Long Island has long been a mecca for golf lovers. Back in the 1930s, when he was out of baseball and still hoping to manage the New York Yankees, Babe Ruth used to leave his Riverside Drive apartment every morning, drive out to southeastern Queens and play a round of golf at a course in St. Albans.
After World War II and the suburban housing boom, many of those old courses were bulldozed to make room for residential units. Who would notice? The county still has many fine courses for golfers to go out and hack away to their heart’s content.
As important, the United States Open and the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tournament have long found local golf courses most congenial to their annual Grand Slam tournament. Throughout the decades, the Open has been played at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton (1896, 1986, 1995, 2004 and forthcoming in 2018), Bethpage State Park (2002, 2009), Fresh Meadow Golf Course (1932) and Inwood Country Club (1923).
The PGA made it to Inwood in 1921, to Eisenhower Park in 1926 and Fresh Meadow in 1930.
When it comes to public courses, all roads generally lead to two of the most popular golf complexes in America, Eisenhower Park Golf Course and Bethpage State Park.
Eisenhower Park features three 18-hole golf courses open to the public: the Blue, Red, and White courses.
The Red Course was designed by prominent golf architect Devereux Emmet in 1914. In 1926, Hall of Famer Walter Hagen won the PGA title at that course. The White Course was designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones. Jones also designed the third 18-hole course at Eisenhower, the Blue. In addition to the regular courses, there are two lighted 18-hole miniature golf courses.
The Bethpage State Park Golf Course may be one of the most popular courses on the planet. Home to no less than five 18-hole courses, approximately 300,000 rounds are played annually on the five courses at Bethpage. The world-renowned Black Course, was the site of the United States Open in 2002 and 2009. Lucas Glover won the 2009 tournament, while Tiger Woods, then at the top of his game, won in 2002.
There are other 18-hole courses, equally popular among Long Islanders.
The Crab Meadow Golf Course in Huntington features scenic views of the Long Island Sound on each shot. The golf course is 6,574/5,658 yards.
The Greens at Half Hollow features 4,100 yards of golf from the longest tees. This is a new course, opened in 2003.
On the North Shore, the Joseph Colby Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course features 6,351 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70.
On the South Shore, the Lido Beach Golf Course also has a scenic location, being sculpted from land between the Atlantic Ocean and Reynolds Channel. This championship caliber course stretches over 6,900 yards and plays to a par 72.
In addition, Nassau County features numerous nine-hole courses when those monsters listed above just get to be too much for the average duffer. They include the Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn-North Hills, Bay Park in East Rockaway, Cantiague Park and North Woodmere Park.
Christopher Morley, at 1,603 yards, is a hilly course surrounded by trees. It is the only county course located on the North Shore. The Bay Park course is located by the water, with total yardage of 1,956. At 2,282 yards, North Woodmere’s course is the largest of the nine holes. Cantiague Park offers flat and easy-to-walk links, with total yardage of 1,878.
In Massapequa, another nine-hole course, Peninsula Golf Club, features 3,278 yards of golf for a par of 37.