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Jim Krajicek

Legendary golf course architect Pete Dye has never shied away from challenging golfers. And with Pound Ridge Golf Club, about an hour and 15 minutes outside of New York City, he created a 172-acre veritable dare. Already hailed as America’s top U.S. Open–worthy public course that hasn’t yet hosted the event, this 4-year-old Westchester County gem is 7,165 yards of rugged territory. Consider that Dye left the existing extreme rock formations on-site — 14,000-plus linear feet of rock-wall surround trees, wetlands and water hazards — and you conjure up just how penal Pound Ridge can play. For added measure, there are also deep bunkers, fescue-covered mounding, tricky greens and several forced carries that collectively exemplify the playing experience.

Yet as brutal as it all seems, the lush course — Dye’s first-ever in New York — is relatively playable for both long and short hitters who tap their mental game while negotiating the tract. There are ample greenside bailout areas throughout, and the views from the course’s high points are stunning. The course, owned by fashion designer Vera Wang’s brother, Ken, is also surprisingly walkable.