going green: 10 nyc public golf courses
by Joe Bargmann, 05/16/2012
Photo: Marley White
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A few years back, Bob Garafola, a deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, was asked to play in a golf event at Clearview Park Golf Course in Queens. Frankly, he was reluctant to do it, as he hadn't swung a club in decades. He ultimately decided to play—and ended up going two rounds that day. "Walking toward the Throgs Neck Bridge, we had these tremendously beautiful views of the Long Island Sound at sunset. It was one of the best golf experiences of my life."
The golf courses in New York's five boroughs are among the oldest and most played public layouts in the nation. It's a good thing, then, that the City has stepped up efforts in recent years to improve conditions at its golf facilities. Millions of dollars have been poured into making over tees, fairways and greens. New practice grounds have been added at some courses and several clubhouses have been upgraded to private-club standards. The money has come largely from private concessionaires, who hold leases to operate the courses and share profits with the City.
As a mark of the City's continuing commitment to the game, Garafola points to the Jack Nicklaus design for its newest golf course in the works, Ferry Point, in construction at the foot of the Whitestone Bridge in the Bronx. "The greatest player ever, with the possible exception of Tiger Woods—that's a pretty good guy to have building a golf course for you," Garafola says with a chuckle. The course doesn't have a firm opening date yet, but when it debuts it should be spectacular.
Golf in NYC, which was truly laughable 20 years ago, has become a mainstay for tens of thousands of players—and a boon to the City. "We see it as a win-win," says Garafola. "The concessionaires who run the courses have an incentive to invest in the courses—the better they are, the more play they get. The City benefits from this, too, of course, in many ways. Playing golf supports a healthy lifestyle, and it's something people of all ages can enjoy."
For more about courses in New York City, read on, and be sure to check out NYC's driving ranges. A full list of the City's public golf courses and driving ranges can be found on nyc.gov/parks.