Review: Dyker Beach Golf Course

Course Name: Dyker Beach Golf Course

Designer: George Strath (1895, 9 holes), Tom Bendelow (1897), John Van Kleek (1935, Redesign)

Location: Brooklyn, New York

History: Dyker Beach’s history is a bit murky, but from what I’ve read a park opened in South Brooklyn in 1895. At the time, George Strath of Scotland designed a private 9-hole course named Dyker Meadow Golf Club on the property stretching down to the water. This was apparently a very highly thought of and private course at the time. Another course called Marine and Field Links occupied adjacent property but it is unclear who designed it (possibly Bendelow). The two courses were combined and made public in the 1920s and underwent a massive renovation in 1935 by John Van Kleek. As part of New York’s municipal system, Dyker Beach holds the distinction of being the most played course in America in the 1950s and 1960s with over 100,000 rounds annually. A young Earl Woods learned the game at Dyker Beach while stationed nearby at Fort Hamilton.

Conditions: 3/10, True, I played during the Covid summer in New York, but that’s no excuse for Dyker Beach’s poor conditions. The greens are slow but at least roll true while the rest of the course is a mixture of burnt out or swampy. The bunkers are arguably the worst feature with weeds growing and barely any sand.

Value: 5/10, Dyker Beach offers very fair value ranging from $32 to walk on weekday afternoons to $52 on weekend mornings. This isn’t the biggest discount in the world but it’s certainly not bad for a city like New York.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                         71            6438              70.5               122

White                       71           6176              69.3              119

Red                          72           5366             70.7              117

Hole Descriptions: Dyker Beach is one of fifteen courses in New York City’s much lamented municipal golf scene. All five boroughs have courses ranging from the oldest public course in America (Van Cortlandt) to a Top 100 course in the modern Trump Ferry Point. The system is generally not thought of very highly in the golf community with its mediocre conditions, impossible teetimes, and slow pace of play in the city with America’s largest population. Having played several, I’ve learned to embrace them for what they are and appreciate the fact that many are classic designs. Where does Dyker Beach fit in New York’s golf scene? Unfortunately, for me it is near the bottom. Van Kleek and Bendelow’s design is a classic one with some solid holes and a decent routing, but poor conditions and upkeep make it quite underwhelming.

The opening hole is one of Dyker Beach’s most difficult as a long, downhill 426 yard par 4. With trees down the right and fescue and a bunker down the left, this teeshot plays semi-blind over a plateau. This approach is fairly level to a large, back-to-front sloped green surrounded by rough and a bunker long left.

The tough par 4 1st
The approach at 1

The 2nd hole is another challenging one as a downhill 200 yard par 3. Playing at least one club less, this hole is most notable for its narrow, hourglass-shaped green surrounded by rough. There’s a bunker well-short right that shouldn’t be in play and trees encroach on both sides.

The par 3 2nd
A closer look at the unique and excellent 2nd green

At 341 yards, the short par 4 3rd is among the more memorable and best holes at Dyker Beach. A sharp dogleg left featuring some pretty impressive land movement, this hole features a semi-blind teeshot over a large plateau in the fairway. The golfer has the option of laying up off the tee for a flatter lie on top of this plateau or being aggressive and risking a potential downhill, sidehill lie in a valley closer to the green. This green is elevated, two-tiered back-to-front and guarded by deep bunkers on either side and a terrifying false front. A great short par 4 with strategy and the potential for big numbers, I really enjoy this hole.

The semi-blind par 4 3rd
You can see the top of the Verrazzano Bridge on the 3rd approach

The 458 yard 4th hole is another good hole as a reachable par 5. Featuring probably the most attractive teeshot on the course, this sleek dogleg right plays from an elevated teebox to a fairway that turns right at about 230 yards with a large bunker on the inside corner. Trees and fescue run down the entire right side. This approach plays uphill at least one club to a wide, flatter green defended left, long, and right by four bunkers.

The gorgeous par 5 4th is a clear birdie hole

The most difficult hole on the front 9, the 422 yard par 4 6th plays downhill on the teeshot and then back uphill on the approach. While this straightaway fairway is generous, misses on either side will find fescue and trees and leave a near impossible approach. This green sits on a pedestal lined by a bunker right and false front short. Par is a strong score here.

The long par 4 5th

The one-shotters at Dyker Beach are a strong and difficult bunch with the 175 yard 6th hole probably being the easiest. Playing slightly uphill to an elevated, circular green, this hole requires a strong iron to find the putting surface. This green slopes severely back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers short on either side.

The par 3 6th

At 491 yards, the par 5 7th hole is the longest at Dyker Beach but still reachable for many golfers. From an elevated teebox, this straightaway hole runs along the edge of the property with OB left with the adjacent Brooklyn VA Hospital. A strategic crossbunker down the left at 310 yards is really the only danger on the drive while this green slopes right-to-left defended on either side by bunkers.

The par 5 7th

There’s not really a whole lot to say about the 8th hole, a boring, straightaway 370 yard par 4 with a slightly downhill teeshot. This approach plays to a large, back-to-front sloped green defended by bunkers on either side.

The par 4 8th

The front 9 closes with a gentle 350 yard dogleg left par 4. Featuring a semi-blind, slightly uphill teeshot, this fairway is guarded by a bunker on the right at 210 yards and trees on either side. The better angle into this green is from the left side of the fairway as bunkers line long left and short right.

The par 4 9th
The 9th green sits in front of the clubhouse

The 10th hole is a strong par 4 at 400 yards. Playing treelined and straightaway, this fairway features a speed slot at about 210 yards and is lined by a bunker down the right at 225 yards. This approach is arguably the best on the course featuring an elevated, humpback green that slopes severely back-to-front guarded by steep slopes long and short and a bunker left.

The par 4 10th
The approach at 10

At 160 yards, the 11th hole is the shortest par 3 at Dyker Beach but not easy by any means. Playing steeply uphill to an elevated, narrow green lined by bunkers on either side, this is a prime example of a hole that needs a renovation. The trees lining this hole really serve no purpose and actually block some of the green for higher ballflights. Fixing the bunkering and cutting down these trees might return this hole to its original glory.

The claustrophobic 11th

The 12th hole is the shortest par 4 at Dyker Beach at 334 yards downhill. I suppose this hole is reachable in theory but a severe dogleg left at 220 yards and thick trees on either side make this a daunting prospect, especially for first time golfers. The ideal play here is a long iron or wood around 225 yards, leaving a simple pitch into a back-to-front sloped green defended by a bunker left.

The blind, confusing dogleg left 12th
The 12th approach to a green in shadows

The real meat of the golf course is found in the closing stretch beginning with the number 1 handicap par 4 13th. At a lengthy 441 yards, there’s not a whole lot to remark about this dead straight hole other than it’s long and uphill. There’s plenty of room to miss left while water lines far right. Take at least one club extra or lay-up on this approach to a large green defended by bunkers on either side.

A par on the long 13th goes a long way
A great look at the Verrazzano Bridge from the 13th fairway

The 14th hole runs parallel to the 13th as another long par 4 at 428 yards. Although long, this hole plays downhill and significantly shorter than the previous hole. An eyesore of a net lines the right while trees begin down the left at 290 yards. This green runs back-to-front and is lined by a bunker right.

The par 4 14th

At 458 yards, the 15th hole is the final par 5 at Dyker Beach and probably the most difficult. Running uphill for its entire length with trees on either side, this fairway slopes hard left-to-right and features numerous valleys. This elevated green is well-defended by a bunker left and severe drop-offs right and short.

The par 5 15th

The 16th hole is a 388 yard par 4 playing downhill with a tight, tree-lined fairway. At about 270 yards, this fairway narrows, begins a speed slot, and is lined by a large bunker down the right. This large green is lined by a bunker left.

The par 4 16th

The 17th hole is the longest par 3 at Dyker Beach and also its best. Still quite claustrophobic with unnecessary trees, this hole features a volcano green with steep slopes surrounding all sides and a deep bunker left. It takes a strong shot to find this back-to-front sloped green in regulation.

The par 3 17th is one of the best holes at Dyker but still could be improved

The closing hole is a bit quirky as a blind 393 yard par 4 dogleg right. Featuring OB right the entire way with the parking lot, this fairway begins to turn at about 200 yards. This approach plays level to a subtly undulating green surrounded by bunkers long, left, and right.

The blind teeshot at 18
The closing approach 

General Comments: Already on a constricted property, the practice facilities at Dyker Beach are weak at best with a small practice green and no range. The historic clubhouse is supposedly known for its weddings but seemed dilapidated. Pace of play was great when I played, but I doubt that is the norm here.

Verdict: A classic design held back by poor conditioning and limited amenities, South Brooklyn’s Dyker Beach won’t break the bank but is not one of the better New York City munis.


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