Where I played: Add this historic country club to your bucket list
As a New York City resident, I’ve become pretty used to muni golf. I’ve even said it changed my life. I’m a regular at Bethpage (#blessed), Marine Park, Van Cortlandt, etc. It’s amazing to live somewhere that’s close to so much accessible golf.
But, at the risk of sounding elitist and out of touch, I’m going to say what we’ve all thought at least a time or two — country club golf is … SO nice.
I mean, the pace, the course maintenance, the amenities! But like many of us golf lovers, I’m not quite there in life. Looking back on 2022, though, I feel pretty lucky for the golf opportunities I’ve enjoyed.
In early fall — the time just before the leaves started to change, when the weather is warm but you can start to feel that little chill in the air, when a round of golf is absolutely perfect — I had the great pleasure of being invited to Nassau Country Club.
The course is located in Long Island’s Nassau County (hence the name). It’s a little more than a stones throw from NYC but only requires one Long Island Railroad transfer after which you can walk from the station to the course. Apparently, that’s by design. The original founders had the railway expanded so the last stop would drop them off directly at the club. Casual, ha.
Founded in 1896, Nassau C.C. is one of the oldest clubs in the country. That’s apparent as soon as you step onto the property and see the clubhouse. It’s about as old-school as it gets down to the green plaid wallpaper and exposed wooden beams. Even if you’ve never heard of the club, you actually probably have. Ever place a Nassau bet with your weekend foursome? It was invented there way back in the early days of American golf as a polite way to keep someone from falling out of a match too soon.
The club’s early history is pretty cool — another sweet perk of New York golf (both public and private). But it doesn’t end there.
Bobby Jones’ famed Calamity Jane putter was given to him after a round at Nassau C.C. Honestly, in my experience, the greens are tough enough to inspire a putter change in even the most confident of putters. But that’s actually new.
The original mix of holes were designed by a committee of members who pulled ideas from the best courses they’d seen, giving the course its absolutely classic look and feel. Over the club’s 125+ year history, it’s been renovated by the best in the biz. During Jones’ era, changes were made by Seth Raynor, Devereux Emmet and Herbert Strong. The course has been touched by many different architects over time. In 2012, Tom Fazio redid all of the greens, making the course what it is today.
It’s a challenging test of golf that’s perfectly manicured and rounded out with the country club staples you’d expect — a pool, racquet sports and excellent food. For me, this round was a real treat.