River Vale Country Club, located about 45 minutes from both Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey, is a hidden gem from the golden age of golf course architecture. In recent years it has been a fixture on Golf Advisor s list of the Top Courses in New Jersey. River Vale Country Club, which is owned by the town of River Vale, is known for its beautiful setting, fun and challenging variety of holes, intriguing design, and outstanding practice facilities. This 1931-vintage parkland course has retained much of its original character. Orrin E. Smith, who worked under Willie Park, Jr., and Donald Ross before starting his own golf course architecture practice, built the course on the edge of Lake Tappan which borders New York State. With four sets of tees, River Vale Country Club can play between 5,378 yards and 6,504 yards. You ll find lots of variety to the holes and plenty of elevation changes. Though the playing field gets narrow in spots, most of the tree-lined fairways are fairly roomy. The mature hardwood trees and absence of housing make for a very attractive and peaceful layout. Many of the teeing areas and greens are situated on built-up on little plateaus that were a characteristic of Smith s designs. Beware of the false fronts at the greens. The putting surfaces at River Vale Country Club are tricky, as balls tend to drift off the edges into collecting areas. Also, downhill putts can be very quick. A corner of the playing field approaches Lake Tappan. You get a good view of the lake from the 5th tee, play alongside it on the 6th hole, and see it again up on the ridge on the 7th and 16th holes. Among the more memorable holes is the par-4 13th, a severe dogleg-left that tempts long hitters to go for green off the tee. Note that wind is often a factor at River Vale Country Club. The facility boasts outstanding practice amenities. In addition to the putting and chipping and bunker areas, there s also a driving range with TopTracer technology. The clubhouse features the pro shop, which carries a variety of merchandise, men's and women's locker rooms, and the Cherry Brook Bar and Restaurant, which offers a pub-style menu. The secret seems to be getting out that River Vale Country Club is fun and interesting to play, so don t delay in making a tee time.