Compared to its contemporaries in the East and West, Bay Shore’s Southward Ho Country Club does not have an exclamation mark, but the club does have the right to shout. The 1923 A.W. Tillinghast design, with trademark sloping, tightly-bunkered greens, was built at the same time as Winged Foot.
“Southward Ho is a somewhat unheralded A.W. Tillinghast design whose sloping greens (bunkered tightly towards the front) have drawn stylistic comparisons to Winged Foot, commented Daniel Wexler in The American Private Golf Club Guide. “The club’s best-known hole is 365-yard 8th (a sharp dogleg right whose approach is made over water) while the 164-yard 9th is a pond-fronted test that once played to a near-island green prior to the putting surface being moved.”
There are a number of under-appreciated layouts that dot the landscape of Long Island and Southward Ho is one of them. The course is impacted by the vagaries of wind blowing to/from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Generally, the prevailing wind is out of the south and when that happens the course certainly shows some real fiber as the round concludes.
The routing is generally either south/north or north/south. The terrain of the course is fairly uneventful and given that reality Tillinghast added a few flourishes with a variety of green shapes and contours. Southward Ho provides room off the tee but if you're not in the right position, with few exceptions, the wherewithal to get near to the pin can be a chore.
Even from the tips Southward Ho is not long -- just over 6,500 yards but as I mentioned earlier the wind's influence can be significant.
The start is fairly benign at the first two holes -- so getting off to a quick start does pay dividends. Things ramp up considerably with the long par-4 3rd as you play back into the prevailing wind. The routing alternates in a back-and-forth manner with the exquisite short par-3 4th breaking up the pattern. The par-4 8th is especially noteworthy as it heads into the prevailing wind and as the hole turns to the right it's essential not to block yourself out by being a bit too frisky with cutting the corner. The approach is played over a fronting pond and should you hit too far left the boundary of the property awaits.
The inward half commences with two back-to-back par-5s and just as in the front nine -- it pays to get off to a strong start to the final nine holes. The closing stretch starting with the par-3 14th is where one's golf skills need to rise considerably -- especially when the aforementioned wind is blowing from the southerly direction.
The par-3 14th is a first-rate Tillie par-3. The green is raised and ably defended by flanking bunkers. The frontal area is narrower than the rear portion and any miss to the sides will need to work especially hard to leave with a par. The par-4 15th turns slightly in the drive zone and again proper positioning is essential for the approach. The long par-4 16th plays very long at 442 yards and again it's important the tee shot finds short grass to maximize one's opportunity with the approach. The penultimate hole is another quality par-3. Although it often plays downwind it's crucial to not miss to either side of the green. The closing hole plays 419 yards and its length is complicated by a wind pattern that can easily add 2-3 clubs with the approach when dealing with a headwind.
Southward Ho gives players plenty of opportunities to score but it's not going to give such situations without a meaningful flip side where the holes and requirements are just as quick to pick one's pocket. That's certainly the case when you reach the 14th and with one lone exception are battling a headwind all the way to the round's conclusion.
As I mentioned at the outset, Long Island is home to a tier of courses that don't generally receive the lion's share of attention but still have enough architectural gravitas to check out firsthand. Southward Ho clearly belongs in that category.
M. James Ward
Thanks for the review M.James! Lovely to discover there’s a Southward Ho out there! And one which has design pedigree & interest that you feel worth checking out! Added to my own eclectic bucket list! I do feel they should consider adding an exclamation mark though!
As yet there I don’t think there’s a Northward Ho! anywhere - could be something for Mike Keiser to consider for new tracks at either the Sand Valley or Cabot resorts (!)
Northward Ho! belongs somewhere warm, where on a summer's afternoon you just want to go farther north. Perhaps south Florida?
BB: Southward Ho should add an exclamation point !!!
Candidly, the whole of Long Island is teeming with a vast array of solid courses. Unfortunately, many visitors who come quite naturally gravitate to the top of the pecking assuming they can gain access.
In the world of golf from my experiences -- the whole of Long Island is among the most prolific of locations and one that requires a number of visits to fully appreciate the depth of layouts that occupy this special place.
Good point Jeff - it’ll clearly have to be a new course at Streamsong!
For now I am happy enough that we have the 3 existing Ho!’s (if Santa Claus played Golf I’m sure he’d agree with this).