Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tillinghast's Paramount (Dellwood) New City, NY

Hudson River Palisades - Paramount View
NEW City, no the "York" is not missing.  This very southern part of New York adjacent to that stretch of NY Thruway which runs East-West near the New Jersey border connecting the Tappan Zee to the main Thruway is not often on the list of places talked about regarding New York golf courses; the density is far less here than it is in the other areas of the Tri-State adjacent to the city itself. Close to but not on the west banks of the Hudson River (Basically directly across from Sleepy Hollow and Hudson National on the East Side) is where you'll find Paramount.  East-looking views to the Palisades crest-line of the nearby peaks makes up the simple new logo for the club.  Once standing on the green of the rather unusual and perhaps unique first hole,  looking back to the east, a wonderful view of the ridgeline and the magnificent basalt columns appears.  There is a lovely piece of land for the golf course split by a roadway that is truly in play and this high land comprises most of the first nine.  The higher land is fortunately encountered first and one marvels in the challenging land Old Dead Guy Architects of quality used to lay out golf courses in a time when a powered golf car was not even an option.  Tillinghast has laid a course on a steep piece of land elsewhere - most notably just a short drive down the Palisades to Alpine, but this first hole at Paramount is more vexing than the tenth at Alpine, but perhaps less accommodating, I offer that it depends on your particular skill set.  Tillinghast used less distinctly template designs but had them nonetheless and most importantly the 18th hole is a rather good and perhaps unique rendition of his "Reef" hole as featured in the Tillinghast writings. Once down from the high ground after the sixth green, the remainder of the course is laid beautifully on voluptuously rolling lands east of the centrally located clubhouse.

Last Monday we had a number of Tillinghast luminaries playing including Bob Trebus and Rick Wolffe, perhaps the two men most responsible for creating the great Tillinghast literature that we have available to us at a celebration of Paramount.  The occasion was the club's introduction to the Metropolitan Golf Writer's Association of this (last of the?) true hidden gem(s).  Originally a personal course, it was constructed on a property comprising over 800 acres.  The routing is however tight and central in the routing is the original estate main house as the clubhouse. Certainly a bit lost under the indistinct name of "Dellwood C.C." - now paying tribute to original origins the name - now Paramount pays tribute to the location as well.   Dell started as a truly personal course  for Adolph Zukor, more than 50 years head of the Paramount Studio in Hollywood, a nice nod to Mr. Zukor's legacy.  His original name was The Dells Golf and Country Club before Dellwood but now known as Paramount it shows up on the proverbial radar. It was from the start intended to rival the local private clubs created in the more traditional way for a group of members. Recently the Mandelbaum family bought Dellwood with the intention of renovating it to greatness.
Urbina holding Master Class

Jim Urbina,  best known as the on-site man for Renaissance Golf's Old MacDonald effort at Bandon Dunes has been hired to professionally restore lost Tillinghast features and sensitively add necessary changes for the modern day.  I was fortunate to have lunch with Jim on Monday  and I also want to give a nod to Phil Young, a fine author well-known in the circles for his writings on Arthur Warren Tillinghast who compiled a small history for the club on which I have relied to fact check some historical points. The work is not complete at this point and we were able to see Master Plan, work in progress and some just being completed.  The majority of the greens just need some expansion and re-capture as the contouring is at times breathtaking (save the wholly blind and highly elevated first green) and at speed provide superior challenge.  As with most golden age courses, bunkers have been removed and are being restored.

The first hole is really one of note with a daring drive across the highway followed by a vertical sixty foot elevated shot to the green.
First looking to green from fairway short of road
 Some likened the hole to a junior 15th hole at Tillinghast's Black at the Bethpage facility (I for one do not give Burbeck even co-credit - let's dispense with that now), I also found number one a bit reminiscent of the opener of the King's at Gleneagles.  If you've played either you now have a good idea to go along with these photos.
First Green from Second Tee

An enlarged green has been completed and short grass surrounds help keep delays to a minimum as there is challenge enough in the two shots required.  A little more tree removal on the right near the second tee will make the hole more playable for more players as for now the right side of the fairway does not always allow a shot to the green.  I'm not a particular proponent of "Fair", but one cannot dishearten the player too severely and certainly not at the start.

The second is just as it was on course opening, nearly 600 yards par 5 with a wicked slope downhill and to the player's right the entire way.

First landing area on #2
These are really brilliant strategic holes requiring a thoughtful placement of each and every shot on the hole.  A great member's hole, one must always look forward to the challenge of this hole every play.  Properly laying up and being familiar with the demand of a short shot down the hill to the green provides a never tiring challenge to the player.

Second landing area on #2
Tillinghast was rather good at understanding the difficulty of constructing a demanding, interesting yet fun par 5 that holds interest and one must look forward as a member to playing such a varied hole every single time.

Immediate on the card, one is offered a lovely version of Tillie's "Tiny Tim" playing 145 at most and uphill to a semi-blind (a common Paramount visual) green with more than a handful of slope to conquer.  This is not a cupcake nor a breather in any way. Golf is so much better with this sort of hole rather than four 200-250 par threes on a course.  The challenges it presents to all levels of golfers, especially while giving hope to even the weakest golfers for a possible birdie putt is more of what golf needs - especially in modern design where all too often it seems that 6-iron is the requirement on the "short hole" for the course.

The "Tiny Tim"
All the par 3's are of note with Tiny Tim 

Reef Hole

and Reef pictured -

- these being noted Tillinghast named holes with the 13th requiring 250 yards, a driver at opening create quite a set! 

An Historical note - not just #18 (Reef) is a finishing par 3 but #9 is also a one-shotter completing the  distinguished four with a short wetlands carry and a well-bunkered  devil of a green for a mid-iron shot.  Both nines finish on a par three hole and as far as I know this is unique.

Reverse canted 12th fairway
A very wide variety of par 4 holes are at Paramount - from drive pitch holes,
reverse-cant dog-leg (Not "Elbow" to the true Tillinghast student) holes playing as much as 50 yards longer than the card length to those requiring a long precise play in after a demanding tee shot.

12th green

Overall #10 comes closest to indifference as it is merely least quirky yet a fine hole.  But as with what one comes to expect from Tillinghast, one does not struggle in the least to recall any hole at Paramount.  There are heroic uphill tee shots such as the fourth,
A True Skyline

 a superior true skyline green par 4 hole at the sixth and out of bounds in play long on par 4's at Paramount just to give a sampling.

Seventh Hole with O.B. Over the green

Staking of proposed bunker

I've included just a smattering of photos as I plan to return to update.  For example where

the yellow
Completed bunker by Urbina
flagged bunker locations laid out will be completed as shown from the par 5 17th.  I hope to direct some attention to this gem and to specifically note that the Metropolitan Golf Writer's Association is and has been loyal to the Tri-State NYC region in bringing such wonderful courses to our attention so I can offer to the architectural fans out there who follow me such tid-bits.

 Consider this post merely an introduction.

Fifth hole, Classic Tillinghast "Look"
Previously we at MGWA were introduced to North Shore on Long Island as a Tillinghast course but found that it was not even Robert White (Who had been a staff Professional) as suggested by an early consulting architect but actually Seth Raynor who likely built NSCC as his first solo work. (I had a pretty good feeling by the Road Hole but left the historical detective work to the men who do it best.)  I published that course here and Steve Shaeffer eventually divined the Raynor provenience.  No such detective work is needed for Paramount, its history is particularly well-documented. The irony of that last point is rather amusing in that Tre-Wolf and Tillinghast Association records did not discover this course until recently with the announcement of  this event.

Paramount is perhaps the least well-known course of quality I have come across in quite a number of years.  Stay with redanman for more.