Eastern New York Twosome: Tall Grass & Union Vale
Gil Hanse and Stephen Kay had enough time to establish themselves as legitimate golf course architects before the collapse of the Roman, errr, American economy. They each developed a body of work that keeps some new and mostly rennovative work coming their way through the lean times. Both archies have the diversity necessary to work with varied pieces of property, including the skill required to build something not so common in these United States: fast and firm.
Hanse put together a course at the end of the last millennium, called Tall Grass, in Shoreham, New York. It’s about 45 minutes north-east of Farmingdale, where the Mecca of US municipal golf (Bethpage state park) sits. Tall Grass avails itself enough of a sandy piece of land and the winds that come off Long Island sound to recreate the conditions found in links golf. On the first approach shot, I announced to my golfing partner that I would not play one approach shot to the flag in the air all day; instead, I would smash them short and low, allowing them to bound up toward (and sometimes onto) the putting surface. Incredulous, he watched me do so for a few holes, then joined me (to his delight) in the endeavor.
The following day, we found ourselves north of Da’ City, near Poughkeepsie. Humorously what the citizens of Gotham like to call “upstate” (if they only knew!), we were more in farm country than links land…until we arrive at Union Vale. There, Stephen Kay, urged on by a conjoined collection of Irishmen, developed The Links At Union Vale in the hamlet of Lagrangeville (which, if my French is correct, means “the farm ville.") TLUV plays as an Irish links should, fast and firm while offering the occasional view of an inland body of water, some hills and hollows and (if the locals are to be believed) twin white silos and a fountain. But I digress…Union Vale is an amazing discovery for anyone used to playing the usual courses (James Braid, Carvel) up and down the Taconic.
For my money, if you chained me to either one for my remaining days, I’d die with a massive smile on my face.
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