The day was finally here… Playing two of the most prestigious golf courses in the world on the same day. National Golf Links of America #10 and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club #3 are located next door to each other in Southhampton, New York along the Peconic Bay. When Ashley and I started this journey in 2012; the 6 private golf courses on Long Island (Shinnecock, National, Friars Head, Sebonick, Garden City and Maidstone) seemed like a distant dream. Neither of us had any connection or a clue as to how we would get on these great courses. Our luck would change when I met a National member in the summer of 2013 while playing golf in Scotland. The member stated that when Ashley and I planned our Long Island trip he would facilitate not only us getting on National but also Shinnecock where a close friend of his was a member. Needless to say, this members generosity started our desire to plan our Long Island trip for 2015.
Arriving at National Golf Club is a little different than most golf clubs. Since we were playing unaccompanied we first had to register at the main desk and sign in. What a formal process as all of us were wearing a sport coat since we knew it was required to eat the “famous lobster lunch”. After checking in we placed our items in a locker, had breakfast and waited for Gene to show up.
Gene was a gentleman we met online when figuring out how we would play the 6 courses in Long Island. Gene had posted a charity auction for an accompanied threesome at Sebonack benefitting The Viscardi Center. When the auction closed, I emailed The Viscardi Center and asked if they would deliver an email to the sponsor. Our offer was simple…. We would host him at National and Shinnecock and in return the following day he would host the 3 of us at Sebonack. What golfer would turn down that offer! Definitely not Gene!! Within an hour we had confirmation that he was in.
National is a golf course I had been looking forward to since playing Chicago Golf Club in 2013. I played horrendously at Chicago GC and was looking forward to getting some revenge on a similarly styled MacDonald design. We started our round at 8:15AM with Greg and Gene paired against Ashley and Ryan. We were accompanied by our two fabulous caddies Mike and Jim. The handicaps this week were set as Greg playing as a 3, Ashley a 9, Ryan a 12 and Gene also a 9. The team of Ashley and Ryan came out smoking hot by winning the first 4 holes and held on to win the front 4/2/0. Memorable scores from the front included my birdie on 7 and Ashley’s birdie on 9.
The front nine at National has some remarkable holes. My favorites were #4 and #8. #4 called Redan has a sister at Chicago Golf Club (Hole #7) which bears the same name. A par 3 with an extremely sloped green where tee accuracy is a must. Interestingly both holes on the day we played had the pin positions in the far left corner. I also enjoyed #8 called Bottle. A beautifully designed hole with trees on the right and bunkers down the middle of the fairway. Bottle also has some extremely punitive traps shaping a small green. Unfortunately, the front 9 at National also had a few holes I really didn’t care for. They were #2 “Sahara” and #4 “Alps”. Both holes involved blind shots.. On Sahara the drive is blind up a steep hill and on Alps the approach shot into the green is completely blind. I have just never been a fan of blind shots.
The back nine at National is golf heaven. Gene and I were determined to fight our way back into the match after Ashley and Ryan’s victory on the front. Personally, the back nine at National is now one of my favorite 9’s I have played. Heading back to the Peconic Bay with constant views of the National Clubhouse and its windmill sets the stage for one of the best walks in golf..
The final 5 holes at National is why the course is in the Top 10 of most golf listings. An absolutely amazing walk!
Our match on the back nine was much closer than the front. There were 3 birdies with Ashley making a great birdie on 14 and my 2 birdies on 14 and 18. Even though Gene and I won the back even plus 2 we still lost 2 ways on the overall bet. However, my 37 on the back was good enough to beat Ashley 4/2/0 to halve our match. Obviously, my match with Ashley is the most important bet I make each round! Overall, I shot 77 (40/37), Ashley shot 84(41/43), Gene shot 86 (43/43) and Ryan shot 91 (44/47).
After our round, we proceeded to the locker room to throw on our sports coats in order to indulge in the “famous lobster lunch”. Wow! That’s really all I can say.. What a feast… Immediately after sitting down we were given 2 lobster tails apiece and a choice of 6 entrees. I had the shephards pie and a few cocktails while soaking in the fabulous view of Peconic Bay. Overall, I truly enjoyed National Golf Links and completely agree with it’s elevated ranking.