No giggles please from Cockney readers... the East End of Long Island has a fashionable area called the Hamptons. Wealthy New Yorkers head here to escape the city heat and to enjoy the cooling seaside breeze. There are a limited number of top-notch golf courses in the Hamptons, but the Atlantic Golf Club is the proud owner of one of them.
The Atlantic is a private members club and Rees Jones laid out the course in 1992 on land that was originally earmarked for housing. The Atlantic course was built with both eyes on the environment and it is still the natural habitat of the amphibious Tiger Salamander and the Northern Harrier, the only North American member of the hawk family known as harriers.
It’s hard to classify the Atlantic course but links-like is probably as close as we can get. This is not links land but the fairways have a lovely undulating seaside style with swales and bumps, hollows and long wispy fescue rough shimmering in the wind. With a freshening breeze whipping in off the Atlantic, the Atlantic Golf Club is a challenging layout which calls for skilful shot making.
The shingle clubhouse is designed in the traditional Long Island style and it provides simple comfort for the Atlantic Golf Club members and their guests.
The main issue impacting Atlantic is the neighborhood the course is situated. The bar for architectural greatness is all-world with layouts such as Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America, Friar's Head, Maidstone and a host of others just below that caliber nearby.
The layout is done well but it's more about the top tier course conditions than the nature of the holes themselves. Say the word "mint condition" and you will certainly see Atlantic rightly cited. However, while the holes are certainly testing the inherent versatility and insightful creations are lacking and not especially noteworthy. In sum, the layout looks superimposed on the land and the merging of man's hand and Mother Nature is often forced together rather than artfully merged.
Atlantic is a testing course and the quartet of par-3's is among the best attributes of the course. Each is uniquely different and the shotmaking challenges presented are done well.
When one plays Atlantic there's respect for the test of golf it offers. But there's little real rapture engendering a profound sense of long lasting memorability and fondness. Place Atlantic in another location and it may stand apart -- however -- in this neighborhood it simply resides in the shadows.
by M. James Ward
This Rees Jones layout is not in the same league as its Southampton neighbours. The land is undulating and the routing is certainly varied, however, the visuals didn’t appeal to my senses. There’s a lot of mixed vegetation lining many of the holes that adds nothing to the appeal. The best part of each hole is the conditioning of the playing surface, rather than the strategy from tee to green. Felt like a good piece of land that wasn’t used to its full potential. The wow-factor didn’t make much of an appearance.