Westchester Golf and Country Club – Boynton Beach, Florida Guru's Rating: 7.2
Let me be clear because you may have doubts later: I like Westchester Golf and Country Club. The fairways, greens, and tee boxes are in good shape. The facility as a whole – which features a driving range and three nine-hole courses – is solid. For $63 a round, you get great value. As such, I’m giving it a strong rating and recommendation.
But then, there’s the small issue of mud. Or shall I say “quicksand.”
If I were the first idiot to get swallowed waist deep by the loose dirt that permeates the out of bounds on hole #3 of the gold course, I’d consider excising this story from my review. But according to course staff, I was number 15 or 16 – just in the last two weeks!
Yes, there are signs that say “Mud – keep out!” adorning the out of bounds on three gold. However, to the naked eye, that mud doesn’t appear to be wet or dangerous. So when I observed the lie for my errant drive – sitting in plain sight on top of some leaves – I thought I could retrieve the ball. Heck I thought I could even play it.
So, I ignored the signs and hopped into the shallow ravine. First my left leg sank – and then – as I panicked and tried to catapult myself out– my right leg became fully submerged. Flailing like a mouse in a glue trap, I managed to battle my way out, not before completely destroying my glove and my Oakley’s. Sadly, the brand new WHITE Footjoys I purchased the day before (after forgetting my good pair back in NYC), looked like Tiger’s stylish BLACK Nike’s. Except the only “style” I was wearing was “mud bath.” The last time I wore this much mud was at the Dead Sea – and that was voluntarily and made my skin feel smooth and silky. Here? Not so much.
“You look like ‘The Swamp Thing,’ ” my friends yelled, howling like a pack of hyenas. And I couldn’t blame them for laughing: I would have done the same. In fact, after the mud was generally cleaned up (three holes and two bathroom visits later), we all chuckled. But it turns out I was lucky.
After we finished our round, Westchester’s staff regaled us with stories about that notorious OB on #3. The woman who fell in last week and demanded restitution for her sullied shoes; the fire department being called in to rescue a 300-pound man by laying down plywood (while his friends taunted him and laughed hysterically); and oh yes, the gator and water moccasins that live in the vicinity.
All joking aside, while there are certainly warnings about the “mud,” they are clearly insufficient. Westchester should do something a bit more drastic to keep people out of the OB: for example, I would not have ventured in to save a $3 golf ball, if I knew I’d have to contend with “quicksand” and/or poisonous snakes – or if the area had been roped off. This is a potentially disastrous situation waiting to happen. But in the interim, I’m glad I was able to provide my friends (and others who have heard this story) with some unintentional comedy.
The Bottom Line: All this being said, as I alluded to earlier, from a golf standpoint, I am a fan of Westchester’s. The course is well-run: a starter at the driving range directs traffic and individual course ambassadors monitor start times at each of the three 9-hole layouts. Pace of play is brisk. I’ve played here twice and both times was able to reserve a tee-time of my choosing with ease, simply by calling the Pro Shop. For its very reasonable price and convenient location (about 25-30 minutes from either Boca or Palm Beach and even closer to Delray Beach), Westchester is a good choice.
Most Interesting Hole: While #3 Gold would classify as the “most adventurous hole” (especially if you miss right on your drive…see above), I do enjoy #’s 4 and 5 on Gold. On four (360 from the tips), you can either lay-up with your tee shot to the top of a hill, leaving you about 150 to the stick (with a blind second shot), or boldly go over the water on the right and try to land on a narrow fairway. #5 is a relatively short par 5 (493 tips), but you may have to tee-off with a 3 or 4-iron to place yourself properly for an approach (another narrow fairway), and to clear a large water hazard on the right. Depending on what the wind is doing, you can reach the green in two, but the hole requires a lot of thought.
Most Challenging Hole: Gold #8 is a par 3 – 188 from the tips – with a two-tiered green. This is a very difficult hole to birdie, let alone par, because of the shelved green, the intense wind, and the water hazard just in front of the green.
Guru’s Tip: Look both ways before you cross. One drawback to Westchester’s expansive layout, is that you occasionally need to drive your cart through intersections with a decent amount of traffic (from actual cars). Hit that accelerator hard. Oh yeah: and avoid the mud.