Our series on America’s best golf courses continues with a look at three of the best classic fairways in the Northeast U.S., as determined by Golfweek magazine’s handpicked panel of 385 course raters. The raters, who are students of architecture, attend national workshops and each evaluate 15 to 20 courses per year.
Here’s what distinguishes these Northeastern courses, according to Golfweek architecture editor Bradley S. Klein. We’ve also included information on the most convenient places to land your business jet near each course.
Look for a report on some of the best classic courses in the Western U.S. in our next issue.
Fishers Island Club, Fishers Island, N.Y.
Here’s an 80-year-old classic that’s still virtually unknown, which is just the way the members want it. Fishers Island, Seth Raynor’s finest solo design, sits on an island of that name in the middle of Long Island Sound, reachable by small private aircraft or by ferry from New London, Conn. The journey is worthwhile, owing to stunning waterfront holes and views of the Sound from every hole. Fishers Island is ranked No. 12 on Golfweek’s best-classic-courses list. That’s pretty impressive for a layout that still lacks fairway irrigation.
Elizabeth Field (0B8)
2,328-ft runway, two-mile drive.
Groton-New London (KGON)
5,000-ft runway, take ferry to Fishers
Island (860) 442-0165, www.fiferry.com.
FBOs: Columbia Air Services, (860) 449-1400;
Lanmar Aviation, (860) 446-8621.
Merion Golf Club-East Course, Ardmore, Pa.
These days, 6,842 yards is minuscule for a championship golf course, even one that’s par-70. But Merion–which opened in 1912 and has not changed substantially since Bobby Jones sealed his Grand Slam here in 1930–remains a brutal test. All of those short par-4s get tough when you’re on the greens–or in the deep, wispy-edged bunkers. For a golf course shoehorned into 100 acres, the place is highly regarded. Located just outside Philadelphia, it ranks 7th on Golfweek’s list of the best classic courses. The United States Golf Association is so confident about its merits that it’s taking the 2013 U.S. Open here, marking the fifth time the famed layout will host the event.
Northeast Philadelphia (KPNE)
7,000-ft runway, 19-mile drive.
FBOs: Atlantic Aviation, (215) 698-3100;
North Philadelphia Jet Center, (215) 673-9000.
Philadelphia International (KPHL)
10,506-ft runway, 17-mile drive.
FBO: Atlantic Aviation, (215) 492-7060.
Wings Field (KLOM)
3,700-ft runway, 16-mile drive.
FBO: Montgomery County Aviation, (215) 646-0400.
National Golf Links of America, Southhampton, N.Y.
Not many golf courses are living museums, but this fairway, rated No. 8 on Golfweek’s best-classic-courses list, is a monument to which all serious students of golf architecture must take a pilgrimage. When it debuted in 1911, the Charles Blair Macdonald creation received praise worldwide. It is a collection of some great British holes, including the par-3 Redan from North Berwick and the par-4 17th Alps from Prestwick. Few U.S. courses have this kind of width, playing options and links-like playing conditions. Thanks to sandy soil, a windy location and wise greenkeeping, NGLA (as it’s called) remains a gem.
4,255-ft runway, 13-mile drive.
FBOs: Myers Aero Service, (631) 537-3032;
Sound Aircraft Services, (800) 443-0031.
Francis S. Grabeski (KFOK)
9,000-ft runway, 15-mile drive.
FBOs: Long Island Jet Center, (877) 359-2365;
Malloy Air East, (888) 673-9888.