Navigation: Almost a hidden nugget, but Woodhaven CC is easily accessible from both Route 8 and the Merritt Parkway. While we've been prepped by Airways on the "drive past it, turn around, drive past it again" front, what we appreciate here is that Woodhaven is located on a dead end street, so if you miss the entrance more than twice, you're probably short bus material.
The approach: Rustic. Right in our wheelhouse. Drive past a horse farm...and wind your way to the course. Best feature of the parking lot approach may be the car detailing advertising banner hanging from the maintenance shed near the first tee gazebo. It takes a moment to soak it all in.
We like that Woodhaven kicks it old school: There's a long list of Tracks that have changed ownership and the first thing new ownership usually does is "improve" the clubhouse; as if that were going to "enhance" the Tracking Experience. Woodhaven has a different set of priorities. Skip the micro-brew nonsense and refinished floors in the clubhouse and keep the greens rolling! We applaud their efforts.
Layout: What (right-handed) golfer wouldn't welcome a dog leg right par-5 on the opening hole? Rhetorical question. Part of the brilliance of the Woodhaven layout is that invites, almost begs, you to hammer away on the par 5's, while nearly beating your brains in with "shot placement from the tee" drives on the par 4's. The inviting par-5 on #1 sets a good tone though.
Layout continued: Foolishness. After banging it out on #1 and dialing one in on the modest par-3 2nd, one may feel comfortable. Not so fast. 3 and 4 are great driving holes...if you can thread the needle on the sloping fairways, or at least keep it in bounds
In bounds: When asked, GNT offered that Woodhaven's layout was similar to that of Oxford Greens (reviewed June, 2012), only enjoyable to play. Point being, that if you don't catch the rough on an errant drive, you may be in a world of shit; stitching yourself in a bunch of trees that isn't meant to be hit from. As the esteemed Tracker known as Ornery Bob once said at Tallwood (Once? Who are we kidding? It's his mantra) "Either make it o.b. or make it playable. This shit drives me nuts." It keeps cross-fairway traffic to a minimum; doesn't minimize intra-fairway complaining though.
Sand: Why even mention anything about the bunkers, before mentioning the fantastic greens? It could only go go negative town. On the other hand, Rabbit Ears, who visited the sand often, offered (paraphrased), "If I could hit a sand wedge, these would be the best maintained bunkers I've hit from in a while and I hit from a lot of them." They're pretty smooth and shallow; mainly just there to remind you that you'll need to pull something better than a pedestrian bump and run shot out of your bag to get up and down if you miss the green. Very respectable.
Greens: Maybe because we recently played Keney, we lowered our expectations. There was no need for that. Woodhaven's greens were in great shape, with some fugly pin placements. We were so excited to see greens with grass on them from one side to the other, that maybe we lost track of the speed. Not as quick as anticipated, but given the recent monsoon, expecting "speed" on the first pass was a bit ridiculous. They rolled well and had some odd drop-off contours. Two thumbs up overall.
After taking a second crack at Woodhaven's finely-tuned greens in October, our occasionally-skilled group managed to negotiate multiple 4-putts, with a 5-putt thrown in, which probably should've been through the clown's mouth. If you're up for a putting challenge, Woodhaven will oblige. The pin placements seem harmless enough from 150 yards out, when you're dialing in a pinseeker, but the fun starts after your 2 or 3 footer for par on #4 (you weren't going to be close enough on your approach to sink a birdie putt, trust us) turns into a 10-foot come-backer for bogey when it won't stop rolling. These greens can work you over if you allow them.
Closing up shop: After playing Woodhaven CC, we discovered from its website that it's a family-run operation, so we had to make comparisons to Airways CC, a favorite local Goat Track on this site. To Woodhaven's credit, its course conditions will never be comparable to those at Airways, but the greens fee/beer purchasing routine is way too familiar to ignore. In a double wide-ish area, Airways offers the drop-step/pivot move; greens fees on one side, turn around and grab your beer on the other. Woodhaven goes all soupnazi on it; enter one door, purchase greens fees, continue shuffling, grab your beer, and head towards the first tee through the other door.
Woodhaven CC may not appeal to everyone, but it will definitely appeal to anyone who appreciates playing 9 holes of golf without the fluff. We like all that it has to offer and rate it....
...out of 4 GT logos, which doesn't happen often
Woodhaven CC (Bethany)
(Initially reviewed June, 2013 [subsequently reviewed October, 2013]; named 2013 "Track of the Year")
The preface: We've been banging away at Fore Seasons Golf Club in Bethany for several years; it's our favorite off-season, warehouse-based, sim-golf resort. It was a crying shame that it took this long to find Woodhaven CC, located about 3 miles from FSGC in one direction and maybe 5 miles from the nearest Nardelli's in the opposite direction. Woodhaven CC was clearly at the center of the Tracking Universe; just took us a while to figure it out.