Centennial Golf Club – Carmel, New York Guru's Rating: 8.5
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (w/cart): $135
There are few public golf facilities in the Tri-State Area that can compete with the overall golfing experience that Centennial Golf Club provides. From the enormous practice facility, equipped with a grass driving range, multiple putting greens, and a chipping area, to the twenty-seven unique, interesting, and well-maintained holes on the property, Centennial is a treat to play.
The course is divided into three separate 9-hole courses: Lakes, Meadows, and Fairways. The layout is the brainchild of three-time Major Winner Larry Nelson – and interestingly Nelson’s only design in the Northeast. Nelson supposedly fell in love with the property and it’s easy to see why.
As you stand on the first tee of Lakes, a par-5 that winds around two ponds, the rationale behind the naming of my favorite nine at Centennial becomes clear. From there, you will be treated to dramatic elevation changes, plenty more water, and two spectacular par-3’s that are equally deserving of being the course’s signature hole. The theme of dramatic elevation changes continues on the Meadows Nine, which is as visually spectacular as Lakes. A drivable par-4 and reachable par-5 tame what is otherwise a very difficult, yet fun nine holes of golf.
Last, and perhaps unfairly least, is the Fairways 9. On its own, Fairways is a very scenic and enjoyable layout; however, after playing Lakes and Meadows, you will likely come to the conclusion that this nine is the odd man out. As is inherent in the name, Fairways is a much more open layout, with numerous holes running along side of each other. Still, it is the most removed of the three nines and has a more simple character of its own.
Perhaps the one downside to Centennial is the price. To play during prime weekend hours, you will have to splash $135. Even though you will be getting immaculate course conditions, along with a cart and range balls (included in the fee), for many, the price is simply too steep. With courses like Richter Park and the Crystal Springs resort approximately the same distance from New York City, and often half the price, you may choose to save money and skip Centennial for your weekend round. However, if you have time during the week, Monday through Friday Centennial does offer some deals. For example, on weekdays, Centennial offers an early bird special of $65 before 9am. At this more reasonable price, the Centennial experience is tough to beat. If, like most of us, you don’t have weekday mornings free, then Centennial may not be a place to choose to play regularly. However, it is a course worth playing once, at any cost, particularly in the fall when the foliage makes this visual masterpiece Westchester’s public golf mecca (editors note: while technically Centennial is located in Carmel in Putnam County, it’s on the border, so we’ll give it to Westchester).
Most Memorable Hole: There are a few spectacular holes at Centennial that would be worthy of this mantle, but I will have to go with the par-3 5th on the Lakes course. 175 yards from the white tees and a brutal 233 yards from the blue tees, this visually intimidating hole requires a shot over water to a massively wide but narrow green with a rock wall behind it. The huge drop from the tee box to the putting surface makes club selection key on a hole that requires the perfect yardage. However, no matter what score you card, after playing this hole, you will want to come back to try it again.
Most Challenging Hole: The most difficult hole at Centennial happens to also be one of the most beautiful holes on the property. The par-4 9th hole on the Fairways 9 provides you with a fitting way to end your day in what will likely be your final hole. Playing 415 yards from the white tees, and 445 yards from the blues, this brute of a hole requires a tee-shot down the right side to use the contours of the fairway to bring it back to the middle. Any tee shot blocked or pulled will be very difficult to retrieve with a hazard left and trees right. But the drive is nothing compared to an approach that requires a mid-to-long-iron shot over a deep ravine, off a side hill lie to a narrow green perched up amongst the trees. Leaving the hole with a bogey will leave you satisfied.
Guru’s Tip: Centennial was one of the first golf courses in our area to create its own app. Download it to your iPhone from the App Store and you can book tee-times, get hole-by-hole tips, and utilize a GPS rangefinder to give you yardage readings. Very cool innovation that can enhance your round.