Municipal golf courses in New York City are a diverse bunch: there are short, tight layouts; rolling links-style courses; forested hideaways and waterside diversions; places with more than a century’s worth of history and one that opened just this year. Pick your 18-hole destination from the list below.
Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course. Photo: Julienne Schaer
Pelham Bay/Split Rock Golf Course
Course description: The City’s only 36-hole public facility is located in Pelham Bay Park, in the northeastern part of the Bronx. Pelham has an expansive, links-style layout suitable for beginners, while Split Rock’s narrow fairways will challenge experienced players.
Play this when…You want to keep your options open.
Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
Course description: The City’s newest golfing destination makes the most of its setting, with holes that look out to the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges, East River and Manhattan skyline. It’s a links-style course that’s very long, with lots of bunkers, mounds and rough, plus smooth, fast greens.
Play this when…You can afford to splash out.
Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course
Course description: “Vannie” opened in 1895 as the nation’s first public golf course (and the clubhouse retains much of the old-time feel). Along with Dyker, it’s probably the easiest to access via public transit. That ease stops on the course, which although short is hilly and challenging.
Play this when…You want a bit of history with your chips and putts.
Dyker Beach Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Dyker Beach Golf Course
Course description: Right by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, this was reportedly the most played course in the world in the 1950s and '60s. Pace of play can be an issue—but the variety of holes, course layout and ease of access from the subway more than make up for it. There’s also an adjacent Junior Golf Center, which offers free instruction to City residents age 7 to 17.
Play this when…You're looking for a classic feel.
Marine Park Golf Course
Course description: This long, open course down by Jamaica Bay has received some upgrades in recent years; it already had pedigree, as it was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones back in the 1960s.
Play this when…You desire wide fairways and cool breezes.
Clearview Park Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Clearview Park Golf Course
Course description: Once an exclusive retreat for New Yorkers, Clearview Park is now the most-played 18-hole course in the City. It’s somewhat hilly, with nice views of the Throgs Neck Bridge from various holes.
Play this when…You have time to spare.
Douglaston Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Douglaston Golf Course
Course description: Located on one of the highest points in Queens, this busy, well-maintained golf course has views of Manhattan. It’s also short, measuring under 6,000 yards.
Play this when…You want to work on your iron tee shots (there are seven par-3 holes).
Forest Park Golf Course
Course description: Opened in 1901, this golf course has undergone a few big renovations and is in the midst of another revamp. It’s quite lush (it is in a forest, after all), with a number of holes that have elevation changes and a few with chasms to shoot over.
Play this when…You’re looking for a deceptive challenge.
Kissena Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Kissena Golf Course
Course description: On the shorter side by the sport’s standards, Kissena is a laid-back little course: three of the par-3s are around 120 yards, just a wedge shot for most. The greens are well conditioned.
Play this when…Your main goal is fun.
La Tourette Golf Course
Course description: Home to the NYC Amateur Championships, this course rolls across hills and valleys overlooking historic Richmond Town. It’s a great location to develop and refine your golfing skills, and it's open (weather permitting) year-round.
Play this when…You’re searching for a country-club-type experience on a public course.
Silver Lake Golf Course. Photo: Marley White
Silver Lake Golf Course
Course description: The tight layout tests golfers’ accuracy and shot-making abilities, but it’s a fun course for players of all skill levels.
Play this when…You especially look forward to the 19th hole (at the on-site Veranda restaurant).
South Shore Golf Course
Course description: Set amid rolling hills, this former country club course is one of the best-looking kids in the class. But it’s more than just looks: players need length off the tee and precision play as they approach the small greens.
Play this when…You want to get far from the City’s hustle and bustle (the island getaway is, in a metaphorical sense, a par-5 away from Manhattan).