MONTAUK, N.Y. -- Montauk Downs will always be the "other" state park golf course on Long Island. Bethpage State Park's golf complex is bigger (with five courses), closer to New York City and has hosted two U.S. Opens on its fearsome Black Course. Playing Montauk Downs takes serious dedication for just about anybody. Its isolation along the eastern shores of Long Island gives golfers a wonderfully remote place to enjoy the game.
The 6,988-yard course dates to 1927. A 1968 redesign by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and some touch-up work within the past decade by his son Rees Jones have kept Montauk Downs alive and well. The natural ponds, deep woods and scrubby underbrush constantly come into play, especially when the crosswinds off of the Atlantic Ocean, Lake Montauk and Fort Pond Bay converge overhead.
Two tee shots are equally scenic, the 221-yard 12th hole and the 18th hole, a par 4 that heads directly toward the unique pyramid-shaped clubhouse. Golf Channel travel expert Matt Ginella ranks Montauk Downs as the second-best "hidden gem" in the country. Golfweek rates it 13th among the top public golf courses in New York state.
User, sph2007, gave Montauk Downs five stars in a review at GolfAdvisor.com. "It is kept in immaculate condition, despite the high amount of summer rounds it sees," he wrote here. "It is hard for me to pick a favorite hole. The whole experience is just awesome."