Saratoga National Golf Club, Saratoga Springs, New York- a Public Golf Course With a Private Club Atmosphere

Saratoga National Golf Club is a Roger Rulewich design, located on 400 acres of land near Lake Lonely in Saratoga Springs, New York. Rulewich, who designed the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama and is known for creating playable courses, took advantage of the existing wetlands and natural features of the property to craft the course.

The 18-hole, par-72 course, which opened in 2001, plays up to 7,250 yards from the Professional Tees, with a USGA rating of 74.5 and a slope rating of 143 on Bent grass. For the most part, the main feature of course is a relatively flat layout with numerous marshlands and water hazards that create a lot of forced carries off the tee.

The front nine holes are primarily secluded in woodlands, while the back nine holes feature much more water. The greens are also some of the largest in the area and have been described by some reviewers as "larger than the fields many kids grow up playing touch football on.''

While the course has received a good deal of hype, some golf reviewers have come away less than impressed, calling Saratoga National essentially a "resort course'' that tries to create a private club atmosphere. For example, the course doesn't have any hole markers, just tiny green signs on the ground that point players toward the next tee. While that may work nicely for regular club members, visitors to the course may find themselves getting lost between holes.

Some of the more noteworthy holes on the course include Nos. 4 through 7, which has been described as an interesting stretch of holes. Hole No. 4 plays to 550 yards from the back tees and requires a forced carry over a large wetland off the tee. From there, the fairway winds through trees, eventually playing to a large, elevated green that's guarded by a sprawling bunker on the left and mounded rough on the right.

Hole No. 5 is the first par-3 players encounter, and plays to a lengthy 238 yards from the longest tees. The hole features a carry over more wetlands to a large, undulating green that's guarded by an expansive bunker and a sloping fescue mound on the left.

Hole No. 10 has been described as "cool,'' especially when there's a crowd sipping drinks on the wrap-around clubhouse balcony keeping watch. This par-5 plays to 552 yards from the back tees, and players must cross two streams on the way to a sprawling, contoured green that's protected by two bunkers.

Hole No. 13 has been described as a "watery grave,'' another par-5 where water awaits on just about every swing. The fairway is essentially a series of landing areas surrounded by water, followed by an approach to a peninsula green nestled amid a limestone rock fortress.

Hole No. 15 is the "postcard'' hole for the course, a par-3 that plays to an island green situated on the shore of Lake Lonely. The putting surface is 50 yards wide and guarded by another limestone wall and two bunkers, one of them a pot bunker.

Accolades for the course include being named the #27 among Best Courses in New York by Golf Digest in 2007-2008, and #91 among America's Best 100 Public Courses by the same publication. Golfweek Magazine ranked Saratoga National #3 Best Golf Course in New York in 2006, while GOLF Magazine Travel called it "better than most private clubs.''

Practice facilities are included in the daily use fee and include multiple target greens, a fairway bunker, a short-game area that includes greenside bunkers, as well as an 8,000-square-foot putting green.

The club also features a mansion-like, 33,000-square-foot clubhouse, with locker rooms, private showers and a full-time attendant. The clubhouse also offers a golf store and dining in Sargo's restaurant.

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