Fishers Island ClubFishers Island, NYThe Biarritz
Some golf courses are special. We all know that feeling we get when we play one of these courses. Our senses are heightened, our memories are sharpened, our spirits are lifted, and our love for the game of golf is strengthened and vindicated by the experience.
Fishers Island is a special golf course.The Short
Designed by CB Macdonal protege Seth Raynor and opened for play in 1926, Fishers Island Club sits at the eastern end of Fishers Island, which in turn sits in Long Island sound. Fishers Island is in many ways a throwback club -- it has resisted adding length, which has enabled it to preserve Raynor's original intent as well as the enjoyable nature of a round there, and is one of very few remaining clubs to have avoided installing a fairway irrigation system, which provides for some of the firmest, fastest playing conditions that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing on the east coast.The Eden
I had the great pleasure of playing Fishers Island on a perfect September day. Bright sun, 70 degrees, enough wind to keep things interesting. The combination of the setting, the weather, the club and the golf course combined to make my day at Fishers Island one of the most memorable experiences of my golfing life. The Punchbowl
I had been somewhat reluctant to do a photo tour of Fishers Island as, quite frankly, I was concerned about the difficulty of doing the course justice. But several of you have kindly requested this tour, and so I am happy to accommodate. To that end, you may notice that this tour has more photographs and less words than some of my past tours -- Fishers is that kind of place. For additional information on Fishers Island, please check out Ran's excellent profile here: http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/fishers-island-club/Home
I hope you enjoy the tour.Fishers Island Club
As noted above, Fishers Island is a 1926 Seth Raynor design. As such, it is chock full of excellent template holes -- Redan, Biarritz, Eden, Short, Knoll, Cape, Road and Double Plateau are all present, and arguments can be made for several templates as the best in class. Fishers Island remains largely unchanged from Raynor's day -- the course tips out at a par-72 6556 yards. While it is not "suited for championship play," Fishers Island is suited to provide golfers of all abilities with an extremely enjoyable, exciting and memorable round of golf. More's the pity that so many other clubs have abandoned that noble goal. Getting There - The Ferry
As my private aircraft was in for repairs, I was forced to take the more common route to Fishers Island -- I drove up from Philadelphia and caught the 8am ferry. That one must take a boat to get to Fishers Island only adds to the experience. I have made many long drives to play golf and I always enjoy the time that such a drive provides to look forward to the coming round, anticipation building as the course draws closer. The 45 minute ride on the Fishers Island Ferry across Block Island Sound only heightens that sense of anticipation and further differentiates the experience of a round at Fishers Island from other clubs. The Clubhouse
I like clubhouses that suit the environs. The austere and imposing clubhouses of Winged Foot and Sleepy Hollow fit their surroundings as well as the casual and charming clubhouses of Eastward Ho and Myopia Hunt. Fishers Island's clubhouse reminds the player of a weekend escape or an isolated beach house.The Logo and Scorecard
The iconic Fishers Island logo is a simple green outline of Fishers Island on a white background, with the red pin placed carefully at the location of the Fishers Island clubhouse. No words necessary. I am a fan of this logo.
As many Raynor courses do, Fishers Island provides the names of each individual hole on its scorecard.
A routing of the golf course is also provided.
The course plays to 6544 from the back tees and 6138 from the white tees, with each set playing to a Par 72.
The course mascotThe Putting Green
The practice green sits mere steps from the clubhouse and right next to the first tee.
The view from the practice green gives a hint of the many spectacular views to come.The CourseHole 1 - "Raynor's Start" - 396 yards - Par 4
While the first at Fishers Island is one of the longest two shot holes on the course, the landing area is quite generous, with fescue separating the first fairway from the 18th and a small pond down the right that is in play for well struck shots.
Note the browning of the fairway, due to the lack of fairway irrigation. Fast, bouncy conditions tee to green!
The first green is open in front across the full width of the fairway, allowing for balls to be run on. This front pin is treacherous, as anything short will roll back, leaving a very delicate pitch or putt.
This view from the left side of the first green illustrates Raynor's penchant for pushing up his greensites, which deepen the greenside bunkers and add to the challenge of the approach.
The view from behind the first green, with the gorgeous clubhouse above.Hole 2 - "Redan" - 172 yards - Par 3
The first of the usual Raynor quartet of one shot holes, the Fishers Island Redan is a softer (though quite beautiful) version of this traditional template.
All of the required elements are present, but the effect of the right side kick slope and the tilt of the green is less pronounced than on other Redans.
The view from the right side of the green:
The view from the left side of the green:
What this Redan lacks in severity, it makes up for in setting. The view from the back of the second green:Hole 3 - "Plateau" - 335 yards - Par 4
Standing on the tee of the third hole at Fishers Island is where, for the first time player, the fact that he's playing a truly special and unique golf course really starts to sink in.
A short par 4, the third reminded me of the "Cliff Hangers" game from the Price Is Right -- it climbs and climbs, until it stops and dives off a cliff. The challenge off the tee is to carry as much of the ravine as desired so as to leave the correct distance for an approach.
There are horizon greens, and then there's the third at Fishers Island.
Once summitted, the third green treats players to a 360 degree view which includes the clubhouse and the fourth hole (visible in the left hand side of the photo below).
The third green is a hit it or else proposition, but long is extra-dead.
The third green provides the first of many incredible views at Fishers Island.
This look back at the third green complex gives the player a feel for the incredible job Raynor did in siting and building his greens.Hole 4 - "Punch Bowl" - 397 yards - Par 4
An Alps/Punchbowl combination, the fourth hole at Fishers Island is your author's all-time favorite version of the punchbowl template.
A visually arresting hole, the fourth plays out over a chasm to an elevated fairway bordered by woods on the left and a steep drop to the sound on the right. The Alps feature provides visual interest off the tee and a point of aim.
This view from the far left hand edge of the fairway reveals the green. The pin is just barely visible on the left.
The Alps feature makes nearly every approach shot into the fourth green blind.
Upon ascending the Alps, the incomparable Punchbowl green is revealed.
One of the deeper Punchbowls still in existence, the walls of the fourth green are five feet high in spots, nearly sheer, and cut to fairway height.
The putting surface runs back to front and is bisected by an internal ridge that makes three-putting common.
Just beautiful.Hole 5 - "Biarritz" - 207 yards - Par 3
Narrowly edging out the ninth at Yale and the ninth at Piping Rock for the title of your author's favorite Biarritz, the fifth at Fishers Island plays uphill to a tiered Biarritz green surrounded by deep bunkers. A wonderful setting for this template hole.
There are worse places to miss than short on this hole.
The fifth possesses an added degree of difficulty as a ridge runs through the rear of the putting surface perpendicular to the Biarritz swale. Even a pin-high tee shot does not guarantee a par.
In your author's humble opinion, the most beautiful Biarritz in the world.Hole 6 - Olinda - 520 yards - Par 5
The first three shot hole at Fishers Island, the sixth begins with a tee shot over the crest of a ridgeline which obscures the landing area.
Cresting the ridge reveals the spectacular natural terrain and the remainder of the hole.
The firm, fast fairways coupled with the substantial undulations make for some highly entertaining shots here.
A look back up the sixth fairway reveals some of the most rollicking terrain on the course.Hole 7 - "Latimer" - 363 yards - Par 4
Some consider the seventh hole the signature hole at Fishers Island. I would't argue.
A mid-length par 4 made shorter by the fast, downhill fairway, the seventh culminates at a green that appears suspended over the sound.
Even shorter hitters off the tee must be careful not to lose their ball to this hazard on the right.
Anything missing left will run straight through into the greenside bunkers . . .
and anything long is wet.Hole 8 - "Road Hole" - 465 yards - Par 5
A short par 5, the eighth is perhaps the most difficult tee shot at Fishers Island. The fairway is hemmed in tightly on both sides by long grasses and water, and the firm terrain will magnify any ball not squarely struck. The ideal shot is off the redan-like mound running down the right side of the fairway.
Nearly all safely hit tee shots will have a legitiimate chance to go for this green in two.
The Road-style eighth green as seen from the right side, with the road bunker rapping around the right rear.
The eighth green and large fronting bunker, as viewed from the left side.Hole 9 - "Double Plateau" - 364 yards - Par 4
Another exciting, unique and extremely fun hole, the ninth plays over a large ridge which houses the course's lone fairway bunker (easily carried by most players) and obscures the landing area and the remainder of the hole.
From the top of the ridge, the remainder of the wonderful hole is revealed.
In typical conditions, this hole is reachable by longer hitters willing to take the risk, as tee shots run forever down the back side of the ridge.
The gorgeous double plateau green adds challenge and excitement to both the approach shot and the putts.
This view shows the heavy contouring of the double plateau green . . .
. . . as does this view from the left side of the green.