Review: Patriot Hills Golf Club

Course Name: Patriot Hills Golf Club

Designer: Rick Jacobson (2003)

Location: Stony Point, New York

History: Located in the Ramapo Mountains just west of the Hudson River, Patriot Hills was built on a huge and challenging terrain by architect Rick Jacobson in 2003. Interestingly, the course weaves through Letchworth Village, a notorious insane asylum famous for being the site of the first human trials of the polio vaccine. While not on any official lists, it is considered one of the better public options in the New York City area.

Conditions: 8/10, Patriot Hills features strong conditions with well-manicured fairways and teeboxes, thick rough, and speedy greens.

Value: 8/10, Located just under an hour from New York City, Patriot Hills offers great value with rates ranging from $40 for twilight to $100 for prime weekend morning slots. For a course of its caliber with a cart, you can’t do much better in the area.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Gold                           71            6485              72.0               136

Blue                         71           6111                70.4              134

White                      71           5599              68.0              128

Red                         71           5101                69.8              123

Hole Descriptions: I remember seeing Patriot Hills a few years ago on Instagram and immediately putting it on my list of courses to see. There’s not a ton online about this fairly new course, but the pictures alone made me want to play it. When I moved to the area this year, I eagerly jumped at the chance to see it for myself and definitely came away impressed.

Located on a giant property of very hilly terrain just northwest of New York City, Patriot Hills cannot be walked and features several holes that take minutes to access by cart. It is one of the most attractive public courses I’ve photographed with sweeping elevation changes and a beautiful mountainous backdrop. It is not a perfect course architecturally with a rather weak finish, some unremarkable par threes, and relatively benign greens, but there are some epic holes out here and the conditions and price alone make it well worth a daytrip from the City. I look forward to making repeat trips to Patriot Hills in the coming years.

We decided to play the Gold Tees because the course is not very long and plays even shorter with so many downhill teeshots. While not long, Patriot Hills does have a rather fearsome reputation because the elevation changes require great accuracy to avoid losing balls to the surrounding forests. A good score can be had to the golfer who plays smart and keeps their ball in play, but it’d be hard to get through a round here without a penalty.

The opening hole is a great one and one of my favorites on the course as a beautiful 426 yard par 4. With the Hudson River to your right on an elevated teebox, this downhill dogleg right features an undulating fairway lined by OB right and a knob of rough in the middle of the fairway at 210 yards like nearby Quaker Ridge. Bunkers line the right side of the dogleg after 300 yards but are only in play for the longest golfers. This approach runs back uphill to a back-to-front sloped green guarded by a false front and bunker short.

You can see the Hudson in the distance from the 1st teebox
The excellent par 4 1st “Letchworth”
A look at the 1st once you reach the level of the fairway

At 326 yards, the par 4 2nd hole is a short one but a rare hole at Patriot Hills that runs uphill the entire way. Playing straightaway with a right-to-left sloping fairway, golfers can choose their level of aggression off this teebox. A trio of bunkers lines the left side around 220 yards while tall trees run down the right. This green is large and relatively flat lined by bunkers short on either side.

The par 4 2nd “Turkey Hollow”

The 3rd hole is the first par 5 at Patriot Hills and another stunner at 509 yards. With the entire hole laid out in front of you from an extremely elevated teebox, this hole initially plays downhill to a tree-lined fairway that slowly runs back uphill. A strategic set of bunkers and fescue pinch the fairway about 120 yards short of the green and force the golfer to decide whether to carry it or not on the second shot. This elevated green slopes subtly back-to-front guarded by three bunkers short left.

The glorious par 5 3rd “Shatemuc”

At 467 yards, the number 2 handicap 4th hole is the longest par 4 on the course and plays all of that with no elevation changes to speak of. With an immediate 170 yard semi-blind carry over fescue, this intimidating teeshot plays to a generous fairway that narrows with trees on both sides around 270 yards. This hole narrows further afterwards and culminates with a shallow green guarded by three deep bunkers right. This is a fair hole but a difficult par to say the least.

The tough par 4 4th “Beacon Hill”

The 5th hole is the shortest par 5 at Patriot Hills at 497 yards. While certainly reachable, this hole runs uphill the entire way and would require two strong shots to reach in regulation. This is one of the more open holes on the course with a generous fairway lined by two bunkers down the left at 250 yards. Numerous bunkers constrict the lay-up area on both sides, but there is ample fairway to the right that leaves a worse angle. This green is large, relatively flat, and lined by a deep bunker right.

The par 5 5th – “Minsies”

At 290 yards, the 6th is the shortest par 4 at Patriot Hills and a very memorable hole. Playing from a severely elevated teebox, this hole plays even shorter and is a rare short par 4 reachable for the masses. I enjoy how there are two teeboxes with different angles to attack this green. We played from the right teebox and faced a daunting angle to a triangular, two-tiered, severely back-to-front sloped green. OB lines the entire right side and seven bunkers guard this green short and on both sides. This is an excellent reachable par 4 and one of the best holes on the course.

The par 4 6th “Lime Kiln”

The par threes at Patriot Hills are a letdown compared to the drama of the longer holes. There’s five of them, but you don’t reach one until the 158 yard 7th. Playing level, this is a boring yet innocuous one-shotter featuring a large green with some undulations lined by a right bunker.

The par 3 7th – “Pyngyp”

The 8th hole is another memorable one as a 396 yard par 4. Featuring another severely elevated teeshot, the gorgeous hole contains a 200 yard carry just to reach the fairway. While the fairway is pretty generous, OB lines the right side the entire way with two bunkers down the right between 225 and 260 yards and bunkers on the left and middle of the fairway at 300 yards. This approach plays at least one club back uphill to an elevated, back-to-front sloped green guarded by a bunker short left.

The stunning par 4 8th – “Willow Grove”

The 9th and 10th holes are back-to-back par threes culminating a string of three in a four hole stretch. At 149 yards, the 9th hole is a level but attractive one-shotter with a large green lined by a deep bunker left. The bunker you see prominently in the picture below is actually well-short of the green but acts as a visual illusion with ample fairway behind it.

The par 3 9th “Hudson”

As mentioned earlier, the par threes are not the most memorable at Patriot Hills but the 10th is a glaring exception because it’s the only one to use the sweeping terrain to its advantage. At 175 yards, this gorgeous downhill one-shotter plays to a wide yet shallow green guarded by deep bunkers left and rough behind. Nicknamed “The View” for obvious reasons, the backdrop on this hole makes it extremely attractive. While the bunkering wouldn’t fit the rest of the course, I’d love to see the bunkers expanded to surround the green like the famous Sleepy 16th just a few miles away.

The 10th is the best par 3 on the course

The 11th hole continues downhill as another remarkable par 4 from an elevated teebox. At 439 yards, this hole plays much shorter with perhaps the largest elevation change on the property. It takes a 200 yard carry to reach this right-to-left sloped dogleg left’s fairway lined by trees and a bunker left at 280 yards. This fairway then narrows and runs uphill to a table-top, narrow, relatively flat green defended by a steep bunker left.

The par 4 11th – “The Timp”

The 12th hole is a shorter par 4 at 362 yards, and plays as a tight, slightly uphill dogleg right. Accuracy is required here as this left-to-right sloping fairway is lined by a hazard down the right the entire way. Golfers may want to consider laying up off this tee, as bunkers begin on both sides around 250 yards. This approach plays slightly uphill to a large, back-to-front sloped green lined by bunkers on either side.

The tight par 4 12th – “Gate Hill”

After a seemingly endless drive uphill of several minutes, you reach the par 3 13th. At 194 yards, this is the longest one-shotter at Patriot Hills and plays slightly longer than the scorecard. This wide, undulating green is partially hidden behind two giant bunkers short right and a rock outcropping on the left.

The par 3 13th – “Crum”

The 14th hole is the final truly wild hole at Patriot Hills as a memorable and strong 568 yard par 5. From another extremely elevated teebox, this teeshot is almost blind to a very tight fairway well below. I’m not sure I can recall many holes more likely to induce a lost ball, as OB lines both sides and there’s no rough between the fairway and forest. There’s some strategy involved on this second shot, as the green is separated from the fairway off to the right over another hazard. Golfers can decide to lay-up to about 100 yards or try to fade it around the corner and reach in two. Beautiful bunkers guard just left of a back-to-front sloped green. I think it’s worth commentating the name of this hole “Cheesecock” is one of the grossest names I’ve heard of any golf hole. The mountain in the background is called Cheesecote, so I’m not sure why the architect decided to adulterate the name and make it sound like a venereal disease.

The 14th teeshot is one of most beautiful and intimidating I’ve played
The final approach at 14

At 449 yards, the par 4 15th is the number 1 handicap and a very strong hole. This teeshot requires an immediate forced uphill carry of about 175 yards to reach a dogleg right fairway that plateaus around 225 yards. This is a pretty generous fairway guarded by a string of bunkers down the right between 210 and 250 yards and one down the left at 280 yards. Those who fail to reach the plateau will likely need to lay-up, but otherwise golfers will have a slightly downhill, open approach into a diagonal green guarded by bunkers right and left. Par is a strong score here.

The par 4 15 “Kirkbride”
The approach at 15 with Letchworth Village on the left

As mentioned earlier, the finish at Patriot Hills is less than stellar and by the 16th hole the best is certainly behind you. The 16th is a long, straightaway 539 yard par 5 notable for having the only water hazard on the course down the far right and for running alongside the dilapidated and creepy Letchworth Village. This is a rather tight hole with a left-to-right sloped fairway guarded by OB left and bunkers down the right at 250 yards. A trio of bunkers juts into the left fairway about 150 yards short of the green, but there’s ample fairway beyond where golfers should be aiming to lay up. The green here is narrow, back-to-front sloped, and lined by a deep bunker right.

The par 5 16th – “Secor”

By the 17th hole, it was already past sunset and was getting dark quickly. My playing partners abandoned me and I forced my way into the twosome ahead who did not seem too happy to be playing with a stranger given their separate carts and masks outdoor in Covid times. The 17th hole is almost certainly the weakest on the course as a flat, 148 yard par 3 with a large green surrounded by six bunkers. This hole is named “Jervis” for Dr. George Jervis, a scientist who researched and discovered the cure for Phenylketonuria (PKU) at Letchworth in 1939.

The par 3 17th is as bland as they come

I played the closing hole in almost absolute darkness, but from what I could gather it is a decent uphill 393 yard par 4. The driving range lines the right side of this straightaway fairway with bunkers down the left at 245 and 270 yards. This approach requires at least one club extra to an elevated, back-to-front sloped green defended by a large bunker left.

The par 4 18th – “Weiant”

General Comments: Patriot Hills features strong practice facilities with a large, target-filled driving range and practice green near the clubhouse. The clubhouse is an interesting design and seems to be a remnant from the infamous Letchworth Village which the course wraps around. Carts are required on this giant property and pace of play was lackluster when I played.

Patriot Hills’ driving range

Verdict: While architecturally Patriot Hills could benefit from a stronger finish and better par threes, this mountainous course just north of New York City offers tremendous value and conditions as well as some terrific and memorable holes. I highly recommend this public course to all those in the Tri-state area.


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