Dyker Beach Golf Course – Brooklyn, New York Guru's Rating: 4.3
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $72.50
“You get out in the middle of this f—ing golf course, you won’t even know you’re in Brooklyn…until you hear the screams from people in the lake.” – The Starter at Dyker Beach
It’s not easy to stand out from the crowd in New York City, but toting a golf bag is one way to do it. A set of clubs slung over a shoulder on the streets of Manhattan will draw looks and comments ranging from the confused (“Where do you play golf in this city?”), to the jealous (“What a day to play, huh? Haven’t picked up a club since I had kids twenty years ago”). On 86th street down by the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn, however, fully clad golfers walk around the neighborhood like it’s a clubhouse: head covers bounce along the brownstones, spikes clack on the sidewalks. Of course, nothing is truly out of the ordinary in Brooklyn, but a golf course known as “Dyker Beach” does grow there just four blocks from the R train; although “beach” and “golf” might be a bit of a stretch.
The facility is most famous for its age – originally built in the 1890s – and its claim to being the glint in the eye of a guy named Earl Woods, who first played there while stationed at Fort Hamilton in the 1970s. The story goes that Earl discovered the game at Dyker, had a kid named “Eldrick,” yada, yada, yada, that kid won the Arnold Palmer Invitational a couple of weeks ago.
History aside, these days Dyker Beach is notorious for its six-hour rounds on the weekends, tattooed employees (who make statements like the one above…while you’re waiting to tee off), and the sweet sounds of f-bombs being dropped more frequently than birdies.
While fairway conditions are surprisingly above average for a city-run course with a limitless book of tee-times, the utter lack of course management leaves the masses to fend for themselves. Besides an occasional beverage cart, you won’t encounter a Dyker Beach employee (unfortunate after being so entertained by the starter) after the first tee.
Obviously most public – let alone, city – golf courses are expected to be slow on the weekends, but some have fun layouts worth experiencing on non-peak times (Van Cortlandt and Split Rock come to mind). Dyker’s routing and scenery, however, are nothing spectacular (you will see a bridge if that type of thing thrills you), and unless you live close by, this is not a place worth making special efforts to visit. Most holes are fairly simple and fail to produce a major challenge.
Most Memorable Hole: Our group enjoyed the twelfth hole, a tree-lined 334 yard par 4, with an extreme dogleg to the left, and a fairway that slopes off to the right. A three-wood or hybrid needs to draw around the corner, leaving you with just a wedge into a large, slow green.
Most Challenging Hole: Dyker makes up for short par 5’s (longest hole is 458) with a couple of long par 4’s on holes 3 (426), 7 (422), and 14 (428). The 7th is the most difficult of the bunch, with your second shot directly uphill, making the hole play more like 450 yards.
The Bottom Line: I was a History Minor in college, so I can appreciate a place with good stories (evidently Pee Wee Reese used to play Dyker, and the FBI once searched the 6th hole for a mafia-buried body) and relevance to a local community. But I have zero tolerance for rounds longer than five hours on courses with no driving range, old gas carts that barely make it up hills, and no true redeeming qualities from a golf standpoint. The price ($72.50 on weekends) is about $30 too high for what you are actually getting.
Guru’s Tip: If you’re driving to Dyker, make sure you plug the EXACT ADDRESS into your GPS. Typing “Dyker Beach” into Google Maps on our iPhones dropped us into a residential section in the middle of Flatbush. The cashier in the Pro Shop told us we weren’t the first to encounter such difficulties.