Beautiful golf is at play at Fieldston, near New York City

Fieldston is one of those hidden landscapes, tucked between leafy neighborhoods, with cocooned indoor facilities, spas, private pools and golf clubs tucked up off the main roads that weave through the inner city. Golf courses are laid out in remarkably narrow countryside strips, “Rydal” in English, which are “unparalleled in their diversity of each course’s unique architectural style”. (Quick Jack Hogan English language lesson: “Fictitious post-Christian period to feudal character of England …”) The Ross course, led by Frederick Crosthwaite, is listed by PGA of America as being among the top 20 in the world. It has 10 holes, and was designed in the 18th century, when golf was a “work of art”. There are 23 designated woodland areas (some as small as several square blocks) with 566 miles of shaded trails. As well as golf and tennis courts, there is tennis and walking trails for horses.

There are a few small town amenities, but that are more for outside entertainment than recreational. Fieldston Theatre, complete with dance school, has been home for almost four decades to the Drama Club, where programmes include a lesbian drama night, a “guerilla drama” workshop and a “moderately mod” play reading. (Another room has a law library, another can be used for educational opportunities for grade school and high school students.) Otherwise, it’s as if you are in a proper town, though it is a private one with businesses, but also places to go for special occasions: anniversary dinners, elaborate birthday parties, birthday baptisms or mass weddings. On summer weekends, when tickets for Broadway shows are booked by charter, or when The Children’s Garden picnic area sells out, Fieldston opens to the public from July to October, except for weekends in August. In the winter, however, Fieldston shuts down for the season.

There are two cultural options: the cultural centre of graduate arts programs at Barnard College, where registered speakers include Benjamin Ayres and Sam Halpern; and in the nearby spires, the Sylvia Poems Museum. The Ennistyche Road is a collection of blocks that are usually empty during the day, yet offer great architecture, such as the Pell Institute. In autumn, after a final AP history class, I walk the path from Fieldston to St Ann’s Episcopal Church, past wisteria and a jar garden filled with enormous, life-size spider webs.

Fieldston has a certain snobbery to it. Designer craft makers can fly over from Manhattan and the Upper East Side and start selling at Grove St. Supply for $50 a week, say, or 20 strong. You can take a hot yoga class on Thursday morning and a herbal morning tea at Whistleblower in the afternoon. During the week, Fieldston is a party town. On a recent Friday night at Whistleblower, “batting practice” with collegiate softball is over and it’s time for a roaring row of pizzerias with their own bric-a-brac. So choose your wines: the world famous Cayetano Lopez, Giovanni Pucillo or a live band.

Admission is a minimum of $15 and $30 for adults, with discounts for students, seniors and for cultural/arts events. Fieldston has a golf fee of $39 per day or $110 for the four-day tournament (44 rounds of golf), which goes to charity. For more information, visit rydal.fieldston.edu or call 917-412-2363.

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