Review: Mosholu Golf Course

Course Name: Mosholu Golf Course

Designer: Unknown (1914), Stephen Kay/Doug Smith (2006, Renovation)

Location: Bronx, New York

History: Situated less than a mile from Van Cortlandt Park, Mosholu is another old municipal course that opened in 1914. It isn’t clear who designed it, but there’s talk of John Van Kleek renovating it (although I couldn’t confirm this). Soon after its opening, the course expanded to 18 holes, but today is again only 9. In the 2000s, Stephen Kay and Doug Smith renovated Mosholu and it currently serves as the headquarters for The First Tee of New York, helping local children and teenagers learn the game.

Conditions: 7/10, Besides greens that run on the slower side, Mosholu is in impressive shape considering the amount of play it gets with nice fairways, well-maintained bunkers, and thick rough.

Value: 6/10, Ranging between $25 and $35 to walk, Mosholu offers solid value for a City course. In line with its First Tee program, juniors can walk the course for $10.

Scorecard:

Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Blue                          32            2312              31.2              101

White                       32           2178              30.8             98

Red                          32           1894              29.9             91

Junior                      32           1650              29.1             93

Hole Descriptions: Many golfers know about Van Cortlandt Park and its oldest public course in America, but many do not know that there is another classic municipal course right next door that honestly gives it a run for its money. Built on a similarly hilly terrain, Mosholu opened during the same time period and is also short and tight, featuring numerous classic designs. On a hole-by-hole comparison, Mosholu is actually the better course with interesting greens, template holes, and likely a lot of good scoring opportunities. New Yorkers are lucky to have such a fun 9-hole municipal course accessible by the subway.

The opening hole is actually quite a difficult start and deserving of its number 1 handicap as a 397 yard par 4. Featuring a tight, semi-blind teeshot, this dogleg left is lined by the range and OB left and trees down the right. There’s a bunker down the right at 260 yards at the start of the dogleg and the fairway narrows to practically nothing after this point. This approach plays downhill through a tight chute to an undulating green defended by.a bunker short right. Despite being an easy course, par is a very strong score here.

There’s more danger than you can see on the 1st teeshot
The approach at 1

At just 103 yards, the 2nd hole is the shortest on the course and truly feels like an afterthought even though it is attractive. This par 3 plays a club less downhill to a long, narrow, back-to-front sloped green defended by a bunker right. There’s been discussions about adding land behind this hole and lengthening it and I hope it happens.

The dropshot par 3 2nd

The 3rd hole is a much stronger one-shotter playing downhill at 193 yards. With a deep bunker short of a diagonal, shallow green, this hole demands a well-struck long iron or wood to make par. 

The par 3 3rd

The 4th hole is a reachable par 4 at a tight 280 yards. Playing straightaway, this teeshot runs over a valley to a narrow fairway lined by trees down the right and thick forest down the left. This fairway narrows further with a bunker left at 220 yards and this large green slopes steadily back-to-front defended by another bunker to the right.

Longer hitters will be able to drive the par 4 4th

The 5th hole is a nice volcano par 3 playing uphill to an elevated green at 160 yards. Featuring a long, right-to-left sloped and severely back-to-front sloped green, three putts are common here unless you knock it close.

The par 3 5th

At 398 yards, the par 4 6th hole is the longest hole on the property and also probably the best. This straightaway hole features a tight, semi-blind teeshot lined by OB down the entire left side and sporadic trees down the right. A pair of well-placed bunkers lines the left as well beginning at 225 yards. This approach is a gorgeous one, running at least one club straight downhill to a large, back-to-front sloped green defended by marshland right. This is a very solid hole.

The par 4 6th
The excellent approach at 6

The 323 yard 7th hole features yet another semi-blind teeshot, this time running parallel to the 6th and back uphill. A very tight, tree-lined hole, golfers need to be wary of a large bunker down the right at 190 yards. This green is defended on either side by bunkers and features a central spine.

The uphill par 4 7th
The approach at 7

At just 277 yards, the 8th hole is the shortest par 4 at Mosholu and also runs downhill, making it especially tempting for longer hitters. This straightaway hole is very tight and tree-lined, making the lay-up the preferred option for many. One tall tree in particular juts into the fairway down the right at about 220 yards, obscuring a portion of the green. This green is an excellent one featuring a large right swale interrupting an otherwise back-to-front slope. Deep bunkers guard right and behind.

The par 4 8th

Mosholu ends on a par 3 but it’s a fairly memorable one in the 180 yard 9th. Playing uphill at an awkward angle, this hole features a long, narrow green with an awesome Biarritz design. In fitting fashion, Raynor-style bunkers line the green on either side. Ed Brockner, the executive director of the First Tee and Yale graduate, was involved in the renovation and no doubt had some influences from his college course.

The par 3 closer
Mosholu offers a chance for the general public to see a Biarritz

General Comments: Despite a very small property and short course, Mosholu features impressive practice facilities with a large range and practice greens to warm up on. When I was there, dozens of kids were practicing with The First Tee. Pace of play can be absolutely miserable, as this course is home to many novices.

Verdict: Relatively unknown compared to its more famous neighbor Van Cortlandt, Mosholu is a classic 9-hole municipal course that admirably serves The First Tee and offers an affordable, well-conditioned, great option for New Yorkers looking to play a quick nine. I especially recommend this course to children and beginners.

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