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  1. Thought I would say a bit about my home course for the past 35+ years. The YGC is a classic design, the handywork of CB Macdonald, Seth Raynor and Charlie Banks, though Macdonald is usually given most of the credit for it. I have played nearly all of the courses attributed to Macdonald, including National Golf Links, Piping Rock, Mid Ocean, St. Louis CC and more. As far as layout goes, only the National is Yale's equal, and the National bests YGC on other dimensions, including naturalness, and captivating beauty. Routing is not Macdonald's greatest forte, but Yale is an exception. Yale is also a more intimidating and rugged layout. Many golf courses are eminently forgettable; few are memorable. Of the memorable ones, few are memorable because the holes taken in groupings of 3 make incredible sense, not just individually but in relationship to one another; and their is a continuity among the holes overall that is nearly unequaled in my experience -- which is substantial but by no means the equal of many others on this or other forums. Many modern masterpieces are like playing golf constructed out of a series of holes designed to grace calendars, not to make a lasting impression on a golfer. The topography of the course is one of its strongest attributes. It is very hilly, but not artificially so. There is a balance between the up and downhill holes, just as there is between those that play into the prevailing winds and those that play with it. There is a spring wind and a summer wind and they differ. From the black tees the course plays close to 6800 yards, but it is nearly impossible to play at that length because unless you know where to find the real tee on #18, you will not be able to play the hole to its distance of 621 yds. The par is 70. When I first began playing the course as a student many years ago, the course was poorly maintained which made it penalizing beyond what was acceptable. The rough was deep and unkempt; the bunkers guarding the greens unplayable and worse the steep slopes of rough between green and bunkers -- which are in some cases 10=15 yards below green level -- absolutely unbearable. A wayward iron that falls a bit short and to the left of the second hole for example would land between the green and bunker, never trickle into the bunker and would be unlikely to be found. I had grown up playing Bethpage Black in tournaments and it was also poorly maintained. It's a tougher track but considerably less enjoyable and strategic. It's a brute. Bethpage reflects only some of the Tilinghast DNA -- to my mind his courses with the exception of Quaker Ridge are very 'manly'- Bethpage is decidedly so. Macdonald's courses have a feminine dimension; they are seductive and much be approached with care. It has taken many years for the groundskeeping at Yale to allow the course to reflect this feature. The highlight holes for me in order of seductiveness are the 10th, 8th, 12th, 17th, 4th. The signature hole is the Biarritz 9th. I think the hole is uneven in that if the pin is on back center or back right it is a great and very difficult hole. It is a very good hole with the pin front right, but other pin placements reduce the interest of the hole. The 13th is the Redan and it has been mistakenly redesigned adding a stretch of green in the front that goes against the Redan design. The two other par 3s are good but not great. The greens on the 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 17th are spectacularly good in design. The 1st, 2nd, 4th,14th (Knoll), 15th are very strong; the 3rd keeps the hole from being a classic; the 5th would benefit from being narrowed; the 6th would benefit from protection in front; the 16th is too large for a short par 5; and the 18th provides no challenge of interest, which makes a certain amount of sense after the long trek up and down the mountainous 600yarder. If you are not finished by the time you reach the 18th, the hole will finish you. To me it is out of character with the rest of the course. There is no fairway roll on drives; the course plays its distance. It was not designed to play this way. It was designed to play fast and to have large, fast greens, but the drainage is only adequate and makes the fairways play long and soft and the greens relatively slow. I have taken over 100 people over the years to play the course and eveyone leaves takken by the beauty, difficulty and brilliance of the design and its execution. Narrow the fairways, lengthen the rough, lengthen a few holes, add a few bunkers in strategic places, reduce play for a year to get the greens suitable for speed (for a short period of a week), and put the pins in their more difficult locations, and you have a golf course that would be a challenge for the best players in the world. Best news, as both an alum and a retired faculty member, I can help arrange for others to play the course.
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