Laid out on a confined parcel of land at East Setauket, New York, in 1917 by Devereux Emmet, the course at St George’s Golf & Country Club extends to a mere 6,200 yards, indicating that hardly a thing has changed here in a century, apart from a sympathetic Gil Hanse restoration at the start of the new millennium.
St. George's came about in part as a response to C.B. Macdonald building the National Golf Links of America. Devereux Emmet and Macdonald were good friends who hunted, travelled, and worked together on golf course designs and when NGLA opened in 1911, Emmet was one of the founding members.
Emmet and Macdonald were not only good friends, they were friendly competitors, so Emmet set out to build his own special home course near his sprawling estate in St. James, gathering a group of wealthy businessmen in 1915 to discuss building a layout that would become his home course.
Almost a hundred years later, Gil Hanse was called in to advise on a master plan which would restore the course back to its original design intents. This resulted in a process of tree and cart path removal, along with fairway and green expansion, all of which helped to display the charm and character of the course that would have been in play when Emmet was alive.
Devereux Emmet was a close friend of CB Macdonald and the influence of this friendship is hugely evident in Emmet’s work at St. George’s, especially with the mind-blowing throwback green shapes and bunker designs.
The club was established in 1917, and in 2008, the club embarked on a multi-year project to bring the course back to its Golden Age roots. Glorious aerial photos are on display in the clubhouse showing the property with no trees and incredible bunker shapes. More than 8,000 trees were removed in recent years, bunkers that were lost were restored, fairways were joined as a result of massive rough removal – and with the help of Gil Hanse, this course is easily in the top 10 or 12 courses on Long Island (stand back and appreciate what that statement actually means given the competition within a 50-mile stretch).
I was hugely impressed with this remarkable layout that flies tremendously under the radar and quickly gives you a glimpse of what golf courses looked like at the start of the last century.