Hole by Hole Review: Montauk Downs
Located on the eastern most tip of Long Island, Montauk is a town synonymous with summer and good vibes. The beaches are pristine, the town is quaint, and the temperature is usually 8-10 degrees cooler than the rest of Long Island. Among the many attractions are the famed lighthouse, the Montauk Brewery, the world class fishing, the sandy beaches and, of course, the Montauk Downs redesigned by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones.
Getting on Montauk is challenging. The only way to reserve a tee time is via the website. You must login 7 days prior to your tee time at exactly 7pm to reserve a tee time…oh yeah and you must be a New York State resident to do this. So, non New Yorkers, your only chance to play here is by knowing someone from NY. (If you’re looking to play reach out to me and I’ll get you on).
The clubhouse is a 70’s style pyramid structure that is consistent with New York State Park facilities and is frankly one of the cooler parts of the course. There is a small, matt only driving range and a putting green for those who elect to arrive early.
When the starter announces your tee time, you’ll walk (or ride) to the first hole.
Hole 1: A short par 4 with woods to the left and the 3rd fairway to the right. Hitting an iron here takes the woods out of play and will leave you with a mid-iron into one of the tougher greens on the course. Take your par and move on.
Hole 2: A short par 3 protected by bunkers that slopes off to the left. This shot is all about distance control as too long leaves you an awkward lie and too short and you’ll have a somewhat tricky bunker shot.
Hole 3: A Par 4 that runs parallel to the driving range. You’ll want as much distance here as possible with your tee shot as the green is tiny and sloped. Long here is not where you want to be.
Hole 4: Maybe the hardest hole on the course. With a thicket on your right, hitting driver here is not smart, as it brings the thicket into play. Instead, hit something 200 yards into the massive fairway. The approach shot sneakily plays a club uphill but DO NOT GO LONG as there’s a road directly behind the green. Take a par here and walk away with a smile on your face.
Hole 5: The first par 5 is a slight dog leg right with the tee shot over a beautiful little lake. Getting over the hill will leave you with a look at the green although going for it is difficult due to the length, narrowness of green and number of deep bunkers surrounding it. A lay-up and pitch on is the smart play.
Hole 6: A Short Par 4. Hit an iron right at the fairway bunker to have a short iron into an elevated green that plays a club uphill minimum. This hole requires precision as there’s not that much room to miss
Hole 7: One of the best holes on the course. A very getable Par 5. A blind tee shot over a hill leads you into a massive lake that you can either choose to go over or lay up to the right of. The fairway here is shaped like a question mark with a two-tiered green. They say the course makes most of its money from reselling all the golf balls pulled from the lake.
Hole 8: A gorgeous par 3. Usually pretty windy but relatively straight forward.
Hole 9: A tricky par 4 that goes uphill and plays adjacent the 15th hole. The tee shot has nearly unlimited room for error so let it fly. The massive green plays a club uphill.
Hole 10: Another dog leg right Par 5. This hole is pretty narrow, especially as you get closer to the green. An elevated, angled green surrounded by bunkers makes it tough to go for in two as the green isn’t too receptive to low flying balls.
Hole 11: A very short par 4 that could almost be driven. The smart play is lay up with a long iron and pitch on. However, the green here is very undulated with small landing areas so you need to precise to get it close!
Hole 12: The course’s signature hole. A breathtaking par 3 that plays long and is always windy. A back left pin is one not worth going for. The back of the green slopes off into a mowed down collection area. No hole in one’s have ever been recorded here.
Hole 13: An awesome Par 5 with a blind tee shot. The hole is up to the left but beware! There’s water to the right. A good tee shot will leave you with a long iron over a creek into the green and an errant one will force a layup to a narrow sliver of fairway left of the pond.
Hole 14: A flat par 3 with a narrow long green. Hit the ball straight and you should be fine.
Hole 15: An uphill Par 4 with an open tee shot into an elevated green. Knowing the pin placement on this hole is important so check it out when playing the 9th. This hole plays much like the 9th.
Hole 16: A very nicely designed Par 4. The green is protected by a lake with bunkers long. The green is sloped back to front and is receptive to golf balls. Driver off the tee brings the water into play so I’d recommend hitting long iron leaving you a mid iron into the green.
Hole 17: A short Par 4 where everything slopes to the left. It’s hard to get a flat lie in the fairway. The right side of the green is sloped to the middle so if you aim right it will likely feed off the hill toward the pin. The green itself seems to be in an alcove surrounded by massive bunkers. One of my favorite holes.
Hole 18: One of the best finishing holes I’ve ever played. A beautiful hole backdropped by the sharp-edged clubhouse. The choice is yours off the tee. You can hit iron and take most of the fescue and fairway bunker out of play but it will leave you with a 200 yard approach. If you go driver you need a good wack to clear the bunker. But if you put it in play you’re in position to score with a wedge or short iron in your hand.
Overall, the course is in excellent condition and is an absolute steal for the price. The course is full of unique holes that each presents its own challenge. Deep bunkers, undulated greens and wind make the course challenging as the tee shots are fairly open. One of my favorite courses I’ve played.
Final grade: 9.3 – a course that is well worth the trek and will have you walking away wanting more.
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