Sag Harbor State Golf Course – Sag Harbor, New York Guru's Rating: 6.9
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $37
Sag Harbor has become our go-to spot in the Hamptons for a golf fix. Those invites to Shinnecock, The Bridge, Atlantic or East Hampton CC don’t exactly grow on trees, and sometimes we just don’t have the patience for Montauk Downs (as special as it is). So when all else fails, we head to reliable Sag Harbor. It’s a nine-hole course – pretty flat and nothing fancy – but we know we can walk on anytime and be on the first tee without much delay. Plus, it’s quick and super cheap: just $27 ($37 with a cart) whether you want to play 9 or 18.
Normally I’d scoff at a facility without a range, sufficient clubhouse, or 18-hole layout that exceeds 5500 yards (Sag is 5464 from its deepest tees). But Sag Harbor GC’s beauty lies in its simplicity and lack of frills. No tee-times exist, so it’s first come, first served. You can whip around 18 holes in less than four hours, leaving you plenty of time for the beach and lobster rolls (some of which may actually cost more than a round at Sag). And while conditions aren’t exactly Augusta-like, a recently upgraded irrigation system has the track looking lush and green. The course is also a New York State Park, so in addition to plentiful woods and wetlands, the occasional deer, pack of wild turkeys, or fox will meander across across a fairway or tee box.
The longest hole is just 404 yards, so play the course using any strategy you like. Carve it up with irons. Try to reach greens on par 4’s with a driver. Or experiment with that new club in your bag that you haven’t quite mastered. Sag Harbor may be a short, simple track, but it’s fun and has its quirks.
Most Memorable Hole: The “best” golf hole at Sag Harbor is unquestionably #6, a 349 yard par 4. This hole features an extreme dog-leg right and an enormous tree in the middle of the fairway, which serves as a marker for an ideal tee shot (except the key is obviously to avoid ending up behind that tree). Approach is downhill and many will end up short, in a collection area at the foot of the slope. Six requires a lot of thought – and may very well have you penciling in “six” for your score.
Most Challenging Hole: A 404 yard par-5? I can hear you licking your chops. On the surface, #7, Sag Harbor’s lone par 5, should be a breeze. A good tee shot to the top of an uphill will put you within seemingly easy striking distance (certainly less than 200 away). But everything seems smaller at Sag, and that includes the greens. And when that wind kicks up (which it tends to do on #7), that green will shrink. Miss long and you’ll be on top of one of a few mounds that dot the green – or worse, in the woods with the foxes. I’ve played this hole eight times this summer and have yet to walk away with a par.
The Bottom Line: The two most popular reasons people don’t play golf: how much it costs and how long it takes. Sag Harbor gives you decent golf at a bargain price and quick pace.
Guru’s Tip: No frills can also mean no amenities. The “Pro Shop” has a fridge with a few cold drinks, but not much else. Come stocked with golf balls, gloves, food, bug spray, and anything else most normal golf courses would have.