Tuesday, July 29, 2008


GOLF, they say, is a rich man’s hobby. Well, it certainly is if you want to play the new public golf course in Pound Ridge on the eastern border of New York State and Connecticut.

Playing a full 18 holes at Pound Ridge Golf Club, which officially opened in July, will set you back a cool $235. The good news is that the cart is included.

Pound Ridge’s contours were carved out of the countryside by legendary golf course designer Pete Dye. Dye’s many creations across America include TPC at Sawgrass, Florida, and Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana.

I must confess, I’ve yet to play the par-72, 7,171-yard course. I can’t afford the down payment.

But having recently come out of golf retirement, I have discovered both the pleasure and frustration of playing in the Stamford CT area.

Providing you purchase a Resident Golf Permit for $30 at the start of the season, you don’t have to have pockets as deep as Tiger Woods.

If you’re willing to walk, the Green Fee is $23 at Sterling Farms and just $20 at E. Gaynor Brennan.

The problem is that these are the only two public courses serving a city with a population of around 125,000, not to mention the many who visit from the surrounding towns.

I soon discovered that if you want to play on the weekend, you need to plan in advance.

Get up early if you want to book a weekend round

The days of the Sunday night “lottery” at Sterling Farms may have gone but if you want to play at a reasonable hour on a Saturday or Sunday, you need to get up at 5am the week before to book it.

Tee time reservations can be made (by residents) up to seven days in advance via an automated telephone system, starting from 5am.

Surely, nobody in their right mind would wake up at that time to book a round of golf? Well, I did the other day…and couldn’t get through for 20 minutes.

For those requiring a little more sleep, you can book directly through the website from 6am onwards. But, by then, the most sought-after spots will have been filled.

To be fair to Sterling Farms, the course is in superb condition and is continually developing as they reinvest profits. Those profits must be pretty high judging by the number of vehicles in the car park. It’s full by 7am.

The last round I played took the best part of five hours. But as a hacker myself, perhaps I shouldn’t criticize the slow play of others. The only difference is that after two attempts, I pick up and move on to the next hole.

I’m told it’s easier to get a tee time at Brennan. Sadly, my intended debut there last Thursday was rained out.

So if you want to play golf and you live in the Stamford area, my best advice is either rise with the lark or take a day off during the week.

Failing that, you can take out a bank loan and head for the stockbroker belt in Pound Ridge. Apparently, you need plenty of balls to play there.

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