[This flyover was updated on August 10, 2009.]
The Brentwood Country Club is one of the oldest public courses on Long Island, its original design crafted by famed course architect Devereux Emmet in the 1920s. Emmet, of course, is best known for the Garden City Golf Club, built near the turn of the 20th century and still considered one of the greatest courses in the world. He did fine and frequent work on Long Island in the early 1900s, some of which is still in existence, while a number of fabled courses were long ago paved over and converted into the region we know today. Roughly 25 miles east of the Garden City GC, past the buried remains of other Emmet classics, is Brentwood.
Brentwood is a short par-72 that measures only 6,173 yards from the tips and 5,800+ from the middle tees. With no water on the course and predominantly flat and open fairways, it is a mildly challenging layout for experienced players and an attractive destination for beginners. Between holes 8 and 16, Brentwood provides a series of scoreable par-4s -- six of them are shorter than 310 yards (from the middle), three play under 285.
The opener at Brentwood is a 480-yard par-5; its neighbor to the right, #4, is a carbon copy. The two holes stretch parallel to one another and feature the same ridge running horizontally through their fairways. Sand has a larger presence on #1, however. That ridge also makes an appearance on #2, a deceptively tough par-4. The bi-level fairway is elevated along the right side, placing tee shots on the same level as the flag but potentially leaving the player with an uneven lie. The left side is flat but below the hole. No matter where the approach shot is arriving from, deep bunkers await on both sides of the green.
Like the two par-5s, a pair of par-3s also greet you early in the round. At 169 yards, #3 is the longest of the course's one-shotters. A deep bunker curling behind the right side of the green complements a series of smaller ones short and left. The fifth hole is shorter and also relies on sand traps short and long to protect its tiny putting surface.
If you are dissatisfied with your scoring through seven holes, the eighth tee is a good place to take a deep breath and focus on getting your swing in order and making pars. Six of the next nine holes are pint-sized par-4s; the other three are a pair of longer, doglegged par-4s and a medium-length par-3. The eighth is a 285-yarder with a bunker that protects the front of the green against big bombers. A hill behind its large green complicates overclubbed shots. The ninth, at 303 yards, plays to an elevated fairway and offers a wide-open approach. A sandy waste area at the far end of the fairway threatens to intercept long drives on the 297-yard 13th.
Breaking up the series of shorties are holes 12 and 15, each sporting fairways that bend right and keep players from getting too comfortable. Righties who fade the ball can send their tee shots out over the open left sides and let them curl back toward the fairways. A bad miss to the right on the mid- to long-iron approach on #15 brings a fence and dirt lies into the equation.
Brentwood closes with its two tightest holes. Tall evergreens on both sides of the 17th fairway demand a straight tee shot to a narrow landing area on this 467-yard par-5. The par-4 18th is just as slim, but a good drive to the left side provides breathing room and leaves a prime angle to the green.
Though Brentwood's fairways are open and inviting, trees are plentiful on the course. But, with the exception of #17 and #18, they are recessed far enough to not become much of a nuisance. Evergreens line the right side of the par-4 sixth and frame the driving zone on #7 and #8 (pictured right).
Brentwood's greens are mid-sized to small and rarely ask too much of the unseasoned putter other than a good amount of patience. Ball marks dot many of the greens, making smooth rolls a rarity. One recent playing partner, a Brentwood course veteran, said the greens always play slow and never break as much as you expect.
The challenge lays more within the deep traps that surround the greens rather than on the surfaces themselves. Oddly, the bunkers, the defining feature on many of Brentwood's holes, do not have rakes. Local rules allow footprints to be smoothed, though a ball resting in the mark of someone's Footjoy will undoubtedly be a source of frustration. Rumor has it that the rakes had a tendency to disappear.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
The bi-level fairway on #2 adds a little strategy to what would otherwise be a simple par-4. Beginning about 175 yards from the tee, a ridge runs diagonally from the right rough across the fairway before sloping down into the rough and cart path left of the green. The putting surface sits on the upper level.
A deep bunker (above) guards the left side of the green, and anything farther left will run down the hill toward the cart path, well below the hole. An uphill pitch from a potentially wretched lie would require clearing the bunker and holding the green. Of course, playing your tee shot to the upper right side of the fairway risks a sidehill lie on the ridge, with a right-to-left slant that encourages a mishit into the danger zone. Playing safer to the lower half of the fairway gives a better angle, but also a longer approach, to an elevated green.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
The plateau green on #11 (first photo, above) falls off dramatically from the back fringe into a wide bunker. Shots sent through the green will catch the slope and run down into the trap or settle in the rough. The green also drops down toward another trap on the right side.
Long irons over the right side of the green on the par-3 third will find their way into a narrow bunker with steep edges. Given the depth of this trap and its thin dimensions, balls are likely to settle close to the angled walls and make for extremely difficult sand blasts.
100 Pennsylvania Ave., Brentwood 11717
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