Featuring a wonderful closing stretch of holes along Long Island Sound, the course at Shorehaven Golf Club is one of Willie Park Junior's final American projects, co-designing the layout with Robert White, the first PGA President.
In The American Private Golf Club Guide, Daniel Wexler writes: “Shorehaven is a decent, shortish layout, offering little to stand out over its first fourteen holes – but its finishers are another story.
Set along tidal marshlands bordering the Sound, they include a pair of par threes (the 154-yard 15th and 186-yard 17th) that run directly to the water, as well as the 536-yard 16th (which curves along the shoreline and requires a long marsh carry off the tee) and the 383-yard 18th, a memorable par four that features a drive across the marsh and a waterside green.”
Quality location but the golf is fairly straightforward and with the exception of the final series of holes is fairly uneventful. The primary strength of the course rests with a number of quality greensites testing one's skill level with approach play and the manner by which the greens are situated.
The routing is fairly basic -- the general direction follows a south/north and north/south path. Given the tight amount of acreage the whole package of holes works quite well.
The ending quartet of holes takes you nearest to the Long Island Sound. The par-3 15th and 17th holes require a quality approach to reach elusive targets.
The par-5 16th is a superb hole. The drive is thoroughly tested -- the slightest miscalculation can be a scorecard breaker. Those who do hit a first-rate tee ball can contemplate a go for the green in two but the shot has to be laser-like in its distance and direction. Far too many risk/reward par-5 holes provide a simple risk for a major reward. The 16th at Shorehaven addresses that in the proper order -- the risk is anything but simple but the payoff is there for those pulling it off. Proceed knowing the consequences.
The penultimate hole is also good -- heading out into the surrounding wetlands and often dealing with varying wind velocities.
The closing par-4 18th is a fine finisher. Two driving lanes are available. There's a safe play that avoids a trio of bunkers as the hole turns right in the drive zone. Bold players can take on the right side - but a tree inserts itself and the narrow opening must be handled with the touch of a jeweler. The green is also well-positioned. Those who have taken the ultra-safe play off the tee must then play an approach to a green that's ably protected in the front left side -- especially when the pin is cut tightly to that side.
Those who have played a bolder attack line from the tee and been successful have a far easier approach and can make birdie.
It's too bad Shorehaven makes you wait till the final four holes to really show what it can offer.
M. James Ward