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History

As is so often the case, a record of the history of the origin of Siwanoy Country Club is based on a mixture of legend and facts.

                                

Siwanoy is a club whose nomadic wanderings in the early part of the century had the cumulative effect of crossing the street. Back in the late 1890’s a harness track occupied a corner of the present club property, and attracted real estate developers Augustus and Middleton Rose, who bought land adjacent to the racetrack where they laid out a 9-hole course which they called Fairview Park.

Among those playing at Fairview during 1898-1900 was a group of 18 from Mt. Vernon. For them a day of golf included a half-hour ride on the Hokey Pokey Trolley up White Plains Road, and then the return trip, usually after a long wait for the trolley. This led them to discuss the possibility of establishing a club closer to home. Their dreams became a reality when they leased land along White Plains Road, and built a 9-hole course, which was completed by autumn of 1901. The name chosen for the club once belonged to a Mohican tribe that lived in the area bordering Long Island Sound extending from New Rochelle to Hell Gate in the Bronx.

When the club learned that its lease would not be renewed after the 1903 season, it moved north on White Plains Road to where it now intersects the Cross County Parkway. There it built a new nine-hole course, designed by Willie Dunn, which opened in 1904. Siwanoy remained at this site for ten years, through 1913, by which time it had become obvious that nine holes were no longer sufficient for the growing membership.

During the 1913 season the club had to decide whether to purchase some adjacent land and extend the existing course to 18 holes, or to purchase a larger tract to the north in Bronxville and start over again. Donald Ross saw far greater potential in the Bronxville site, and so the club purchased 110 acres there. The club’s new home, ironically, was located across the street from the old Fairview course where Siwanoy’s founding fathers had learned the game.

The new property was known as “Paulding Manor” because it had been given to Revolutionary War hero John Paulding by the Continental Congress for his role in the capture of the British spy Major John Andre, co-conspirator with Benedict Arnold.

Among Siwanoy’s prominent features are the numerous elevated tees that offer one lovely panoramic vista after another; the brooks that cross several of the fairways near the greens; and the relatively small, though severely bunkered greens, some of which are fiendishly contoured.

After a blind tee shot, the 12th rolls downhill through the drive zone, leaving a delicate pitch over a brook that widens into a pond in the left center of the fairway.

The 15th is Siwanoy’s centerpiece, the #1 handicap hole on the course. The drive is played from an elevated tee to a rising fairway. Two high-lipped bunkers on the left and a copper beech on the right restrict the width of the drive zone to 18 yards. The approach must be played over a brook that winds up the left side of the hole before crossing in front of the green.

Siwanoy’s home hole is a par 5 that bends slightly to the right along a tree-lined undulating fairway that falls off dangerously on the right. The green is set some 20 yards beyond a brook.


In the fall of 1914 a young man named Tom Kerrigan came to Siwanoy as golf professional, a position he would hold for 50 years. A native of Massachusetts, Kerrigan was an accomplished player who led the 1921 British Open by two strokes with just two holes to play, only to fall victim to a surging and unruly gallery.

Several outstanding young professionals developed under Kerrigan’s tutelage at Siwanoy, among them Johnny Farrell, Art Wall, and Tom Nieporte. Kerrigan also was instrumental in Jess Sweetser’s success in amateur competition, helping him hone his game by arranging matches against the finest players in the area, including the likes of Gene Sarazen and Farrell.

Tom Kerrigan also was one of the driving forces behind the organization of the PGA and the staging of it's first championship, which was held in October of 1916 at Siwanoy. A field of 32 contested the issue, paired down by a series of qualifying rounds across the country.

“Long Jim” Barnes emerged the victor, winning the last two holes to edge Jock Hutchison 1up after a seesaw battle, Hutchison played what he later called the shot of his career in the afternoon round, a 100-yard pitch from an embedded lie in the bank of the brook on the fifth hole, to within twenty feet of the flagstick.

No story about Siwanoy would be complete without mention of the club’s nationally famous “Snobirds.” Founded during the winter of 1907-1908, this organization within the club became a national model for winter golf, and at one time included as many as 100 “members.” Today the head count is closer to 40.

The Snobirds play in all kinds of weather, using red balls, ski caps, gloves, and all sorts of winter paraphenalia. They even have their own special 9-hole course - a shortened version of the front nine - which they play whenever ground conditions prevent use of the club’s regular layout.

The Snobird course has sand greens, and brooms are used instead of regular flagsticks to help players clear their line to the cup. Snobirds are allowed to “tee up” anywhere on the course, and can move the snow as they wish through the green. There is no penalty for a ball lost in the snow. The first rule of the group is that “no competition will be postponed or cancelled on account of the weather.” Back to Top