Seth Raynor was born and raised in Southampton, NY, so it’s fitting that the civil engineer originally laid out the course at Southampton Golf Club in 1925. Brian Silva recently restored the bunkering, returned the greens to their original shapes and sizes and advised on a substantial tree-clearing programme.
Unfortunately Southampton is still largely unappreciated due to its close proximity to the other higher profile courses in the area, which is a shame.
Given that the architect is buried in the nearby Southampton Cemetery, this special place in New York heralds some of the most sought-after terrain anywhere in the world. The nearby proximity to NGLA offers up a competing list of iconic template holes in the same town. Raynor had a great piece of land to use at Southampton and the scorecard is littered with holes known around the world on a first name basis.
Brian Silva was brought in a few years ago to restore the course back to its 1925 roots. While the conditions are healthy, and the greens are superb, we did notice that the bunkers generated the majority of conversation. For the most part, they have low lips at the front and are mostly dead flat from front to back meaning that a ball entering the bunker will roll all the way through the end without any grade/pitch to stop it. The back walls on the bunkers are steeper than most people would like as most golf balls end up right at the bottom of them because the floor of the bunkers is flat enough to carry it all the way through.
As with many courses in the region, the evolution of roads and the motor car influenced the routing of golf courses. After the short 2nd, you cross Tuckahoe Road to play holes 3 through 11, before crossing back to finish the course. The high quality is maintained on each paddock thanks to the topography that allows the template greens to exist in all their preserved glory. I did enjoy the variety of shots available on almost every par 4 and par 5 due to the placement of cross bunkers and creeks, so you could bite off as much as you felt you could (highlight the par 4 6th hole called Raynor’s Prize Dog-leg).
Once again, adding length to a course is not the answer to making it more difficult. These old courses will out-smart us all just as they are. It was a true pleasure to play at a historic course, and then visit the local cemetery afterwards to offer endless appreciation for all of the gifts Raynor and Macdonald left us with before departing for the next life. Let’s hope there’s a Redan somewhere above the clouds.
The main anchor on the head of Southampton Golf Club has little to do with what it provides -- but everything to do with the neighborhood it finds itself located. Having nearby neighbors with the likes of Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links of America and the recent arrival of Sebonack can often result in the course being either forgotten or not taken seriously. Southampton would shine even brighter if the stage were not as crowded with such tour de force rivals.
The layout is loaded with Seth Raynor template holes and the terrain has a good bit of movement. The course provides an uninterrupted 18-hole journey. My preference is that the outward side is the richer half filled with Raynor design elements seen routinely at his other layouts. The inner half is located on fairly level land but there are enough bunkers to keep you honest. The par-5 17th alone has, if memory serves, no less than ten!
Those coming to the area and fortunate to secure an invitation to play will reap a fine time.
by M. James Ward