Even jaded New Yorkers do double takes upon seeing commuters carrying golf clubs on the city’s subways. Locals and visitors alike are often surprised to learn that there are 13 public golf courses in four of the five boroughs (only Manhattan is golf-free), many of them challenging, scenic, and easily accessible by public transportation.
Green fees vary widely. Non-residents should expect to pay $40-$50 for 18 holes on a weekday, $50-$70 on weekends and holidays; carts are extra.
Van Cortlandt Park
Van Cortlandt Park South and Bailey Ave.
Opened in 1895, Van Cortlandt Park is the oldest public golf course in the U.S. The layout is tree-lined, features two lakes, all new tee boxes, and many new bunkers. It is also probably the easiest course to get to by subway: Take the 1 or 9 train to 242nd Street and then a short walk into the big, beautiful park.
Pelham Bay and Split Rock
870 Shore Rd.
Located side by side, these two short but sporty courses offer different experiences: Split Rock is tight and hilly, with tough greens, while Pelham Bay is more open. Take the 6 train to Pelham Park stop and transfer for a #45 bus.
7th Ave. and 86th St.
More than 100 years ago, Dyker Beach was a private course and it looks it, with a grand stone clubhouse and many challenging holes. It can be hard to concentrate on the sloping greens when confronted by imposing views of the nearby Verrazano Bridge. Take the R train to 86th St., then a 15-minute walk along 86th to the course.
1001 Richmond Hill Rd.
Staten Island, N.Y.
Arguably the city’s best track, La Tourette must be on any insider’s guide to NYC golf. Fairways are wide, but there’s plenty of sand and small greens with lots of slope. Like the other two Staten Island courses—Silver Lake and South Shore, both short and tight—getting to La Tourette includes one of New York’s great treats, a ride on the Staten Island ferry (take the 1 train to South Ferry station in Manhattan), then a 15-minute cab ride from the ferry terminal.