The Takeaway: Grade B+
Designer: C.B. Macdonald in 1912
Cost: Private Private (Walking strongly encouraged, caddies available)
Phone Number: (516) 676-2332
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Piping Rock's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Accolades: Ranked 14th in New York on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Best in State list.
What to Expect: Before I picked up golf as a full addiction, I would think to myself, “How can golfers play the same course over and over and not get sick of it?” Well, I’m convinced if my first exposure to a golf course would have been designed by C.B. Macdonald then that thought would have never gone through my head. Macdonald courses are fun and feature hole designs that have lasted the test of time and Piping Rock is no different. Holes such as Redan, Road, and Biarritz have timeless features that bring interest and strategy to the course day after day. The terrain at Piping Rock features a gentle, steady slope on the front nine and more dramatic elevation changes on the back nine. While there are certainly more famous Macdonald courses in the country, Piping Rock stands proudly beside them by featuring excellent holes, strong tradition, and all the elements that makes you want to come back and play again.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 13th Hole – 300 Yard Par 4 – The 13th hole is a wonderful representation of a Knoll hole and is a complete pleasure to play. Most Knoll holes are targeted at 300 – 350 yard par 4s and feature minimal bunkering around the raised plateau green. Piping Rock features a skinny but wide bunker in front and below the green while the backside of the green features a steep falloff of about 20 feet. The distance of this type of hole is short due to the demanding nature of the approach shot and since the green isn’t designed to foster a running shot. A tier separates the back third of the green from the front two thirds and adds a final touch to this rewarding hole to play.
Best Par 3: 9th Hole – 227 Yards – The final hole on the front nine boasts one of my favorite green designs; Biarritz. A Biarritz green features a flat spot followed by a deep swell that goes back up to a flat spot. The rear flat spot is always cut to green height, while the front flat spot and the swell will either be included in the green or will be featured as a tight chipping area short of the green. At Piping Rock the hole plays downhill with a bunker essentially encircling the Biarritz feature and the back third being utilized as the green. It is a fun and exciting feature to conclude the front nine with.
Best Par 4: 8th Hole – 445 Yards – Inspired by the “Road Hole” at St. Andrews (#17), this par four features excellent design features as well as a stout test. Rather than a hotel to the right of this hole, Piping Rock features a cluster of four trees that must be avoided off the tee. The safe tee shot out to the left brings into play the dastardly greenside “road” bunker which has proven to be one of the most challenging bunkers on the entire course. Two lengthy and well placed shots are required to reach this green in regulation while navigating the design features and hazards.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 538 Yards – Piping Rock’s final hole is a beautiful double dogleg hole that climbs uphill and finishes below the historic clubhouse. The hole begins by turning to the right as it runs along a bunker that encroaches in from the left side of the hole. It curls back to the left around another fairway bunker and begins an ascension up the green that is protected two bunkers on the left and one on the right. Under 550 yards, the hole is reachable in two with the largest opening to the green coming from the right side.
Birdie Time: 5th Hole – 310 Yard Par 4 – Downwind this hole is quite driveable and thus is a great opportunity for birdie. Playing only slightly uphill from the tee, this hole with little trouble offers the golfer the opportunity to layup and wedge it close or grip-it-and-rip-it with hopes of leaving your tee shot close to the putting surface. It is a confidence building hole and a great opportunity to go under par early in your round.
Bogey Beware: 16th Hole – 398 Yard Par 4 – Holes that go uphill seem to always offer trouble to golfers that other holes don’t. There is often an uneven lie on the approach shot, a view of the entire green site is not afforded, and distance control becomes more challenging when calculating the elevation change. The tee box at Piping Rock’s 16th hole sets up the golfer down the right side of the hole while the fairway actually heads up slightly to the left and to the side of the greenside bunkers. Trees line both sides of the hole and offer no bailout area to consider. This is a stout hole from start to finish and one has caused many golfers to weep during the home stretch.