There are 18 golf courses on the eastern end of Long Island and each of them celebrates when somebody breaks the course record. Also, if you call the courses and ask just about anyone who answers, they will tell you who holds the course record. These records are as sacred to golf clubs as the records held by Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth in baseball.
Finally, it should be said that the golf courses that have the bragging rights for the lowest scores of all are not an indication its membership is the best at the game, or that the course is the easiest to play or any other hocus pocus. Low scores just happen. Here on the East End, the lowest round ever turned in was a 59 at the Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course by P.J. Cowan in 1991. The club was not called that at the time. And the course as it existed at that time was one of the most difficult on the East End. Built by Bobby Jones during the 1920s, it was, when built, a links course, like you might see in Scotland. It was (and still is) on rolling hills with unobstructed views of Lake Montauk and the Atlantic Ocean. Great players of that era played it. And it was called the Montauk Downs Golf Links when P.J. Cowan, a professional golfer who played it, won some lesser known tournaments in America during the 1990s, (including the New York State Open) which he won three times. The records at Montauk are two records, the one Cowan won prior to a major renovation of the course when the county took it over, and the one Paul Dickinson set after the renovation done by Robert Trent Jones Jr. (which this writer thinks made the course easier), of 64.
There are some extraordinary stories about some of these golf records, and I will start with probably the most extraordinary of them.
The year was 1986, and the U.S. Open was held at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, one of the oldest golf courses in the country, and people wondered if Andy North, who had won it the year before, could do it again. North fell behind early, too far to make it back up with the leaders, but for most of the match, during the first three contests, Greg Norman, the Australian shark known for coming up from behind to sneak off with a win, stayed well ahead. He faded on the last day however, and three other golfers dueled it out until almost the end until Raymond Floyd, age 43, got a stroke or two ahead and at the end held off the others to win. Floyd at 43 that year became the oldest golfer ever to win the U.S. Open, before or since.
The Open was played at Shinnecock once again in 1995, but Floyd did not compete. He was on the senior tour by that time. But what is extraordinary is that two years after that, at the age of 54, Floyd came back to eastern Long Island to play a private round at the National Golf Links, the exclusive course just next to the Shinnecock and on that occasion shot a 62, which is that course’s record. We can’t confirm this, but besides being the oldest golfer to win the Open, he might well be the oldest golfer to hold a record low score on a course on the eastern end of Long Island.
As for the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, founded by William K. Vanderbilt, Duncan Cryder and Edward Meade in 1891 and believed to be the oldest golf club in America, the record is… wait a minute! It was just broken this past season. It is not only the oldest course here, but it is the newest low score. In 2014, Kevin Stadler shot a 62 on the Shinnecock, an amazing acheivement as many golfers believe Shinnecock to be among the most difficult courses here.
Another interesting story involves the course record at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett. This is not the hardest course on the East End, but this story is quite something nevertheless. The course record was set by Zach Grossman in 2006, when he shot a 63. The interesting part is that he was 13 years old when he did this, and he never did it again—yet.
Here are the course records for the golf courses on the eastern end of Long Island, and where appropriate, brief stories about them. We present them alphabetically. And if we miss anybody, we apologize.
The Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, Hoyt McGarity, 64 in 2013.
The Bridgehampton Club in Bridgehampton, Rick Makin, 30, in 1996.
It should be said that the Bridgehampton Club course is just 9 holes.
East Hampton Golf Club, East Hampton, Bruce Zabriski and Todd Sapere, both 65s, in 2000 and 2011 respectively.
Friar’s Head Golf Club, Riverhead, Ken Bakst, 61 in 2014.
Gardiner’s Bay Golf Club on Shelter Island, Rick Southwick, 62 in 1991.
Laurel Links, Laurel, Dennis Lynch, 66 in 2005.
Maidstone Golf Club, East Hampton, Bernardo
Biede, 62 in 2012.
Montauk Downs (see story above)
National Golf Links (see story above)
Noyac Golf Club, Southampton, Sam Bernstein, 65 in 2013.
Quogue Field Club, Quogue, Michael Confort, 66, no date.
Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, Luke Donald, 68 in 2012.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (see above)
Southampton Golf Club, Southampton, Bruce Zabriski, 61 in 1988.
Westhampton Country Club, Westhampton, Rickie Fowler, 64 in 2013.
Here’s a footnote to this story. Rick Hartmann, who is the longtime golf pro at the Atlantic, holds the course record at three different golf courses on Long Island, none of which are on the East End. This is a feat that only a few golfers have accomplished. His records, still standing, are at Cold Spring, 63, Deepdale, 63 and Woodmere 62.