Saxon Woods Golf Course – Scarsdale, New York Guru's Rating: 5.2

Guru’s Rating: 5.2
SAXON WOODS 4-1-1
315 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale, NY ViewMap »
Phone: (914) 231-3461
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $63
Driving Range? Yes

I’m not gonna go all Sarah McLachlan on you, but Saxon Woods means a lot to me. I grew up just five minutes from the course, spending my childhood summers swimming in the Scarsdale Pool next door, playing tennis and baseball at neighboring Crossway Field, and shuttling across Mamaroneck Avenue on my bike towards the Five Corners. The wooded area along the fourth hole? That’s where our friend’s Dad (who shall go nameless), would scour for golf balls in his free time. Our buddy had buckets and buckets of balls – all collected from that spot – in his garage. Of course, Saxon Woods was also the first golf course my friends and I ever set foot on when we discovered the game. Being teenage idiots, we would tee up our drives on the eighteenth hole – but instead of squaring ourselves to the fairway, we’d aim towards the trees on the left – and then fire over the tops of those trees at cars rushing by on the Hutchinson River Parkway. Like I said, we were young and stupid. Now that I’m older and wiser I’m above such stunts – but not willing to let sentimental value get in the way of an honest review. And the reality is, while Saxon Woods has some charming golf holes, a round there features too many annoyances to warrant a recommendation.

Weekend rounds drag out five and-a-half to six hours (thirty minute backups on the first tee), an ill-placed driving range sprays balls all over the tenth fairway (and since it AIMS at the tenth tee, can be quite dangerous), and the staff is often unpleasant and unhelpful. I swear we overheard a group checking in for a 12:52 tee-time followed by another group with a 12:53 tee-time. Guess you can’t knock them for being inefficient. Overall, the takeaway is that the facility is the antithesis of a well-oiled machine: you’ll have to deal with a lot of BS to get through your round.

Usually playing just 6200 yards from the tips (the third hole alternates between a par 3/4), Saxon Woods offers a medium level challenge in the form of precision golf: this a course for the sniper rather than the bomber. For the most part, Saxon Woods is flat and your driver will stay holstered in your bag (I counted just five total holes that I used the big stick last week). The key here is placing your tee shot at the proper spot amongst Saxon’s bevy of doglegs. It can be fun, but with such poorly managed flow on the weekends, it’s probably not worth your time and money.

If you’re still determined to play Saxon on Saturday or Sunday, at least heed this advice: check the weather forecast. This course retains more water than a pregnant woman after a salty food binge. A new drainage system was supposedly installed in the summer of 2010, but I’m convinced that the aforementioned Scarsdale Pool has less standing water than Saxon Woods after a rain storm.

Most Memorable Hole: Once you get out into the meat of the course, you’ll discover pretty areas and scenery amidst the deep woods. Lots of elevation changes make for some interesting decisions and calculations. The gorgeous par-3 16th hole plays 162 from the tips – but that’s not factoring in a steep drop to a tiny green fronted by a creek.

Most Challenging Hole:  #5 and it’s not even close. Where do you even hit your tee-shot on this elevated 430 yard par-4, which doglegs to the right? If you’re not far enough left, you won’t be able to see the green on your approach, but the left side also features a sloping hill and snarling rough. The fairway narrows out at exactly the spot you need to be. And the green is comically sloped and should probably have a large clown’s mouth protecting the hole. Be happy with a bogey here.

The Bottom Line: If you’re willing to play Saxon at 6AM on a sunny Tuesday, by all means, have at it. The course is not overly challenging, but fun enough. On weekends, especially when it rains, however: avoid.

Guru’s Tip: Saxon Grill, the course’s 19th hole, is a solid restaurant with a nice patio that features an outdoor, flat screen TV. The burgers and sandwiches (try the “Ragin’ Cajun'”) are all excellent. Make sure you stock up before you head out though because the halfway house (located between holes seven and eight) has scant offerings and often runs out of sandwiches by the afternoon.

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7 Responses to “Saxon Woods Golf Course – Scarsdale, New York Guru's Rating: 5.2

  1. Tom W says:

    Saxon is my home course, where I regularly play with one (sometimes) two partners who know it well. In general, it’s an above-average muni and should be reviewed as such. Certainly, it’s the best of the county-owned courses.

    I’d quibble with your review in these regards:

    – It’s unfair to review Saxon (though you know it well from the old days) on a weather-challenged weekend day. The course is best played very early on a weekday. But all muni’s are horrible on weekends, so it’s almost an irrelevant factor. Go back for a 6:30 am tee time on any Mon-Thu. We always play in 3.5 hours – walking.

    – The driving range crosses the 10th hole just in front of the tee box and before the fairway. It doesn’t aim at the 18th hole! Still, it can be dangerous if some doofus is bombing driver when you’re walking to the 12th tee…they should restrict woods.

    – The staff is as friendly as they come at a public course where there’s no real tipping. The guys do a good job and it’s a lot friendlier than – say – Maple Moor or Dunwoodie.

    – In general, courses like this are best reviewed without a cart. They don’t do club-style cart golf experience well. It’s a walking course, and a good one.

    – There are elements of classic Westchester-style hole layouts at Saxon that you should have mentioned – elements you won’t find at Maple Moor. The classic Tillinghast false fronts remain on many holes. (It’s not confirmed he designed – but long accepted by local historians). The rolling terrain, doglegs, sidehill lies and hommacks, a few killer tiered greens (yes, no. 5), and the occasional deep greenside traps – all whisper of Westchester, Wykagyl, and Winged Foot. Notice I say whisper! It’s still a county course with the typical issues. And it’s a lot shorter. But you’ll recognize some of the shots (I do). Saxon fits the county’s best-in-nation golf history better than any of the other layouts.

    – Of all the Westchester publinx loops, this one’s in the best shape the last couple of years. They pay a lot of attention to the landscape, the plantings are nice, and the place is also a bird sanctuary.

    – Yeah, the grill is the best of the county courses too.

    Anyway, Saxon should be closer to 6 in your rating system – which is great, btw (except for its bias toward cart golf and length). Enjoy the site!

    • GideonCohen says:

      Hi Tom-

      This is a fantastic post – well-written and thought out. I really appreciate your perspective, but respectfully disagree with you on a few points:

      1) In my humble opinion, both Hudson Hills and Mohansic are significantly better Westchester County owned golf courses than Saxon Woods. Hudson Hills is competently managed by Billy Casper Golf and an absolutely gorgeous facility. And I think Mohansic is simply a more interesting, prettier golf course than Saxon.

      2) Saxon Woods has the biggest sample size of any golf course I’ve reviewed (I’ve played it probably 20 times) – and I think it’s extremely relevant how the course is able to handle inclement weather. The last five or so rounds I’ve played at Saxon have been marred by poor conditions due to rain. I can safely say that my friends and I factor this in when planning a round there. For people reading this site and wanting to know whether or not they should play a course, this could be a beneficial nugget of information and could save time and money.

      3) While it’s ideal to play a course at 630AM on a weekday, the reality is most of us simply can’t. There’s a reason why courses are jam packed on the weekends. This site has an eye towards the weekend golfer. While most munis are, as you say, awfully slow on weekends, I’ve found a bunch that you can play in 4-4.5 hours on Saturdays and Sundays (Richter Park, Rutgers, Sterling Farms, Gaynor Brennan, Galloping Hill just to name a few).

      4) You are absolutely correct on the driving range – it’s the TENTH hole, not eighteen! I appreciate you pointing that out and I’ve made the change.

      5) Very cool history of Saxon layout – was not aware – thanks for sharing.

      Obviously my reviews are all 100% subjective – these are my experiences and I love it when others share theirs. I truly appreciate your support – keep reading and contributing!

      All the best,
      Gideon

    • Tillinghast’s involvement with Saxon Woods is a bit more than just a rumor, although questions remain. I wrote about it in 2008: http://davedonelsonteetogreen.blogspot.com/2008/05/tillinghast-at-saxon-woods.html

  2. Hammer says:

    Tom,
    Interesting rebuttal. I certainly will look at Saxon Woods a bit differently next time I play the course as I agreed with the Guru for the most part.

    Regardless of the weather every time I have played Saxon over the years there has been pooling water on the course. When I last played a few weeks ago I thought the course was in good shape except for the water.

  3. Ryan says:

    This just a short fun course to play. Memorable holes. But it just like any other Westchester County course (besides hudson) it is slooooooooooooow and not in great shape.

  4. Jason says:

    I agree with Gideon. Mohansic is by far a more scenic and enriching golf experience. Though the wooded areas at Saxon are great, the mountain views at Mohansic are breathing taking and make you forget that you are playing at a Muni. Additionally, the greens are typically in better shape. I travel into Westchester from NYC and have no issue driving an additional 30+ minutes north (from Saxon) to Mohansic. Furthermore, I believe the pace of play tends to be notably better. On a final note, hands down, Mohansic is the best course for Fall golf considering the beautiful foliage and elevated vistas. I have never been disappointed.


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