For more than a century, the East End of Long Island has been an A-list destination for golfers. Those with connections seek out private clubs such as Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links of America, which are part of the seminal history of the game in the United States. And there are a host of other private courses that rank highly in desirability, venerable tracts such as the Maidstone Club, Westhampton Country Club and Southampton Golf Club, and the relatively new and highly regarded Friar’s Head, Sebonack Golf Club and the Bridge. These courses offer the well-maintained terrain that’s elemental to the game, with sandy soils and heathland providing ideal playing conditions as well as connection to the “olde sod” of the British Isles.
But if you don’t have an “in” with a member, there are publicly accessible courses that can satisfy your desire for the game while providing a day of exhilaration (or is that exacerbation?) in the refreshing, salty air of the East End.
Atlantic Golf Club
Bridgehampton | atlanticgolf.org
When Lowell Schulman opened Atlantic Golf Club in 1992, it was the first new course on the East End in nearly 30 years. Designed by Rees Jones, the course in the hills above Bridgehampton encompasses kettle holes left over from the last ice age, which make for interesting hazards.
Bridgehampton | thebridgehamptons.com
Another Rees Jones design, the Bridge opened in 2002 on the site of the former Bridgehampton Motor Racing Circuit. The ruins of the racetrack, including guardrails and flag stations, can be found abutting lush fairways that span 350 acres.
East Hampton Golf Club
East Hampton | ehgc.com
Well-regarded architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore designed this spot, transforming an existing nine-hole course and farmland into a combination links and parkland layout with sweeping vistas. It’s relatively short, but some devilish greens and deep bunkering offer plenty of challenge.
Fishers Island Club
Fishers Island | ficlub.net
A special place to play the game. Based on the design of Long Island architect Seth Raynor, this 18-hole course opened in 1926 off the coast of Connecticut. It’s a true links, with sandy soil, some dangerous bunkering and two Redan-style greens. Note: Catch a ferry at New London, Conn., to reach it.
Riverhead | friarshead.org
Champion amateur golfer and real estate developer Ken Bakst founded Friar’s Head in 2003, recruiting Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore to create this rugged course encompassing dunes and farmland. It also boasts huge greens and massive bunkers.
Westhampton Beach | hamptonhills.com
Occupying the highest ground in Southampton, Hampton Hills is a mainstay of private clubs. Opened in 1965 and designed by Francis Duane, this classic parkland layout showcases plenty of elevation changes and general excitement.
East Hampton | maidstoneclub.org
Maidstone is one of the world’s premier golf clubs, extremely difficult to get into but worth every effort. Its 27 holes are a delight, especially the par 3 13th, with its green sitting at the edge of the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Combined with the tennis and beach clubs, Maidstone is a real gem.
National Golf Links of America
Southampton | ngla.us
National Golf Links was the brainchild of Charles Macdonald, who was schooled in St. Andrews, Scotland—the birthplace of golf. When he founded National Links in 1908, he incorporated hole designs that he’d encountered in Scotland and added a few of his own, bringing a certain loving quirkiness to the layout.
Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton | sebonack.com
Sebonack owner Michael Pascucci has a passion for golf, and also happened to be a friend of Jack Nicklaus. He brought in Nicklaus and architect Tom Doak to build a course appropriate for its location between National Golf Links of America and Shinnecock Hills. Born in 2006, it offers views of Peconic Bay.
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club
Southampton | shinnecockhillsgolfclub.org
Founded in 1891, Shinnecock Hills is believed to be the oldest incorporated club in the U.S. In 1894, it was one of the five founding member clubs of the United States Golf Association. Shinnecock Hills has hosted five U.S. Opens, and will host its sixth in 2026. Its classic rolling, linksy terrain and gorgeous old-style clubhouse beckon.
Cherry Creek Golf Links
Riverhead | thewoodsatcherrycreek.com
There are two 18-hole courses at Cherry Creek, the Links and the Woods, and they stay plenty busy during the season. The Links’ 18th hole—Long Island’s only par 6 hole—can stretch to 644 yards from the back tee. The Woods course has several ponds that keep things interesting.
Riverhead | indianislandcountryclub.com
Indian Island is operated by Suffolk County and occupies a peninsula that juts into the Peconic River. Designed by William Mitchell, it’s a pleasant track that provides a flat, easy walk and stunning views of the water.
Island’s End Golf & Country Club
Greenport | islandsendgolf.com
The North Fork's only 18-hole public course, Island’s End has a breathtaking par 3 16th hole, situated along cliffs overlooking the Long Island Sound.
Montauk | parks.ny.gov/golf/8
This is the premier public golf course of the East End, set on a hill in Montauk at the tip of the South Fork. This Robert Trent Jones course is operated by New York state, and is in high demand during the season. With a sweeping parkland layout and lovely vistas, it presents plenty of challenge for everyday golfers.
There are five nine-hole courses on the East End that provide excellent opportunities for beginners and vacationers alike to have a go at the game. They are Sandy Pond in Riverhead, Poxabogue in Sagaponack, Cedars in Cutchogue, Sag Harbor in East Hampton and Shelter Island in Shelter Island Heights.