Monday, March 25, 2013

Southampton Golf Club

Southampton Golf Club
Southampton, New York, USA


6359 YARDS (PAR 70)
COURSE RATING/SLOPE: 70.8/125
COURSE ARCHITECT: Seth Raynor (1925)
ACCESSIBILITY: Private
COURSE WEBSITE: http://southamptongolfclub.com/
ROUNDS PLAYED: 1
LAST PLAYED: May 24, 2011.
LOW SCORE: 76 (+6)

ACCOLADES -
- Golfweek Best Classic Courses 2016: #176

Southampton Golf Club has largely been an afterthought when talking about the best its town has to offer from a golf standpoint. The 1925 Seth Raynor design sits directly adjacent to three world-renowned clubs: modern gem Sebonack, a Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak collaboration, and two classic masterpieces of strategic design in William Flynn's Shinnecock Hills and C.B. Macdonald's National Golf Links of America.

Very few courses in the world of golf can compare favourably to those three but Southampton is most definitely a course worthy of study, especially after Brian Silva was hired to restore Raynor's trademark bunkering and recapture the original green sizes and shapes. Combined with a massive tree removal program that opened up vistas throughout the course and brought wind back into play, Southampton GC's members have every right to be proud of the results of Mr. Silva's work.

The first hole, "Silo" is a gentle opener, a mid-length par four with a very clever bunker complex on the left side in the landing area. The hazard cuts into the fairway at a diagonal angle, offering some visual deception right at the outset. The green is large and subtle but is pitched quite a bit from back to front, making positioning on the green vital.

The second is the "Short" hole and this picturesque one shotter features two steep faced bunkers in front of a raised green. The third hole, "Maiden", is a 410 yard dogleg right that features a partially blind tee shot around a couple of fairway bunkers but the real interest is at the green, with two pronounced tiers back left and back right.

The fourth hole is another very strong par four called "Squaw Hill". This 423 yarder is straight away over rolling land and features an exacting approach shot from a hogback fairway to a smallish elevated green protected by a deep bunker on the right and out of bounds long.

"Knoll", the reachable par four 5th hole, is a beauty. The defining feature here is a centerline bunker at the base of the hill leading up to the green that will devour poorly hit drives. The green falls off both in front and in back and there is plenty of short grass behind the green, offering plenty of options for recovery shots. Delightful golf hole!

The 6th hole is intriguingly titled "Raynor's Prized Dogleg" and obviously features a dramatic right to left tee shot that bends close to 90 degrees. The green has plenty of movement and two putts are no bargain here.

"Redan" is next, a 196 yard par three with the trademark right to left swing at the green. The long par four 8th, "Double Plateau" is pretty self-explanatory with its two-tiered green and the mid-length par four ninth, called "Tuckahoe" closes out the outgoing nine in fine fashion.

The 10th is another gorgeous harlot. "Eden" is a faithful rendition of the famous par three template, with the prominent front bunker dictating strategy from the tee. The green is absolutely wild here, almost channelling Donald Ross with its upside down bowl shaping.

"Valley" is an aesthetically pleasing mid-length par four that doglegs gently to the left and tumbles down the hill off the tee. The green is slightly elevated and sits hard in front of a road protected by a row of hedges. I recall the green being pitched severely from back to front here as well.

The 12th is the "Long" hole, the first par five of the day and one measuring only 510 yards from the back tees. Deep fairway bunkers dot both sides and cut into the fairway, making accuracy off the tee and on the layup a must. Bunkers also sit in front and behind the green but birdie is a definite possibility here.

The expansive tree removal project by Silva opens up this stretch of holes in dramatic fashion and showcases some nice, rolling topography on the 13th, called "Horseshoe". The approach is hit from a right to left sloping fairway to a green surrounded, of course, by a horseshoe-shaped bunker.

The 14th, "Biarritz", isn't faithful to its name in its current form but is a solid and testing 197 yard par three. The 434 yard 15th, called "Sebonack", is another fine par four, with a left to right tee shot needed to clear a centerline bunker at the crest of a hill. I really liked the subtle greensite as well, with trees to the left and bunkers front left and off to the right.

The 16th is very memorable: a 334 yard par four called "Punchbowl", your eyes immediately are drawn to an enormous bunker complex directly on the line between the tee and green. An aggressive tee shot right of that bunker (and over another off to the right) is needed to open up a view of the green, otherwise the player will have a completely blind approach over the mammoth hazard to the punchbowl-shaped green. Probably my favourite hole on the golf course and incredibly distinctive.

The 17th, called "Narrows", is a 491 yard par five with bunkers pinching the fairway on both sides. This is another great scoring opportunity and probably the last one, as the 397 yard finisher, "Road", is no bargain. The hole plays straight away and is relatively open off the tee, albeit with a gaping bunker down the left side that cuts toward the middle of the fairway. It is the approach that makes the hole, however, as the green may be one of the smallest on the course and an intimidating bunker sits in the front right, gobbling up plenty of wayward second shots.

I had seen some pictures of the work at Southampton prior to my round, so I had some idea of what I was in for but honestly, I was still pleasantly surprised by how good this course was. The land is not remarkable, especially when compared to Southampton's more famous neighbours but there is still plenty of subtle movement throughout the course and strategic shotmaking is in abundance. The gorgeous and distinctive Raynor-styled bunkering is a particular highlight along with the unique, squared-off green shaping.

The course was still in the final stages of growing in during my round, with the 9th green having just been seeded from my recollection but I was still extremely impressed with how firm the course played. Ground game shots can be utilized throughout the day and actually might be the preferred option a lot of the time, with wind being a major factor once again due to the newly opened vistas.

Southampton is a delightful and easy walk and the routing features short green to tee transfers all the way around. I'd imagine that 3 1/2 hour rounds are commonplace here, allowing many of their members and guests the opportunity to head right back to the 1st tee and play a second round.

This was my first experience playing a Raynor design and I came away very impressed. While quite short at less than 6400 yards from the back tees, this par 70 features plenty of shot values, a very strong walkable routing and clever design features throughout. Players who drive into town to play the big three but pass by Southampton are making a big mistake. It's one I certainly won't be making - I'll be at my "access whoring" best when I make my return trip to Long Island and look forward to another great day of golf at Southampton in the hopefully very near future.

The straight-away par four opener at Southampton - "Silo"

The Brian Silva restoration brought back Raynor's incredible bunkering - here is a diagonal hazard down the left side that cuts into the landing zone on the opening hole

The par three second hole - "Short"

A semi-blind uphill tee shot awaits on the par four third hole, "Maiden"

The approach into the par four 3rd hole

A look at the deep greenside bunker on the 3rd hole

The tee shot on the par four 4th hole - "Squaw Hill"

An intimidating approach awaits on the 4th hole, uphill to a small target

The beguilling short par four 5th hole at Southampton - "Knoll"

Another look at the gorgeous restored bunkering at Southampton from the layup area on the short 5th hole

The mid-length dogleg left par four 6th - "Raynor's Prize Dogleg"

The second shot on the par four 6th hole

The devilish par three 7th hole, "Redan"

The approach into the par four 8th hole, "Double Plateau"

Tee shot on the long par four 9th hole, "Tuckahoe"

The approach into the 9th hole

The lovely one shot 10th hole, "Eden"

The appropriately named "Valley" hole, the par four 11th at Southampton

The slightly uphill approach at #11

Looking at the 13th green, "Horseshoe", from the 14th tee

The long par three 14th, "Biarritz"

The par four 15th hole, "Sebonack"

A long approach is usually required on the 15th

The short par four 16th, "Punchbowl"

An imposing steep-faced bunker adds some blindness to the approach on the 16th

The tee shot on the par five 17th hole, "Narrows"

Cleverly placed bunkers wreak havoc on the 17th hole

The tee shot on the par four 18th, "Road Hole"



3 comments:

  1. Matt,

    Another excellent and thorough write-up, certainly a course that doesn't get the attention it deserves due to the company it keeps!! A pity about that hedge behind the 4th green. I realize it is there to screen the road running behind the green, but I'm sure a better solution could be found.

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  2. That is the weirdest Redan I have ever seen. Correct me if I'm wrong...how do you get around the right-front bunker if the right side of the green is elevated?

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  3. Tyler - I agree about #4 and a the hedge behind #11 is a bit of an eyesore as well.

    SSLH - I wish I had a closer view of the green in my pictorial but there is a very good photo tour on GCA by Brian Sheehy that showcases the Redan a bit better than I did. There is about 10-15 yards of short grass beyond that bunker before the green so there is ample room to land a bit short and run a shot in. It just doesn't look that way from the tee.

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