Point is a fantastic links-style course in the Bronx that is rightfully deserving of its Top 100 spot thanks to impeccable conditioning and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and Whitestone Bridge. While you’ll pay a premium New York price to play here, tourists should view this course as a closer, albeit slightly inferior, alternative to Bethpage.