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Feature Stories

Five Holes You Need To Play

With golf courses hugging the water on the south shore, skirting the Long Island Sound on the North Shore and traversing the hills in between, Nassau County has a diverse collection of golf holes. Some are memorable for their difficulty or a unique test of skills, while others are remarkable simply for the scenery. Then there are a select few that blend together all the aspects of an outstanding golf hole.

Here are five publicly accessible golf holes worth a visit from near or far:

Bethpage Black #4

The first three holes on Bethpage’s Black Course are certainly no pushovers, but first-timers on the course might begin to wonder while walking up to the green on #3 if that “Warning” sign back by the first tee is really necessary. Once the putts drop on #3, however, players quickly come to realize why it’s there and why the Black is touted as a world-class course. The instantly recognizable glacier bunker peering through the trees in the distance welcomes you to the heart of the Black Course and eagerly awaits your misplaced shots.

A drive short of the enormous trap on this 517-yard par-5 leaves a limited-view, uphill second shot that should be played as far into the upper fairway as possible. Massive bunkers short of the green defend against any misguided attempts to get home in two as well as wayward lay-ups.

Lido #16

The 487-yard 16th hole at the Lido Golf Club, known simply as the “Island” or “Double Island” hole, is a risk-reward par-5 that’s especially cruel — it penalizes a perfectly straight drive. The two-pronged fairway — visualize the head of a wrench — offers a conservative route over a little bit of water to the left, an aggressive route over a lot of water to the right, and a two-stroke dip in the channel down the center.

Once the tee shots settle onto dry ground, it’s time to hurdle the hazard once more, this time to a diagonal strip of fairway leading to the green. The farther up the fairway you want to go, the more water you’ll have to cross. All of this needs to be accomplished at the mercy of Lido’s strong winds.

Bethpage Red #1

Part of the challenge of the opening hole at Bethpage Red is tuning out the gallery of waiting golfers impatiently observing your first shot of the day. The bulk of the challenge though is the steep climb that separates the fairway from the green and makes the flag appear twice as far as the 471 yards listed on the scorecard. The hole is widely considered one of the toughest opening holes anywhere, mainly because the only way to par is with a perfect drive down the fairway and an equally flawless approach up the slope to a small, unseen green. Anything less than two great pokes right out of the gate results in blind shots, awkward angles or laid-up approaches — all combining in a recipe for bogey, or worse.

Town of Oyster Bay #4

There’s another intimidating incline just north of Bethpage at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course in Woodbury. Unlike Bethpage Red, where the bluff is visible in the distance, #4 at Oyster Bay appears innocent at first, its downhill fairway bending gently to the right. From there, it’s a purely uphill battle.

The green on this 414-yard par-4 is elevated so high above the fairway that the flag is completely out of sight. A steep, undulating slope strewn with full-length, club-grabbing rough defends the route to the pin. A three-tiered putting surface is thrown in for good measure.

Bethpage Black #17

Five tremendous bunkers — a few as big as the green itself — surround the putting surface on the Black’s penultimate hole, a daunting 207-yard par-3 that gave the pros fits during the U.S. Opens in 2002 and 2009. From the tee, it’s hard to see anything but sand, which obscures the wide, shallow, two-tiered green. Miss short, left or right and you’re almost guaranteed a spot on the beach. The only “safe” haven is long and left, though from there you’re on the upper tier and likely facing a treacherous chip or putt down toward the cup.