The Takeaway: A classic Tillinghast design, Fenway is a pleasure to play from start to finish and features some of the largest, and best, green complexes in the country. Not as famous as other New York courses, but one you’d enjoy playing day in and day out. Grade B+
Designer: A. W. Tillinghast 1924 (Gil Hanse restoration)
Phone Number: 914-723-6000
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Fenway Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 384 Old Mamaroneck Rd, Scarsdale, New York 10583 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Fenway is what I like to call an “everyday course.” Some courses are super dramatic and enjoyable during a single visit, but I wouldn’t be a fan of having it as my home course. Fenway may not be as dramatic or difficult as other top tier courses in the Empire State, but it is the type of layout you’d never get tired of, rarely lose a ball on, and keeps you engaged simply because of how great the greens are. The large A.W. Tillinghast putting surfaces with their slick speeds and sloping contours are where Fenway shines and where teeth can be put into the design. The classic design features turf across virtually the entire property other than a couple of water features and some great bunkering. This is complemented by fairly mild terrain that offers a pleasant walk that is made all the easier by the caddie that will accompany you. There are several trees across the property that help frame the holes, but there is never a time you feel the course is overly burdened by them. The course has thinned out the trees overtime to ensure an ideal amount of views across the property and a property amount of sunlight to help deliver exceptional turf conditions. I love the European feel to the start of the course with a 277 yard par four that should boost your confidence, but after encountering the fast and undulated green, you’ll quickly realize you can’t ever be on cruise control if you expect to score well. Courses like Winged Foot and Bethpage get a lot of the hype in the New York area, but for a course to enjoy everyday it is tough to beat Fenway.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 190 Yard Par 3 – The final par three at Fenway is this attractive one-shotter over the water to a spacious green. There is virtually zero room to miss short, so if you are between clubs take the longer of the two and make sure to avoid the hazard. If you get into a bunker beyond the flag, your skills will be tested as you attempt to get close to the flag while water looms beyond the putting surface. One thing for sure at Fenway, the quality and variety of the par threes is exceptional.
Best Par 3: 11th Hole – 187 Yards – Something that isn’t done nearly enough on newer courses, a quality uphill one-shotter is a treat I look forward to at classic courses. Fenway delivers at the 11th with this par three where much of the putting surface is blind yet slopes from back to front as hard as any green on the course. Even a three-footer above the hole will have players fearing that a missed attempt could result in a 15-footer coming back; or possibly go off the green altogether. Properly manage your distance control off the tee and you can position yourself to succeed, but get above or to the side of certain pin positions and you better have the touch of an angel to get the ball close.
Best Par 4: 15th Hole – 305 Yards – On paper this hole looks like a breeze, but in actuality it is a stout challenge due to an exceptional design. The hole plays from the low ground up a rise in the terrain with a shape that asks for a baby draw off the tee. Overcook it to the left and a line of trees will get in the way and leave a lousy angle for your second shot. Attacking the green will take nothing less than pure precision as you approach the smallest putting surface at Fenway and bunkering surrounding it that nearly guarantees walking away with no better than a bogey. The concept and execution of this hole reminded me of the 17th at Oakmont where anything can happen.
Best Par 5: 3rd Hole – 526 Yards – With only two par fives to pick from, this category gets narrowed down quickly. But even with a half dozen three-shotters to pick from, the 3rd would be difficult to trump. Playing pretty much straight away, the highlights of the 3rd include exceptional bunkering and perhaps the best green complex on the property. The tee shot plays to a landing area plagued by a half dozen bunkers that defend each side of the short grass along with o.b. flanking the far left side. Beginning 200 yards out from the center of the green is the largest bunker complex on the property which cuts the right half of the fairway out and replaces it with sand that stretches 90 yards towards the green. The approach shot plays uphill to a wildly undulated green that yields far more three-putts than it does one-putts. Pins on the left side are more accessible while pins on the right will have additional bunkering to contend with.
Birdie Time: 1st Hole – 277 Yard Par 4 – Too many opening holes are forgettable at courses, but that is certainly not the case at Fenway as Tilly offers players a chance to get under par right off the bat. Tipping out at a mere 277 yards, you’ll hope that you warmed up beforehand so that you can stand on the tee and take a confident rip at the ball in an effort to reach the putting surface. The undulated green can be flat out diabolical in certain pin positions, so whether you are putting or hitting a wedge on your second shot, getting your ball close while staying below the hole is a recipe for success.
Bogey Beware: 5th Hole – 480 Yard Par 4 – Coming back to the clubhouse, Tillinghast expects players to be on top of their game by the time they get to the 5th. Measuring just 20 yards shy of an even 500, the 5th plays closer to that 500 mark due to the slightly uphill approach shot. Beyond the bunkering found on the hole, the green here is flat out wicked. When asked, the caddie confirmed my suspicion that this hole yields more three-putts than any other at Fenway. The long slopes are unforgiving to players not using exacting touch and discipline in their reads and pace, and a pin in the back left is almost cruel to get close to. Length, precision, touch; you better have it all for any hope of avoiding a bogey.