By Juli Inkster
This article first appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of LINKS Magazine – click here to enjoy free access to the full digital issue.
MY FAVORITE COURSE
Muirfield Village. Every hole on the course requires you to hit different types of shots, the practice facilities are amazing, and the food is on point.
FIRST COURSE I EVER PLAYED
You’ll like this—my first course was Pasatiempo Golf Club. I got a job working at the golf course when I was 15, got some clubs from the back room, and started playing golf.
THE COURSE I’VE PLAYED MOST OFTEN
I’d have to say Los Altos Golf & Country Club in California. My husband was the Director of Golf there for 37 years so I’ve played a lot of golf there.
BEST COURSE I’VE EVER PLAYED
This is the toughest one…probably Shinnecock Hills. It’s a classic links-type golf course and the holes are laid out so nicely. You have a variety of long and short holes, but once you get on the green the challenge really starts. For 18 holes, you have to be all in mentally.
HARDEST COURSE I’VE EVER PLAYED
That’s easy: Blackwolf Run. I played two U.S. Opens there and let’s just say I had the weekend off for both of them.
COURSE THAT PRODUCED MY SWEETEST GOLF MEMORY
Old Waverly in Mississippi—it was my first U.S. Women’s Open win. I was 38 years old, not sure I would ever win an Open, and everything came together that week. Walking down the 18th hole with a five-shot lead was a great feeling.
A COURSE NOT IN THE WORLD TOP 100 THAT SHOULD BE
Pasatiempo—it’s a hidden gem. Such a classic golf course with a lot of really interesting second shots, and the par threes are some of the best in the world.
A COURSE IN THE TOP 100 THAT HAS MY NUMBER
Winged Foot—it’s just tough. You’ve got to drive the ball well, it’s long, the greens are tough. I’ve played there a few times and I’ve never been able to score well.
THE #1 COURSE ON MY BUCKET LIST
National Golf Links. I’ve played a lot of the golf courses out on Long Island, but not that one. I’ve heard so many great things.
THE COURSE I’D PLAY IF I COULD PLAY ONLY ONE COURSE FOR REST OF MY LIFE
Pebble Beach, but the course would have to be empty so it wouldn’t take me six hours to play. I may let a few other people on, but I’d like to make it my personal golf park.
By Ryan Asselta
The par five. The one hole in golf where almost anything is possible. The longest holes on a course give golfers a chance to imagine the possibilities. A legitimate chance at birdie…or even that rare shot at an elusive eagle. But as many of us know, par fives can often show their teeth, generating double and triple bogeys and wrecking even the most consistent player’s scorecard.
With that in mind, the premise is simple: If you could create a nine-hole golf course composed of your top par fives in the world, what would it look like?
It’s the third and final edition to a series I call my “Dream Nine,” consisting of holes that I’ve played and others that I’ve only seen in my dreams (after creating layouts for my Dream Nine of par threes and par fours).
Remember…it’s MY personal dream nine. Take a look and ask yourself—what’s on yours?
Troon North, Monument Course: 3rd hole (564 yards)
We begin our Dream Nine with what feels like a trip back to prehistoric times. The first par five on the Monument course at Troon North affords golfers an enormous target off the tee—a massive boulder sitting dead smack in the middle of the fairway. Unable to move the giant piece of granite, designer Tom Weiskopf decided to leave it undisturbed, creating one of the most unique tee shots in the Arizona desert.
Place your drive on either side of that Flintstones-like hazard and you’ll have the green in your sights on the sharp dogleg right. Leave it too close to the boulder, and you’ll be punching-out back into play—like yours truly did during my visit to Troon North.
Bethpage State Park, Black Course: 4th hole (517 yards)
The first par five at “The Black” is a beast and has A.W. Tillinghast’s fingerprints all over it. The double dogleg plays tricks with your sight lines off the tee, where finding the fairway is paramount. The fairway is divided by a massive glacier bunker that golfers need to avoid at all cost. Once past there, you’re still not out of the woods, as your approach demands a blind shot into a green fronted by a large bunker, and a putting surface that slopes severely front-left to back-right.
Having run off the back of the green, my ball came to rest in the tightly mown chipping area which butts up against some gnarly rough. Anything is possible on this hole.
Augusta National Golf Club: 13th hole (510 yards)
Standing on the 13th tee at Augusta National is almost a religious experience. Looking out toward the area that surrounds the 12th tee box and the tall Georgia pines that line the 13th fairway, you realize you’re standing on a plot of land that 99 percent of golfers will never set foot on.
My experience playing Augusta in 2016 was nothing short of spectacular, despite a sloppy bogey on 13. After pushing my tee shot into the pines, I was confronted with a similar second shot to the one that Phil Mickelson faced during the 2010 Masters. I thought, “What would Phil do?” Of course, Lefty pulled off one of the most miraculous shots in Masters history, landing the green and two putting for birdie. Me? Well I went for it, only to hit a thin hybrid…which led to my ball rolling into Rae’s Creek. I guess if there’s one body of water in golf you’d be okay with being in, I’d found it.
Sebonack Golf Club: 18th hole (570 yards)
As scenic a finishing hole as you’ll see on the east coast, Sebonack’s 18th is a gem. As a whole, Sebonack, in my opinion, is the most underrated course among the layouts on the east end of Long Island. Legend has it that Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak originally planned for the 18th hole to be a long par four, but course owner Michael Pascucci insisted on finishing with a par five.
The hole, which sits atop a bluff along Great Peconic Bay, requires a tee shot up the left side along the water line. A solid drive is followed by a treacherous second shot over Sebonack’s coffin bunker, and then an approach that will undoubtedly ride the traditional Southampton breeze into the green.
Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club: 15th hole (455 yards)
Southern Pines, N.C.
From the moment you arrive at Mid Pines, it feels like you’ve taken a trip back to the 1920s. Strolling through the clubhouse and locker room, you get a sense you might bump into Donald Ross himself. I’ve never actually had the chance to play the Ross gem, but I caddied in two U.S. Kids World Championships for my son at the historic golf course. Like any looper, I’ve developed intricate knowledge of the layout.
The reachable-in-two 15th hole at Mid Pines demands extreme placement. Off the tee you need to ride the right side of the fairway in order to funnel your ball back to the middle. You’ll then need precise accuracy on either your lay-up or approach to a green that runs drastically back to front and right to left. Helps to have a good caddie on your bag!
National Golf Links of America: 18th hole (502 yards)
The first of my four “closers” for the Dream Nine comes on the east end of Long Island. The C.B. Macdonald/Seth Raynor masterpiece built in 1911 sits atop the Shinnecock hills overlooking Great Peconic Bay. I had the rare opportunity to play the National prior to the 2013 Walker Cup.
The 18th is anything and everything a finishing hole should be: challenging, fair, and memorable. Called “Home,” the hole plays much longer than its yardage, climbing back up the hill toward the historic clubhouse the entire way in. Three solid shots should leave you putting for birdie in the shadows of the club’s signature windmill with one of the most breathtaking views in golf.
Kingsbarns Golf Links: 12th hole (606 yards)
Located just seven miles southeast of St. Andrews, Kingsbarns is just a baby when it comes to golf in Scotland, opening for play in 2000. The 12th hole, named “Orrdeal” after the Orr family who originally owned the land, provides golfers with a breathtaking stroll along the coast of the North Sea.
A right-to-left ball flight off the tee to the right portion of a generous fairway will funnel your ball back to center. You’ll need perfect wind conditions to attempt going for the 65-yard long green in two. Even if you have the wind blowing at your back, golfers deal with the sea to the left and a greenside bunker and a dune complex that surrounds the extremely long and narrow green.
Pebble Beach Golf Links: 18th hole (543 yards)
Pebble Beach, Calif.
Arguably the most famous finishing hole in golf, the 18th at Pebble signifies the end of a round that many players have dreamed about their entire life. The hole, that to date I’ve only played in my dreams, is one that I feel like I know exactly how to navigate having watched many AT&T Pro-Ams and U.S. Opens at Pebble over the years.
Set along the crashing waves of the Pacific, a tee shot left of center will avoid the Cypress tree strategically rooted up the right side, allowing golfers to try and get home in two. The approach into 18 is protected by a quartet of trouble. Water way left, green-side bunkers left and right, and a 70-foot Monterey Cypress tree guarding the front right approach. Simply iconic.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua: 18th hole (663 yards)
We wrap up our Dream Nine with one of my all-time favorite finishing holes. The 18th at Kapalua is traditionally seen by golfers on television in January during the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but you truly don’t get a feel for the hole’s breathtaking elevation until you stand on the tee box.
The 18th fairway is huge and inviting, 80 yards wide, but you have to hit your target line off the tee to maximize the hole’s downslope. Resident Hawaiian and NBC golf commentator Mark Rolfing says that target is the chimney on the right side of the clubhouse. If you hit that line, you’ll ride the speed slot and allow yourself the opportunity to go for the green in two. I followed Rolf’s advice all the way down to the green for a two-putt birdie finish.
What holes make up your par five “Dream Nine?” Let us know in the comment section below.
By James A. Frank
“But don’t let famed holes…such as the ‘Alps’ of Prestwick and ‘Redan’ of North Berwick, lead you into attempting to reproduce them. In trying to make your course fit certain famous hole treatments, you are certain to be doomed to disappointment.”
—DONALD ROSS, Golf Has Never Failed Me
Sorry, Don. They didn’t listen.
The idea of importing enduring hole designs from one course to another is usually credited to Charles Blair Macdonald, who wanted to build “a classical golf course in America, one which would eventually compare favorably with the championship links abroad and serve as an incentive to the elevation of the game in America.”
In the “agreement” Macdonald prepared for the investors in the club he envisioned on New York’s Long Island—The National Golf Links of America, which opened in 1909—he wrote, “…it is well known that certain holes on certain links abroad are famous as being the best, considering their various lengths. It is the object of this association to model each of the eighteen holes after the most famous holes abroad, so that each hole would be representative and classic in itself.”
Ever since, courses throughout the world have “borrowed” classic design concepts, mostly from the famous early courses in the UK. But which are the most iconic? Poring over golf books and online led us to dozens of candidates for what we now refer to as “template holes,” as well as arguments about their legitimacy. We settled on what we consider the eight most classic, each of which is explained here. We also asked some current architects to help us identify the best of the reproductions: No surprise, many of these are on courses designed by Macdonald and his acolytes Seth Raynor and Charles Banks, with a few more modern examples included, as well.
REDAN (Original: 15, North Berwick (West), Scotland)
Probably the most famous template of them all. A Redan is a military fortification formed by ramparts shaped like a V, angled toward the enemy and open in back. This concept was adapted to form a par-three hole with the green on the plateau created by the embankments: The green tilts right to left and slopes away from the incoming shot, with a deep bunker protecting its front and a smaller one at the back. David Strath, who designed North Berwick in the late 1870s, brilliantly placed the tee so the green is approached at a near 45-degree angle, bringing every element of the naturally occurring mound into play. Depending on the wind and where the hole is cut, the shot required could be almost anything. Macdonald’s Redan, the 4th hole at National, is usually called an improvement on the original because the features are visible from the tee, while at Berwick much is hidden. Among the countless variations, the green slopes different ways, while bunkers are added or subtracted—and even replaced by water as at the Redanish 16th at Augusta National.
NOTABLES: 4, National; 6, Yeamans Hall; 17, Mid Ocean; 3, Piping Rock; 7, Westhampton
EDEN (Original: 11, Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland)
This par three covers flatter ground than the Redan, meaning bunkers must do most of the work protecting a green that slopes from back to front. The bunkers are usually quite deep, in the manner of the original at St. Andrews, which famously features the “Hill” bunker front-left, the smaller, yet treacherous, “Strath” bunker front-right, and one much shorter (called “Cockleshell” or “Shelly”) that shouldn’t come into play. The hole takes its name from the River Eden that flows behind the original; on many reproductions, sand fills in for water behind the green. Wind also plays a role: On the Old Course, where the hole is around 175 yards, the club of choice can be anything from driver to wedge, depending. Alister MacKenzie was a huge fan of Eden for the “marked tilt of the green,” and also wrote, “The narrow entrance and subtle slopes have all the advantages of a cross bunker without making it impossible for the long handicap man.”
NOTABLES: 13, National; 2, Old Macdonald; 11, Fishers Island; 5, Camargo Club; 7, Midland Hills
BIARRITZ (Original: 3, Golf de Biarritz, France)
The most recognizable feature of this long par-three design is the deep (three- to five-foot) swale in the middle of the green. The Biarritz course—which still exists, although the template hole was destroyed during World War II—was laid out by brothers Willie and Tom Dunn around 1890 for British expatriates in southern France. Intended as a test of one’s long game, the hole is usually more than 200 yards; crucially, the shot must finish on the correct side of the swale or else leave a long, tricky putt. Furthermore, the large, geometrically precise green is usually guarded by long, narrow bunkers. Recent variations on the Biarritz green incorporate it into a par four or five or turn some of what was the front part of the green into fairway.
NOTABLES: 9, Yale; 3, Chicago; 8, Camargo Club; 13, Mid Ocean; 17, Fox Chapel; 16, Yeamans Hall
ALPS (Original: 17, Prestwick, Scotland)
Today, almost any par-four or -five hole with a big hill or mound between tee and green is likely to be called an Alps, but the key element is that the approach shot is blind and, therefore, that much scarier. Another feature is a hidden hazard behind the mound and in front of the green: At Prestwick, it’s the aptly named “Sahara” bunker. This sort of doubly troublesome blind shot has fallen out of vogue, but others say one of the most exciting moments in golf is scaling the hill and seeing that you’ve successfully found the green. Macdonald is credited with improving on the mostly straightaway original when he designed the 3rd at National, angling the fairway to the right and adding bunkers, tempting the player to shorten the hole by playing left but then putting the highest part of “High Hill” in the way.
NOTABLES: 3, National; 4, Fishers Island; 9, Gibson Island; 5, Old Marsh (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
CAPE (Original: 14, National Golf Links, New York)
While many holes in the UK and elsewhere exhibit Cape-like qualities (e.g., No. 1 at Machrihanish), it’s not unreasonable to give credit for this template to Macdonald himself, as exemplified by his water-lined designs at National and Mid Ocean. The question for the golfer standing on the tee is “How much do I dare ‘bite off’” over a hazard to a diagonal fairway that ends with a green very close to the same hazard. It’s the ultimate risk/reward calculation, required on every shot. Some Cape holes use sand, grass, even trees to create the hazard, but the idea is always the same: Hit it straight (and a knowable distance) off the tee, then avoid the trouble at the green.
NOTABLES: 5, Mid Ocean Club; 18, Pebble Beach; 18, TPC Sawgrass (“Half the water holes Pete Dye ever built are Cape holes,” according to Tom Doak.)
ROAD (Original: 17, Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland)
What most golfers remember about 17 at St. Andrews— arguably the most famous hole in golf—are its extremes: the drive over a wing of the Old Course Hotel (originally railway sheds), followed by the road and stone wall beyond the green. Those elements matter, and are often replicated by bunkers or other hazards that direct the tee shot away from the trouble and then punish a too-long approach. But what really makes this a classic is the green—long and angled right to left, with a deep pot bunker in front. Playing a Road hole well requires driving as close to the hazard/hotel as possible to leave an approach into the full length of the green; drive away from the hazard and the approach has to go over the bunker and into the green at its narrowest. The hole’s fame is well earned.
NOTABLES: 2, Chicago; 10, Shoreacres; 7, Yeamans Hall
PUNCHBOWL (Originals: 9, Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) and 3, Royal Cinque Ports, both England)
The name refers to the green, which is shaped like a bowl because it is surrounded by mounding, usually with the effect of funneling the ball to the hole. Such was common on old links courses where architects looked for green sites that were protected from the wind. Usually the green surface is below the fairway, exaggerating the bowl effect; more modern Punchbowls have been built at or even above fairway level. You’ll find Punchbowls on any kind of hole, long or short. And while some architects dislike the uncertainty of its blindness, it can produce the same sort of thrill offered by the Alps, the great expectation of finding where one’s ball has come to rest.
NOTABLES: 16, National; 6, Creek Club; 12, Chicago; 15, Sleepy Hollow; 9, Streamsong Black
CARDINAL (Original: 3, Prestwick, Scotland)
Although named after the massive bunker about halfway along the par-five 3rd hole at Prestwick, the true definition of a Cardinal hole is double-dogleg. The original and many adaptations bend twice in the same direction—left to right at Prestwick—but some Cardinals bend in two different directions. In either case, two features are paramount: length and significant trouble guarding at least one of the bends (e.g., “Sahara” at Baltusrol’s 17th, “Hell’s Half Acre” at Baltimore’s 14th, both A.W. Tillinghast courses).
NOTABLES: 17, Baltusrol (Lower); 14, Baltimore (Five Farms East); 6, Piping Rock
Home to classic major championship venues, breathtaking modern layouts, and everything in between, Long Island has long been a favorite summertime destination for avid golf travelers. Whether you’re spending the night in your car to save your place in line for the “People’s Country Club” or lucky enough to tee it up at one of the exclusive clubs in the Hamptons, there’s great golf for everyone on Long Island. Here’s our top 10.
1. Shinnecock Hills, Southampton
The venue for five U.S. Opens, it calls for everything—brave tee shots, well-struck irons, an imaginative short game, and patience—all in a fabulous setting.
2. National Golf Links of America, Southampton
C.B. Macdonald’s 1911 masterpiece, then hailed as America’s first great course, has been lengthened over the years but its essential design and remarkable character remain unchanged.
3. Fishers Island, Fishers Island
Yes, it is technically part of Long Island, although it lies closer to Connecticut. This Raynor gem is hard to get to—and harder to get on—but easy to love, with water in view on almost every hole.
4. Bethpage Black, Farmingdale
Host in 2019 of the first PGA Championship to be held in May in 70 years (plus two U.S. Opens), this public course, part of the New York State Parks system, is a brutal test from the 7,465-yard tips: rating 77.5, slope 155.
5. Maidstone, East Hampton
The course Willie and Jack Park laid out nearly a century ago remains largely intact, a journey that winds through marshland and salt ponds with a stretch of links-like holes smack beside the Atlantic.
6. Friar’s Head, Baiting Hollow
Coore & Crenshaw overcame a Jekyll & Hyde site, crafting a series of brilliantly strategic holes that weave back and forth from a potato field to majestic dunes overlooking Long Island Sound.
7. Piping Rock, Locust Valley
The first Macdonald/Raynor collaboration on inland terrain, it includes all the template holes on a site that begins on flattish open land and climbs to a woodsy, elevated back nine.
8. Garden City Golf Club, Garden City
Walter Travis won the 1900 U.S. Amateur here, then redesigned the links-like course. Today it’s known for its fast-running fairways, thick fescue rough, and 175 penal bunkers of all shapes and sizes.
9. Sebonack, Southampton
Co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak—and set audaciously beside National and Shinnecock—it’s more modern than classic in design but more than worthy of its rarefied zip code, having hosted the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open.
10. Atlantic, Bridgehampton
Longtime Hamptons summer resident Rees Jones did some of his best work on this expansive links-like journey that twists, turns, climbs, and dips with the dramatic flow of the land.
Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below!
By Adam Schupak
The winner of the 1986 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills—and a Hamptons summer resident for over 20 years—recalls the pressue of that week but hasn’t forgotten what it was like to win his first Tour event, 23 years earlier
Q. You won 22 times on the PGA Tour. What do you remember about your maiden victory, which made you the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event since Ralph Guldahl in 1932?
It was March of 1963 at the St. Petersburg Open. I birdied 16 and made a 25-foot par putt at 17 to shoot 69 and hold off Dave Marr by a stroke. I remember I was packing up in the locker room at Lakewood Country Club and I heard two men talking about this 20-year-old kid about to win his first tournament. One of them said, “Who is this Ray Floyd?” They didn’t know I was in there or even what I looked like. Then a guy walks in says, “Is Ray Floyd here?” and I said, “Yes, I am.” And he told me I had won and they needed me for the trophy presentation. I didn’t know that I was supposed to do that. I didn’t know anything except that my dad had put together a syndicate of six members from his club in Fayetteville and they put up $500 apiece to bankroll me. I had been traveling in my car for three months and hadn’t won a dime, so the timing was pretty good.
Q. What’s your most vivid memory from shooting a final-round 66 and winning the 1986 U.S. Open at age 43?
It takes four rounds to win. I don’t overlook what I did in the first round. I hit only five greens and shot 75. My putter saved me. I took just 25 putts in one of the worst days of weather probably in the history of the U.S. Open. It felt like a British Open. When I walked off the course, I told my wife, “I survived.” I got into the mix and on Sunday there was a stampede of 10 world-class players within a stroke of the lead—guys like Greg Norman, Lee Trevino, and Payne Stewart. I was the only contender who shot under par that day to prevail.
Q. Your wife, Maria, once told me you were so in the zone that you stared right through her and didn’t notice her as you walked to the 11th tee during the final round. Is that true?
She said I didn’t see her, but I did. I was focused or what you called “being in the zone.” I had that stare. Some players called it “The Look.” My wife said she’d seen me win tournaments without the stare, but she’d never seen me lose one with it.
Q. How did your love affair with Southampton begin? It’s quite a change from Fayetteville, N.C., and Miami.
That is true. I had never been on Long Island until that Open. That week was a business trip for me. We kind of liked it, but when we went back in 1995, we drove around the area with the kids and we loved the area, bought land, and built a home there in 1997. I’m out there for the summer months. The Hamptons has its own microclimate. It can be 90 degrees and stifling in Manhattan yet 82 with a pleasant breeze in the Hamptons. I’m a member at Shinnecock, National Golf Links, and Atlantic Golf Club. I play quite a bit with my friends who tend to have handicaps in the 10–20 range.
Q. If you had to choose between Shinnecock and National, which would you play?
They are so totally different. Shinnecock is a world-class championship course. I don’t think any first-rank golfer would have it outside their top courses. The National is a step back in time. It’s so special.
Q. What are you doing these days to keep your hand in golf?
I’m out of golf. I’m retired. I’m in the Bahamas right now. I bonefish. I fly-fish. I fish for salmon in June in Canada. I go to Alaska and do trout fishing. I shoot birds and I shoot sporting clays. I’ve got things to keep me busy. I’m out of the game and I’m happy that I am.
Put yourself in the shoes of a golf course architect. You’re designing a long par three that will play 210 yards from the members’ tee. You can’t make the green complex too difficult, or the putting surface too sloping, because, after all, your average golfer will need to hit the shot of the day to even think about making par. No matter what you do, you’ve created a tough hole simply with length.
Now shorten the hole to approximately 150 yards and you need to be more creative. Length is no longer a defense while a slew of new options are available. The forced carry is back on the table, as is a contoured green and a range of bunkering gambits. You’re also dealing with a golfer approaching the hole with an entirely different attitude: He expects to hit the green, is excited at the chance to take dead aim, and, possibly, has a false sense of security.
It is that combination of feelings brought on by shorter par threes that makes them universally loved by golfers. These wee wonders tap into what makes golf so enjoyable for players, while forcing architects to reach deeper into their bag of tricks.
Here is the LINKS list of the best short par threes in the world. Each one inspires fear, requires accuracy, and encourages creativity, but more importantly, they all tap into that gut feeling every golfer loves, that feeling of, “Okay, I’m going for it. I’ve got this.”
Cypress Point 15, 135 yards, Monterey Peninsula, Calif.
The walk to the tee of this beauty is a breathtaking reveal. Waves crash beneath and distract from the small green framed by bunkers and a maritime forest.
Ballyneal 3, 145 yards, Holyoke, Colo.
This hole sits so naturally within the dunes that you’d think Tom Doak simply cut the grass and put a pin in the ground.
National Golf Links 6, 123 yards, Southampton, N.Y
A severely undulating green puts a premium on accuracy. Hit it to the wrong section of the putting surface and a three-putt awaits.
Sleepy Hollow 16, 155 yards, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
When Gil Hanse removed hundreds of trees during his renovation, the view of the Hudson River from this tee improved drastically. Seth Raynor’s signature par-three bunkering surrounds the green.
Pebble Beach 7, 106 yards, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Although well under 150 yards, this tee shot can require a short wedge or a long iron. Winds whip off the Pacific, which also provides a world-class backdrop to the hole.
Royal Troon 8, 123 yards, Troon, Scotland
The “Postage Stamp” is perhaps the best known of Scotland’s short holes, with its minuscule green sitting on the side of a large dune. Look for more than a few debacles during the Open this year.
Bandon Trails 5, 133 yards, Bandon, Ore.
Coore and Crenshaw packed this 133-yarder with interesting features. A scrub valley lies short of the green, which has a Biarritz swale separating the front from the back.
Royal Melbourne (West) 7, 148 yards, Melbourne, Australia
This green slopes from back to front and is raised so that judging the yardage of the shot is difficult whether from the tee or the oft-found front-right bunker
Shoreacres 12, 127 yards, Lake Bluff, Ill.
A Raynor gem played from an elevated tee to a picturesque green sitting in a small valley and surrounded by bunkers.
Streamsong (Red) 8, 147 yards, Streamsong, Fla.
Bunkers protrude into the massive green, squeezing it into an hourglass. Hit the wrong end of the hourglass and you’ll be spending quite some time two- or three-putting.
Barnbougle Dunes (Australia) 7
This raised green is already smaller than it appears from the tee, with the surrounding bunkers making it appear even smaller.
Friar’s Head 17
This “Postage Stamp”-style green has a severe drop off to the right, just like the original in Scotland. A severe penalty is paid for missing the green.
Garden City Golf Club 2
The only par three on the front nine, this 137-yarder plays over a small dip and is an architect’s lesson in how to effectively use a flat landscape.
A test of accuracy, this hole plays dead into the Atlantic Ocean breeze to a small green surrounded by scrub and sand.
Moliets (France) 16
Swirling winds and two long bunkers on either side of the green guard this uphill assignment, while gorse behind ensures shots hit long are never found.
Pacific Dunes 11
This green sits naturally among the scrub and blowout bunkers with the Pacific Ocean directly behind. Don’t let the crashing waves distract when putting out.
Pine Needles 3
This Ross green slopes off on both sides while a large bunker sits intimidatingly in front to swallow up mishits.
Sand Hills 17
The short shot to this elevated green can be terrifying because all you can see from the tee are the surrounding bunkers.
Somerset Hills 12
The green, designed by Tillinghast, is embraced on its left side by a lake, a feature not commonly found on early 20th-century inland courses. The setting is beautiful, especially in the fall.
Pine Valley 10
This deceptively simple hole has a sloping green but is best known for the diabolical bunker that sits short right and is known as the “Devil’s Asshole.”
TPC Sawgrass 17
Little description is needed of this famous island-green hole, an annual gut check for the pros in the Players Championship.
Toreboda (Sweden) 10
This horseshoe-shaped green places a premium on distance control, while swirling winds add to the difficulty.
Troon Country Club 15
A desert mountain backdrops this hole, which stands out emerald green among the brown and orange desert scrub.
This hole is the logo of the Donald Ross Society for good reason: A bunker starts on the left hillside and wraps around the front of the green. A miss here invariably leads to a big number.
Woburn (England) 3
When the rhododendron are in bloom, few holes are prettier than this downhiller with a small, pear-shaped green.
By George Bahto
MacDonald’s ‘Ideal Golf Course’ has endured for more than a century as a masterpiece of strategic design.
Architecturally, however, they are worlds apart.
While Shinnecock, originally constructed in 1892, has undergone numerous redesigns, renovations, lengthenings, and strengthenings over the last 120-plus years, National, which opened in 1911, has remained essentially unchanged, an enduring testament to the genius of its architect, C.B. Macdonald.
Charlie Macdonald’s notion of an “Ideal Golf Course” introduced a completely new concept to golf—strategy. No longer would the game be played along a strictly defined line from tee to green. Macdonald proposed alternate routes fraught with problems and hazards to be confronted and conquered. His main tenet was that a golfer who successfully challenged those obstacles would be rewarded. For the player unwilling or unable to do battle, a slightly less daunting, albeit longer, way was always available.
Macdonald brought his vision to life at National with a succession of superb holes, many of them replicas of the classics he’d played as a young man in Scotland. He combined generous fairways with vexing green complexes to pose unrelenting questions that compelled golfers to use their minds. Shinnecock appears open but closer inspection reveals her fairways to be steadfastly guarded by multiple bunkers and cordons of fescue grass. There is but one route—the defined line of play.
Bernard Darwin described National as having “the most divinely beautiful vistas imaginable.” Bull’s Head Bay sits to one side while the Great Peconic Bay borders the six finishing holes on the other. Shinnecock, although set on higher ground, offers no such views. Wind is another factor common to both courses, but the seaside wind at National is more severe, especially playing the back nine into the “seasonal” southwest breeze.
But perhaps the most vivid comparison is of the two Redan holes—the 4th at National and the 7th at Shinnecock. Although Shinnecock’s version is an excellent hole, National’s is often said to be better than the original Redan, No. 15 at North Berwick in Scotland. During the 1995 U. S. Open, although many players hit shots that rolled off the back of Shinnecock’s 7th green, they were left with a relatively easy uphill chip. At National’s 4th they would have faced much more trouble recovering from behind the green. It’s a thrill to play both of these courses, but when I’m fortunate enough to find my way to the Hamptons, I’m afraid my car has a mind of its own, always taking me to the gates of National, once again to visit Macdonald’s masterpiece.
The late George Bahto is the author of The Evangelist of Golf, a biography of C.B. Macdonald.
By Raymond Floyd
They are two magnificent places to play–and I love them both–but only one is a championship golf course.
Let me begin by saying that I love both of these courses. I’m also blessed to be a member of both clubs. For the last 16-plus years, my wife Maria and I have owned a home just a few minutes from Shinnecock and National, and during the summer I play them with equal frequency.
That said, one thing separates them: Shinnecock is a championship golf course. As George Bahto correctly notes, National is an absolutely enchanting course, a period piece of golf architecture that has not changed much since C.B. Macdonald designed it more than a century ago. From the very first hole, a drivable par four with a rollicking, one-of-a-kind green, you know you’re playing something special. It’s a course full of character and guile, a design that today’s architects rightly come to study and learn from. It’s also just plain fun to play. But there’s no escaping the fact that from the back tees, National—with a par of 73—is only 6,779 yards.
By contrast, Shinnecock—with a par of 70—is more than 200 yards longer (6,996) and plays even longer than that, a complete examination of golf at the very highest level. The layout that has been in play for the last 80 years is the handiwork of Dick Wilson on a design by William Flynn, and it is nothing short of brilliant. Nearly every hole brings a change in direction. As such, every kind of wind must be battled, every sort of shot must be attempted.
Finding the fairways—and avoiding the more than 150 bunkers and thick fescue rough—is a must as Shinnecock’s greens are small and fall off to all sides, although most of them may be reached with roll-on approaches. They’re also faster and more daunting than those at National. George notes the difference between the two Redan holes, and while I take his point about the severity of the return chip from the back of the 4th at National, it’s also true that Shinnecock’s 7th has a fiercely sloped green that is more difficult both to hold and to putt.
Indeed, I think the four par threes at Shinnecock are particularly strong. In addition to No. 7, there’s the ultra-long 2nd, the devilish 11th—its canted green perched 50 feet above the tee where wind plays havoc—and the 17th with its tightly bunkered target set nearly at a right angle to the line of play.
But there is a straightforward honesty to Shinnecock. When you stand on the 1st hole, its tee hard beside the Stanford White-designed clubhouse on the highest point of the property, you can see the entire assignment before you, and that sets the tone for the course. There are few forced carries, few blind shots. The same may not be said of National.
As I said, I love these courses equally. I simply have greater respect for Shinnecock as a venue for championship competition. Shinnecock was a full and fair test of golf for the U.S. Open in 1896, and I have no doubt it will offer that same challenge when the Open returns for a sixth time in 2026.
Raymond Floyd won the 1986 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, one of his four major championships and 22 PGA Tour victories.
The home hole at the soon-to-be opened Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York, is a natural beauty, a par 5 that dips, rolls and rises atop a cliff overlooking Peconic Bay. The target off the tee is a flagpole at the adjacent National Golf Links of America, opened in 1911.
The symbolism is not coincidental. Sebonack and other new enclaves on eastern Long Island, like Friar’s Head and The Bridge, are taking dead aim at establishments like National, Shinnecock Hills and Maidstone.
Setting aside golf, the difference between the two types of clubs is social pedigree and money. Initiation fees at the old-line clubs are relatively low, less than $75,000. But if you’re not a blue-blood, related to a blue-blood, or service the blue-bloods’ financial, charitable and social trusts, even an unlimited checkbook won’t help.
Until recently, that meant few places to play in the Hamptons, New York’s most desirable summer address. That started to change in 1990, when Lowell Schulman founded Atlantic Golf Club, with memberships for the then-astronomical price of $100,000. Atlantic’s fees have since doubled, and there is a long waiting list.
Soon, others joined in. In 2003, Robert Rubin founded The Bridge, which costs $550,000 to join. “We’re not trying to imitate our elders,” says Rubin. “We’re trying to do something contemporary, as exemplified by our modern clubhouse. The atmosphere is relaxed. We want everybody to have fun.”
Another difference is the quality of the courses.
National, Shinnecock and Maidstone are beyond approach, but some of the new layouts are starting to crack “best of” lists. “I have tremendous respect for Friar’s Head,” says golf course architect Tom Doak, who co-designed Sebonack with Jack Nicklaus. “I think the property that Friar’s Head and Sebonack are on is comparable to Shinnecock and National, but it will take years before any new course earns the same degree of respect as those icons.”
Michael Pascucci spent $45 million to acquire the property for Sebonack, which opens in August. He is asking $550,000 for basic membership. This trend is not limited to the Hamptons. For city denizens, there are options across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Donald Trump’s Trump National ($200,000 initiation fee) and Reebok CEO Paul Fireman’s Liberty National ($500,000).
East Hampton G.C., East Hampton ($260,000 initiation fee)
Sebonack G.C., Southampton ($550,000)
Friar’s Head, Baiting Hollow ($250,000)
The Bridge, Bridgehampton ($550,000)
Trump National G.C., Bedminster ($200,000)
Hamilton Farm G.C., Gladstone ($300,000)
Liberty National G.C., Jersey City ($500,000)
Bayonne G.C., Bayonne ($150,000)
Hudson National G.C., Croton-on-Hudson ($210,000)
Trump National G.C., Briarcliff Manor ($200,000)