Split Rock Golf Course
, Bronx, NY, built by the federal
Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935-36.
, used by permission.
He points out that the course was designed by John
(Robert Moses didn't credit designers by name). In the 1920s
and 30s, Van Kleek designed golf courses all over the world and during the
New Deal he was the supervising architect for New York City Parks Department
in charge of golf courses, including Split Rock,
, Clearview, and Dyker
Beach. Pioppi says:
Split Rock has one of the most enjoyable pre-round
walks I've encountered. The distance from the clubhouse to the first tee is
probably a half-mile along a sand path that runs under a rusting railroad
bridge that is supported by massive gray stone blocks and then through a
heavily wooded area. Horses and their riders also frequent the trail, as
stables are part of the facility. (Can you imagine being a horse living in
the Bronx?) By the time you have made your way to the course your
surroundings have been transformed from city to country.
Split Rock in no uncertain terms is a joy to play and most likely qualifies
as a genuine diamond in the rough. In June of 2011 the conditions were
excellent, thanks in part to a few weeks of ideal growing
conditions and a superintendent who knows what he's doing. There
was plenty of grass on fairways and greens, the putting surfaces were smooth
and rolled true while the bunkers had the right amount of sand and were
consistent from one to the next.
It appears that Van Kleek's goal at Split Rock was to create a stellar
layout for the daily fee player.
- Anthony Pioppi, Great
Municipal Golf Part 2: Split
Rock, The A Position,
May 20, 2017.
Architects, Timeless Courses, New York Times, August 4, 2008.
- Labbance, Bob, and Kevin
Mendik, The Life and Work of
Wayne Stiles, Notown (2008).
- Britton, A.D.,
Mental Hazard out of City Golf, New York Times Magazine, June
2, 1935, p.11: “The [new course] at Split Rock, carved out of a
tract in Pelham Bay Park, probably is the department's star job. As a
test of golf its 6,624 yards will be the equal of any course in the
- NYC Parks Department Press
Release of September 30, 1934. “The yardage for the separate four
nine hole courses which constitute this thirty-six hole layout, will vary
from 3,000 to 3,300 yards each. In combination, both nines at the Split
Rock Course will measure better than 6,600 yards from the back of the tees,
and 6,200 yards from the front of the tees. The Pelham Course from the back
of the tees will play less than 6,500 yards, and approximately 6,100 yards
from the front. With these lengths of holes, and with this design of
fairways and greens, there will be provided all types and all kinds of play.
In addition to two eighteen hole courses, there will be a larger practice
fairway and practice putting green within easy access. Spacious parking
areas will be provided adjacent to both courses. Provision has also been
made for a caddy house. … All labor and materials for the whole
project will be paid for from Work Relief Funds.”
- Owen, David, “
Playing Out of the Snow”, The New
Yorker, March 28, 2005, pp.26-32.