Geeked on Golf

A Celebration of the People & Places that Make Golf the Greatest Game


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Garden City GC Tour by Jon Cavalier

GARDEN CITY GOLF CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

Devereux Emmet, Walter Travis – Garden City, NY

Editor’s Note:  I don’t usually interject myself and my opinions into Jon’s course tours.  They are so well done, that they don’t need any meddling from me.  Jon originally posted these photos of Garden City as a part of a Golf Club Atlas discussion thread.  In it, he wrote very little to describe the holes, allowing the photos to “speak for themselves”.

I initially considered asking Jon if he wanted to add more copy to update the post, but then decided against it.  The reason being that his lack of words speaks volumes to the intrigue and mystique of this course for me.  The club is exclusive, but that is not the source of the mystique.  The source is the age of the course and the creative freedom with which it was designed.  Some courses seem to have been designed as if there were no rules or boxes for greatness that needed to be checked.

Garden City strikes me as one of those courses, and therefore, I think it best that we go with Jon’s initial inclination.  Let the photos speak for themselves.

THE COURSE

Hole 1 – Par 4 – 320 yards

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From the tee

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The approach

Hole 2 – Par 3 – 137 yards

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From the tee

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Down in the pit

Hole 3 – Par 4 – 407 yards

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From the tee

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The approach

Hole 4 – Par 5 – 523 yards

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The beautifully contoured fairway

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From the green back

Hole 5 – Par 4 – 360 yards

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From the tee

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Mounds right of the fairway

Hole 6 – Par 4 – 440 yards

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From the tee

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The approach

Hole 7 – Par 5 – 550 yards

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Cross-mounding at the beginning of the fairway

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Approach from the divided fairway

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The green back

Hole 8 – Par 4 – 418 yards

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From the tee

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From behind the green

Hole 9 – Par 4 – 323 yards

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From the tee

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The green back

Hole 10 – Par 4 – 414 yards

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From the tee, with target flag in distance

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Approach from the fairway bunker

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Green with fronting cross-bunker

Hole 11 – Par 4 – 426 yards

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From the tee

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Green back toward fairway mounds

Hole 12 – Par 3 – 204 yards

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From the tee

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Fronting bunker and sandy mounds

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Green with inverted bunker

Hole 13 – Par 5 – 538 yards

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From the tee

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Approach, with 15th green beyond

Hole 14 – Par 4 – 343 yards

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From the tee

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Approach from right over mounds and pot bunkers

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Short of the green

Hole 15 – Par 4 – 447 yards

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From the tee

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Cross bunkering

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On the green, with 13th green beyond

Hole 16 – Par 4 – 405 yards

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Approach over bunkered mounds

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Back right of the green

Hole 17 – Par 5 – 495 yards

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The blind tee shot

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Left of the green

Hole 18 – Par 3 – 190 yards

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Tee view to the home green

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Deep greenside left bunker

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The rear Travis bunker

The architects made the most out of a flat piece of land at Garden City.  Every hole has its own unique challenges and strategies, and the course never felt boring or repetitive.  It’s a wonderful golf course and a truly special place.  Hope you enjoyed the tour!


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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5th Annual Noreaster – Back to Long Island

After two years in Boston, our group was longing for a return trip to Long Island, and Friar’s Head.  Planning began over the winter, but took a detour.  Two of the original four members of the Noreaster crew, Brian and Shawn, weren’t able to make the trip this year.  They are good dads, and had travel plans with their kids that trumped golf buddy travel.  I understand and respect those priorities.  Fortunately, my network of golf geeks who get it continues to expand, and the slots were filled by Jon Cavalier and Gary M.

We pulled together a lineup of Friar’s Head, Maidstone, Quogue Field Club, and Deepdale GC.

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FRIAR’S HEAD

Since my last visit to Friar’s Head, I have had the good fortune of playing several more of Coore & Crenshaw’s best courses – Old Sandwich, Sand Hills, Sand Valley and Dormie Club.  My love of their work continues to grow, but I admit to wondering if the additional exposure would in any way diminish Friar’s Head.  It most definitely did not.  Friar’s Head delivers, every time.

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Behind the green at the short par-4 5th

The back nine gets most of the press, but on this visit I was much more taken with the front.  Those holes are brilliantly routed out to and back from the inland farm, and are packed with strategy and character.  I made the turn feeling that the front might be the stronger nine, especially with the recent tree removal.

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The fairway rolls down to the 9th green

Whereas the outward nine meanders around in a wide open area, much of the back nine winds through dunes closer to the clubhouse and water.  Beginning with the par-3 10th, the inward nine has more of an adventure feel.

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The view back from the 10th green

My feelings about the front side notwithstanding, there is a reason why the closing stretch from the 14th through 18th gets so much love.  It is all-world.

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The tee shot on the par-5 14th


MAIDSTONE CLUB

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Photo by Jon Cavalier

Maidstone was one of the courses we visited on our first annual Noreaster, which also included Piping Rock, Shinnecock and Friar’s Head.  Truth be told, it was not our crew’s favorite from that lineup, but it didn’t get a fair assessment either.  We played Shinnecock that morning in a howling wind and spitting rain, and it beat us up.  By the time we made it to Maidstone, the rain has stopped, but the wind increased to silly levels and it was difficult to see Maidstone for how special it was.

That first visit to Maidstone was also prior to the renovation by Coore & Crenshaw.  I filed it away in the “nice course” category until Jon Cavalier did his LinksGems course tour.  Reviewing Jon’s tour, I could hardly believe that it was the same Maidstone I had played.  From that day forward, a return to East Hampton has been on my mind.

Expectations were high as we made the drive east on Long Island on a perfect June morning.  18 holes later, my high expectations were thoroughly exceeded with Maidstone entering my Top 10 all-time favorites.  Willie Park’s routing – beginning and ending with a wide open field in front of the clubhouse, transitioning to the wetlands around Hook Pond, and featuring the seaside dunesland at its heart – is masterful and varied.  C&C’s work on the greens and bunkers is mind-blowingly cool.  And the stewardship of GM Ken Koch and Superintendent John Genovesi is spot on.

Still absorbing the morning months later, I am left believing that a fair argument could be made that Maidstone belongs in the same conversation with Shinnecock and National Golf Links as top dog on Long Island.  As was the case when I first saw Jon’s photos, I am once again counting the days until a return visit.

MAIDSTONE COURSE TOUR

(click on circle images to enlarge)

Hole #1 – Par 4 – 424 yards

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The opener plays downhill away from the clubhouse to a green that is both elevated and canted.  Long approaches are in danger of finding the road, which backs the green.  The Coore & Crenshaw team’s bunker rework is on display and gives a hint at the polish that has been applied to this Willie Park Jr. gem.

Hole #2 – Par 5 – 537 yards

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The first of the “wetland” holes plays straight through flanking bunkers to a stellar green featuring a low front tier and a long, angled back tier.  Approaches must be precisely played to find the correct section, while avoiding the large bunker that runs the length of the back right.  The renovation took this hole from ho-hum to holy moly!

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Hole #3 – Par 4 – 408 yards

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A straightaway two-shotter, the third demands proper positioning off the tee to access various pin positions on the green which features a false front and two tiers.  Great greens make great golf holes, and this hole is proof positive.

Hole #4 – Par 3 – 176 yards

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The first one-shotter marks another transition, with three of the next four holes playing over or around Hook Pond.  Bunkering rework around the green has added even more character to this thrilling hole, where two realizations hit the player on the tee: 1) The wind is really blowing, and 2) If I don’t make committed approaches, I will be watching balls roll back down false fronts ALL day.

Hole #5 – Par 4 – 325 yards

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Multiple options are available to the player on this short four, including going for the green when the wind is right.  Bunkers guard the landing zones and the green, which backs up to Hook Pond.  Reward awaits the bold, but not without risk.

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Hole #6 – Par 4 – 403 yards

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The green on this hole, featuring bold contours, and surrounded by jaw-dropping bunkering is a harbinger of the architecture to come.  Hit the approach on the wrong tier, and you may as well try and negotiate a three-putt with your playing partners as you walk up the fairway.

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Hole #7 – Par 4 – 341 yards

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The best cape hole in America?  An argument could be made.  Step on the tee, gauge the wind, check your pucker factor, and let er rip.  A thrilling tee shot, followed by an approach into a green with killer contours and creative flourishes in the surrounds.  Sublime.

Hole #8 – Par 3 – 151 yards

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The tee shot plays blind over the large dune to an elevated green.  A wise man once said, a shot is only blind once.  That wise man may have been right, but he would be intimidated on the 8th tee too.

Finding the 8th green – wonderfully contoured, floating on a sea of sand – with one’s tee ball is an exhilarating relief.

Hole #9 – Par 4 – 415 yards

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Ahhhh, the iconic 9th.  With the ocean on the right and the whipping wind, the player must focus to find a safe landing in the fairway winding through the dunes.

A service road left of the green has been replaced by a wild runoff shaped by Dave Zinkand.  Continuous improvement and relentless attention to detail.  What separates the good from the world class.

Hole #10 – Par 4 – 387 yards

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This unique hole is one of Maidstone’s most natural and rugged looking, with sandy wastes, long grasses and colorful dune vegetation.  Standing in the fairway looking at the green set atop a dune, the player can be forgiven for concluding that there is no safe place to land an approach.

Hole #11 – Par 4 – 464 yards

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This slight dogleg left is an elegant hole with bunkers guarding the drive zone and green.  It highlighted for me just how perfectly balanced Maidstone is.  From turf maintenance, to bunker treatments, to tree management, nothing has been left undone, and yet nothing is overdone.

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Hole #12 – Par 3 – 181 yards

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This used to be a nondescript connector hole.  Thanks to C&C, that is most definitely no longer the case.  The forebunker confounds depth perception, the flanking bunkers intimidate, and a back left bunker lies out of sight, waiting to punish misjudged shots.  All this sand, defending a green that is tough enough to not need defending.  The 12th is now up to the standards of Maidstone’s other wonderful one-shotters.

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Hole #13 – Par 5 – 500 yards

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The 13th plays back toward the ocean and the fairway narrows as it nears the green.  A green that, now running at an angle between two bunkers and featuring a large false front, might be the most improved on the course.  This hole used to be “the one before the iconic 14th”.  Post-renovation, it is THE 13th.

Hole #14 – Par 3 – 152 yards

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This all world one-shotter can play dramatically differently from day to day based on the wind.  Whether holding a wedge or a long iron, the player is guaranteed a dose of beauty to soothe their frazzled nerves.

The view of the 14th from behind shows a) how close to the ocean the green sits, and b) how little margin for error there is for tee balls. Find the green, enjoy the sound and smell of the ocean, and consider yourself among the fortunate few.

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Hole #15 – Par 5 – 493 yards

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Playing straightaway from the ocean, the green is reachable in two with the right wind.  Multiple subtle plateaus mean that an eagle or birdie are far from guaranteed even if a bold approach safely finds the green.  This hole marks the end of the seaside adventure as the course heads back to the clubhouse.

Hole #16 – Par 5 – 485 yards

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The par-5 16th ends the fun 3,5,3,5,5 stretch. The cape-style tee shot plays back over Hook Pond to a fairway that makes a right turn toward the low-set green.  Judging the wind and playing the angles well can result in birdies.  Picking the wrong lines…different result.

Hole #17 – Par 4 – 328 yards

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This short four starts with a second straight cape tee shot, playing in the opposite direction.  Yet another fun little routing quirk.  The player can take multiple lines off tee to gain the most advantageous position to approach a green set intimately at the intersection of two roads.

Hole #18 – Par 4 – 390 yards

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The home hole plays uphill toward the clubhouse and ocean.  The shared fairway makes for an expansive view and provides plenty of room to get way out of position for the approach.

Maidstone’s final green setting is so breathtakingly beautiful that it almost masks the sadness the player feels to be walking off this all-world course.  The adventure ends, but the memories last forever.


QUOGUE FIELD CLUB

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Photo by Jon Cavalier

Fortunately for me, my golf buddies are willing to indulge my recent obsession with 9-holers.  I could not have been more excited to experience Quogue Field Club, thanks to our host Peter Imber.  It did not disappoint.

Peter has been at the forefront of the restoration of Quogue, and he has graciously agreed to participate in an interview and course tour on which Jon Cavalier and I intend to collaborate.  With that closer look on the docket, I won’t dive too deeply into the course here.  I will say, however, that Quogue Field Club embodies everything that I love about the game.  It is both simple and intensely interesting at the same time.  It provides plenty of challenge, especially when the wind blows, without sucking out the fun.  It is a joy.

I could go around and around this course endlessly…

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The green at the par-3 2nd

Quogue’s nine holes have nine terrific greens, as well as plenty of old-timey quirk – grassy mounds, church pew bunkers, shots over roads, a punch bowl surrounded by sand.  The list goes on and on.

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The redan-biarritz 4th is one of a kind

The course is open to and intimately embedded in its community.  It is a source of inspiration for what community golf can be, whether public or private.

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The 9th green, set close to the understated clubhouse


DEEPDALE GOLF CLUB

On a trip that was packed with high notes, the highest relative to my expectations might have been our visit to Deepdale.  I must admit that I did not know much about the club, other than that the course was designed by Dick Wilson, an architect whose courses I had never played.  Sometimes, going into a golf adventure “blind” makes it all the more enjoyable and that was certainly the case here.

The course was wonderful, from the routing, to the imposing bunkering, to the sloped and contoured greens.  Wilson created a course that challenges the low handicapper, without punishing those who are less skilled.

The club is outstanding.  A great mix of old school charm with new school amenity.  The showers are almost as good as Friar’s Head (and that is saying something), and the seafood cobb salad might be the best post-round meal I have ever had.  Deepdale is the kind of club that would be a pure pleasure to frequent – a golf getaway from city life that isn’t even all that far away.  It was the perfect end to our trip.

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The approach to Deepdale’s 1st

From the first hole, several things are evident about Deepdale.  It is immaculate, the doglegged fairways sweep beautifully over the land, and the greens are anything but boring.

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From behind the 12th green

I had no idea that the land so close to the highway and airport could be so stunning, with rolling hills and plenty of elevation change.

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From the 15th tee


CONCLUSION

The more golf adventures I have, the more I come to realize that the enjoyment of the experience is as much dictated by the quality of the company as it is by the quality of the courses.  I am fortunate to be able to play the courses I do, but my fortune is exponentially better because of the company I keep.  These are simply stellar dudes.

Reflecting on the trip, there was one missing element – immersion.  Because of some last minute shuffling, we were not all staying in the same place.  A big part of what I truly enjoy about buddies trips is the camaraderie, on the course and off.  Car time and meal time, talking golf, architecture and life, add richness and depth to these trips.  The logistics robbed us of a bit of that this time around.

The 2017 Noreaster consisted of our most eclectic group of courses and clubs to date, in terms of both vibe and architecture.  We had modern and classic, understated and luxurious, big and small, modern and classic.  One common thread that runs among them all – greatness.

Familiarity born of return visits to the area, and Friar’s Head and Maidstone, increased my appreciation.  These trips are often a blur and repeat visits help to crystallize memories and perspectives.  I often wonder, which Noreaster area has the strongest collection of courses?  Boston, Long Island, or Philly?  The answer came to me this year.  Whichever area I just visited.


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Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Maidstone Club Tour by Jon Cavalier

MAIDSTONE CLUB – A COURSE TOUR & APPRECIATION

East Hampton, NY – Willie Park Jr.

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How a golfer feels about Maidstone typically reveals a great deal about that person’s preferences with regard to golf course design.  Those who find the course lacking in some way, whether too short or too easy, will tell you that the game has passed Maidstone by.  These golfers often prefer U.S. Open-style golf and, when evaluating a course, will focus on things like “resistance to scoring” and “shot values.”

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On the other hand are golfers looking for something other than sheer difficulty in a golf course.  These players are looking for a course that provides something different, something out of the ordinary, something they’ve never seen before.  These players are searching for a place that provides an element of the game so often forgotten in modern golf: fun.

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Maidstone is that place.

MAIDSTONE CLUB

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Maidstone is located in East Hampton, on the Southern shore of the Eastern end of Long Island.  It is the easternmost of the great Hamptons golf clubs, and enjoys perhaps the best piece of property on any golf club on Long Island.  Set right on the beach, Maidstone provides its members and guests with gorgeous ocean views from its magnificent clubhouse.  This setting makes the course virtually unique on the East Coast, as it winds through large sand dunes and provides as near a true-links experience as one can get on this side of the Atlantic.

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The course plays to a par 72 of 6,574 yards from the back tees.  While seemingly short by today’s standards, when the wind is up at Maidstone (and it always is, due to its location), the course will provide all the difficulty most golfers can handle.  Notably, Maidstone distributes its strokes to par asymmetrically – the front nine plays to a par 35, while the back plays to a par 37.  The back nine also incorporates the following unusual sequence from holes 12-16: par 3, par 5, par 3, par 5, par 5.

Maidstone-Scorecard

Maidstone’s routing is also virtually unique in American golf.  The course begins on high ground near the clubhouse and proceeds immediately down and away from the ocean.  The first three holes play on sandy, rolling ground.  The fun really begins, however, after hitting the tee shot on the fourth hole over the inlet bordering the Gardiner Peninsula, on which holes four through fifteen play.  These holes wind back and forth through magnificent sand dunes and give Maidstone its essence.  After teeing off on sixteen, the player returns to the mainland to play the final three holes.

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Before we begin our hole-by-hole tour, Maidstone’s beautiful clubhouse warrants a brief mention.  If you’ve read my other tours, you know that I often discuss clubhouses as being an extension of the overall golfing experience and that, when a clubhouse is done right, it can amplify the ambiance and setting of the golf course.  Some of the best courses in America are complemented perfectly by their clubhouses — National Golf Links, Shinnecock, Fishers Island, Merion, Sleepy Hollow and Winged Foot are examples that spring to mind.  Maidstone is another.

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And the views . . .

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… are fantastic.

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THE WEST COURSE AT MAIDSTONE

Though often overlooked, golf at the Maidstone Club is laid out over 27 holes.  The West Course, which we discuss here, is the Club’s primary 18-hole golf course.  The remaining nine holes are the remnants of the Club’s second 18-hole course, which was damaged by hurricane in 1938 and, sadly, never restored.

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Hole 1 – 424 yards – Par 4
Maidstone’s first hole is one of its longer par-4s, but the width of the hole, the ever-present firmness of the turf, and the fact that the hole runs downhill make this an excellent opportunity to start a round off well.  The first is bordered to the right by the Club’s entrance road, and to the left by the 18th hole.

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The first green is raised and fronted by difficult bunkering.  Here, the recent restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw is first visible – the improvements they’ve made in Maidstone’s bunkering and green surrounds cannot be overstated.

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While the fronting bunkers are certainly to be avoided, the golfer must take care at the first, and on many subsequent holes, to avoid the miss long.  Here, any shot hit too aggressively will bound down a steep bank and risk tumbling out of bounds.  A fine opener.

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Hole 2 – 537 yards – Par 5
Standing on the tee at the second, the longest hole on the course and the only hole exceeding 500 yards, the golfer’s eye is drawn to the road and accompanying out-of-bounds running the entire left side of the hole. The right is no picnic, however, as the hole is hemmed in on that side by a property boundary.  Though there is plenty of width in this hole, there is certainly an intimidation factor in this tee shot.

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Staggered bunkering runs down the left of the hole in the area of approach.  There is room to lay up to the right, but again, the property boundary is mere paces from the right edge of the fairway.

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The 2nd green is elevated slightly and set at an angle to the fairway.  An opening is provided to allow balls to be run on to the putting surface, but sand surrounds the remainder of the green.  This green slopes significantly from back right to front left and is large enough that simply hitting this green does not guarantee a par.

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Hole 3 – 408 yards – Par 4
The third hole shares a fairway with the sixteenth, though the two are separated by a chain of bunkers down the left side.  This hole can play very short or very long, depending on the wind.

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While bailing out left off the tee is an available route to this green, the approach is longer and more difficult from this angle.

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From the middle of the third fairway, the player has the option to run the ball on to this green.

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The third green is small, significantly tilted and heavily bunkered.  Putting the ball off the green and into a bunker is a real possibility here.

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Hole 4 – 176 yards – Par 3
The fourth hole transports the golfer over the inlet and into the dunescape.

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The fourth tee is on an island in the middle of the inlet and provides for an exciting tee shot, especially into the wind.  Note the openness of the landscape behind.

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The fourth green is elevated and domed, and will shed indifferent tee shots into the surrounding bunkers.  Long is an especially difficult recovery.

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Beginning with the fourth green, the course meanders through some of the most unique terrain in American golf.

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Hole 5 – 325 yards – Par 4
A short par four made shorter when played with the wind behind, the fifth is a prime example that length is not the only defense in golf.  The bunkers running down each side of the hole pinch tighter the closer one gets to the green, presenting a strategic dilemma: lay up short of the narrow opening, or attempt to drive it all the way through the trouble?

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A narrow opening to this green will allow access via the ground game, but distance control is critical.  Anything long will find the water.

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The green itself is small and plays smaller, thanks to its rounded edges that funnel balls into surrounding collection areas, bunkers or water.

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When the hole is cut at the back of the fifth green, it can be a challenge for a golfer to summon the courage needed to attack.

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Hole 6 – 403 yards – Par 4
The sixth plays out over a wide marshland to a diagonal fairway running left to right. The farther right the line, the longer the carry.

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The landing area is dominated by a fairway bunker.  Finding the fairway here is critical . . .

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. . . as the green is one of the most difficult on the course. This green slopes substantially from left to right, and its internal contours can either guide a well-struck approach to the hole or play havoc with a meager effort.  One of the best greens Willie Park ever created.

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Hole 7 – 341 yards – Par 4
A true right-hand cape hole, the seventh features two of the most thrilling shots on the course and begins one of the most exciting four hole stretches on Long Island.  The tee shot features a sweeping fairway bounded on the right by a pond and on the left by large dunes.  Again, the more aggressive the line, the longer the carry but the greater the reward.

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On his approach, the golfer confronts the water yet again, as the green juts out into the pond.  Now the hazard eats in from short right and surrounds the rear of the green.  The closer one plays to the far left side of the fairway, the safer the angle into the green becomes.

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The seventh green is fairly large but not the easiest target, given the surrounds and the winds.  Though the hole is short, par is a good score here, and double or worse is always in play.

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Hole 8 – 151 yards – Par 3
A picturesque short par-3, the eighth exemplifies the essence of Maidstone.  The green, nestled among the dunes, is partially obscured by an encroaching mound and is more than half blind from the tee.  When the hole is cut on the right half of the green, only the tip of the flag may be visible.

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If one were teaching a class on how to make bunkering look natural and blend with the surrounding terrain, the eighth green at Maidstone would be the first lesson.

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The green itself, in keeping with the natural contours of the land, slopes from high right to low left.  As seen from the right of the green, there is little margin for error.  A gorgeous hole, and arguably the best of three outstanding one-shot holes at Maidstone.

Maidstone8-Greenleft

Hole 9 – 415 yards – Par 4
Standing on the ninth tee at Maidstone, there are few in the world who would rather be elsewhere.  One of the all-time great classic holes, the ninth begins from a tee cut high into the dunes separating the golf course from the Atlantic Ocean.  The serpentine fairway sweeps right, then left, snaking through the largest dunes on the course.

Maidstone9-Tee

Neither the size or the beauty of the sand dunes bordering the ninth hole can be overstated.

Maidstone9-Reverse

The approach shot to the ninth is the most difficult at Maidstone.  A long, precise shot to an elevated green is required.  The mammoth Yale Bowl bunker sits waiting to the right to catch all but the most well-struck shots.  The Yale Bowl is the deepest and most treacherous bunker on the course – finding it brings all manner of crooked numbers into play.

Maidstone9-Reverse

The incredible topography of the ninth at Maidstone, as seen from behind the green.

Maidstone9-Valley

Hole 10 – 401 yards – Par 4
Though the ninth and tenth holes are listed at similar yardages on the card, the two holes will seldom play similarly.  The tenth tacks back in a western direction, exactly opposite the ninth, reversing the wind that was confronted on the previous hole.  Though the fairway is generous, care must be taken to place the tee shot in the proper position, as a diabolical green awaits.

Maidstone10-Tee

Sitting on the crest of a dune, the tenth green is the most substantially elevated on the course, and one of the most challenging.

Maidstone10-Approach

Coore & Crenshaw’s beautifully reworked natural bunkers guard both sides of the green and will gather balls that peel off the upslope.  The green cants significantly from back to front, and is guarded long by a steep drop of nearly 20 feet.

Maidstone10-Green

Any miss here makes for a difficult recovery.  A brilliant green complex in every respect.

Maidstone10-Greenright

Hole 11 – 464 yards – Par 4
If Maidstone were to have a weak spot, it would have been 11th and 12th holes.  Coming off the spectacular set of holes bookending the turn, the golfer must now play over an area lacking the interest of these all-world holes.  Nevertheless, Park was able to craft holes of sufficient interest over this flat portion of the course to carry the golfer over into the strong finishing stretch.  The 11th is a hard dogleg left to a fairway guarded by bunkers that play larger than they appear.  The firm, fast conditioning lends even straightforward tee shots strategic interest.

Maidstone11-Tee

The green is ringed with bunkers of varying sizes and shapes, which gives the hole texture and visual interest.  The green itself is canted stiffly from back to front, and a false-front sheds indifferent approaches back into the fairway.

Maidstone11-Approach

Hole 12 – 181 yards – Par 3
Though the least striking of Maidstone’s quartet of one-shot holes, the 12th is no throwaway hole.  A large cross-bunker fronting the green complicates the perception of the hole’s distance, and the domed green obscures rear pin placements.  The green itself is quite large, requiring precision iron play.  There is no safe miss on this hole – hit the green or struggle to make par.

Hole12-Tee

Hole 13 – 500 yards – Par 5
A gorgeous hole, the 13th returns the golfer to the dunes and begins the outstanding closing stretch of holes at Maidstone.  The first in a stretch of five consecutive non-par 4 holes, the 15th plays out to a wide open fairway before doglegging left around a set of bunkers and into the dunes.

Maidstone13-Fairway

This green is reachable in two shots for longer hitters (and even for shorter hitters when playing downwind), but the many bunkers and surrounding vegetation extract a high price from those who try and fail to get home.

Maidstone13-Approach

The 13th green is one of the best on the course, and suits this hole perfectly.  Angled from right to left, the green abruptly rises from the fairway before leveling out for a stretch and then rising again to a second tier before plunging into a rear bunker.  The initial rise over the false front serves to bleed speed off long approaches but will also return short wedge shots with too much spin to the fairway below.  The bunker on the left was masterfully reworked by Coore & Crenshaw and now meshes perfectly with this standout three-shotter.

Maidstone13-Green

Hole 14 – 152 yards – Par 3
The 14th hole at Maidstone is one of the most beautiful par-3s in the world.  Entirely ensconced in the dunes, the isolated 14th will take the breath from even the most well-traveled and crack the facade of the most cynical.  This is a special place in the golfing world.

Maidstone14-Tee

Once again, the bunkering work that Coore & Crenshaw have performed on the 14th hole has added to its already immeasurable charm.  The bunkering now blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and appears to have been a part of this hole since it was created.  The hole is now as gorgeous as it has ever been.  With the notable exception of Fishers Island’s otherworldly set of par 3 holes, I am unaware of par 3 in the state of New York with a comparable ocean view.

Maidstone14-AltView

Hole 15 – 493 yards – Par 5
The tee shot at the 15th plays from an elevated marker set in the dunes through a narrow chute of sand and shrub to a fairway bunkered on both sides.  This is one of the more enjoyable drives on the course.

Maidstone15-Tee

Once again, Park’s brilliant routing comes into play, as the par-5 15th runs parallel to and in the opposite direction of the par-5 13th hole, thus ensuring that whatever wind conditions the player faced before will be opposite him now.  As a result, like the 13th, most players will have a chance to reach this short par-5 in two when the wind is behind them, but will only have that benefit if they played into the wind on 13.

Maidstone15-Approach

Though largely flat, the 15th hole provides plenty of strategic interest.  Not only must the fairway and greenside bunkering be avoided, but care must be taken not to run a ball through this tricky green.  A long miss here makes for a very tough recovery.

Maidstone15-Reverse

Hole 16 – 485 yards – Par 5
An often repeated criticism of golfers from the U.S. Open school is that Maidstone suffers from having four short par 5 holes.  These players overlook not only the ever present and shifting wind at Maidstone, but also the fact that a hole can find its defenses in areas other than raw length.  The 16th is an excellent example.  The 16th tee sits on the same small island as the 4th tee and plays out to a fairway running left to right.  As with so many tee shots at Maidstone, the golfer has a strategic decision to make: do I play right and attempt to make the long carry so as to bring the green within reach in two shots, or do I play left for an easy carry and play the hole in three shots?  That so many of these decisions are confronted during a round is precisely what gives Maidstone its greatness.

Maidstone16-Tee

The battle with the “easy” 16th does not end once the tee shot is safely in the fairway, however.  The player is presented with an enticing target.  A flat green, open in front, with what appear to be small bunkers and minimal danger seemingly awaits.  Perhaps the player now decides to try a shot beyond their capabilities?

Maidstone16-Approach

Now the danger is revealed.  The bunkering guarding the green is more challenging that it seems from a distance.  The green is subtly humped and slopes off to all sides.  The shrubbery that appeared to give the green a wide berth now encroaches closer than it first appeared.  While the 16th remains an excellent opportunity for birdie, its rewards are not without risks that will snare the careless player.

Maidstone16-Green

Hole 17 – 328 yards – Par 4
The 17th is a drivable par 4 that once more puts the golfer to a decision and a test.  The tiny green can be reached from the tee but requires a maximum carry over the pond, avoidance of the deep bunkers to the left of the green and out-of-bounds to the right and rear of the green.

Maidstone17-Tee

The preferred angle, for those laying up off the tee, is to the right of the fairway.

Maidstone17-Approach

The 17th green presents challenges of its own, as it is both the smallest on the course and elevated so that it falls away on all sides.

Maidstone17-Greenright

If Park’s intent was to test the player’s wedge game, he has succeeded here.  There is no good miss on this hole.

Maidstone17-Reverse

The 17th is surrounded by trouble.  The home hole waits across the road.

Maidstone17-Green

Hole 18 – 390 yards – Par 4
Maidstone’s finishing hole plays back up hill to the clubhouse.  Interestingly, it is the only truly uphill hole on the property.  A long hole, the 18th offers a generous fairway to encourage the player to put a little extra into his tee shot, but finding the fairway bunkers makes par an unlikely proposition.

Maidstone18-Tee

The final approach is to a gorgeous horizon green.  The lack of any landmarks beyond the hole makes gaining an accurate perspective and distance difficult.

Maidstone18-Approach

Following the natural contours of the land, the green slopes from back to front before rolling over the apex of the dune and falling to the bunkers below.

Maidstone18-Greenwide

The “alligator eyes” bunkering backing the home green lend some limited perspective of its depth.

Maidstone18-GreenNarrow

Putting out on the final green at Maidstone, with the sights and sounds of the ocean below, the golfer is fully aware that he has just played one of the true classic gems in American golf.

Maidstone18-GreenLeft

If a golf course can be summed up in a single word, the word that applies to Maidstone is this: charming.  It is a charming golf course in every respect, from its setting high in the dunes above the Atlantic Ocean, to its unique routing across its many different types of terrain, to its unusual series of holes including a par-3, -5, -3, -5, -5 sequence, to its lack of length in comparison to modern “championship” courses.  Maidstone is virtually unique in American golf and, along with classic courses like Myopia Hunt Club, Fishers Island, Eastward Ho and Garden City and modern venues like Bandon Dunes, provides a venue that reminds us all that golf is a game that we play for fun.  Could Maidstone host a professional event today?  No.  Can I think of a more appealing place to spend an afternoon playing a match among friends?  Absolutely not.

Maidstone-ClubhouseSunset


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Copyright 2015 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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Discovering Golf’s Birthplace in America

In 2013, I took my first golf buddies trip.  Unlike conventional trips to resorts like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, or Bandon Dunes, we headed out to Long Island, NY.  We are fortunate enough to be able to leg out access to private clubs through our personal and professional networks.  This is the birthplace of golf in America, and for those lucky enough to have the connections, it is a must do trip.

PipingRock

First green at Piping Rock, looking back at the clubhouse (photo courtesy of GolfCourseGurus.com).

We got off the plane and headed straight to Piping Rock.  Walking to the practice area and seeing most of the front nine laid out before me was intoxicating.  Growing up playing many of the great classic courses on Chicago’s North Shore only partially prepared me for the impact.  The effect was similar to seeing the ancient city center in Rome – visually stunning, and oozing with history.

Our trip just got better as we played Shinnecock Hills, Maidstone and Friar’s Head.  One amazing track after another.  Needless to say, we were hooked and headed back for more this year.  In subsequent conversations about future annual trips, we have dismissed all ideas of going anywhere else.  The supply of world-class golf is nearly endless given that we have expanded our scope to include Philadelphia, Boston and other areas of New England.

I have become our crew’s researcher and planner, which plays into my obsession with golf course architecture – (especially from the Golden Era).

I created a Google map to keep my findings organized, and to track our progress over the years.  This map is now public (tinyurl.com/JasonWayNEGolf).  Hopefully, it will be a help to other golf adventure junkies.  And of course, if you have a recommendation, feel free to share.

NYGolfMap

The full map is available at tinyurl.com/JasonWayNEGolf