When Pound Ridge Golf Club opened two years ago in the horsey precincts of northern Westchester County, New York, more than a few eyebrows (including mine) arched over its hefty green fee. Yes, the legendary Pete Dye had designed the course, and, sure, the steep and rocky terrain made for some dramatic shots. But at $235 for a round a golf--on a layout that in certain spots felt forced onto the land--Pound Ridge seemed like yet another example of big-city excess.
Finally, Pound Ridge's owner, Ken Wang, brother of Vera Wang, has lowered the weekday rate this year, to $155, provided golfers book at least five days in advance. (Discounts are also available for those who tee off after 3 p.m.) The club, just under an hour from Manhattan, has also partnered with several hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental in New York, where guests can arrange a round through the concierge.
All of which led me to pay Pound Ridge a second visit this spring. There are still a few holes that feel contrived, including the sandy par-three fourth; others, such as the par-five thirteenth, whose fairway is no wider than an Upper West Side brownstone, feel shoehorned in. But to my surprise and pleasure, I discovered that the course is walkable, and that the turf is maturing nicely. For the traveling businessman who seeks a country club experience but lacks private-club connections, or any other golfer with similar needs, I can think of few better options in the metro area.
Gallery: Pound Ridge Golf Club
An American golf course architect designing a seaside links in Scotland, just down the coast from St. Andrews, is akin to an English chef cooking coq au vin at Le Cordon Bleu. But that's just what California-based Kyle Phillips managed to do a decade ago at Kingsbarns Golf Links. In his latest overseas venture, Phillips has laid out two spectacularly scenic yet understated 18-hole courses at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, the new Rocco Forte Collection resort on the southern coast of Sicily.
The five-star resort--just over an hour from the international airport in Palermo and near the historic city of Agrigento, with its Valley of the Temples--has much to speak for itself, as Luxist noted in reporting the opening of the property. Not the least of Verdura's attributes are suites and villas appointed with assorted mosaics, ceramics and artifacts culled from this primordial island by the interior designer Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco Forte's sister. The amenities also include four restaurants, among them a Sicilian trattoria, and a gelateria.
Gallery: Verdura Golf Resort & Spa in Sicily
The idea of trumpeting golf as a corporate perk seems as dated as the oversize shirts so many Tour pros (including Tiger Woods) somehow saw fit to wear not that long ago. But even in these chastened economic times, it's hard to ignore the game's effectiveness as a business tool. Which explains the recent announcement of the Tour Club, a fantasy-like club that offers, among other amenities, access to a network of private and resort courses, lodging at luxury golf residences, and VIP access to PGA tournaments and other sporting events.
The Tour Club bills itself as the first national sports entertainment club. Membership is open to families and individuals as well as to businesses, but it's conceived primarily for corporate entertaining. The portfolio of residences--the Tour Club has the same parent company as the destination club Quintess--includes retreats in places such as Pinehurst, N.C.; Bend, Ore. (see Pronghorn, above); and Los Cabos, Mexico. The list of golf clubs consists mainly of Tournament Players Clubs (TPC)--many of them well-regarded, some, like the remodeled TPC Boston, outstanding, all of them high-end.
Gallery: The Tour Club
The layout is called the Old American Golf Club, because it pays homage to the country's golden age of golf architecture (roughly 1910 to the mid-1930s). In those days, without the ready use of bulldozers, course designers such as Donald Ross and A. W. Tillinghast relied largely on the natural contours of the land. Their example inspired Old American's designers, Tripp Davis and the PGA Tour pro and Dallas native Justin Leonard. The course, which hosted preview rounds this fall and will open officially next spring or summer, sports a low-slung, old-style appearance.
In what is surely a nod to the economic times, Old American--like its celebrated British-inflected sister course, The Tribute--will be open to the public as well as to residents of the development. (A boutique or mid-sized hotel is also planned.) Whether the new golf course will help sell the faux English cottages and French provincials in the 1,200-acre community remains to be seen.
Gallery: Old American Golf Club
There is such an abundance of high-quality desert golf in the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas that it can be hard to decide where to play over the course of a short visit. Here's one option that may help make Arizona snowbirds choose where to alight this winter with their clubs in tow: The soon-to-open Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is offering an unlimited-golf package beginning December 18. Guests who take advantage of the deal can play the resort's
Jack Nicklaus–designed layout--annual host to the world's finest golfers at the Accenture Match Play Championship--from 2 p.m. the day they arrive until 7 p.m. the day they depart. The offer, which includes deluxe accommodations, starts at $399 for one player and $519 for two.
When completed, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain will encompass 850 acres within a spectacular saguaro forest outside Tucson. Plans call for the 250-room resort to be accompanied by a community of 400 homes. Beyond golf, activities at Dove Mountain include hiking along 20 miles of trails mapped by National Geographic and touring the rugged desert-scape by mountain bike or Jeep. There's also a state-of-the-art spa that features, among other enticements, a Vichy shower (see photo gallery) that's ideal for scrubbing off the perspiration and grit accumulated on a warm Sonoran day.
Gallery: Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
Not long ago, golf real estate communities sprouted across the country every month, each project promising a higher level of luxury than the last. These days, they're as a rare as a postseason in baseball that doesn't include the Red Sox or the Yankees. Hence the curiosity of the Victory Ranch Club, an expansive (5,600-acre) development just east of Park City, Utah, that's to be designed around a just-opened--and, of course, camera-friendly--Rees Jones golf course.
The primary selling point of Victory Ranch is its mountain setting. The 7,600-yard golf course gambols across rugged topography that features deep ravines, bulwarks of ancient stone and high plateaus that yield sweeping views of the Deer Valley ski area and the Jordanelle Reservoir. Horseback riding on a network of trails and fly fishing in the Upper Provo River complete the tableau. Whether buyers will come at a time when the nation's high-end real estate market is reeling remains to be seen.
Gallery: Victory Ranch Club
Golf, as everyone knows, is a game of tradition. So when the Acushnet Co. announced last winter that it was closing its FootJoy Classics factory in Brockton, Mass.--which for decades had produced leather-soled, welted golf shoes that set a standard for refinement--purists were despondent. The Classics line had gone the way of persimmon woods and balata balls. Now, amid the endless store racks of unstylish, if functional, shoes, golf's traditionalists again have a place to turn: the company has introduced a new line of finely detailed brogues called the FootJoy Icon.
The Icon comes in five patterns--including wing-tips and plain-toe saddle, both adapted from the old Classics--and a total of 19 styles. In addition, all but one of the patterns are part of FootJoy's MyJoys program, in which customers can choose from thousands of color and other personalized options, such as collegiate, NFL and MLB logos. Sartorialists will appreciate the Icon's traditional touches: full-grain leather uppers, calf-skin detailing, a leather-covered "fit-bed" designed to mimic the natural shape of the foot. These are combined with 21st-century technological innovations including a tri-density outsole for a stable hitting platform and two-part forefoot channels for comfort and flexibility.
FootJoy Icons can be found on the feet of such PGA Tour pros as Hunter Mahan, a fan of the two-tone wing tip (see photo gallery,) and Ian Poulter, whose wildly colorful trousers often require a solid white shoe. For those of us golfers who have to pay for our footwear, the Icon's suggested retail price is $250 for stock styles, $270 for original MyJoys and $290 for MyJoys bearing licensed logos.
Gallery: FootJoy's New Icon Golf Shoes
Regardless of how well you've played the first seven holes, when you reach the eighth tee at Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., your round takes on a different flavor. There, at a comfort station on the edge of the Sonoran desert, a covered ceramic pot contains "the thickest, moistest, tastiest Beef Jerky ever made." So enthuse Scott Savlov and Jon Rizzi in their appealing new coffee table book "The Club Menu: Signature Dishes from America's Premier Golf Clubs." Hyperbole? Having visited Mirabel and sunk my own teeth into those exquisitely marinated, salted and dehydrated strips of flank steak, I can vouch for every superlative the authors use to describe them.
Savlov and Rizzi (the latter of whom I occasionally worked with while I was an editor at Travel + Leisure Golf) engagingly present the culinary specialties of more than a hundred clubs. The movable feast begins at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y., (lobster salad and coffee cake with Kahlua icing) and concludes at Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn., (banana bread with maple pecan butter).
The book's conceit is that enjoying a club's signature dish is as integral a part of the experience as playing its golf course. To be able to say you've had the "burger dog"--a grilled hamburger shaped like a hot dog and served in a hot dog bun (see photo gallery)--at the Olympic Club in San Francisco is to make clear that you've entered an inner sanctum. In fairness, not all of the dishes featured in the book seem particularly indigenous or steeped in tradition. If I never have the orange-soy seared salmon at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., I won't feel deprived. But those are the exceptions. Anyone who has even a passing interest in the game's bastions of privilege will enjoy perusing these pages, which include recipes for every dish. The 128-page hardcover book ($50) is available at www.pindarpress.com.
Even the most steel-eyed hustler might pause for a moment before breaking a rack on the latest offering from Brunswick Billiards: a replica of the company's Exposition Novelty Table from 1878. The iconic pool-table manufacturer has produced scores of models since its founding (by a Cincinnati carriage maker) in 1845, but it is this one that Brunswick has chosen to reproduce in honor of its 165th anniversary. Beginning in October, the company will offer for sale 25 renditions of the exquisite 9-foot-long table -- at a cost of $39,999, including a matching cue stick and cue rack.
An award-winner in its day, Brunswick says, the Exposition Novelty Table artistically blended sophisticated nineteenth-century refinement with the aesthetic of a still largely untamed American West. It sits on beveled legs of solid white oak and is adorned with a variety of richly grained veneers, brass rosettes, and rail sights made from Asian water buffalo bone.
After completing his work each day on the hard, sun-baked courts of the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens, Roger Federer will rest his head on plush monogrammed pillows (above) at the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the New York Observer reports. Federer, winner of the most grand slam titles in the history of men's tennis, will be staying for the third consecutive year in a $3,000-a-night suite on the 16th floor.
As the Observer dutifully details, Federer's suite has a long, formal living room furnished in black and white and hung with a large "quasi-Picasso." The bathroom is bedecked in black marble and gold trim. The polite and soft-spoken Swiss, the newspaper reports, prefers the smaller of the two bedrooms, eschewing the master chamber, with its mirrored bedposts and leopard-print rug. His focus during the fortnight will be on capturing his 16th major title, two more than the less artistic, though coldly efficient, Pete Sampras.