- Address20449 E Main Rd, Fishers Island, NY 06390, USA
Fishers Island Club is set romantically on a narrow island that is a mere two miles wide and eight miles long. The island sits between the National Estuary of the Long Island Sound and a series of lakes and ponds. It’s a magnificent watershed where saltwater meets freshwater and it’s a diverse haven for plant and animal life. The course is rather heavenly too, offering the most beautiful and natural water views from virtually every hole.
The club was founded in 1927 and Seth Raynor laid out the golf course in a rather links-like style. With numerous stage-like plateaux greens that are protected by cavernous bunkers, the key to scoring well rests with accurate approach play. Gil Hanse has been advising Fishers Island Club on course restoration since 1995.
Fishers Island Club measures 6,566 yards from the tips so length is not the issue, the essential element is to keep the ball in play. The rough is brutal and, as we have already mentioned, the bunkering is profound and often penal.
Fishers Island is not the easiest course on which to get a game – you’ll need to befriend a member – but stick with it because this is one of the finest and most enjoyable golf courses in the world.
The following article was written by golf architecture enthusiast Ed Getka and is an edited extract from Volume Four of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy of the book, email Paul Daley at [email protected]
Fishers Island is a landmark golf experience that begins with the ferry ride from Connecticut. As you sit there with your clubs beside you, your gaze is drawn toward the island with eager anticipation. For this is a rare privilege that few are fortunate to experience. Fishers Island Club prefers to remain out of the spotlight, yet but one cannot help but extol the virtues of its layout. When driving along, soon after arrival, you see the movement of the land: your sense of anticipation heightens.
Finally, you pull up on a rise to the understated clubhouse and take in your first look at the course – the first hole stretching down towards the green beckoning in the distance. Shoes are quickly changed in the small room just off the clubhouse entrance: you just can’t wait to get out on the course. For the newcomer, one may be wary that the course could possibly disappoint – but Fishers Island just steals your heart.
As you make your way around the property and glory in the course, the incessant wind, the views, and the golf that is required of you, it is hard to imagine a more delightful place for a game. It is no accident that the charms of this land are captivating.
The golf course was a result of a 1925 collaboration of Frederick Law Olmsted Jnr and Seth Raynor. Olmsted, following in his father’s footsteps, became a pre-eminent landscape architect, as well as making significant contributions to the development of the National Park Service. At Fishers Island, he did a remarkable job of integrating home sites and open spaces into the development that became Fishers Island Club.
Raynor was a disciple of Charles Blair Macdonald – one of the pioneers of golf course architecture in the USA – and a qualified surveyor with an engineering background when he assisted Macdonald in the creation of the National Golf Links of America. Learning the principles of golf design so well, in spite of never playing golf, Raynor went on to establish himself as a golf course architect. Fishers Island was his crowning achievement. Unfortunately, he never saw its completed form, as he died from exhaustion and pneumonia six months before opening day. At the time, Raynor was in the middle of 30 design projects, surely a scenario that would do little for one’s health.
Generally, you will find the course to be wonderfully firm and fast with your ball bounding along the fairways at speed. This will suit you just fine, of course, until an unnoticed contour takes your ball somewhere you didn’t intend. Such are the vagaries of links-style golf and they only add to your enjoyment of the day here. As you think back over your round, the predominant theme is the fun you’ve had had taking on the diverse challenges this course presents. Fishers Island is never far from my thoughts and when I daydream about golf it is here that I most often go.
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Long Island-born Seth Raynor ran a successful surveying business before being hired by Charles Blair Macdonald in 1908 to inspect the property that would become The National Golf Links of America.