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East Hampton Golf Club Review
01 Nov 2013
by Pete Wlodkowski of AmateurGolf.com

see also: East Hampton Golf Club, All Course Reviews

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- amateurgolf.com photo
- amateurgolf.com photo

Prior to playing East Hampton Golf Club, there were two things I heard repeatedly from people who had played there. The first was that it’s amazing what Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore were able to accomplish with 115 acres. The second was that the course consists of two different nines with the implication that the one “across the street” and among woodlands was the lesser of the two.

The latter statement couldn’t be further from the truth, at least in my humble opinion.

On a September morning the day after the USA won the Walker Cup at National Golf Links of America, I found myself on the first tee with a caddie by my side. Once I drove the fairway of the stout dogleg-right par 4, the flat front nine, on the site of a former potato farm, was right out there in front of me. Fescue lines the well-manicured fairways, with ample driving areas and fairly obvious clues as to when to leave the driver in the bag. (For example on the short second hole if I played the course often I’m sure I would reach for driver and try to get there, but it was too early in the day to mess about in the fescue so I played a safe 3- wood down the middle.)

 

The bunkering is rough hewn in the style I have seen from the Coore/Crenshaw team the many times I have played the wonderful Bandon Trails in Oregon. (Check out the Two Man Links Championship May 4-7, 2014 if you’re interested in playing there.) The fairways and green surfaces are fescue grass, which gives the course a firm, links-style feel, although I wouldn’t call it a links course in the vein of National Golf Links by any stretch of the imagination.

After whipping around the front nine in a little over an hour, ending with the more tree- lined par-5 eighth and dogleg right par-4 ninth, we crossed the street to play the wooded back nine. Here the terrain becomes more hilly, and while I didn’t find the driving areas overly tight, I found the par-3’s and approach shots to the 4s and 5s much more challenging. There are some places, notably the 13th, where a missed approach shot can put you in a world of hurt. My previously unscathed card found a double bogey there, and a couple of three putts on two-tier greens like the par-3 14th.

Trying to bring the round home safely, I stepped to the tee of the par-3 17th and looked down at the fairly small target. I’m not sure why I knew this, but something told me the hole had a local nickname.

“The shortest par-5 in golf,” my caddie Dan told me.

After hitting that green and three putting, I wanted to reach for the driver on the 281 closing hole, but thought better of it when I saw the look on Dan’s face. I thought about the long flight home to California and wanted a positive thought, so hit a 5-iron to the small fairway, leaving me a sand wedge in to the small green. A tree overhanging the fairway would have made hitting driver a low percentage shot with my ball flight, but it would have been fun to try. My five-foot birdie putt fell in the side door, and the 2:20 it took to play left me plenty of time to enjoy an awesome lobster roll in the top-drawer clubhouse (not surprising given the club is owned by a local builder).

East Hampton, like many of the golf clubs on Eastern Long Island, is very private. But if you get the chance to play there, by all means do so and see what can be done on 115 acres and 6400 yards on the scorecard. There are a lot of ways to make golf challenging and fun.

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