"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my over to New York and Ferry Point."
From the moment you step onto the first tee at Ferry Point, you know that you have never played anything like this before. Jack Nicklaus has designed something very special out here on the banks of the East River in New York. Well, about 40 minutes drive out of New York near a suburb called Throgs Neck. (The golf course says the Bronx, but anyway) The Whitestone bridge looks amazing in all pictures taken of this golf course and it is visible constantly. Be careful what you say though, I'm unsure if Trump has the course bugged.
But don't let that put you off, because this is a very good golf course. Nicklaus has created a links style course in such great detail, that you will forget that one of the busiest cities in the world is just over the water. In fact, the serenity is beautiful. Hard to say which nine I enjoyed the best because I enjoyed the entire course. Make sure you are here to play and your game is in good working order though, because fairway bunkering and steel wool like rough is on every hole. If your driver has an off day, you could shoot plenty.
The front nine opens up with a great little par 4. At 444 yards from the tips, it's a good drive and an 7/8 iron to a green that sits a little the wrong way at you and has a small tier in it. A reasonably easy start, but the second will test you. At 518 yards, this long par 4 will have you reaching for the fairway wood if you don't get your drive down past the bunkers on either side. The green again, sits at a bad angle to the fairway and it is protected by small pot bunkers in front left and right, as well as over the back. Par is a superb score here.
The 3rd is the first par 3 on the front and is 243 yards from the black tees. Happy to report that my 2 iron sailed to a foot here and I made birdie, so I can't really call this hole difficult, but it actually is. Only a small opening to the green is protected by bunkers left and right. The front left bunker is deep so stay well away. The fourth is the first par 5 on the course and you will have to stay out of the left and right fairway bunkers to have any chance of par. At 561 yards, it's long, but it's also narrow at the green and well bunkered off the right side.
Both the 5th and 6th are similar. Both par 4's and yardage of 458 and 468 respectively. They will bring you along to the 7th. This is a fantastic hole and the only hole where water will really be a factor. It does look tempting to go straight at the green, but you will lose a ball unless you can carry it about 300 yards. Fairway wood or long iron are the play here. Away from the water that covers the entire right side of the hole. Too far left is no picnic here either, so keep it on the short stuff.
8 is the second par 3 of the front nine and again, it is over 200 yards. This time, no 2 iron magic as I landed in the left bunker, but managed a sand save for par. That brings us to the 9th. This was one of my favourite holes on the entire course. From the tee you don't really see the correct line. Mounds are all over the place, as well as fairway bunkers in the middle and on the right. It's very hard to tell just how far they are away, but I managed to catch the one in the middle. The second shot goes uphill to a well guarded green at the front and waste area behind. The green slopes towards the bunker at the front so if you are long, expect a quick putt.
The second nine opens up with a longish par 4. At 460 yards, you won't have much trouble hitting this wide fairway, but the green is very difficult. It's small with lots of undulation surrounding it. It's a really tough second shot. The 11th is another par 4 with 6 fairway bunkers that are not big, but will catch you unless you are laser straight. The green sits atop a plateau and is tough to read.
12 is one of the best par 3's here. It's only 166 yards from the black tees, but the green has plenty of undulation as well as bunkers around it. Don't expect an easy putt unless you are very close. The green is also very thin as you look at it so hitting the surface will test you. The 13th is a down hill then uphill par 4 that is pretty easy. The 14th though, is not easy. It's a long par 4 of about 480 yards that has trouble left and right off the tee. You must navigate a small landing area, then shoot towards a large green protected left and right by pot bunkers.
15 is the first par 5 on the back nine and is a very difficult hole. It's entirely uphill, so the 596 yards from the black tees feels like 696. Be sure to get a drive away up the left side. Towards the green, there is trouble, in the form of fairway bunkers, left and right. Lay up short of the right bunker to have about 100 in at a very small green that runs from the right. Par here is a very, very good score.
The 16th is a blind tee shot, well, sort of. It depends how far you hit it. If you take driver down the left, you may run out of fairway. There is more room right than you think. Over the hill and a blind second if you are not, there is water right and a small green awaits you.
The 17th goes back towards the 16th tee and the pond that was on the right still is in play. At 193 yards, you shouldn't have to worry about it though. Just go straight for the pin here as there is only a big bunker right that's trouble. That brings you to the 18th. A great par 5 to finish that has you shooting your second towards Trump's huge American flag. It's a good hole to finish and the tucked left green will test your second or third shots. The green is no snack either and there is water way left all along.
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1. Tees 13/15
2. Fairways 14/15
3. Bunkers 13/15
4. Greens 14/15
5. Design 15/15
6. The 19th 13/15
7. Price 6/10
The design of this golf course was stunning. The 19th hole was a little small compared to the standard Trump stylings and the menu was a little limited, but delicious. Price is always going to be a factor at American golf courses, so be prepared to pay $150-$300 depending on the season.
Be straight, or there will be lost balls left or right. The rough here is not long, but it is brutal. You are not supposed to play balls out of the fescue grass and there is so much of it around, you will be taking some drops if you are wayward. The golf course is a lot of fun to play and the New York skyline in the background is a constant reminder that you are playing a very special golf course. Unfotunately, as the name suggests, there is no ferry to take you to there, so Uber was the pick for me. It was about $35-$40 from Central Park to the course.
Ferry Point was superb from start to finish. Although some of the fairways were being airated on the back nine, it didn't take anything away from the enjoyment of Jack's track. The moonscape like rough had me constantly snapping pictures as I could hardly believe I was near New York. It felt like Scotland. The black tees are a 146 slope rating, so I'm guessing the 79 I shot may bring me in a half shot, maybe. This golf course is first class in every way and if you play it on a weekday, you will have it to yourself. Try the buffalo wings after the game or the truffle fries. Both are delicious!
As far as New York being a golf destination, I would look elsewhere if you want variety in the games you play. There are only really a few golf courses here that will excite. Obviously Bethpage, but access is depending on the seasons and the traffic and can be frustrating. Most other golf courses in the NY area are either not fantastic, or very private. The subway in Manhatten is perfect for getting around, but does not take you to many golf courses, so playing NY can be expensive. NY gets 3/10 for golf.