Tallgrass Golf Club, located in Shoreham, is one of the earlier designs of the now famed golf course architect Gil Hanse. Tallgrass continually gets rated as one of the top courses on Long Island and while I don’t personally think the course is in the same tier of the Black and Red courses at Bethpage, or Montauk Downs, it’s nevertheless a good design, strategic, fun, all at a great value. Although the course is short by today’s standards (less than 6,600 yards from the back tees), well placed bunkers, tricky greens, wind and, put simply, the namesake “tallgrass” combine to provide the course’s defense against low scores.
The land the course is situated was totally flat prior to construction of the course and Hanse definitely did a great job in moving land to create not only elevation changes but also a quarry in the center of the site from which holes play around, into, and out of. Amazingly, the topography of the course seem natural (until you look at the surrounding area and realize just how flat the land is). The par 70/71 course (more on that later) has an interesting and unique routing whereby the front nine primarily plays around the perimeter of the site in a clockwise direction, with the back nine playing through the interior in a counter-clockwise direction. Although the course occupies a small plot of land, you don’t feel as though the holes are on top of each other like they are at other courses built on small parcels of land.
As for the course conditions, like anywhere else, it’s largely dependent on mother nature. The course begs to be kept firm and fast, especially with openings that were created to run the ball into some of the greens and tightly mown collection areas around the putting surfaces. However, the course has historically tended to play on the slow side though I hear that efforts have been made recently to remedy this.
Fun and interesting are the first two words that come into mind when describing Tallgrass. One such hole that embodied the spirit of Tallgrass and, in my opinion, was one of the better holes on the course, was the short and sporty par 4 6th. However, an atrocity has been made out of this hole as it has been turned into a par 3 in recent years due to complaints from adjoining homeowners that wayward drives were ending up in their yards. What was one of the better holes on the course, is now one of the worst!
The original hole was an uphill 285 yard par 4 with a huge deep bunker that rang along the entire left side of the hole and stopped about 20 yards shy of the green. Any heroic effort that carried this bunker would be reward as the land sloped down to the green from the bunker. A perfectly placed bunker towards the front right of the green would swallow up any drives that would naturally leak right from the golfer worried about ending up in the ominous left hand side hazard. As many holes at Tallgrass offer you, there’s the safe play would would be a long iron or hybrid into the fat of the fairway which would leave nothing more than wedge to this green that severely drops off if you go too long. A great risk-reward hole with a plethora of options.
Unfortunately, due to complaints that the houses to the left of this hole were getting hit by balls, the tees have been moved up to make this hole a 190-yard uphill par 3. I find this hard to believe as the majority of golfers that hit their ball 70 yards off line would likely not be hitting a power hook, but rather a huge slice. Therefore, I feel as though only a few lefties a day could possibly hit balls that would hit these homes. Anyway, back to what is left of this hole. As a par 3, this hole is boring and difficult as the green was not designed to accept mid to long iron shots. There’s really not much more to say about this awkward, disappointing, and boring hole that has replaced what was once a fun and strategic one.
Image credit: http://www.tallgrassgc.com/