Montauk Downs Golf Course - Public
Ranked No. 8 in our Top 30
Pro: Kevin Smith, PGA
Description: Rumors have it that C.B. Macdonald helped out with the original design here, but with no documentation, it's hard to say either way. If he did design any holes, they no longer exist, as what's there today carries the stamp of a good Robert Trent Jones original. With very good reason, a lot of locals like to call it "The Public Golfer's Shinnecock," and, design-wise, that's a fair assessment.
The holes, like at Shinnecock, are not flamboyant or wild; just simple, straightforward golf holes that offer what the land has put in front of you. The natural grasses that surround Montauk Downs -- which have been revitalized in recent years with the ongoing (terrific) renovations -- immediately draw to mind many of the courses just west of Montauk that have reveled in fame for about a century. Although not quite of the championship caliber of any of those tracks -- in reality, almost no courses in the world can equal them -- Montauk Downs has a fantastic setting and a absolutely wonderful mix of golf holes.
Built on rolling, open terrain, the difficulty of most tee shots does not come with fairway bunkers, of which there are only a few. The goal of most tee shots (as is always the case) is getting yourself in the proper position for an approach, as well as avoiding the mature rough, which has a tendency to swallow golf balls whole. Most of the greens are elevated, well-bunkered, quite undulating and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. There are also a handful of inland water hazards, which make for some very interesting hole designs and nerve-wracking approaches. And with a minimal amount of trees (though way more than anything of those historic grounds west) the wind can really blow off the Atlantic or Block Island Sound, making the yardage of 6,976 yards misleadingly short. Like No. 11 at Shinnecock, a lot of locals call the 161-yard 2nd the shortest par-5 in golf: Playing uphill, and with the wind is in your face, you'd be lucky to get a driver there.
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