Sankaty Head Golf Club dates back to 1923 and it owes its existence to David Gray – former partner of Henry Ford – who donated a clubhouse and 280-acres to the new Sankaty Head Golf Club.
Sankaty Head – derived from an Indian word meaning highland – is located on the eastern shore of Nantucket Island and the Atlantic Ocean wraps around the 90-foot bluff providing panoramic coastal views. The famous Sankaty Head lighthouse provides a fascinating focal point, especially on the front nine.
Golf has been played in these parts since 1894 at the nearby Old Siasconset golf course, so it seems fitting that a local “Sconset” lad, Emerson Armstrong, who was also the Old Siasconset club champion, designed the golf course at Sankaty Head.
One of the few examples of links-style golf outside of Britain & Ireland, Sankaty Head Golf Club has honourable traditions much more akin to the greatest golf clubs on the other side of the Atlantic. The club makes a conscious effort not to be exclusionary, membership is private but affordable and the public are welcome to play Sankaty Head in the off-season. Let’s hope more top ranked private US golf clubs follow Sankaty Head’s lead.
The Sankaty Head Caddy Camp dates back to the late 1930s and is one of the few remaining caddy camps in the world. The camp is located close to the 11th hole and aspiring caddies from far and wide come to learn the trade. But staying at the Sankaty Head caddy camp is risky business and caddies should beware of the ghost of Twitchy Bungus. We can’t verify the ghostly haunts of Twitchy Bungus so we’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about the infamous Sankaty Head ghoul.
Jim Urbina, Tom Doak’s longest serving associate at Renaissance Golf Design, completed a restoration project on the course alongside greenkeeper C.J. Penrose in 2017, removing obtrusive trees, repositioning tee boxes, rebuilding eroded bunkers and enlarging putting surfaces to their original green size. If anything, this little links jewel located thirty miles out to sea on Nantucket Island now shines as brightly as the Sankaty Head Light.
Must emphatically disagree with first review. Instead of finding Sankaty a gem, I found it repetitive and boring. Every hole is similar with nary a hint at strategy besides hit the ball down the middle. Every hole is basically a straight strip of fairway (with few exceptions) with thick fescue lining it. There’s no letup on the entire course. Almost every hole has a few bunkers dotting the outside of the fairway and a green sloped back to front.
The maintenance of the course is high quality and the setting is picturesque. Also, I played well; but it didn’t influence my perspective of the course. I was actually relieved to finish the round because of the monotony.
A hidden gem which blew me away. If Shinnecock Hills had a little brother, I think I found it. Its courses like this that makes golf so much fun to play day after day. The added excitement of having to sail to Nantucket heightens the anticipation of what lays hidden away on the island.
The nines were reversed decades ago, which had a number of benefits to the routing – not to mention when it was determined that the 10th hole was far too difficult as an opener!
There is a touch of elegance surrounding this classic New England layout, especially as the walk around the historic clubhouse brings you back in time. Modern technology just feels so out of place in this golfing museum.
The bunkers, the fabulous green complexes and the undulations were created with such simple means, but continue to look like pictures of Scottish courses from the 19th century.
I smiled looking out to the ocean knowing that so many of the holes at Sankaty Head could easily be at Fishers Island, National Golf Links or Shinnecock Hills. Walking Sankaty Head reminded me that this architecture can stand shoulder to shoulder with the golden age designs a few miles across the Long Island sound.
Jim Urbina was on the property last weekend as part of a project to significantly improve the quality of the bunkers. The charm of this old lady marries gracefully with the lighthouse that shines a watchful light over this New England jewel in the sea.