Golf in Your Backyard

Van Cortlandt Lake Golf Course

As all of us hope that things will slowly get better with COVID-19, we need to start planning where we’ll go. Love golf? Pebble Beach, Augusta, even some of Jack Nicklaus’ gems can’t compare to the glory of playing at Van Cortlandt Golf Course, the oldest public links in the United States… and it’s in The Bronx.

Each of New York City’s five boroughs has some offering of golf; most are now managed by private companies. Not surprisingly, only Manhattan is without a real golf course (you can go to Chelsea Piers or Randall’s Island to find a driving range, but the outer boroughs have the real deal – fifteen courses in all). If you have a few hours to experience a marvelous round of golf, then don’t hesitate.

Take the #1 train to its northern terminus, walk east across Van Cortlandt Park, and you’ll arrive at the newly-renovated clubhouse perched on the shores of Van Cortlandt Lake (the largest fresh-water lake in the Bronx). In the summer months, geese, ducks, and an occasional swan will be drifting in the calm waters. In the winter, ice skating is a common pastime. Year round it is a beautiful setting.

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The 18-hole course was opened in 1895 when The Bronx was wilderness, Grover Cleveland was our president, and few people in this country knew anything about golf. It has survived these 110+ years because of its beauty and challenging nature. In recent years, some of the shorter holes have become easy prey for anyone using high-powered golf clubs, but there are two 600-yard holes, lots of well-placed water and trees, and an unusual final four holes that are so hilly, you’ll think you’re playing in Switzerland. Did I mention forests of mature oaks, beech and maples lining the fairways? Greens fees are typical for public courses (around $30, higher on weekends, only $16 for seniors 62 and older). Lessons are available. And the course is open year round, weather permitting.

How to get there: Take the 1 train to 242nd Street Station, and proceed north along the east side of Broadway, until you reach 246th Street and turn right onto a wide path. You’ll see the park’s House Museum built in 1748 where George Washington once slept – open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Head east continuing along a service road, which should soon lead you to the historic clubhouse on the lake where you can check in, buy golf balls, and get a bite to eat in the café.

(Van Cortlandt Park South and Bailey Ave., Bronx, 718.543.4595, Reserve your tee time online now!)