Harbor Links Golf Course – Port Washington, New York Guru's Rating: 6.3
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $113
“There’s literally not a cloud in the sky – perfect day.” – Brett S. – 9:45AM
Our group smiled and nodded approvingly as we took a few last putts on the practice green conveniently situated on the path to the first tee at Harbor Links. Some poor early morning planning forced us to race to the course and speed through our warm-up swings on the range, but as we waited in the “on deck circle,” our spirits were high. It was the Friday before a long (July 4th) holiday weekend, the weather was immaculate – and most importantly, we were playing golf, not sitting behind a desk. Furthermore, we were at a golf facility with all the bells and whistles (even “video flyovers” with hole-by-hole tips on a GPS screen in the carts)- not to mention pristine looking conditions. As we began our round, the starter further enhanced our euphoria by letting us know that rounds were clocking in at just under four hours. Too good to be true? I’ll let you guess.
Our group had handicaps ranging from 13-21, so we opted to play from Harbor Links’ white tees, which measure 6490 (the tips are a robust 6927). The course tests you right off the bat with a par 5 – 493 yards – straight out. But on this day, into a stiff wind, I blocked my drive to the right and landed in a fairway bunker, just beneath one of Harbor Links “environmentally protected” areas (which you are warned not to enter under any circumstances). After pitching back to the fairway, I had 140 left to the hole. My strong 8-iron approach though (taking the wind into account), got knocked down by the breeze, and following a decent pitch to a front pin, I walked away with a bogey after failing to one-putt on the tough, undulating green.
We penciled in our scores and drove to the second tee – only to find not one, not two, but THREE groups backed up on the second hole, a 404 yard dogleg right par four. That’s when things took a turn for the worse.
After waiting for twenty minutes (rendering our range time useless), our drives were sprayed in all directions and curses filled the air. Unfortunately, this same scene repeated itself…for the next five-and-a-half hours.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” – Steven H. – 2:30PM
The links style layout at Harbor Links is great and for all the play it gets (a favorite among the Port Wash. crowd, which receives heavily discounted “resident” rates), the conditions are impressive and challenging. But poor course management overshadows all the positives. This place simply accommodates way too many tee-times and does not do enough to keep the masses moving. While this round was – admittedly – played on a heavy volume day, five-to-six hour rounds are the norm at Harbor Links (especially on weekends). Additionally, we passed a beverage cart just once the entire round – and NEVER on the back. Unacceptable. We even called in our lunch order well in advance (on the 7th hole) and it was not even being prepared by the time we reached the turn (our dismay was met with an apathetic response from behind the counter).
As solid as Harbor Links’ is from a golf standpoint, a few gimmick holes contribute to ruining the fun. In particular, #5 and #6, which both feature dual risk/reward fairways. You can hit a perfect drive on either hole and find yourself in major trouble.
Most Memorable Hole: I always enjoy #13, a short 473 yard par 5. The hole has an Arizona/desert “feel” – it features a lovely view from the tee box – your drive goes downhill to a wide open fairway and you stand adjacent to large boulders.
Most Challenging Hole: “Trouble” and “O.B” become regular parts of your vocabulary at Harbor Links. The course’s undulating greens, elevation changes, and deep rough will provide you with your share of headaches. For me, the most difficultly resides at #6, a downhill 493 yard par 5. As mentioned, there are two fairways on this hole – if you go right (and make it safely), you’ll have a shorter approach to an uphill green and you can potentially be on in two. The left fairway is wider, but your second shot remains tough. On this day, the tees were way up and the hole was playing around 460 – but only one of us was able to achieve a par (and we lost about seven balls combined as a group, including two by yours truly)
The Bottom Line: Good golf course that is poorly run. Seemingly strong features- nice clubhouse, good range, etc. But tons of staff (employed by Arnold Palmer Management) sit basically idly at the bag drop, cleaning clubs, and helping golfers get situated on a cart. Wouldn’t we all be better served if they were out on the course, pushing a faster pace of play?
Guru’s Tip: Bring extra water and your patience – if you play at Harbor Links, you might out there for a while and have to fend for yourself.