Combine the above-noted features with the rock formations jutting out (especially on the last two holes) and you get a good idea of why the Hotchkiss Course rates well on the GT review scale.
In summary: Although, or maybe because, it may be the most logistically inaccessible course in the Northwest Corner, The Hotchkiss School Golf Course is our favorite so far. As long as you don't play it in the spring or fall, when school's in session and you may be competing with Chad, Chip, and Wellington the 4th for tee times, it's a great course to play.
If you play HSGC in late July or August, as long as you pay your greens fees in the tool shed by 9 a.m. or so, you can knock out 9 holes and still make it to the betting window at Saratoga before the first race...and that...is a pretty good day. (navigational sidenote, based on prior experience: highly recommended that you get directions from two sources to minimize travel time; your GPS may want to take you deeper into the Northwest Corner and across the state line near the Circle Museum, which is great if you're trying to become more well-rounded, but it adds a solid 45 min. of travel time if you're not.)
We rate The Hotchkiss School Golf Course a nearly perfect...
We try to make at least one trip to the "Northwest Corner" every Tracking Season, mainly because it's a good summer drive and there's good Goat Tracking to be had. After doing our homework, we circled the Hotchkiss School Golf Course for this year's trip.
We've been flapping our gums the past two years on previous Northwest Corner Goat Track Reviews (Canaan CC, Quarry View GC); touting how they can be "squeezed into a trip to Saratoga"; so this year, we decided to back it up and play The Hotchkiss Course on the way to winning thousands of dollars, wagering at theTrack at Ballston Spa.
The drive up to the Hotchkiss Course is great. Scenic. Relaxing even... sets the right tone for the day; however, If the wafting scent of cow manure (otherwise known as "country air") offends you, you should circle the wagons on Route 44 and retreat before you get near the greater Canaan area. (on the 2nd trip to HSGC, we realized that taking Route 202 was quicker than Route 44, with slightly less "country air")
Right out of the box, the great thing about the Hotchkiss course is that you don't have to dump six figures on your kid's high school education here to enjoy this unique course and its modest greens fees.
Pull into the gravel parking lot, with the school's "pro turf" football field to the right and the "tool shed" pro shop to the left and you may sense that you're on the verge of an exceptional Tracking experience.
Layout: There are many scenic views to be had from the Berkshire perch enjoyed by this course, just don't include seeing your shot landing among them. The blind shots aren't too much to deal with if you've played the Hotchkiss Course more than once, but they are highly entertaining the first time around.
Our favorite blind shot (and it was difficult to choose just one), may have been on the par-3 5th. Should've taken a peek at it from the 4th green, which has a better view of the 5th green than does the 5th tee, but no. From the elevated (and we mean elevated) tee box, with the cemetery behind it, the wiiiiiiiiide trap in front of the green is nowhere near visibile and swallows your tee shot if you underclub. Awesome. On the flip side, the 5th tee provides one of the most scenic views of the surrounding area, just to sap it up for a moment.
...out of 4 GT logos.
The Hotchkiss School Golf Course (Lakeville). Originally reviewed July, 2010; named the 2014 Track of the Year following a subsequent review.
"Just trying to find the second hole."
GNT was pointed in the right direction, thankfully. Nothing dopier than walking down the side of the road with a golf bag, but the random act of kindness by a motorist who's willing to stop and offer directions speaks volumes about the Hotchkiss Course Experience, where all is right with the world.
Shades of Fenwick: Golfer Number Two has always been "navigationally challenged" and probably should've paid closer attention to the guy in the pro shop, who did his best to be helpful, which we're generally not accustomed to, regarding directions to the 2nd tee, when he said, "See the path behind the first green? Cross the highway and......" Apparently, that's when Golfer Number Two tuned out, choosing to rely on the map on the back of the scorecard (pictured at right), much to his detriment; only to spend a solid 15 to 20 minutes trying to find the second tee, toting his golf bag up and down the side of the road (routes 41 and 102), like a moron. Fortunately, similar to the Fenwick experience, a Good Samaritan/soccer mom pulled up to the stop sign at the intersection of routes 41 and 102, and noting the dumbass carrying a golf bag, asked, "Are you a bit off course?"