2013-08-30 / Columnists

Go Parks!

By Joe Conforti

Getting ready to play at Pelham-Split Rock in the Bronx: watch for wild turkeys! Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks Getting ready to play at Pelham-Split Rock in the Bronx: watch for wild turkeys! Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks Have you ever wondered where all of those golfers are going when you see them with clubs in hand riding the subway or cramming them into the backseat of their tiny car? There’s a good chance that they are going out for a round at one of NYC Parks’ 13 fulllength public golf courses. From the south shore of Staten Island to the north Bronx and every borough in between, there are plenty of opportunities for golfers to enjoy their favorite game in New York City Parks.

While some may favor escaping the boroughs, there are plenty of great reasons to keep your tee time at one of our courses, enjoy the coming perfect golf weather in the fall and visit some places you might never have seen before.

Distinguishing features of several of the City’s courses are the unique views of iconic landmarks and picturesque landscapes. Brooklyn’s Dyker Beach Golf Course, where Earl Woods learned the game he taught his son Tiger, is nestled at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, providing several remarkable backdrops while playing your round. The best is surely at the signature seventh hole. At Clearview in Queens, you’ll be on some of the most spectacular finishing holes in golf when you view the Long Island Sound and Throggs Neck Bridge. While in Queens, why not play your second round of the day at Douglaston, situated on the highest point in the borough. Your birdie putt on Douglaston’s 175-yard Par 3 ninth offers a postcard view of the Missionstyle clubhouse to the north and the city skyline to the west. Not too shabby and a bargain compared to the Monterrey Peninsula.

If you’re up in the northeast Bronx, head for Pelham and Split Rock, the only twin golf course in NYC. Thirty-six holes of delight and pleasure with views that make you think you’re in a golfers’ paradise or at least Vermont. However, when you see the band of mildly aggressive wild turkeys pass by, give them a wide berth as they were there before you!

The courses on Staten Island give you three great options, along with a free ferry ride to get you out there.

NYC Parks’ courses are also attractive to history buffs. In the northwest Bronx the Van Cortlandt Park course was the first municipal and oldest public golf course in the United States, dating back to 1895. The impressive clubhouse locker room at Van Cortlandt, with its original wooden lockers, appeared in a key scene in the movie “Wall Street” starring Michael Douglas. All our clubhouses feature fully stocked pro shops where you can get fitted with the latest in golf gear and Parks has married this timeless game invented in Scotland to the digital age as you can book your tee time with a few clicks on your smartphone using the online reservation system http://www.nycgovparks.org/facility/golf/ reservations.

Since we did say five boroughs: you can’t play 18 in Manhattan but you can work on your game at the driving range on Randall’s Island.

On the horizon, the golf course at Ferry Point Park at the tip of the Bronx by the Whitestone Bridge speeds toward completion. Its opening in 2014 will signal the City’s first brand new public golf course since 1963. When the course opens, NYC is guaranteed to boast the country’s oldest and newest public municipal golf courses, even if just for a short time. If that’s not enough to sway you to stay and play in the boroughs, consider this: a 15-minute car ride might allow you to play both courses in the same day. You’d have to start early but hey—this is the city that never sleeps! Go Golf. Go Park!

Joe Conforti, a policy analyst in the NYC Parks Office of Management, Budget and Public Programs, began playing NYC golf at age 7 at Clearview in Queens.

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