HALFMOON, N.Y. – Sometimes golf isn’t about historic clubs, Golden Age architecture, and major championship pedigrees. No, the beating heart of golf is found in the down-home, homespun, local public golf courses that are thriving, not just surviving as the post-Covid golf boom hurtles on. So meet Fairways at Halfmoon, a public course mid-way between Albany and Saratoga that’s been firing on all cylinders all season long. Full tee sheets throughout day melt seamlessly into full bellies at the bar and restaurant as the food at the course’s brewpub is first rate.
Fairways at Halfmoon isn’t place you go to really test your mettle; it is, instead, low-hanging fruit and a low impact day. Playing to an asymmetrical par of 37-35=72, the course maxes out at 6,300 yards, perfectly negotiable for just about everyone. The four par-5s are all of reasonable length for both long and short hitters. The par-3s are varied in both length and topography. The eighth, for example, ascends steeply, while the 13th is an invigorating drop shot.
The par-4s also run the gamut in both length and in horizontal movement in the terrain. The short downhill third can be driven, but wild surrounds guard the green, from rough to sand to a ravine. Best of all, the green contours defend par admirably. Both false fronts and false sides make the greens much smaller targets than they appear, and the adventure on each hole merely continues as you approach greenside.
But perhaps Fairways at Halfmoon’s greatest attribute is the friendliness of its players. You’re welcomed like family by the staff and locals, and you go home with at least three new friends., maybe more if you stay for a few beers. (Which you will do if you’re wise!) The club’s puckish sense of humor (and devotion to the PGA Tour are on full display in the brewpub: the four giant beer tanks are named Arnie, Jack, Tiger, and Phil…at least one WAS named Phil until recently. Now Phil’s name bears a nasty red X across it. Well played, Fairways of Halfmoon! Well played!
Flavor after delicious flavor is lovingly crafted on premises by the club brewmasters, while entrees are huge and delicious. Beg borrow or steal to have the chef make you a French dip (it’s only offered as a special). Short of that the quesadilla burger seems quixotic on paper, but the execution was nothing short of brilliant.
Fairways at Halfmoon is exactly what golf needs more of: an inexpensive public course that’s easily accessible, is reasonably short (and therefore easier and less expensive to maintain), and has interesting green contours and surrounds.
Heads up! If you come up for a weekend (North Country golf is excellent) remember that hotel rooms from Albany to Saratoga fill up like lightning in summertime what with all the horse racing fans descending on the region like a marauding horde. So book a room before booking golf.