Located in Fairfield County, featuring panoramic views across Long Island Sound, the fairways of the Longshore Golf Course occupy what was once an onion farm before it was converted into a municipal golf facility in the mid-1920s by Orrin Smith.
The layout measures only about 6,000 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 69. It’s largely flat with very ordinary greens and bunkers to match but it’s a place where you’ll find golfers of all abilities out playing at a steady pace of less than four hours for a round, even on busy Sunday afternoons.
Part of Longshore's popularity is its coastal setting but golf is just one of many outdoor pursuits to be found within a public park that allows easy access to all forms of fitness, whether that might be jogging, biking or even just dog-walking between the fairways.
Operated by Westport Parks & Recreation, Longshore hired a third party course maintenance firm to help turnaround its fortunes in 2014 in an effort to return the municipal facility to recording the sort of 40,000-plus rounds per annum figures that were once the norm.
Imagine if the land that is now Longshore Park was discovered in 2020. Situated on a coastal inlet of Long Island Sound, the value of that real estate would be almost incalculable. Surely, no sensible developer today would commission a municipal course on the site.
Fortunately for local golfers, Longshore Golf Course has survived and served the community of Westport and players all around the Constitution State for a century. From any perspective, Longshore is a model ‘muni,’ overcoming so many of the challenges that all courses face in the modern era:
• Appropriate conditioning: Longshore is a seaside course, and its condition reflects this nature. Holes are not crowded by trees, and wide areas of dry rough reside between many corridors. Longshore demonstrated the value of “brown is the new green” well before the mantra was marketed by the USGA. With high natural fescue covering many bunkers, the conditioning also affects strategy; simply clearing the sand traps is usually not enough for success.
• Minimalist design: Longshore is generally flat, but thankfully the original architects highlighted and incorporated the interesting aspects of the topography rather than razing and re-shaping it. Examples include the protruding knob at the par three 2nd and the green complex atop a small mound at the exceptionally fun short par four 4th. The course is compact, with distances from green-to-tee kept minimal, and the bunkering is not overly ornate.
• Affordability: In one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, Longshore Golf Course remains staunchly accessible to the public. The presentation and layout support its low cost – the course is not painstakingly manicured and does not require significant watering, and it is always walkable. This is a property that could easily be converted into an exclusive, private retreat; instead, it proudly makes the game available to any member of the community.
Longshore Golf Course is a wonderful example of successful simplicity. Not every course needs a signature hole to be memorable. Flashing bunkers, understated conditioning, and corridors routed in a variety of directions all provide a stimulating experience for its players.