September 15, 2014
There are a few times in life when the stars align, a gift falls into your lap, and you get to create a lifelong memory. One of those happened to me in September. When I planned my trip to New York, Maidstone Club wasn't even on my radar. It is one of the clubs in the U.S. that a privileged few get the honor to experience. It is the kind of club where you usually have to know someone that knows someone to even get an invitation to play. On this trip, however, the stars aligned just right on the first day of my New York trip and I did indeed get the chance to experience Maidstone.
The club derives its name from the original name for East Hampton, Maidstone, named after Maidstone in England. It was founded as a nine-hole course in 1891 and expanded to eighteen holes in 1899. The golf course was originally designed by William H. Tucker and is one of the first 100 golf courses in the United States. Willie Park, Jr. designed the 80-acre, Gardiner Peninsula addition in 1922. The expansion resulted in the club having two 18-hole courses, but this was reduced to the current 27-hole layout by the hurricane of 1938.
As most of my golf trip was scheduled on the western end of Long Island, or points further west, I choose to stay at the Marriott next to the Nassau Coliseum. This meant I had to leave myself with about four hours of travel time to make sure I arrived well before my scheduled tee time. With an 8 am tee time, I woke up well before sunrise and set off on the several hours drive to Maidstone. I was very happy to find perfect weather for golf; it was 68 degrees, no clouds at all, and barely any wind. It appeared the golf gods were smiling on me this day. After an uneventful drive, I finally arrived at the club just as the sun was rising. It was a gorgeous sky full of orange and reds. There was only two other cars in the parking lot so I parked, got out of my rental car, and just stood there breathing in the early morning salty sea air. It was a good day to be alive.
|The entrance sign to the property.|
After the half hour stroll, I made my way to the gentlemen's locker room where I was again greeted by name by an attendant and shown my locker for the day. He asked if I would like anything to eat or drink but I respectfully declined. He took my golf shoes and ensured each cleat was in place and fitted snugly, used a polishing brush to give them a slight shine, and handed them back. He advised my walking shoes would be taken care of while I was out on the course. All of this was offered without any request on my part, showing why Maidstone really is a top notch club in all aspects. With his permission, I took several photos of the locker room.
|A look from the sitting area into the locker room.|
|A look across the sitting area.|
|A closer look into the locker room.|
Maidstone Club appears in The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes and receives quite a few accolades. Among them are:
- Hole 9 is listed as one of the top 100 holes in the world.
- Holes 10 and 14 are listed as two of the top 500 holes in the world.
- Hole 9 is listed as one of the top 18 best holes with bunkers in the world.
- Hole 9 is listed as one of the best 18 links holes on the planet. As Rees Jones said, "Maidstone's ninth is the purest links hole in America."
Maidstone has four sets of tee boxes. From back to front they are blue, white, green, and red. Since the blue tees are only 6,574 yards, with a 72.9 rating and 139 slope, I decided to play from the back on this day.
The first shot of the day, the tee shot at #1, is fairly intimidating, not because it is a tough hole. The hole is rather straightforward and short for a par 4. It is because the practice putting green is located very near the first tee box so anyone on the putting green is watching and sizing you up on your first swing of the day. My shot was made even more intimidating by the fact I had forgotten to ask if there was a practice range and if I could use it, so my first tee shot was truly my very first swing of the day. Luckily, I hit it square on the face and drove it within a wedge shot of the green.
The first hole is a par 4 that plays 424 yards long. It is a straight fairway that has a large, natural sand area on the right side. The green guarded almost completely by moderate to large sized sand traps. The green also slopes steeply on the back so it is better to hit the front of the green than the back.
|A look down the fairway from the 1st tee box.|
|A look into the 1st green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 2nd tee box.|
|A look into the green from 150 yards out.|
|A closer look at the 2nd green from just off the left side.|
|A look down the fairway from the 3rd tee box.|
|A look into the 3rd green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the green from the 4th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 5th tee box.|
|A look into the 5th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 6th tee box.|
|A look into the green from 75 yards out.|
|A look towards the fairway and green from the 7th tee box.|
|A look into the 7th green from 75 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 8th tee box.|
|A look into the 8th green as it comes into sight just past the dunes.|
|A look closer look onto the 8th green.|
|A look onto the 8th green from 50 yards out and from the top of the dune.|
|A look down the fairway from behind the tee boxes.|
|A look down the fairway from the 9th tee box.|
|A look into the 9th green from 100 yards out.|
|A closer look at the 9th green.|
|A look down the fairway from 300 yards out from the green.|
|A look into the 10th green fro,m 100 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 11th tee box.|
|A look into the 11th green from 200 yards out.|
|A look into the 11th green from 75 yard out.|
|A look into the green from the 12th tee box.|
|A closer look at the 12th green.|
|A look down the fairway from the 13th tee box.|
|A look into the 13th green from 50 yards out.|
|A closer look at the left side of the 13th green.|
|A look into the green from the 14th tee box.|
|A look to your right while on the 15th tee box.|
|A look to your left while on the 15th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway from the 15th tee box.|
|A look down the fairway towards the 15th green after clearing the dune.|
|A look into the 15th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look across the water and down the fairway from the 16th tee box.|
|A look down the 16th fairway from 300 yards out.|
|A look into the 16th green from 120 yards out.|
|A look across the water and down the fairway from the 17h tee box.|
|A look into the 17th green from 100 yards out.|
|A look down the fairway from the 18th tee box.|
|A look at Maidstone's clubhouse as you walk up the 18th fairway.|
|A look into the 18th green from 150 yards out.|
|A look into the 18th green from 80 yards out.|
When I got back to the locker room, I found that my walking shoes had been cleaned and polished to a nice shine, and then placed neatly under my locker. After tipping the locker room attendant and getting his advice on where to play an afternoon round of golf, I made my way to the pro shop where I purchased a logo ball for my cabinet and a burgundy polo shirt for future wear.
Maidstone is unfairly judged by many as having a weak start and a weak finish, but I have a differing opinion. Something I did not realize until halfway through the round is that no two holes play in the same direction. The first, second, seventeenth and eighteenth holes are more strategic than they first look and require you to place the ball in the appropriate place in order to score well on each hole. In addition, you play three par fives in a four hole stretch and five holes in a row without a par four. The stretch of holes from twelve through sixteen are an incredible test of golf skills and a test I will long remember.
Overall, Maidstone has been one of my favorite golf courses, and overall golf experiences, since I started this quest. I get to experience nearby Shinnecock Hills in 2015 and may very well try to play Maidstone again while on Long Island. It as an experience that I can't recommend enough and if you ever get the chance, clear your schedule and let Maidstone add a lifelong memory to your golf experiences.