Long Island has many expert-level courses catering to those whose handicaps are smaller than their shoe size.
But what about those who are just starting out, looking for a low-pressure golf outing free of the sighs of those playing behind them, exasperated that it’s taken five shots to get onto the green on a par-3? Well, there are plenty of courses on Long Island for the game’s next generation too.
Rocky Point’s Rolling Oaks Golf Course is one such example, offering a full 18-hole experience with a large amount of Par-3s and only two Par-5s, meaning it’s shorter than many other Long Island golf courses. Total par for the course is 65.
Prices are very reasonable; playing nine holes will cost between $14 and $17, while the full 18 will set you back between $20 and $30. Adding a golf cart is an additional $10 to $16 depending on the day and time.
This is a great course to give your irons some work; the woods, for the most part, can stay in your bag. And just because the holes are shorter doesn’t mean the course lacks in challenge; the narrow fairways combined with tree-lined out-of-play areas can wreak havoc on even the more experienced golfer who inadvertently shanks their opening drive.
Case-in-point: The first hole – a straightforward 266-yard, Par-4 with little room for forgiveness on its sidelines. Being the golf pro I am, I made good contact on my drive and watched as the ball flew roughly 100-plus yards before abruptly making a beeline right into the trees on the right side. Finding a golf ball in these less kempt areas can often be more challenging than the holes themselves. It took me a good 10 minutes to locate my ball, and some daft maneuvering to hit through the trees and back onto the fairway. The green is up a slight hill, surrounded by a bunker, but ultimately not that difficult to reach if you’re on the fairway and fairly close.
At just 145 yards and a straight shot from the tee box, the second hole is a great test of a golfer’s ability with their trusty 7-iron. However, as this hole is slightly downhill, golfers with a good amount of power may want to go with an 8-iron to avoid overshooting the green.
At 312 yards, Hole three plays almost exactly like the first hole, with the same narrow, tree-lined fairways making it easy to lose balls on the outskirts of the hole. The fourth and fifth holes are both under 150 yards total, meaning your driver can take a rest for the midway point of the course. The fifth hole, in particular, heads uphill to the green, making a sand wedge or pitching wedge ideal for placing the ball near the pin.
And then comes the sixth hole – the punishment Rolling Oaks doles out on golfers for enjoying two easier Par-3s in a row. At 386 yards, this is the longest hole on the course, and the front nine’s only Par-5. The length isn’t what makes it difficult though; it’s the narrowness. This hole runs alongside the course’s northern border, meaning there’s a fence not more than 10 feet from where you tee off. If you don’t drive it perfectly straight you’re in danger of losing your ball.
The hole doglegs right about two-thirds of the way down, heading uphill as it does so. If you drive the ball short of the turn, you may be tempted to sneak through the woods to get to the green in two strokes, but avoid this. Hidden among the brush is a fairly large swamp – the only water on the front nine – and any attempt to sneak onto the green will likely result in this mosquito-infested marsh claiming your ball.
Hole seven and eight start at the same spot – it’s weird, but it works. Despite the same starting point, however, the two holes are vastly different. At 140 yards, the Par-3 seventh hole is the second shortest of the front nine and really not a problem.
Hole eight is what put the “rolling” in Rolling Oaks. From the tee box, the pin – 330 yards away – isn’t visible, thanks to two rolling hills ascending ahead of you. Drive the ball as high and straight as you can and you’ll land on the fairway not too far from the green. A second shot should put you on or at least near the green.
After that monstrous eighth hole, the straightforwardness of the 174-yard, Par-3 ninth hole is a welcome sight. While there are a couple of trees on the back left corner to separate this hole from the first, this is easily the most open hole at Rolling Oaks, giving more breathing room for anyone who tends to shank their shots. Two shots should easily put you on the green, where you can putt for par. Just take note that this green, like all of them at Rolling Oaks, tend to play fast.
Total time for nine holes: A very manageable two and a half hours, and that would have been even shorter without the need to search out the balls on a few holes.
As mentioned, the course is great for beginners, and there’s just enough challenge that more experienced players can enjoy their time at Rolling Oaks as well. The course also rarely fills up to the point that play gets backed up, making it a good choice if you’re looking to get in a round in a short amount of time.
And if you work up an appetite out on the fairway, take a load off at the adjoining restaurant, J&R’s Steakhouse – a local staple with five locations in Suffolk County.