The virtues of playing golf on Long Island in the bracing seaside air have long been lauded. With so manyworld reknowned courses of historic importance, it is a tough neighborhood indeed for a course to gain its fair share of recognition. Such is the caseof Westhampton Country Club. Located elsewherelike Cape Cod, this course would be a stand-out. With many of its members maintaining a primary club closer to New York City, Westhampton is considered a ‘second’ club. Yet don’t let that expression fool you.In some cases, a second clubis a shorter course thatcan even flatteryour golf game butsuchisnot the case at Westhampton. Startingwith the 445 yard 4th hole through the 405 yard 12th hole where a lay-up off the tee is dictated, the golfer faces a series of searching long iron approach shots into imaginatively contoured greens. Measuringover 6,500 yards to a tight par of 70, Westhampton offers athorough examination, especially whenthe typicalone-and-a-halfclub wind blows off the bay.
Believed to be Seth Raynor’s first solo design effort, the greens at Westhampton are 90% plus accurate to their original contouring and size.The golfermarvels at the number of thoroughly original interior green contourssuch as those found on the1st, 4th, 7th, 9th (!), 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th greens (ie half the holes). As good as thesenine greens are, Richard Spear, the superintendent at Piping Rock, is even more amazed that all the remaining onesalso offersomething unique or of interest.
Suffice to say, thegreens are first rate but howis the designfrom tee to green? While the routing of the course remains faithful to Raynor’s 1914 design, none of the holes remain untouched. Be it from the Depression, the 1938 hurricane,or thework done byvarious consultingarchitects, the holes have had thisor that done to them. Westhamptoncould easily bea hodge-podge of architectural styles from different eras. However, it isn’t, thanks in large part to the unifying hand of Westhampton’s Superintendent for over twenty years, Mike Rewinski. Born and raised on Long Island, Rewinski has studied every notable course on Long Island. He has seenhow grass face bunkerswere built at the turn of century, when and how mounds were employed by the master designers of that era, the size that old greens enjoyed, how the greens were linked to their surrounding bunkers, etc.
Rewinski has successfully translatedthis local knowledgeinto the ground at Westhampton.After the club’s rebuilding program in 1988/89 with Brian Silva, Rewinskicontinued theprogram in house, adding features and changing ones that had been done in the wrong style. In the process, he has restored features to the course that many people would associate with Raynor’s workfrom 1914/5, a sure sign of a job well done.
Though some cross bunkershave beenlost through time, particularly on the 4th and 9th holes where it is hard not to lament their demise, plenty of genuine fairway bunkers remain. New bunkers have been added from time to time to preserve the challenge at Westhampton, and Rewinskihas seen to it thatthey are faithful tothe Raynor style with flat bottoms and grass faces.
Coordinating theuse and appearance ofthe moundingposed an interestingchallenge. Raynor’s original plan clearly shows mounding strategically placed throughout the course, which isunusualas mounding doesn’t play as prominent a role in his subsequent designs. Various architects had built mounds over the years at Westhampton but as Rewinski points out, Raynor’s mounds have an unnatural,engineered look (as opposed to Ross’s more graceful mounds for instance). Purposefully replicating them without appearing too neat and organized is difficult. Through trail and error, and over a period of years, he and his crew have perfected giving the mounds across the entire course this desired manufactured look.
The picture that is now presented at Westhampton areeighteen holes that are well linked toone another through their common roughed-up mounding, grass faced bunkering and old style greens.The end result is a course that enjoys ‘an old-fashioned flavor,’ according to Dr. Bill Quirin in The Golf Clubs of the MGA.