The work, which included the replacement of sand, sod and irrigation equipment and relocation of some bunkers, was conducted between October 2013 and this spring, although the extreme winter weather did delay some of the installations, according to Bill Mackedon, Port Jefferson Country Club’s director of golf and PGA professional.
“With the new irrigation system, we now have 100 percent coverage on the course,” Mackedon said. “The golf course is playing the best it’s ever played.
The 18-hole, par-72 course, which measures 6,763 total yards from the blue tee boxes and 6,349 yards from the white, tapped New Jersey-based Stephen Kay-Doug Smith Golf Course Design to handle the work – following on the heels of a master plan the firm developed for the course roughly eight years ago. Senior Design Partner Doug Smith said the private golf course had “always wanted to do something [comprehensive],” but saw funds dry up during the recession.
But that money was once again available in 2013, prompting Mackedon and his team to reach back out to Smith to finish the job.
With its origins dating back to 1908, Port Jefferson Country Club is actually the amalgamation of two separate nine-hole courses. Each course was created by a different famed architect, with Alexander Findlay designing one and Devereux Emmet the other. The two courses were unified in 1956 as the then-named Harbor Hills Country Club.
“It’s an interesting golf course because they really were two separate courses built by two architects that were then fused together through a third architect’s master plan,” Smith said.
Golfers should find the changes – particularly the reworked bunkers – either a blessing or a curse, depending on their skill level.
“We did a lot of hands-on moving of the bunkers, moving them farther out, so the better golfers are finding they’re hitting them more than the average golfer,” Mackedon said.
Smith concurred, saying the course now plays harder for those trying to break 75, but easier for golfers hoping to avoid triple-digits.
“All the bunkers out there are either brand new or rebuilt, and are now a lot more strategic,” he added.
Port Jefferson Country Club may finally play like one complete course, but there’s still more work to be done, according to Smith.
“I’d like to add a few more fairway bunkers and do some additional tee work,” he noted. “It’s something they want to do, but that’s not in the cards for the near future.”
Situated atop the Port Jefferson hills, part of the country club overlooks the harbor, offering a scenic backdrop for golfers looking to take it all in. Port Jefferson Country Club has been home to various championships, including most recently, a qualifying round for the Metropolitan Golf Association’s Met Open Championship. However, due to its location and private status, the course is often overlooked in favor of other local clubs.
“Because of its location don’t think a lot of people know much about it,” Mackedon said. “But I think people will be forced to know about it at this point. It’s a fantastic golf course.”