Built in 1965, Hampton Hills Country Club is a secret hideaway in New York’s summer playground, the Hamptons. Playing the course makes you feel as if you are out in the middle of nowhere; we could not get over how quiet it was on the course.
Stanley Pine is the general manager and financial guru behind the acquisition of the course originally owned by the New York Teamsters. In 1986, the property was put up for auction, and Pine and his partner, Barry Beil, had the successful bid. At $8.5 million, it was actually the lowest bid, but their plans for the property did not require a zoning change. They bought the Francis J. Duane-designed course “as is.” It needed more than the usual tender loving care, but it turned out to be a good gamble when they sold 1,200 acres of the land to The Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County for $17.7 million.
Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design took on the renovation with vigor to enhance Duane’s original design, repairing and adding traps and clearing brush under the trees lining the course so golfers could chip out of danger rather than lose countless balls.
Players find the course challenging, with lots of elevation changes over its 209 acres of beautiful scenery. Pine calls the course a “resort-friendly beach course,” which leaves some of golf ’s snobbery at the door. We found the management, staff and restaurant team friendly and inviting.
I was spending a long weekend on Long Island as a guest of a good friend, Jimmy Spratt. Jimmy just acquired a home on Shelter Island, and we thought this was an opportunity to see his investment, have some fine dinners and, of course, take in some of the great courses. With Spratt came John Ecklund and Bobby Hancock to bedazzle the members on a brilliant and beautiful summer day.
Hole 1 | 385 yards, par 4
There is nothing like having a friendly and informative starter out of the gate to help you prepare for your game. From the tee box, we were warned many drives end up bouncing into the wooded area on the right. Jimmy took a wild turn left, shocking us all with his ability and sense of direction. John followed, being a good “cart golf ” player, and Bob nailed one right down the center, taking advantage of the downward fairway for maximum distance. After punching out my shot in the woods, I approached the green, which lies flat and protected by three bunkers. Not a fantastic start for the boys from Philadelphia.
Hole 7 | 408 yards, par 4
This is one of the more beautiful holes on the course, with a pond precariously positioned on the right side of the fairway where big drives land from the tee box. I nailed a shot from the tee that was what we call “questionable,” heading right for the pond. Fortunately, I was sitting about six feet from the water, affording me the good luck to take on the green. I underestimated the flag position high on the top left of the green and came up on the left side. A fortunate lag to the cup and a tap in, and I secured par along with Bob and John.
Hole 8 | 175 yards, par 3
I thought this hole would be a cinch, but it plays a little longer with an elevated green and two traps left and right. My shot from the tee box was textbook straight at the flag; as the others said, “That looks good.” Unfortunately, the ball came up short half a foot from the front edge of the green. The rest of the foursome hit less than spectacular shots — a “fun ball” was declared, and we all re-teed to try the green again. Better shots resulted, but I played my first ball, walking away with a par.
Hole 9 | 423 yards, par 4
Welcome to the No. 1 handicapped hole at Hampton Hills. Dense trees line the entire hole, leaving you with no choice but to hit the best straight drive or deal with the consequences. Jimmy and I decided to take a look at the woods on the right, but John was the shining star, hugging the left side of the fairway and knocking his second shot into the fairway trap on the left. Then a clean and long sand trap shot to the green for a one-putt par.
Hole 11 | 524 yards, par 5
Four sixes gives you an idea of the difficulty of Hole 11, as the foursome carded the dreaded quadruple six. The hole is positioned as a slight dogleg right. Off the tee, aim for the two fairway sand traps on the left. Your second shot needs to close the gap on this long hole with a left-sloping fairway that actually ducks back a little left to the green. After a less-than-powerful drive off the tee, I recouped and slammed a 3-wood to within 100 yards of the green. Unfortunately, a chunked chip put me on the green in four strokes and I two-putted for bogey.
Hole 16 | 177 yards, par 3
The members of Hampton Hills seem to have a passion for long and elevated par 3s, and Hole 16 is no exception. Like the other par 3s, it is important to take more club than you think and then add one. Three traps stand to catch you, one on either side of the green and the third in the back.
Hole 18 | 517 yards, par 5
A wonderful finishing hole — Francis J. Duane designed it to test your abilities. This dogleg right turns and climbs to the green. Your tee shot should mirror that of good old “Lucky Bob,” who took his drive over the right tree line and curved it back to the fairway. The rest of us struggled along on this hole where a billy goat would find himself right at home. Your second shot should be powerful enough to bring you within striking distance of the green, which is protected by four frontal traps and another to the left.
Hampton Hills Country Club
County Road 31
(Exit 63N, off Rt. 27)
Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
tel 631 727 6862
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