The Takeaway: Featuring more elevation changes than most courses in New York, Whippoorwill boasts an engaging routing with an adventure around every turn. Steamshovel Banks’ design stands tall amongst the stiff competition of elite courses in the Empire State. Grade B+
Designer: Charles Banks 1928 (Donald Ross original layout in 1920s)
Phone Number: 914-273-3011
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Whippoorwill Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 150 Whippoorwill Rd, Armonk, New York 10504 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Gaining a reputation among a faction of golfers as one of the most underrated courses in the country, Whippoorwill is a dramatic course in golf rich Westchester County. The course was originally designed by Donald Ross but was later redesigned by Charles "Steamshovel" Banks when additional adjacent land was acquired. The thing that players will quickly realize is how incredibly hilly the course is as it traverses through dense trees but plays with more width than appears to the eye. That terrain is highlighted by large granite formations that add drama and memorability to the layout. While going into a MacDonald or Raynor design you expect to find template holes, Banks' name isn't known as well for that but delivers a quartet of template one-shotters with Short, Biarritz, Redan, and Eden spaced throughout the layout. While many courses are designed to let the back nine be the superior grouping of holes, at Whippoorwill it is the front where players will be dazzled with the terrain, hole designs, and dynamic layout. The course isn't long by today's standards which is perhaps why Winged Foot and Quaker Ridge in Westchester County get more hype than Whippoorwill, but the terrain and memorability at Whippoorwill is significantly better. That hilly terrain will put most players in carts, but you will find some out there walking. If Whippoorwill wasn't in New York I feel like it would have more of a cult following, but this unique track seems to get overshadowed a bit due to its neighbors.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 18th Hole – 437 Yard Par 4 – The closing hole at Whippoorwill is a memorable offering accented by a towering flag pole flying the American flag between the green and clubhouse. The tee shot plays downhill to a meandering fairway with a bunker in the driving zone on the left side. The approach shot is where things get interesting with the green sitting 25 feet above the low spot in the fairway and is protected by two long, skinny bunkers that flank each side of the putting surface that is blind from the golfer's view. The anticipation of seeing how close your ball ends up to the flag while walking up to the green is an exciting way to bring a round to close.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 196 Yards – A Biarritz-style green awaits on the par three 8th and plays just as fun as it looks. Tipping out just under 200 yards, this one-shotter boasts a 70 yard long green with two bunkers on each side and water in back, so the putting surface is the only safe place to park your ball with your tee shot. While some Biarritz greens don't use the swell in the center as a location to place the pin, you can count on Whippoorwill to utilize it which can lend to utilizing plenty of creativity with your second shot to get it close to the hole. This hole is nothing short of pure fun and a wonderful design that throws back to yesteryear.
Best Par 4: 5th Hole – 455 Yards – Whippoorwill features a flat out stellar front nine and midway through it players get to enjoy this high quality two-shotter. The tee shot plays 30 feet downhill to a blind fairway that begins bending to the right. A bunker sits on the right side of the driving zone between the fairway and the tree line which makes the left side more enticing, but the tree line is thick on that side and moves to the right into the player's view. The fairway continues to slope down towards the green which all but guarantees a downhill lie to a raised greensite with a bunker short left and another midway right. Once you get to the green you'll find subtle contours that make this one of the most difficult putting surfaces to navigate, so you need every aspect of your game to conquer the 5th hole and to carry momentum into the rest of the front nine.
Best Par 5: 6th Hole – 538 Yards – The 6th hole is a roller coaster ride and perhaps the most memorable hole on the golf course. The tee shot plays uphill to a blind fairway where favoring the left side will yield the best result and help you avoid the two bunkers on the right. Upon cresting the hill in the fairway, players are greeted with a long downhill shot that descends 60 feet to a green with a bunker on the left. The thumbprint in the middle of the green allows for some creative pin positions and short game shots to be executed, so hopefully you are dialed in from start to finish.
Birdie Time: 13th Hole – 340 Yard Par 4 – The elevated tee on the 13th should increase confidence of players as they unleash on their driver on this short par four. If you are worried about finding one of the five bunkers short of the green or one of the three surrounding it, then laying up short of the trouble will still just leave you a wedge shot into the putting surface where you can go flag hunting. The approach shot plays slightly uphill which will help you stop your ball sooner, so trust your rangefinder and play it a couple of yards to hit it close.
Bogey Beware: 7th Hole – 425 Yard Par 4 – The most awkward hole to navigate at Whippoorwill is the 7th which is not only difficult to execute the correct shots on, but it also plays quite a bit longer than the yardage on the card indicates. The tee shot must carry a pond, the one which Charles "Steam Shovel" Banks reportedly lost his steam shovel while constructing the hole, and attempt to find the most challenging fairway to hit on the course. A driver straight away will be too much club and will find the tree line on the right while staying too far left will bring the opposite tree line into play. A baby draw around the corner with something less than driver is the ideal play before facing an uphill approach that climbs nearly 50 feet to the punchbowl green; a feature that is the only reprieve on this hole. Coming up short of the putting surface will result in balls rolling back down the fairway where players will put their half-wedge game to the test in an effort to minimize the damage. Whippoorwill gets tough on hole 5, but it reaches its ultimate test here at 7.