William Kissam Vanderbilt II commissioned Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor to lay out the original Deepdale golf course at his Lake Success summer estate on Long Island in 1924.
All was well for thirty years until the routing of the new Long Island Expressway through part of the course forced the club to relocate. It was at this point that Dick Wilson was called in to carve out 18 holes on a nearby hilly, forested site.The tree-lined fairways at Deepdale Golf Club – many of them tight and sharply doglegged – lead to famously fast, heavily contoured greens. Prominent holes include the 415-yard 8th, the 450-yard 11th and 425-yard 15th, all of which play to raised greens that are heavily protected by sand.
When Deepdale was formed it had a small, exclusive membership and was built in Nassau County, relatively close to New York City. Its proximity to the city made it an ideal "alternative" course that allowed its elite members to play during the week without making the longer trek out to Suffolk County to play at Shinnecock Hills or The National Golf Links of America.
Located on the Hempstead Plains, the terrain of the course is ideal for golf, with sandy soil and rolling hills. The golf course of today is in great condition; while tee to green the course is fair and imminently playable, I found the tilted greens to be especially tricky and challenging. This is the only course I have ever played where I was on a par three in regulation and walked off with a double-bogey (and a head of steam).
A par of seventy, the course only has two par fives: one on each nine. I found the length of the holes to be good, a nice mix of long and short par fours, although the two par threes on the front play roughly the same distance as do the two on the back (at least from the middle tees).
If Deepdale ever wanted to look for a new name for the club, it could appropriately be called "The Dog-Leg Left Golf Club." Charles Blair Macdonald was a famous slicer of the ball and when he designed courses, he is said to have favored designs with dog-leg right holes, which didn't penalize the slicer as much. Deepdale is the opposite. I don't know if Dick Wilson was a hooker of the ball, but he certainly appears to have liked dog-leg left par-4 holes. The first hole is a dogleg left par four, as is the third. The most acute examples are the seventh and eighth holes. The seventh is a 365-yard dogleg left par four. The eighth is a 415-yard par four. To give a sense of the severity of the dog-legs. The eighth green returns the golfer back to the seventh tee; thus, you play in a complete 360-degree loop in the space of two holes.
The ninth hole is a dogleg left par four as well, finishing off a sequence of three back-to-back dog-leg left holes. Holes fourteen and fifteen are also back-to-back dogleg left par fours. Eighteen is a dogleg left, and, you guessed it, a par four. Not that there is anything wrong with a par-4 dogleg left hole, it just seems that the course has an over-abundance of them. I'm not criticizing, just observing. When I think about Merion, Pine Valley, and the National Golf Links just to name a few of my favorite courses, each has two or three dogleg left holes, so, for me it was clearly noticeable how many lefties there were at Deepdale. The other thing to explain in more detail is that the doglegs are not subtle, little benders to the left, they are almost all pretty sharp left turns.
Deepdale's two more defining characteristics are its proximity to Manhattan and the exclusiveness of its members. Today it remains a club dominated by New York's movers and shakers. It is reputed to have more billionaire members than any other golf course in the United States. Looking at the handicap list hanging in the locker room, it was indeed a list of tycoons, media personalities, and financiers; the creme-de-la-creme of New York's media, fashion, and finance industries. No need to Google the names on the membership list, many are recognizable at first blush. The club also has its own helipad to make it more convenient for members who so desire to take a chopper out to chase around the little white ball. Considering the traffic and roadways in Nassau County and Queens, it is no wonder they would want to do so. The historic, rambling clubhouse itself is spectacular, as is the bar area, locker room, and outdoor patio.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs