In the preamble to my review -- I completely concur about the genesis and pedigree of The Bridge. It is not what is generally found on the east end of the lower fork of Long Island. The atmosphere of the club is clearly more elastic than what exists elsewhere. With that said, the quality of the architecture is what matters most to me and readers and I do see the Rees Jones layout as being one of his better designs.
The former site of the Bridgehampton Racetrack is a sprawling piece of terrain and the golf design, at different times through the routing, has land movements that are clearly on the heave and ho variety.
The practice area is one of the best you will encounter with spectacular vistas of the nearby of Noyack Bay and the Little Peconic Bay. You may even be temped just to hang there instead of playing. Don't make that mistake though.
The Bridge is a demanding test and your driver had best be working well. The course introduces itself strongly with the opening hole -- a 460-yard par-4. The key is not only having sufficient length but the wherewithal to place tee shots on the correct side of the fairway. The uphill par-3 2nd at 208 yards is a difficult challenge because many will simply not hit sufficient club to get to the target. The uphill 3rd is a brute - you encounter the terrain rising along with the prevailing headwind. The green is also well-protected so that nothing less than two exceptionally played shots get to the green.
The outward half continues with a holes switching between uphill and downhill.
The inward set of holes is somewhat less in terms of overall variety. The two par-5's -- the 10th and 18th - run parallel to one another but in different directions. The best par-3 on the back side comes at the long par-3 16th -- 250 yards in length -- but dropping down considerably to a nicely angled putting surface protected on the right by a solitary bunker. The uphill par-4's -- at the 15th and 17th -- are both solid holes.
Among the missing issues at The Bridge is a quality short par-4 that can tempt and bedevil players. The bunkering style is also clearly shaped by man and looks less natural in its appearance. A quick visit to Friar's Head nearby can show what works especially well on that front. The other element of concern deals with many of the putting surfaces -- they are done well but there's little in terms of shapes, configurations that go beyond a perfunctory capacity.
The Bridge will not get the love from classic architecture proponents but that should not deter those able to wiggle an invitation to play from enjoying a testing layout. Be sure to think seriously about getting a power cart because the terrain -- especially on a warm humid summer day -- can be a real trek for those not in decent shape.
When you have a course that sports a near 78 course rating -- that should tell you loud and clear that The Bridge is not going to be an easy one to cross. In my mind, respect is what The Bridge engenders -- but sheer love is left for nearby neighbors such as Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links and Friar's Head.
by M. James Ward
Date: January 01, 2018