Saxon Woods Golf Course – Scarsdale, New York Guru's Rating: 5.2
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $63
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.