ACCORD, NY – The entrance to Inness Golf Course near Whitfield Road is rather inconspicuous. The parking lot is small and the outfitter building has only one rack of golf shirts and a limited supply of golf balls, hats and other paraphernalia.
But once golfers hit Inness’s first tee, it becomes apparent that the pristine nine-hole layout is unlike any other golf experience in the Hudson Valley, the Catskills or few other places in the States. United, by the way.
The owners of Inness have hired renowned golf course architects Tad King and Rob Collins to transform the former Rondout Country Club into a development that would resemble the critically acclaimed Sweetens Cove Golf Club in Tennessee. With the spectacular Shawangunk and Catskill Mountains as
As a backdrop, Inness wowed golfers with its huge sloping greens, cavernous bunkers and wide fairways framed by acres of fescue and grassy mounds. Inness debuted in June 2021.
Lee Pollock, a Manhattan real estate developer and New York restaurateur, and trained architect Taavo Somer teamed up to buy the 225-acre Rondout Country Club in 2017 to transform the sprawling pastoral property into an intimate and a membership club. The first undertaking in Inness was the construction of a new nine-hole golf course on the property which was once the final nine of the 18-hole Rondout Country Club.
Pollock, who has a 12 handicap and is a member of an exclusive golf club in the Hamptons called The Bridge, contacted King-Collins Golf Course Design after reading an article in The New York Times in 2017 about Sweetens Cove. It was called “The Little Golf Course That Could”.
“It was about how this nine-hole course kind of captivated America,” Pollock said. “It was a cultural phenomenon. He had no reason to be so successful, given his location, 30 minutes from Chattanooga. It was kind of a simple, no-frills course with no clubhouse. I thought, ‘Wow, if these guys could do that over there, imagine what they could create two hours from New York.’
Pollock convinced the architects to inspect Rondout with the possibility of designing another similar nine-hole course at Sweetens Cove.
“They came and fell in love with the property,” Pollock recalled. “They thought it had a lot of potential. We worked out an agreement and we did it. I’m really happy with how it went. It is a beautiful golf course.
Pollock compares Inness to parkland golf courses in England.
“They (the park courses) look like a links course, but they’re not on the ocean,” he said. “Also, Inness is like some of the courses on Long Island. A kind of style of links.
Pollock said the mood at Inness was intentionally relaxed. “We wanted to build a good golf course, but we also wanted to have a relaxed atmosphere where people could enjoy themselves,” he said. “That’s the philosophy of Inness. It is also the brand of King-Collins. Make golf fun again.
The Inness Golf Course, which is open to the public, begins with the 392-yard par-4 first hole that allows golfers to easily get into the round with a wide-open fairway. But the elevated green offers enough undulations to keep golfers on their toes.
The second downhill 340-yard par-4 can be driven with a good nudge, and the par-3 third hole features an inverted Redan green. Although the routing on the remaining six holes brings back memories of the old semi-private Accord course, the addition of numerous cavernous fairways and greenside bunkers and the breathtaking new putting surfaces bring Inness to a other level.
Sweetens Cove, which opened in 2014, has been hailed by golf writers and golf enthusiasts as one of the best public courses in the United States. Inness has many of the same features and characteristics as its more famous counterpart.
There are two shared greens. The shared green of the third and sixth holes is 110 meters long. The shared green on the second and ninth holes is also massive. The latter is also connected to the putting green and this area covers over 1.2 acres. The 443-yard par-4 seventh green has an incredibly steep slope that will challenge even the most accomplished golfer.
Inness Director of Golf John DeForest was the chief golf professional and co-owner of Rondout Country Club until it closed in 2017. He and Director of Instruction Jeff Massa look after the day-to-day running of the course golf.
Although the golf course initially garnered rave reviews from golf publications and bloggers, that is only part of the story of the Inness project.
Inness has 40 hotel rooms (14 duplex cabins and a 12-room farmhouse), restaurant and lounge, two swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, event barn, farm shop , as well as a three-acre organic farm set in grounds designed by landscape designer Miranda Brooks.
Open to the public, members and hotel guests, the restaurant and lounge overlook the organic farm that supplies it. Inness accommodation, restaurant and events barn sits atop a hill that was once the site of Rondout’s clubhouse, driving range and front nine.
DeForest said Inness attracted golfers from across the country who were eager to see King-Collins’ second design.
“There’s a kind of national recognition of the course because of the designers,” DeForest said. “There is a new breed of golfers. Rather than joining clubs, they like to travel around the country and play on great golf courses or unusual courses. Rather than being like your dad’s private country club, it’s a fun, modern type of golf.
The par-36 Inness measures 3,361 yards from the championship tees. Inness has no dress code and encourages golfers to walk. There is also all-day fare and DeForest said there are regulars at Inness who play 18 holes in the morning, have lunch and then play another 18 in the afternoon.
It costs $60 to walk nine holes and $90 for 18 holes Monday through Thursday. Green fees for walkers from Friday to Sunday are $75 for nine holes and $125 for 18 holes. Golf carts are available at $15 per person for nine holes and $30 per person for 18 holes throughout the week.
Golf memberships are available for $6,000 per year, which includes a social membership at the resort. Although the rates are higher than most courses in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, Pollock said local golfers who have played at Inness have enjoyed it.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to compete on price alone,” he said. “I think we have a much better offer than most other golf courses in the area. You will pay a little more, but you will get a lot more.
Three golfers seemed to agree with Pollock when they were interviewed by the Freeman during their recent weekday round.
“There’s no other golf course like this on this side of the (Hudson) river,” said Kerhonkson resident Sean Cullen. “It’s beautiful. Your short game has to be really, really good to score here.
Paul DeBoy of Cairo said Inness’ design and challenging features were truly unique. “Nothing I’ve played resembles that extremely bound style of course,” he said. “I’m learning to play it.”
Rob Lunney of Chichester said he played the course twice this summer.
“You have some greens that are really tough,” he said. “It’s difficult, but a beautiful layout.”
Improvements continue to be made to the golf course, Pollock said.
“This year I think is much better than last year,” he said. “We redid the bunkers. We have installed a driving range. We will be focusing more on food and beverage options for next year. On top of that, the course has grown, matured and looked better.
Golf course superintendent Anthony Minniti came to Inness last year after serving as assistant superintendent at famed Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the Long Island venue that has hosted five US Opens.
“He has a great pedigree and I think he’s done an incredible job of getting the golf course to where it is in literally 12 months,” Pollock said of Minniti. “He did it in very difficult weather conditions. Last year it was extremely wet and this year it was extremely dry.
Pollock hopes Inness will eventually be as popular as the nationally recognized Sweetens Cove, and become a go-to choice for golfers nationwide.
“I don’t think people realize this is the sequel to Sweetens,” he said. “It’s affectionately known as Sweetens Cove’s back nine. We need to get this message across. »