East Hampton Golf Club – East Hampton, New York Guru's Rating: NA
Non-Resident Weekend Rate (with cart): N/A
It’s amazing how free food and drinks can put a smile on your face.
We had just teed off at the fifth hole at East Hampton Golf Club, as rag-tag a four-some as the exclusive grounds had probably ever seen. Our two caddies, Marc – a tank-like ex-Marine who bares an uncanny resemblance to Zach Johnson – and Russ – who oddly enough bares an uncanny resemblance to Johnson’s caddie Damon Green – slung our bags across their shoulders and motioned to a small hut along the path to the fairway.
“The snack shack is over there,” they said. “Take whatever you’d like.”
As “snack shacks” go, this was a Maserati. Wood-paneled with a deep, high-tech clear-glass fridge. And it was unmanned; you could grab as many Arnold Palmers, Powerades, Diet Cokes, and fancy snacks as you could hold (within reason – don’t want to look like a complete freeloader). To Lloyd Blankfein, Lorne Michaels, Jason Kidd, or Jeff Zucker, snack shacks like this are the just some of the perks that come with East Hampton’s $400,000 initiation fee and $50,000 annual price tag. But for us non-members used to decrepit halfway houses with surly attendants and stale hot dogs, it was nirvana.
The reality is, we all needed a little glucose at that point; the golf course was beating us down after only four holes. Zach and Damon – err, Marc and Russ – were already getting sick and tired of digging through fescue looking for our awful shots. And we were clearly losing our battle with designer Ben Crenshaw (and partner Bill Coore)’s brutal greens and obnoxiously placed bunkers. East Hampton isn’t particularly long (just 6400 yards from the tips), but she is penal. The front is a gorgeous links-style panoramic; the back, a tight tree-lined, undulation fest. Personally, I prefer the first nine because of its unique layout, but my scorecard didn’t reveal any preference.
What’s clear about East Hampton though, is that as rough and tumble as the course can be, the amenities are big league. It all begins with a stunningly modern and posh clubhouse, with sleek furniture, artwork, and flat-screen tv’s in wide abundance. Luxurious lounges with cloud-like white sofas are tastefully adorned with bookcases featuring hundreds upon hundreds of books, every one of them about golf (I checked). Then there’s an expansive grill room and patio overlooking the sprawling practice facility (the driving range smartly was built adjacent to the first tee). Who needs to even play golf when you can hang out in the Ritz Carlton of clubhouses?
By the time we reached the 18th and added up our pathetic scores, we were ready for a beer (or three) on that patio. The friendly bartender must have sensed we weren’t members: just like our beverage frenzy on five, he told us, these were on the house.
Most Memorable Hole: The open and sandy conditions on the front nine fit the Hamptons setting. From the elevated tee-box of that magical fifth hole (a 531-yard par-5), you can see virtually the entire layout of that front. Fairway bunkers gobble up drives that veer too far to the left, but a good tee-shot here should give you a decent chance at birdie. This is the number one handicap, but I personally found most holes on the back nine to be much more difficult.
Most Challenging Hole: At #15, a 418-yard par-4, trouble surrounds you. Trees on the right, a HUGE waste bunker on the left. The fairway slopes right towards the trees, as each member of our group conveniently discovered. Very tough uphill, false-fronted green lies ahead.
Guru’s Tip: If you’re lucky enough to find your way onto East Hampton GC, know that caddies are required (including a $100 caddie fee, plus tips). Request Marc and/or Russ if you can – they served us well. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising since, you know, they won the 2007 Masters.