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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Salute To West Point

West Point Golf Course
West Point Golf Course   photo courtesy of the club
As you might expect, it takes discipline to score on the West Point Golf Course, the tough, demanding daily fee course at the U.S. Military Academy. The track is short on the score card but long when it comes to getting the ball on the green, thanks largely to some serious elevation changes and artful use of water and other natural features of the Hudson Valley landscape.  Designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr., also deserves a salute for his slick, roly-poly greens.

West Point measures 5,991 yards from the tips with a par of 70 and course rating/slope of 70.6/136. Like many good mountain courses, though, the long hitter doesn’t need to keep the driver in the bag, especially on the uphill holes like the 390-yard fifth.  The par fives are a varied collection of fun scoring opportunities, ranging from the 442-yard seventeenth that seemingly plays vertically uphill, to the 546-yard seventh, where even a big hitter should think twice before challenging the pond in front of the green on the second shot.

The six par threes at West Point use the topography to its full advantage. The three on the front side all play uphill, so add fifteen yards to each of the 169, 186, and 192 yard measurements. On the back, the 180-yard eleventh plays downhill over water, the 152-yard thirteenth goes from elevated tee to elevated green, and the 163-yard sixteenth is just downright nasty, playing about two clubs less downhill to a partially-blind green with trouble front and back.

It’s entirely possible to shoot a good round at West Point, but local knowledge will help a bunch. Several holes are intimidating off the tee but actually have bigger landing areas than you think. It’s also helpful to see the greens a few times, too, since there are elephants buried on a few of them.

One more great reason to play West Point is the history lesson you get on every tee and at a few other places on the course. Markers describe in excellent detail the many contributions to our freedoms made by our nation’s military—especially West Point graduates—from the American Revolution to the latest operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are worth taking a few extra moments to read and contemplate as you make your way around the course.

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