The May 26 grand opening ceremony for Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point concluded with Ivanka Trump hitting a tee shot at the 18th—high heels and all. What better way to help inaugurate the Trump brand’s newest course, the first built in the City since Marine Park in 1964? Actually, the public has been able to play since April 1, but this long-awaited day had various politicos, course architect Jack Nicklaus and Donald Trump himself on hand to celebrate. We, on the other hand, were more interested in checking out the lay of the land. Let’s take a look.
The course occupies the eastern part of Ferry Point Park, an area commandeered by the City during the construction of the Whitestone Bridge in the late 1930s and eventually used as landfill. The links-style holes—treeless, with low-lying mounds, fescue that will continue to grow taller and plenty of central fairway bunkers—present a good challenge for the casual golfer. Nicklaus calls it a “shell” of what it would be if it hosted, say, one of the major championships that course proprietors are aiming to attract (the Barclays PGA tournament is already on the docket for 2017 and 2020).
There’s an overall openness to the course, with plenty of room to go a bit off-target while still maintaining the ability to attack the greens. Dunes run along the sides of nearly every hole, and a number of the obstacles along the way seem designed to mess with your mind—the hillock on hole 13, say, dead center in the fairway. The greens run smooth and quick, with relatively little break; as you might imagine for a new course, they are in immaculate shape.
5 Things to Know
It’s the longest course in New York City.
That designation was formerly held by Marine Park, at around 7,000 yards, but if you play from the back tees at Trump Links, you’ll confront 7,407 yards of undulating fairways and sometimes elevated greens. There’s also wind coming off the East River with very little to block it, which can add a club or two’s length to what you might normally choose for certain holes.
The carts are equipped with touch-screen computers that have GPS, and will let you know when you’ve strayed too close to the native rough or the greens.
We won’t say we learned the hard way that this can shut down the cart … but there may have been a minor Fred Flintstone moment on one hole. In any event, having access to an automated scorecard, distances from the pin and a food-ordering service thanks to your cart’s computer helps make it feel more like a private club than a public course.
There is only one substantial body of water on the course.
It runs alongside the par-4 hole No. 7, and if you’re playing it smart there’s no particular reason it should affect your shot—but hey, it might (OK, yes, it did). It’s a short hole, just under 300 yards and driveable for top-level players but more safely a nice iron shot laying up well short of the bunkers fronting the green. The only other water in sight (save the East River) is in the form of a couple of small marshes, including those that skirt the 16th and 17th holes—where birds seem to congregate.
Hole No. 18 is a worthy finisher.
A lengthy par 5, it has a narrowish landing area for your drive and a lovely waterscape as you walk along, framed by the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. The hole that ends the front nine, a 400-yard par 4 that doglegs slightly to the left as it hones in on the Whitestone, makes a fine concluding companion.
The sights and sounds make you feel both a part of the City and very removed from it.
It’s not just the view of the bridges that tether you to the urban landscape; it’s the hum of traffic, the distant vista of the Empire State Building from a hole or two on the front nine and St. Raymond’s Cemetery, running next to Nos. 4 and 6. But the course itself is such a striking departure in looks, not just from its surroundings but from other City courses, that you’ll be excused for wondering if you’re still in NYC.
How to Get There
Let’s face it: you’ll be driving. That said, you’ve got fairly direct options from Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to get to the course—the Bruckner, the Grand Central, the Van Wyck—and the southern approach shot, if you will, crossing the Whitestone from Queens, is an eye-catching option, the course unfolding to the right and “TRUMP LINKS” emblazoned on the side of a hill.
A temporary structure serves as the current clubhouse (the permanent one is due in 2016), with a bar and grill in back; golf clubs are available for rent from the pro shop. The practice area holds a pitching and driving range filled with sand traps, good preparation for what you’ll be facing. Tee times can be reserved at trumpferrypoint.com and, during the summer at least, are available until around 6pm. Costs depend on playing time and resident status, but can range from $98 (resident, weekday twilight) to $215 (nonresident, weekend prime time). Tee-offs are scheduled every 10 minutes, rather than a more typical 7–8. That bit of extra breathing room will come in handy when you catch yourself gazing out at the skyline (or searching for your ball in the rough).
For more on golf in the City, read our course roundup right here.