Long Island National Golf Club – Riverhead, New York Guru's Rating: 7.9
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): $99
Quirkiness is the theme at this Robert Trent Jones Jr. gem in the heart of Long Island wine country. The oddities start with potatoes – a farm of them, actually. In 1999, RTJ2 and his team were contracted to transform the Gatz family potato farm in Riverhead into a golf facility. What was once flat farmland has remarkably been converted into a rolling, Scottish links style, fescue-laden routing complete with an assortment of deep elevation changes and undulating greens. Accuracy is significantly more important than distance here, unless you enjoy spending your days in three-foot tall grass. The course is in excellent shape from tees to greens, and features a beautiful driving range and clubhouse, and friendly, accommodating staff. A few gimmicky holes give the impression of trying a bit too hard, but overall Long Island National delivers a solid golf experience.
Most Memorable Hole: The fourth, a par 5, is one of LI National’s quirky holes that doesn’t make a lot of sense. 528 yards from the tips and 474 from the middle tees, the 4th hole is notorious for an exceptionally large waste area that bisects the fairway. A good drive from either set of tees could land players in this hazard. This effectively puts 3-wood in your hand off the tee, which, in my opinion, is silly on a par-5. On the positive side, love the 18th, a beautiful elevated par-5 that heads back towards the clubhouse.
Most Challenging Hole: 16 is a loooong 466 yards (or 434 from the next tees up). Lots of twists, turns and bunkers in a narrow fairway make this one feel like a par-5. Your approach to a well-guarded green is tight, uphill and likely into the wind.
Guru’s Tip: For years, Long Island National was on the pricey side, charging $125 for a weekend round. Rates have been reduced to $99 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays – but the best bargain is during the week for $69 a man. Whether you’re in the Hamptons or on the North Fork, that’s a deal worth chasing down.