While the King-Collins 9-hole golf course has drawn rave reviews and comparisons to the design team’s acclaimed Tennessee layout, the Accord, N.Y. property also offers 40 hotel rooms (14 duplex cabins and a 12-room farmhouse), a restaurant and lounge, two swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, an events barn, a farm shop, as well as a three-acre organic farm embedded into grounds imagined by landscape designer Miranda Brooks.
Lee Pollock, a Manhattan real estate developer and New York City restaurateur, and trained architect Taavo Somer partnered to buy the 225-acre Rondout Country Club in Accord, N.Y. in 2017 to develop the sprawling pastoral property into an intimate country refuge and members’ club, the Daily Freeman reported. The first undertaking at Inness was the construction of a new nine-hole golf course on the property that was formerly the back nine of the 18-hole layout.
The owners hired renowned golf course architects Tad King and Rob Collins to transform the former club into a layout that would resemble the critically acclaimed Sweetens Cove Golf Club in Tennessee, the Daily Freeman reported. With the Shawangunk and Catskill mountains as a backdrop, Inness has wowed golfers with its huge and sloping greens, cavernous bunkers and wide fairways that are framed with acres of fescue and grassy knolls. Inness debuted in June 2021.
Pollock, who has a 12 handicap and is a member at an exclusive golf club in the Hamptons called The Bridge, got in touch with King-Collins Golf Course Design after reading an article in The New York Times in 2017 about Sweetens Cove. It was titled, “The Little Golf Course That Could.”
“It was about how this nine-hole course sort of captivated America,” Pollock said. “It was a cultural phenomenon. It had no business being that successful, given where it was located, 30 minutes outside of Chattanooga. It was a kind of no-frills, bare-bones course with no clubhouse. I thought, ‘Wow if these guys could do that there, imagine what they could create two hours outside of New York City.”’
Pollock convinced the architects to inspect Rondout with the possibility of designing another nine-hole course similar to Sweetens Cove, the Daily Freeman reported.
“They came up and fell in love with the property,” Pollock recalled. “They thought it had a lot of potential. We worked out an agreement and we got it done. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It’s a beautiful golf course.”
Pollock compares Inness to parkland golf courses in England, the Daily Freeman reported.
“They [parkland courses] feel like a links course, but they’re not on the ocean,” he said. “Also, Inness resembles some of the courses on Long Island. Kind of a links style.”
Pollock told the Daily Freeman the vibe at Inness is intentionally relaxed.
“We wanted to build a good golf course, but we also wanted to have a relaxed atmosphere where people could enjoy themselves,” he said. “That’s the ethos of Inness. That’s also the brand of King-Collins. To make golf fun again.”
The Inness golf course, which is open to the public, starts with the 392-yard par-4 first hole that lets golfers ease into the round with a wide-open fairway, the Daily Freeman reported. But the elevated green offers enough undulations to keep golfers on their toes.
The downhill 340-yard par-4 second can be driven with a good poke, and the par-3 third hole features a reverse Redan green, the Daily Freeman reported. Though the routing on the remaining six holes brings back memories of the former Accord semiprivate course, the addition of many cavernous fairway and greenside bunkers and the breathtaking new putting surfaces takes Inness to another level.
Sweetens Cove, which opened in 2014, has been hailed by golf writers and golf enthusiasts alike as one of the top public courses in the U.S., the Daily Freeman reported. And Inness has many of the same features and characteristics as its more famous counterpart.
There are two shared greens. The shared green on the third and sixth holes is a combined 110 yards long, the Daily Freeman reported. The shared green on the second and ninth holes is also massive. The latter is also connected to the putting green, and that area covers more than 1.2 acres. The 443-yard par-4 seventh green has an incredibly steep slope that will challenge even the most accomplished golfer.
Inness Director of Golf John DeForest was the head golf professional and part-owner of Rondout Country Club until it closed in 2017, the Daily Freeman reported. He and Director of Instruction Jeff Massa handle the day-to-day operation of the golf course.
While the golf course has drawn rave reviews in the early going from golf publications and bloggers, it’s just part of the story of the Inness project, the Daily Freeman reported.
Inness has 40 hotel rooms (14 duplex cabins and a 12-room farmhouse), a restaurant and lounge, two swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails, an events barn, a farm shop, as well as a three-acre organic farm embedded into grounds imagined by landscape designer Miranda Brooks, the Daily Freeman reported.
Open to the public, members and hotel guests, the restaurant and lounge overlooks the organic farm that supplies it, the Daily Freeman reported. The Inness accommodations, restaurant and events barn are located at the top of a hill that was formerly the site of Rondout’s clubhouse, driving range and front nine.
DeForest told the Daily Freeman Inness has attracted golfers from all over the country who are anxious to see the second King-Collins design.
“There’s somewhat of a national recognition of the course because of the designers,” DeForest said. “There’s a new breed of golfer. Rather than joining clubs they like to travel all over the country and play great golf courses or unusual courses. Rather than being like your father’s private country club, it’s a modern fun type of golf.”
The par-36 Inness measures 3,361 yards from the championship tees, the Daily Freeman reported. Inness doesn’t have a dress code and encourages golfers to walk. There is also an all-day rate and DeForest said there are some Inness regulars who play 18 holes in the morning, have lunch and then play another 18 in the afternoon.
Golf memberships, which includes a social membership at the resort, are available, the Daily Freeman reported. Though the rates are higher than most of the courses in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, Pollock said local golfers who have played Inness have enjoyed it.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be able to compete on price alone,” he said. “I think we have a much better offering than most of the other golf courses in the area. You’re going to pay a bit more, but you’re going to get a lot more.”
Improvements continue to be made to the golf course, Pollock told the Daily Freeman.
“This year, I think it’s much improved over last year,” he said. “We redid the bunkers. We put in a driving range. We’re going to focus more on food-and-beverage options for next year. On top of that, the course has grown in and has matured and looks better.”
Golf course Superintendent Anthony Minniti joined Inness last year after serving as an Assistant Superintendent at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the Long Island venue that has hosted five U.S. Opens, the Daily Freeman reported.
“He has a great pedigree and I think he’s done an amazing job bringing the golf course to where it’s at in literally 12 months,” Pollock said of Minniti. “He’s done it in very challenging weather conditions. Last year, it was extremely wet and this year it’s been extremely dry.”
Pollock is hoping that Inness eventually will be as popular as the nationally recognized Sweetens Cove and become a bucket-list choice for golfers from all over the country, the Daily Freeman reported.
“I don’t think people realize this is the sequel to Sweetens,” he said. “It’s affectionately been called the back nine to Sweetens Cove. We need to get that message out.”