Classic Course: Siwanoy Country Club

Most serious golfers know that Prestwick hosted the first Open Championship, Newport the first U.S. Open, and Augusta National the first (and all subsequent) Masters. But they probably can’t tell you where the first PGA Championship took place more than 100 years ago. The answer: Siwanoy Country Club, a rolling Donald Ross design less than 20 miles north of midtown Manhattan.

After a three-year restoration by Mike DeVries that included tree removal, green expansion, and reshaping/relocating bunkers, the course is close to how it was when Jim Barnes beat Jock Hutchison 1-up in 1916 after Hutchison missed a five-foot putt on the final hole. Given the fast, sloping greens—Siwanoy’s main defense—that’s easily done.

“You can’t get above the hole on the greens,” says head pro Grant Turner. “It’s a real thinking man’s course: It doesn’t look hard, but it is.”

Take the 452-yard 2nd, a gentle left-to-right dogleg with a fairway that slopes hard in the same direction and leaves an uphill approach to a two-tiered green. A prominent rock outcropping by the green is typical of the course’s topography, as are the brooks and fescue that add to the course’s character.

Shorter holes provide some respite in the middle of the round before the testing final third, which starts with a long, uphill par three featuring a huge ridge in the middle of the green. The home stretch continues with three difficult par fours—on the 477-yard 15th players drive over a valley to a crowned fairway—and the par-five finish, where a creek complicates the layup and everything from eagle to “other” is possible.