Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is located in Southampton, on Long Island, adjacent to National Golf Links of America. It is the oldest incorporated golf club in America, dating from 1891. Originally holes were laid out by Willie Davis and later Willie Dunn. In those days the course was bisected by the train line which only ran four times a day and was not a major problem, but eventually (1917) MacDonald & Raynor were brought in to re route the course. In subsequent years when the Long Island highway was built, the course was relocated into the sandhills to the north of the existing site with William Flynn overseeing the changes.
Flynn designed 12 new holes and used 6 holes from MacDonald/Raynor which he remodelled. Much of the credit for these changes must go to the president of the day- Lucien Tyng. In the days post the great depression Tyng personally paid for the acquisition of the land where much of the back nine lies, and also paid for William Flynn. The routing instigated by Flynn stands largely untouched today.
Shinnecock Hills also boasts the oldest clubhouse, dating from 1892, designed by legendary architect Stanford White.
Notably women were admitted as members right from the start of the club!
Shinnecock is a proven championship venue and has hosted 5 U.S. Opens- 1896, 1986, 1995, 2004 & 2008. The Open will be returning in 2026.
Additionally the club has hosted The U.S. Amateur and The Walker Cup.
You know from the first tee that you are on a course of some quality, and one that is likely to challenge you constantly. It looks like a championship links course from the outset.
The first 8 holes move through the rolling sandhills, and are routed to play to different points of the compass, and so test the player with different winds..
The opening par 4- Westward Ho- is a beauty requiring a well executed mid iron to find the putting surface. It's a good start. However the par 3 second hole, called Plateau, asks a little more! The green sits on a ridge some 200 yards away, and the journey must negotiate a number of gaping bunkers along the way.
On many of the holes the greens are crowned with steep drop offs, meaning the nearly good shot is often punished. I found plenty of opportunities to practice my bump'n'run!
The long par 4 sixth hole ( named Pond ) was a particularly strong hole and a good one.
I was disappointed with the Redan- hole 7- as I thought it was just too severe..
But in my opinion the course really gets going at the ninth- called Ben Nevis- as it is the highest point. It is a long par 4 running across the valley in front of the clubhouse. The approach shot from the valley must carry the face of the hill adorned with long grass and bunkers to reach the green surface above. It's a tough hole.
Thereafter hole 10- Eastward Ho- leads the golfer through some hilly terrain with a blind tee shot over a ridge followed by an approach to a green set into the hill.
Hole 11 is named Hill Head and is an uphill medium length par 3.
Another strong hole is the long par 4 thirteenth hole which is heavily bunkered on the inside of the dogleg and green.
Hole 17 is called Eden after St Andrews, and is a strong par 3.
Hole 18- Home- is also a strong par 5 hole, set below the clubhouse
We played Shinnecock in beautiful weather, with the course in perfect condition. The fairways were generous, and the green speeds were quick, but not unplayable. The course tested all parts of our game. I cannot imagine how good you would need to be to play Shinnecock off the back marks, with fairways narrowed, greens even slicker, and some weather...Those guys must be good!
When I think back on Shinnecock, I will fondly recall a beautifully manicured links course that just may be one of the most challenging championship courses anywhere.
Perhaps that is why it is univerally rated as one of the top 5 courses in the world.
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