Feature: coursework: two options for local golfers seeking challenge, and a good time.

AuthorMangan, George

Long Island National

Long Island National Golf Course is no pretender. From a 153-acre potato farm, golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. has shaped and crafted a masterpiece accessible to all for their golfing pleasure.

Jones was inspired to move between 800,000 and a million cubic yards of earth so that rolling contours underscore windswept and fescue dunes with the expected sea breezes, while maintaining the area's character and still providing variation. Granted, a tuberous mound to the left of No. 16 green reminded Jones of Balybunion, the world famous golf course in Ireland. Nevertheless, Long Island National is a unique jewel that illuminates the landscape of eastern Long Island.

If the true measure of art is to wed delight with learning, Long Island National is an enduring piece of sculpture. A two and a half hour drive from Manhattan, the Riverhead course affords both scratch and recreational golfers an opportunity to hone and practice their skills without the salubrious doses of frustration so often encountered in courses that put difficulty above pleasure. The slope, degree of difficulty, ranges from 114 to 132. On this par 71 course are four sets of tees measuring 6,868 yards from the tips to 5,006 yards at the silver.

Quantity, however, doesn't overshadow quality, and never did. Greg Dubois, grow-in superintendent for Long Island National and currently superintendent at Portsmouth Country Club in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recalled land owner Adam Gatz hand-watering sod behind the No. 9 green. Here was the septuagenarian who once cultivated potatoes on the same spot, now providing the same attention to detail to his new "crop"--the sod.

No Small Potatoes

The first thing golfers encounter as they put the peg in the ground on No. 1 are the bent grass tees, fairways and greens. (The fairways and tees are a bent grass mixture while the greens are 100 percent bent grass.) The ball then sits up nicely on the tees and fairways while the greens are consistent and provide a smooth putting surface. This is especially helpful on the large double green 15 and 17. This 20,000-square-foot emerald island may intimidate the best of lag putters, but it will never warrant the title as unfair.

A doppelganger green is not the only unique feature of Long Island National. Holes two and three are a double fairway that invite the golfer to take in a panoramic landscape that highlights the beauty of any savannah, while the ripple of a salt...

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