Location: Southampton, NY
Architect: William S. Flynn
July 14, 2007
The view of the clubhouse below is what we saw after we parked our car and started walking towards the holy grail of golf. Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, NY is on just about every golfers dream list. Few places in golf evoke the respectful reverence as when one says they are playing at Shinnecock Hills. The club is rich with history being one of the founding clubs of the USGA and playing host to numerous U.S. Opens. Although the current course design was done in 1931 the club itself was established in 1891. Shinnecock Hills had the very first clubhouse in America. This clubâ€™s hallowed grounds have no doubt been the site of great drama among its members as well as the PGA Tour.
Our host greeted us on the practice green and led us to the locker room to change shoes. The clubhouse at Shinnecock is great. Itâ€™s not heated so it is only open in the summer months and they serve lunch only unless they are doing a special dinner event. The porch is the finest clubhouse porch I have ever had the pleasure of sitting upon. We sat on the porch, eating a great lunch and overlooking what simply must be the finest view in all of golf. I have never seen so many golf holes from one spot before in my life! It was truly a stunning view.
We warmed up on the practice tee and away we went. Our host explained that Shinnecock was a grassland course and should not be confused with a links style course. There is plenty of long grass to hack your ball out of after a wayward shot as you can see below, but a grassland course is not on the water like a links course is. Believe it or not Jay carded a birdie from deep in the long grass below!
Shinnecock has a prevailing wind that blows constantly which is part of what makes the course so difficult. We were lucky on the day that we were there and the wind was quite a bit more gentle that what weâ€™ve seen on televised US Open coverage. Something else that was different from the televised coverage is the elevation changes. You really don’t get a feel for the scope of the elevated greens until you are there on your own two feet. The photo below taken from the 9th tee box only hints at the dramatic elevation on this hole.
It was a pretty rough day on the course for me. Howard, my caddy, provided a little comic relief when he commented as we strolled to my ball on #16 â€śOh, this is new . . . I can honestly say Iâ€™ve never been to this part of the course beforeâ€ť. Thankfully the round ended well with a perfect drive up the middle of the fairway on 18, then a nice 7 iron to the green and then a 10 foot curling putt that went in the hole for my first and only birdie of the day. It was a good way to close out the round.
I canâ€™t say which holes were the most memorable at Shinnecock Hills because every single hole stands out in my memory. This may well be a perfect golf course. Every single hole was a treat and our wonderful host, who has been a member since the mid-60s, made sure that we enjoyed every vista, every unique fact and every fabled story about the club and the course. What a great host! I capped the day off with a Beefeater martini sitting on the clubhouse porch and watching the sun go down over one of the world of golfâ€™s great treasures, Shinnecock Hills.