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Golf on Long Island

by Rob Dimino

Sitting on the thin strand of barrier beach between the Atlantic Ocean and Reynolds Channel in south Nassau is the Lido Golf Club, a true test for both the beginning and advanced golfer.  A shade under 7,000 wind-blown yards from the tips, this Robert Trent Jones design will leave you mumbling to yourself with every well-struck shot knocked down by the ever-present ocean gusts, and breathing sighs of relief on every shot that finds land.  Water comes into play on all but seven holes, and one of the toughest five-hole stretches on the Island features the threat of agua on every stroke.  This perilous stretch is undoubtedly one of the main reasons Lido is ranked as one of Newsday’s top public courses on the Island.

LAYOUT:
To score well at Lido, you need to take advantage of the first six holes.  The first is the easiest hole on the course – a 470-yard par-5 (from the middle tees) with a slight dogleg right that usually plays downwind, offering no obstacles besides a back-to-front sloping green with several humps and bumps.  A short, sneaky par-4 follows at #2 with perhaps the shallowest green on the course, guarded fiercely by a huge bunker that eats up short shots to the uphill approach.  Water greets you on all sides of the third fairway, but a safely played mid-iron should put you in decent position on a hole that only measures 345 yards.

The fourth and eighth are side-by-side duplicates of one another, short- to medium-length par-4s that fade right and play toward the channel behind the greens.  #5 is the first and shortest of the par-3s, an easy hole that you need to capitalize on.  Water down the entire left side gives it some teeth, but most left-to-right ball-strikers should stay dry.   

Most of the course’s gentler side becomes a thing of the past once you start to get close to the turn.  Finding the green in three on the ultra-narrow ninth is an accomplishment.  The hole is a 575-yard behemoth that features a gigantic fence along the right side that keeps amateurs from peppering Long Beach schoolchildren with stray golf balls.

Water re-appears – and becomes a constant nuisance – once you reach the 13th tee, the beginning of what I call “Grinder Alley,” one of the toughest five-hole stretches I’ve come across on the Island.  There is nothing but the channel down the right side of this par-4, where the wind whips a bit stronger and the threat of wet toys with your head.  The 15th is a testy par-3 where short-left is OK but anything right goes for a swim.

You might recognize the 16th hole from Newsday’s Dream 18 (and Golf On Long Island's "Nassau 18")   It is a par-5 that demands that you hit (blindly, at times) two separate islands.  The slabs of land are guarded by water, weeds and nerves.  Your choice off the tee greatly influences your decision on the second.  Hit it right and go at the green; hit it left and you’re laying up; or hit it straight and you’re in the water.  Lido rookies likely won’t have a clue how to navigate it – just hope for a playing partner well-versed in Lido #16.  [For a detailed analysis of the 16th, check out our Closer Look post from August 2011.]

CONDITIONS:
Wind always swirls through the wide-open seaside layout, as the Atlantic is only a short stroll to the south.  Gusts up to 30 or 40 mph are common.  Lido is pretty flat overall, so if you want to get some exercise it’s a good course to walk.

Water saturation is a constant issue, standing water a near-certainty following a day of rain.  Get used to the sound and feel of squishing under your (hopefully waterproof) golf shoes.  In some areas of the course, seemingly good fairway lies turn ugly when the ground underneath explodes, complete with the hollow thwack of a muddied-up iron.  Other areas turn into temporary ponds after enough rainfall.  Depending on your patience level, Lido's waterlogged grounds range from annoyingly inconvenient to maddening.

Lido doesn't provide much help in the way of distance markers.  Besides the black-and-white 150-yard pole, there are few markers to be found.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but on the deceptive and confounding 16th, a few extra yard markers would go a long way in helping more inexperienced Lido visitors navigate their way down the par-5.

HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
The 16th gets all the recognition (rightly so), but the 17th is tougher and LOOKS insanely difficult from the tee box (see right).  It is the most difficult hole on the course, in my mind.  It plays 185 yards (200 from the back), and almost all of those yards require a carry over water.  The green is tucked back-left and guarded by tall weeds and the drink.  Short and right is a bailout area where par is difficult to make, but does provide a landing zone for golfers too timid to go after the flag on this visually intimidating par-3.

The par-4 6th will earn the appreciation of the creative golfer who enjoys a hole that offers some choices.  One of my favorite holes on the course, it is a dogleg left with two separate ponds that suck up golf balls like a vacuum.  Aim your tee shot at the 150-yard marker with an iron or hybrid, but use an extra club or two on an approach that is uphill and usually into a breeze.

AREA(S) TO AVOID:
KERPLUNK.  Nothing drives a golfer crazier than wasted strokes.  On some holes, your best bet is to aim completely away from OB, even if it means missing a fairway or green.  Holes 5, 6, 12 and 13 are examples.  Hit an iron or hybrid off the tee on 3, 6 and 14 to avoid trouble.  Avoid the urge to play aggressively to the right off the tee at the double-island 16th, as it doesn’t afford enough of an advantage.  Shaky iron hitters should think twice before challenging the green on 17; four is a good score.