People don’t usually think of golf country clubs and eminent domain, but here we are! The latest eminent domain news involves the Willow Ridge Country Club in Harrison, NY, which has a history going back to 1917. This country club in particular was featured in the 2013 Martin Scorsese film "The Wolf of Wall Street," and also the coming-of-age Amazon Prime series, "Red Oaks." Alas, Willow Ridge’s screen stardom was still not enough to keep the town of Harrison from stating that it intends to commence eminent domain proceedings to acquire it. The town intends to make the private golf course into a municipally run public golf course.
The Harrison, NY area is known for its municipally run clubs including Rye Golf Club in Rye, NY and Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester, NY. If the town of Harrison acquired the property through its powers of eminent domain, Willow Ridge would become the third municipally run golf club in the area.
According to local news outlets, the Harrison town board voted to hire the law firm of Bond Shoeneck & King for $50,000 to represent the town in eminent domain proceedings.
Although Willow Ridge has had some private suitors come knocking, including one management company and the Apawamis Club in Rye, NY, news reports say that developers have been wary to purchase the 121 acre property, which includes 25 acres of wetlands.
There has been a golf course on the property since a group of disenchanted Apawamis members left the club and established Green Meadow Country Club in 1917. Green Meadow closed during the Great Depression but the course was reopened as a public facility in 1941. It closed down again during World War II, and then reopened once more, changing hands for the third time.
The original Willow Ridge Country Club golf course was designed by Maurice McCarthy, a Scottish golf pro whose credits include a handful of golf courses in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It was redesigned in 1947 by Alfred Tull, who teamed with famed Golden Age architect Devereux Emmet to design or rework a number of local courses. Ken Dye is credited with a 1998 renovation. For golf enthusiasts, the par 71 layout is relatively short at 6,610 from the blue tees and 6,325 yards from the white tees.
We’ll take a “swing” at another blog post as soon as we have more information.