Maidstone is routed across the Gardiner Peninsula, which is one of the finest parcels of golfing ground in the world. The Maidstone Club dates back to 1891 and we think William Tucker originally designed a basic nine-hole course. But Maidstone really came of age in the Roaring Twenties when new sandy land became available and the course was extended to 18 holes.
Willie Park Junior was the architect responsible for refashioning Maidstone and it’s a masterpiece, which is probably Park’s finest architectural ensemble. The holes to the southern end of the peninsula are ringed around by dunes, which protect the course from the Atlantic Ocean beyond. It’s a magical and almost theatrical setting.
The ground at Maidstone is often firm and fast, which can turn the 6,400-yard layout into a relatively short course. But the greens are small and tough to find and they too are firm and fast. Only the best players will wrestle par from Maidstone’s tight grip.
If you are fortunate enough to receive an invite to play Maidstone, we advise you accept. You will enjoy the game on a beautifully conditioned course which we are sure would please Willie Park Jnr if he was alive today, especially following the 2012 Coore & Crenshaw restoration, which has returned the course to its former glory. It's sheer delight.
Darius Oliver, in this edited extract from the book Planet Golf USA, writes: “Willie Park passed away shortly after Maidstone opened, and sadly he never saw the finished product. His brother John was responsible for building the course and little has changed since he had it ready for play in 1924.
While Park gets great credit for his design, the club deserves equal praise for the firm and bouncy manner in which fairways and greens are maintained. This traditional old layout is terrific fun to play and will particularly delight passionate enthusiast of Golden Age design.”
Maidstone lies at the west end of the Atlantic Double Dunes, a pair of parallel sand ridges thar run for two and a half miles behind the beach on Long Island’s south shore. The Double Dunes form the boundary of my favorite Maidstone hole—the 9th, requiring an accurate drive and then an accurate approach to a green perched on top of the dune. The dunes also come into play on the 8th—a blind par 3, the 10th, the approach shot on the 13th and the short 14th. These fine holes are complimented by three cape holes--#s 7, 16 and 17—all daring the golfer to bite off as much carry over water as (s)he dares.
I found many of the other holes mundane when compared with these beauties. The par five 2nd has been enlivened by a series of fairway bunkers down the left side of the hole. But the better approach to the green is from the right….away from the troublesome bunkering. There is OB well to the right, where high hedges obscure homes that border the course. A prospective member once cut down the hedges in front of his house to get a better view. The club was so affronted by his temerity that he was never invited to join.
The key to really understanding Maidstone comes having played the course prior to the involvement of Crenshaw and Coore in 2012. I remember my first time playing the course over 30 years ago and was disappointed since the actual product was not in alignment with all the hype I had heard. Frankly, the prestige of the club came more so from the beach club and tennis connection than the golf.
Before C&C got involved the strength of the course was encountered from the 4th thru 15th holes. And the dunes holes specifically from the 6th thru the 10th provided the icing on the cake. The other holes - both at the start of the round and the ending -- were simply functional and lacking anything resembling compelling architecture.
The Maidstone of pre-C&C was benefiting from having an address that proclaimed the "Hamptons" loud and clear.
Engaging the talented twosome of C&C provided a much-needed dusting off of the cobwebs and for a long overdue re-examination on how to really bring to life the qualities of the core architecture that was buried under unnecessary clutter.
Maidstone has always had a fine routing -- there's plenty of movement and you don't get a series of holes marching to the beat in going in the same continuous direction. Adjustment are always called upon because the wind off the Atlantic can be utterly unpredictable in terms of direction and velocity.
C&C did an exemplary job in bolstering the bunkering and providing for green expansions in several instances. As Bob McCoy correctly points out in his comments - intrusive trees, shrubbery and excessive vegetation was smartly eliminated. The character of the course was free from wearing a heavy coat that only obscured what lied just underneath. Now, the essence of the course has been positively exposed.
During my last visit to the course I could see things were clearly different the minute I stepped onto the 1st tee. The hole was now lengthened roughly 40 yards and went from being a dull opening hole to one that mandates more attention. The positioning of the bunkers and the manner by which they blended into the terrain is a real treat.
The par-5 2nd used to be a yawn of a hole. Not any longer. Without question, the best of the four par-5 holes encountered as placement is tested on the shots encountered.
The par-3 4th now has a back teeing area that can play to a max over 240 yards.
Once you cross over Hook Pond the magnificence of the architecture really comes alive. Bunkers are smartly positioned and the need to work-the-ball is called upon.
The 9th hole is simply one of the Met section's best holes. The need for stellar execution is a must and the manner by which the green is perched mandates the finest of approaches. Miss right and a foreboding bunker awaits. Pull the approach and you'll be fortunate it does not bound yards and yards away from where you want to be.
Yet, I still believe Maidstone lacks a superior short par-4 -- the ones encountered at the 5th, 7th and 17th respectively are good but not especially unique given the nearby competition of such holes found at other nearby courses on Long Island. The other three par-5 holes provide players with birdie opportunities but they generally lack meaningful architecture -- save for the fun tee shot at the 16th with its angled fairway with water down the right side.
The closing hole has also been updated. The uphill tee shot must be played with more care as the fairway tapers in considerably courtesy of two bunkers pinching in at the right moment.
Turf conditions have clearly improved since my first visit years ago and there's a keen desire to get the turf especially springy and less spongy. When played in the late spring and fall period the alignment of weather and turf is likely at its premier best.
Maidstone is in a highly competitive neighborhood given the tour de force clubs within a short distance. Overall, the club's leadership deserves big time credit in understanding what was needed to be done and convincing C&C to put into motion what they do so well.
For those seeking an eastern Long Island golf architecture lesson -- Maidstone matters now. The pre-C&C Maidstone would not have made my top 100 USA. The one that exists now can make a strong case for inclusion.
One final addendum -- my assessment is strictly on the architecture of the course -- not the welcome received or how good the lobster bisque is or if the towels are big and fluffy when using the beach club or if the practice balls are perfectly propped up in pyramid form when warming-up.
Just the architecture encountered.
My hope is to comment on Maidstone which I played for the first time in November 2021. This will also turn out to be a complement to M. James Ward.
Maidstone was third on my list of courses to play while visiting the Hamptons in November. Living in So California I failed to realize when making my travel plans that golf courses might actually close for the winter. This mistake on my part turned out to be a blessing.
Maidstone was a real treat and one that I would have missed had my trip been a month earlier.
Now, this was my first visit to Maidstone. I have no earlier experience to compare it to. M. James Ward describes the remodeled course in every way that I remember it. For me the C&C work is so good I could have been told that the course has always been this way.
M. James Ward makes it a strong point that he is assessing the architecture of the course and not the bells and whistles.
It is exactly for this reason that I regularly search for M. James Ward's golf course review when making my golf course travel selections. He thinks and writes the way I wish more commenters wrote.
Moreover, this subject is very much on my mind right now as I prepare my personal list of top 100 golf courses in my California. In my opinion, the current list has far too many courses that are more about bells and whistles and less about "the architecture encountered".
Thank you M. James Ward and keep up the good writing.
Not shocking to realize that playing a Willie Park design, which was touched up by Coore & Crenshaw, in the dunes of the Hamptons is an incredible experience. The course was also in impeccable condition when I played it in the heat of August.
The course starts with a usual handshake of an opener to help set pace, followed by the 2nd hole (par 5) that has quite an intimidating tee shot as a somewhat busy road goes along the entire left side of the hole with no room to spare, and the property boundary goes up the right side to a green surrounded by sand on most sides.
The 4th hole (par 3) is a standout with an all water carry to a slightly elevated and domed green – the hole is fully exposed, so club selection into the wind can be crucial here, especially given the green’s shape.
The 5th helps highlight some of the timeless charm at Maidstone in the context of the modern game, as it helps rebuke the concept that length is all that matters. A short (~320) par 4 that sometimes can have a helping wind, but the landing area gets more narrow as you approach the green up a fairway surrounded by bunkers and fescue, and any long approach will find the water. One can easily go for the green and be left with a dreaded mid-range bunker shot from 50-60 yards, or have to hit from the fescue and land the ball on the green (since the run-up area to the green is so narrow) and try to avoid the ball bouncing over and into the water due to lack of spin – this hole is not an easy par if you hit driver…
The 6th is a sneaky great par 4 that does not look like much from the tee but is a joy to play. A bunker dominates the center of the fairway, and finding the fairway is crucial to get enough spin to hold what might be the best green on the course that slopes severely from left to right, either feeding the ball close or leaving you with an impossible chip or putt if you go long/left.
7 is an excellent Cape hole that favors a cut – again, hard to decide on hitting driver (might send you through the fairway) or 3 wood or hybrid – depends on the wind.
8 is another hole that really sets the vibe for Maidstone. A short (150-155 depending on wind) par 3 that feels like you are buried in the dunes and playing towards a semi-blind green where you can likely only see part of the flag. One of the most natural looking par 3s I have ever played and a green with a lot of slope makes it feel like a joy ride.
9th hole might be my favorite as you stand from a high tee and the hole plays along the dune that borders the ocean through a serpentine fairway that cuts through the dune and almost feels like a tunnel in some parts. The green is elevated with a massive bunker helping to protect it.
The 10th plays back along the 9th in the opposite direction, and when I played it, had a helping wind (whereas the 9th felt like a short par 5). Despite playing downwind, however, the 10th had what I thought was the most elevated and challenging green to hit. It’s intimidating to look at due to how raised it is as it looks like a raised table flanked by two bunkers and a steep drop off behind (that you see from 8th green), so even with a short club (usually 9 iron or less), your approach plays mind games with you since you MUST hit and hold the green, or be left with a very awkward chip (that may also be hard to hold the green, depending on where you hit from and where the pin is).
11 and 12 are both ok holes – they are probably discounted more than they should be after coming off of an unreal stretch of holes, but I think they are just fine.
13 is a solid par 5 that bring you back towards the dunes and beach and is getable in 2, but missing your approach can be penal due to the bunkering and some high grass/wild vegetation near the green.
14 is the often photographed par 3 with a beautiful green that just sits on a dune with the ocean behind it – another very natural feeling par 3 that looks like it was made to be there in the dunes.
15 has a tee right next to 14 green and is essentially right on the beach and elevated – probably the most fun tee shot on the course to hit, and the hole runs parallel in opposite direction to the 13th hole, again asking the golfer to adjust to different wind directions on the course.
16 is another opportunity to score on a par 5 – each of Maidstone’s par 5s are birdie opportunities – some might view this as a weakness, but it also helps a golfer score and enjoy their round, especially as some of the par 3s and 4s can be very difficult on a windy day.
17 is a drivable par 4 with a pond that goes the length of the left side, which you need to carry or hit a perfect draw. It’s a great hole, though I am somewhat bitter that my host did not tell me that the right side of the green is out of bounds (where my drive ended up), even though you can easily hit your ball from there onto the green and the grass is not particularly deep or anything – just normal rough. Ideally want a tee shot to the right side of the fairway and a short wedge in.
18 is a fine finishing hole back towards the beach – nothing spectacular in my opinion but still a solid finisher of a hole. You can’t really see anything on the horizon behind the green on your approach, and the hole plays uphill with the ocean downhill and beyond the green, so it can be a deceiving approach that messes with your mind a bit.
Maidstone is a special place and one of my favorite courses I have ever played. It can show its teeth when it’s windy, but it still gives you opportunities to score and leave your round with some memorable great shots, all while enjoying a perfect walk amongst the dunes.
Maidstone is such a grand course. It was such a pleasure to play here yesterday. It starts with a nice par 4. It's open and a good way to start your walk. The holes then just get grander and grander. The course from 3 to 15 is very special. The par 3's are some of the very best. Conditioning is excellent. The over all setting is wonderful. The finish may be a little weak but the mid round is second to none. I'm of opinion Maidstone is under rated. It's not a long course but it's routed thru some tremendous sandy terrain and an absolute drop everything and go.
The main West Course at Maidstone opened in 1925. (There is also a nine hole Members Course.) Scotsman Willie Park, Jr., along with younger brother John, are credited with the West Course design. John had been involved with Maidstone since 1898 and was the club professional starting in 1915. No major changes had been made to the West Course since 1925.
I had the pleasure of playing Maidstone a few times in the 1980s and 1990s. The course has always been fairly highly rated, but for me it occasioned the same sentiments as Seminole: a solid but somewhat overrated course. But yet again, Coore & Crenshaw have performed their restoration magic here. Starting with the very first hole I sensed a much more interesting course. It used to be a straightforward downsloping tee shot to a bland approach. Forty yards have been added to the tee shot and there are now attractive bunkers at the green. Also there is attractive flowing tall fescue grass in the far rough, a feature that exists in many parts of the course.
The total restoration involved extensive removal of trees, shrubbery, and overgrown vegetation in order to open up vistas. This is especially attractive on the links like sand dune holes (some bordering the Atlantic Ocean, where you can see and hear crashing waves). Coore & Crenshaw uncovered some “lost bunkers,” rebuilt some, and added others (total now 131). Greens were restored to original size to increase pin position possibilities. The back tees now measure 6,726 yards, a 200-yard increase. The course plays a lot longer with the ever-present strong ocean winds whipping over the exposed property.
Similar to the Coore & Crenshaw work at Pinehurst #2 and Seminole, it is really amazing how ripping out acres of unattractive vegetation can reveal such beautiful and exciting characteristics that are now visible at Maidstone. The visuals here have been improved by 200%. The playing conditions have also been improved to much more firm and fast, so many links-type options are now present. Maidstone is a course you would enjoy playing daily.
Maidstone Club is a country club located in East Hampton on Long Island. The club dates from 1891 and includes an active beach club, and grass tennis courts. The club also started introducing golf holes from 1898, but it wasn't until 1922 that they got serious and employed legendary Scottish golfer Willie Park Jnr. It was then that the Maidstone course we know emerged.
In recent years Coore + Crenshaw were employed to 'tidy up' the course, which had largely remained unchanged from Willie Parks' day. Coore + Crenshaw cleaned up the rough in play off the tee and framing fairways, reducing the number of carries over long grass to speed up play, and bringing the lovely red fescue in the rough to the fore. They also shaved the green surrounds...which definitely slows play down! With a number of elevated greens, some with steep drop offs, there is nothing to stop the rolling ball!
Maidstone has a bit of a split personality. A number of holes play through and around the wetlands. These holes are easy walking, and very pretty. Holes 1-5, 7 and 16 & 17 cover this terrain, and there are some really interesting holes. The course heads into some lovely dunesland after the seventh hole and 8, 9, 10 & 14 are memorable.
Notable holes include:
- The par 3 fourth hole with an all water carry- it's is a strong hole.
- The short par 4 fifth hole with promontory green requires an accurate short iron- anything long is wet!
- The par 4 seventh hole is a 'Cape' hole and requires a brave tee shot to assure a short iron to a dangerous green.
- The par 3 eighth hole is the first of the holes in the bigger dunes near the beach. It requires a "blind" short iron to be hit over the dunes to a wonderful green encircled by bunkers.
- The par 4 ninth runs parallel to the beach. The green is quite elevated with steep drop offs and requires a very accurate mid iron to stay on the green. Anything short or straying from centre green will eventually trickle into cavernous bunkers, so it is a tough hole.
- Hole 10 is a longer par 4 with another trying green complex. It requires two very solid strikes to get home in regulation.
- The final dunes hole is the short par 3 fourteenth hole, set in classic linksland near the coast. The wind is in play, and you must be up. Perfect!
- The par 5 sixteenth again tests your mettle with a tee shot over us much water as you are game to take on...
- And the short par 4 seventeenth is a curiousity. It is almost driveable for the big hitter, but mere mortals will need to once more choose a line over the water and commit. A successful tee shot will leave a short approach to an elevated green adjacent to a road intersection. It's weird, but it works!
Maidstone might have a split personality but it works wonderfully well. With the sun shining and the waves crashing in the background it is a beautiful place to be.
I really enjoyed the variety of holes, and the fact that I could genuinely play all sort of shots around the greens- bump'n'run, flop shot, putt- you choose. This is the sort of course you could play every day for the rest of your life. No wonder it is considered one of the top 100 courses on the planet..
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
How can you not like Maidstone? Fun holes, not too challenging, it's always in good condition (it's supposed to be a little brown, dry and rough), the routing is excellent and the setting and views couldn't be better. It's a course on the ocean, in the Hamptons, that takes you around a massive brackish water pond. The setting reminds you of national but it's on the Ocean, not the sound. Maidstone also offers some unique slopey greens with tightly cut run offs that create a variety of shot options. The course is always in the top 100 but I don't understand why it's not in the top 25. I assume some take points away for 1) resistance to scoring, 2) the fairly flat land and 3) the condition but in my opinion - 1) Try playing it dry and windy 2) It's the best land in NY and the dunes do offer some good hills and ridges and 3) You're probably wrong. The condition offers a taste of rough links-style golf in the US and at Maistone the dryer and faster the more fun. There are no shortage of good holes here, but it's hard to compete with 8, 9, 10, 14, 15 & the driveable 17th. The Short course is pretty fun too.
In 2011 before my hand surgery I hosted a very nice couple from Maidstone at my home course Golf Club Argentino and since then I have been in touch with them, mainly the very nice lady called Marie. Since then she has been extremely helpful and opened the doors of some great private courses in the USA but I had never been to Maidstone. We were close in 2013 but as she arranged a round at Shinnecock Hills for us, we just met there for a drink before play.
This year on the trip to NY it was time to go there and after the Gil Hanse restoring and having read the course was in its best condition ever, it was time to go so with 4 friends we drove over 2hs (each way!) to go play this diamond.
One of the nice touches was that when we arrived we found we were going to be caddied by some young argentine pros/Amateurs who use to do the summer season there to make some money and good contacts for the future. So we got caddies who knew the course and spoke our language, couldn’t ask for more!
As for the course, I only had some images of it but didn’t know it well as you can know many of the famous ones even withouth having played them (like Augusta National GC) so every hole was a very nice surprise and each of them one better than the previous one.
The general impression is a very well mantained course, greens at a very good speed, very tight fairways, usually in windy conditions and with many very demanding shots. A course which is not long but with the wind and difficulties it is one where a good score may come but most likely not the very first time.
Warming up can be done in the short course which is usually even better if you have the time. Club House is very charming, not as great as maybe Oakmont or Winged Foot due to not having hosted big events but it is great and with very good taste, with a terrace facing the ocean which will be in the top 20 views from a Golf Club House.
As for the Golf course … beauty es everywhere: sand dunes, ocean, water hazards, manicured bunkers, very challenging greens, everything! Here some highlights:
- Par 3 4th: it played straight into the wind, extreme back pin position and with a decent 5 iron I only carried 165yds to leave me a 30mts putt, great bogey!
- Par 4 5th: short one into a strong crosswind with water all around the right side of the green, very demanding tee shot.
- Par 4 7th: one of the best, a tight hole with water all over the right side and a mandatory carry over it for the tee shot … WOW!!
- Par 4 9th: very tight tee shot with the beach all over the right side, I pushed tee shot way right and played from there like Walter Hagen in “The Legend of Bagger Vance”
- Par 3 14th: again playing towards the ocean, into the wind, wild sorroundings like 3rd at Spyglass Hill, just amazing.
The day ended on that terrace before the drive back home, what a fantastic experience. It is one of those courses many golfers won’t even read about and one of those we who have the luck of playing them will feel like we visited the perfect place to enjoy our passion.
When members of elite clubs in the United States, including those of Long Island, openly say that if they had one round of golf to play before they ascend up to heaven “it would be Maidstone”, that alone begins to describe the mouth-watering quality of this classic layout.
The need for Coore/Crenshaw to renovate the course in 2012 was influenced by how much the vegetation had overgrown, and a number of bunkers needed to be fixed, installed or re-shaped. The “fairway bunkers” were not in the fairway anymore; rather they were in shin-high vegetation. Coore/Crenshaw gave this place a massive hair-cut by exposing lost bunkers, revealing beautiful natural undulations which no living member has seen since childhood and expanded almost every green to their original size, giving birth to dozens of new pin positions.
The head green-keeper at Maidstone is in his 7th year, and I couldn’t think of better greens to putt on from a conditioning perspective. The course’s current state is a sight to behold, and the iconic Coore/Crenshaw bunkering is prevalent in every direction.
A new tee added 40 yards back has toughened up the opening hole and additional fairway bunkers right in the landing zone have been installed. The haircut to the course makes it feel like they’ve added over a hundred bunkers and exposed acres of gorgeous sand-scrub, but it just goes to show the quality of the skeleton that had been lost over time.
The magical touch of Coore/Crenshaw, combined with the passionate vision of the Golf Committee has produced a layout that can easily rival anything in the country. The excellence of the conditioning and the architectural brilliance of Maidstone is only second to the outstanding people that put their names to the club. Right from the second you get out of your car, you are made feel like you are part of an East Hampton family. This was a telling representation of how much they care for their underrated blockbuster golf course.
The enlarged greens at Maidstone have yielded but one new pin position on the entire course (on hole #7). Rather than produce more pin positions, the primary effect of the greens enlargement, which in some instances extends well beyond original size, has been to enhance the liklihood of balls gathering in greenside bunkers (or newly fashioned run-off areas), many of which have been cut closer to the (new) edges of greens. (Green 'collars' were removed in their entirety.).....Hence, in practical effect, although much larger in terms of square footage, the greens now 'play' much smaller and offer materially less greenside proximate safe-haven.....C&C have been superb, and I appreciate all the other observations which are spot-on, particularly those relating to the conditioning improvements (courtesy of the green superintendent and his staff) and the club's overall ambience.
I could play Maidstone every day for the rest of my life. Having played Maidstone now in a variety of conditions, I have really come to appreciate that no two consecutive holes play in the same direction. The course plays along the Atlantic Ocean along two ridges of sand dunes. As fantastic as the golf course is at Maidstone, the overall environment of the club is even better. Jay Gatsby would be right at home if he drove up Old Beach Lane today in a Pierce Arrow Runabout. The scene around the putting green is reminiscent of a who’s who in world of power brokers. And everyone is perfectly coiffed and tailored. The locker room is enticing and because the club is set on the ocean there is the beach club extraordinaire. Maidstone pulls off what many other clubs can't: understated elegance and a sense of timelessness.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs