There are a million reasons why you’d visit the Big Apple. But let’s be honest, going on a golfing trip is unlikely to be one of them. Yet there are some outstanding public golf courses around New York City, which we’ll look at below.
Clearly, central Manhattan and its surrounding areas are so densely built up. Therefore most of these courses are anything from half an hour’s drive to over an hour from downtown.
Yet this collection of public golf courses can easily stand toe-to-toe with any other city in the U.S. Just like those based on Long Island, which is located to the west of Manhattan and has a large number of top class public courses.
See also: What are the best public golf courses on Long Island?
But for now, let’s look at the best around New York City.
The best public golf courses in New York City
|1||Bethpage State Park, Black Course|
|2||Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point|
|3||Bethpage State Park, Red Course|
|4||Patriot Hills Golf Club|
|5||Marine Park Golf Course|
|6||Pelham Bay Golf Club|
|Groups||Marine Park Golf Course|
|Value for money||Bethpage State Park, Red Course|
|Clubhouse||Bethpage State Park, Black Course|
|Views||Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point|
1. Bethpage State Park, Black Course
So we kick off this list of best public golf courses in New York City, with the outrageously tough Black course at Bethpage State Park.
Located on Long Island to the east of New York City, the Black course at Bethpage is an icon in golfing circles. For starters it was the first public golf course to host a U.S. Open, the first of which was in 2002.
Since then it has only continued to be put on the map with other major events being held here. Amongst others this also includes the 2009 U.S. Open, the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup.
Bethpage State Park is quite an extraordinary story. It originally started life as Lennox Hills Country Club until it was acquired in the 1930s by the Bethpage Park Authority. They had a vision to develop this into a huge publicly accessible golfing facility.
The immensely talented A.W.Tillinghast was called upon to design three new golf courses. Whilst at the same time, the old Lennox Hills course was to be completely renovated. This led to the creation of the Black, Red and Blue courses, with Lennox Hills becoming the Green. Some time later, the Yellow course was also added.
Yet it is the Black course which continues to get the plaudits, and rightly so. But this is not for the faint-hearted. On the first tee there is a sign which reads;
WARNING: The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers
Extremely penal, wrist-breaking rough, tight fairways, small well-protected greens…you’ve been warned.
2. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point
Regardless of your political standing, there is one thing we can agree on. And that is Donald Trump has a fantastic portfolio of golf courses.
Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point is right up there as one of his finest. And best of all, it’s open to the public.
The club is located up towards the Bronx in the Throgs Neck neighborhood. Just next to Interstate 678, the plot overlooks the East River and has stunning views out towards the Manhattan skyline.
With much fanfare, the course came to life in 2015. What was previously a landfill site was transformed into this 220 acre ‘links style’ layout.
The brains behind the design were Jack Nicklaus and John Sandford. This really was a blank canvas, with very few existing features influencing their choice of routing.
The result is this superb links-style course, with huge artificial sand dunes, pot bunkers and long wispy rough. For a second you may think you’re in the British Isles, that is until you spot the imposing Whitestone Bridge and Manhattan high-rises.
As to be expected with a Trump course, you’ll pay a heavy green fee to play here. But boy is it worth it.
3. Bethpage State Park, Red Course
It’s not just the Black Course at Bethpage worth celebrating. The Red is up there as a fine layout and without doubt one of the best public golf courses in New York City.
On one hand, you kind of feel for the Red Course. If its sibling wasn’t the iconic Black Course, it may be even more highly appreciated. But then on the other hand, having these two courses is better than just the one!
The Red Course was another A.W.Tillinghast creation, coming to life in the mid 1930s. Aside from the Black, the Red is considered to be the toughest of the remaining courses. It has some long par 4s with tree-lined narrow dog-legs and some challenging hikes across a number of wind-swept holes.
Even on the first hole, you stand there looking up the climbing fairway which stretches off into the distance to some unseen green. Alongside the fairways is thick rough you’ll desperately want to avoid. Many have questioned why the Red doesn’t also have a warning sign.
Either way, this is a fantastic golf course. The early undulating tree-lined holes are followed by open plains where you’ll not know where to aim. But it is these holes where the scorecard can really start to look messy.
You may consider 36-holes at Bethpage, playing the Black and the Red in one day. But let me assure you, unless you are a very skilled golfer or just a sucker for punishment, I’d split it over two days and enjoy a lunch and beer in the clubhouse after the first round.
4. Patriot Hills Golf Club
Up towards Harriman State Park in Stony Point, an hour’s drive from central Manhattan, is the wonderful Patriot Hills Golf Club. The club occupies an elevated plot overlooking the snaking Hudson River.
The course is relatively new, having come to life in 2003 and was designed by talented Rick Jacobsen. Jacobsen has designed many great courses nationwide and Patriot Hills is yet another fine accomplishment.
What is immediately apparent is the mountainous terrain. The course is routed across expansive rolling hills with some dramatic elevation changes. This includes a number of intimidating elevated tee boxes. There are also a number of uphill approach shots.
And although I’m an advocate for walking courses, don’t even think about it here. Yes it’s just over 6,800 yards, but the incessant ups and downs make it just that bit challenging.
But it’s not all about the challenging terrain. Patriot Hills is in fantastic condition. The fairways are crisp and the greens tricky. You can’t help but feel you’re playing a private course.
This probably also explains why it is constantly ranked as one of the top public golf courses near New York City.
5. Marine Park Golf Course
Down on the south side of Brooklyn, overlooking Mau Mau Island, is the understated Marine Park Golf Course. This is a stunning location, so close to downtown New York City being just a 40 minute drive. The views are quite sensational.
The club has been around for many years, probably no surprise occupying such a prime spot of real estate. It opened its doors in 1964 with the course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr.
The land is relatively flat which is why a links style design works so well here. To keep up the links character, it may not come as a surprise that prevailing winds can be a real nuisance.
Generally the fairways are wide and forgiving. But stray too far from the landing zone and tricky bunkers and clumps of long wispy rough lie in wait.
Marine Park is consistently ranked as one of the best public golf courses in New York City. Regardless of the review platform you’re on, it consistently gets good ratings.
Hidden away on the south side of Brooklyn, I couldn’t recommend it more, especially with midweek twilight tee times around the $30 mark.
6. Pelham Bay Golf Club
The last public golf course in New York City to make this esteemed list, is Pelham Bay Golf Course. This really was a tough one as there are some other great public courses in the area.
For example, also in the Bronx, the oldest public golf course in the US, Van Cortlandt. A stone’s throw away from Van Cortlandt is arguably the best 9-hole layout in New York, Mosholu Golf Course, recently renovated and great fun.
On Long Island there are so many to choose from including Clearview Park Golf Course, Dyker Beach, La Tourette, Silver Lake….the list goes on.
And I haven’t even included Pelham Bay’s sister course, the superb Split Rock.
But I’ve opted with Pelham Bay as I feel alongside Split Rock, these are two of the finest public golf options close to the city.
Both are located on the east side of the Bronx in an area of tidal marshlands. But Pelham Bay just has a bit more character and is more fun to play. Split Rock, excuse the pun, splits opinion. Despite being a great layout, some find it just a bit too challenging. Whereas Pelham Bay allows you to pull out the driver and let rip.
The setting is serene. Grand trees with dense foliage line fairways, albeit not too closely. You really don’t feel like you’re close to one of the busiest cities in the country. Tiered greens and deep bunkers also keep things interesting.
Pelham Bay measures just shy of 6,500 yards off the Back tees, and assuming it isn’t too busy, you can get round in a reasonable time. Accessible from most boroughs, you can understand why this is one of the most sought after public golf offerings in New York City.
What is the best public golf course in New York City?
The best public golf course in New York City is the Black Course at Bethpage State Park Golf. It was designed by A.W. Tillinghast, and opened for play in 1935. In recent years it has been chosen to host some of golf’s most high-profile tournaments, including the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.