YALE GOLF COURSE
200 Conrad Drive
New Haven, CT
Architect: Seth Raynor!
Excitement Factor: 10/12
The rest of the ratings are below this article. I am reprinting the thought of my golf architecture expert colleague, Jim Keever.
Jim is spot on. Boola Boola. ONe editorial note, some of the hole descriptions are excerpted by Jim from Bahto and Banks’ book which descirbes Yale really well.
“Yale had to be epic in proportions and difficulty to battle against the technology of its time. Hence, given #1 & #2 above, these factors enabled Raynor & Macdonald to give us the wildest versions of their holes to date. 700 acres (With a potential 2nd course that was laid out) also helped them find these monsters. We can quibble about which redan, alps, cape, knoll, etc. hole are their best works, but Yale puts so many outstanding examples of their templates in front of the golfer, along with ideas rarely seen in their other courses:
#1 Green – Combo punchbowl/road green
#2 A skyline cape
#3 Double punchbowl in its original location
#4 Just for its routing/site
#5 My favorite hole and version of it with the green horseshoe will be the 1st hole on KeeverTown G.C. and Steakhouse after I hit the MegaMillions (Hit the green or start your round with a double bogey)
#8 Never has a slicer been more grateful
#9 Biarritz to the nth degree
#10 Shinnecock #9 on steroids with the carry tee shot
#11 Artistry in getting the fairway and greenside bunkers on the left tied in their rock walls to their backsides – a nice reminder of the site work that was done
#12 Alps with a two-tiered green on a blind 2nd shot
#13 Redan over water
#14 Knoll with a wedding cake top
#17 Double Plateau fronted with The Principal’s Nose
#18 High Road and Low Road (Glad to see the hole not as choked on the tee and 2nd shots)
They also camoflaged alot of the landing areas look smaller than they really are.” (that excerpt is from the Bahto/Banks book. The 21st century editorializations are Jim’s.)
I hope that I am not restating or plagerizing your ideas from the book, but at Yale, “The Hits Just Keep on Coming”.
Most of us have seen the holes before on other courses. Yale is all of the knowledge and technology vs. all of the player technology. Most first time players are awed by the boldness, the scale and the terrain. Along the way, they learn about fear from being in the wrong position of their own making, stamina due to the terrain and the intense punishments meted out to the less than well struck shot, and occasionally, elation from pulling off the right shot at the right time.
Perhaps they should have named the course “Maine”, as in “You can’t get there from here”, based upon the physical location in finding the course the first time as well as where you will have to try to recover from once you are on its hallowed grounds. In the end though, The Course at Yale lives up to the university’s motto: Lux et Veritas (Light AND Truth) because in spite of it’s stern and foreboding nature, the crafty and guileful can manage their way around quite nicely, thank you.
Now, here are my scores:
Design: Six and 1/2 stars [all ratings out of seven]
Let’s see, horizontal movement in the fairways? Check – great encyclopaedia of terrific golf holes and shapes. It poses excellent golf problems to solve and therefore is quite the academic and intellectual course totally worthy of Yale’s rich academic heritage. The “post-graduate degree” of golf courses. Lunkhead bombers who like their golf neat and clean with no surprises and who insist on having everything framed for them are better off “chumping” somewhere else.
The half-star off is because I had to pretty much exclusively use wedge around the greens. There were few bump and run shots or putt from pff the green approaches. Just a little too few greenside options.
Vertical movement in the holes? Holy smokes BIG CHECK! Up and down all day with dramatic carries off the tee and on approaches. Excellent.
Interesting character filled greens? Another huge check. There is not a single throw away hole shape and there is not a single throw away green either. Each green is a complicated jigsaw puzzle. Numbers 9 and 17 (biarritz, double plateau) and 10 (think 16 at Black Mesa) stand out in a murderer’s row of terrific greens. An all star line-up.
Natural Setting: Four and 1/2 stars. You’re in the woods in CT. You’re here for the golf. Views are immaterial.
Conditioning: Five and 1/2 stars. Really good. In fact clever in its intricacy. Take again, the wild contours of No. 10. In order to bring all that contour in play, they keep the stimp rating at 7.5-8. Slower greens = more interesting contours. What a concept.
Value: NA – Private
Overall: Six and 1/2 stars. This one’s a gem.