The “Father of Golf Architecture” and the “Engineer” designed The Creek so it’s not surprising that the formidable duo of Charles Blair Macdonald and Seth Raynor conspired to create a classical masterpiece.
The Creek is set near Locust Valley where the views of the Long Island Sound from a number of holes, especially the 6th, called “Sound View” are breathtaking. The Long Island winds make The Creek a tough test, even though the course measures less than 6,500 yards. The tide also makes it challenging, for example the 11th green is not called “Island” for nothing, where the green must be accessed via a rickety wooden footbridge at high tide.
With a lovely combination of links-like and park-like characteristics, The Creek is quite unique. In fact it has been returned back to classical jazz after Gil Hanse's recent restoration.
Occupying one the highest pieces of land on Long Island, The Creek was built on a special 130 acres that were formerly the estate of Paul D. Cravath, a partner at the white-shoe law firm (at the time, the largest law firm in the world) that today exists as Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
Similar to arriving at the National Golf Links and at Sebonack, both further east on Long Island, the arrival at The Creek is grand. You drive through a set of old brick gates guarding the entrance and through an impressive allée of linden trees. At the far end of the road you turn into a circular entry drive. The first building in the circle is the old Cravath estate horse stable, which has been converted into the locker room and pro shop. At the far end of the circle is the handsome classic clubhouse, built of Indiana limestone in the Georgian Greek Renaissance style.
The golf course itself is a tale of three cities. Holes one through five occupy the flat, higher elevation part of the property and are the least interesting. Holes seven through fourteen occupy the flat beach/links part of the property, while holes six through eight and fifteen through eighteen are on a broad hill. Each of the three parts has a distinctive feel. The lower portion of the course is closer to Long Island Sound and is thus more impacted by the winds.
The par three eleventh hole is a stern test of golf, particularly if the wind is blowing. Its 200-yards demand a precise tee shot to hit the island green that the golfer reaches and departs from via wooden bridges. Making it even more of a challenge, the memorable hole features an 80-yard long Biarritz-style green with a large swale running through it. Teeing it up on a fine summer day at The Creek is one of the game's great pleasures.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs