Course Review: Creek Club
Designer: CB Macdonald
I recognize that somehow I’ve managed to make it to Long Island two years in a row without actually writing about significantly about the experience. Which is hard to imagine, really, considering there’s a good argument to be made that the best golf in the world is located in this area outside of New York. Consider that mix of courses — Shinnecock, Maidstone, Friar’s Head, Bethpage, Garden City, NGLA, and the list goes on. I’m not sure there’s anywhere in the world that rivals it.
I’ll write about National Golf Links later this week, but one of the courses that most intrigued me on my recent trip was a round at the Creek Club, a blue blood haunt in Long Island designed by CB Macdonald. Like Piping Rock, which is nearby, Creek Club doesn’t get the attention that NGLA receives. That’s understandable — it isn’t quite so iconic. But Creek Club struck me as having numerous great holes on it worthy of study and has stuck in my memory since playing it on bright early morning late last year.
It starts with a cracker of a par-4 that is mid-length with a terrific green, before giving way to the following four holes which reside largely on flat ground. None of which are bad, but are hardly dazzling either. It isn’t until one reaches the sixth hole, which a friend calls the best in the world, that the course finds another gear altogether. From that point it is a fascinating ride.
The sixth is a long par-4, but its distance is not an issue given that is is significantly downhill. While the first few holes play through mature trees and out towards the entrance road, the sixth opens up the magnificent vista of the ocean, a harbinger of what is to come on the next dozen holes. Guarded by a bunker complex and long grass on the right, players ideally want to take advantage of the slope by hitting a draw. From there modern players will have little more than a short iron — which is necessary given the incredible bathtub green they are presented with.
Rarely have I seen a green so compelling and memorable. With a bank built behind the green and a bunker cut in a steep slope, it is clear one doesn’t want to be too aggressive with the green, which rumbles from the front to the back right in a boomerang fashion. The green’s left side is steep enough to allow players to take the ball well behind forward flags and bring it back — which one of my playing partners did very successfully. It is the kind of green that makes one want to drop a handful of balls down and hit putts to different areas. All-world.
The course doesn’t let up from there. To some the stretch of the eighth, a reverse Redan with a green that rolls to the back right, and the ninth, a long par-4 to a raised green, is as good as it gets. Hard to argue with.
When playing NGLA the day prior, one of the caddies told us we should have played the Creek in July.
“That’s when the nannies are at the beach club,” he explained. “And the nannies are all tens.”
Can’t really comment on that, but the area surrounding the beach club, including the 10th, a short par-4 with water on both sides, and the 11th, a Biarritz green that is 100 yards long (we played it to a front flag), are worthy of study. While the course loses some of its lustre when it heads back inland, the 13th and 14th are certainly among the most challenging on the course, and the 16th with a 18th century cemetery on the right, is charming. Sure the 18th, a shortish par-5 straight up the hill to the clubhouse, is a bit underwhelming, but by then your memories are of the great holes that preceded it, which one sees when taking a last glimpse before walking up towards the clubhouse.