Located in Fairfield County, featuring panoramic views of Long Island, 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.
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.