A west-to-east golf tour along the Long Island Expressway would culminate somewhere out in Manorville or Riverhead, at a lengthy course like Rock Hill or on the Island's only par-6, the 18th hole at Cherry Creek Links. The first stop on such an Expressway golf tour in no way resembles either of those. The Christopher Morley Park Golf Course in Roslyn is a pint-sized par-30 where the driver and fairway woods can all be left in the trunk.
At 1,600 yards, Christopher Morley is the shortest of the nine-hole County-owned courses in Nassau. Its three par-4s are 227, 267 and 300 yards. Morley is heavily wooded, its overhanging tree branches and underbrush ramping up the degree of difficulty on some shots. It is a good course for beginners who won't mind stretching their limbs through bushes and branches to fetch their balls. Experienced players can drop by Morley for some valuable short-game and mid-iron practice.
Morley begins with a 267-yard par-4 that turns left at its midpoint through a narrow clearing. Considering the short distance and the inability to see the flag from the tee, it's easy to find the trees at the far end of the turn if you don't know where to aim. Two parallel fairway bunkers point you in the right direction. The second and fifth holes are similar in both length and style. The 143-yard second is wooded down the right side, and its green falls off abruptly from its sides and back. Two yards longer, #5 also features trees on the right as well as an out-of-bounds fence.
The third and fourth holes are much more spacious. Three large bunkers stand guard on the 153-yard third, and the much shorter fourth offers no room to miss long. Anything over the green will roll down onto a hardened strip of dirt and tree branches.
A hill serves as an obstruction on #6 and #7. From the sixth tee, the green is out of view, hidden below the crest of the slope. Accurate shots on this 152-yarder will depend on experience with proper aim, and potential par putts will be influenced significantly by the steep ridge on the left side of the green. The 300-yard seventh plays up the hill to an elevated fairway. Its green is backstopped by a fence, and approach shots sent into the weeds and leaves on the right are essentially OB.
On Morley's closing hole, a 227-yard par-4, trees take up residence in the fairway and sit comfortably in your line to the green.
The golf course at Christopher Morley Park resembles, well....a big park. The trees and shade make for a nice stroll. Greens and tee boxes seem to blend into the background. The ninth fairway overlooks the park's baseball fields, which introduce the pings of aluminum bats to the thwacks of long irons. It's a very pleasant setting -- provided you keep your golf balls away from enormous oak tree trunks.
Of course, with so many trees come so many branches, so many of those porcupine balls that drop from above, and so many leaves and pine needles. It's hard to come up with a nice, flat lie with all of it scattered around. Plus, the shade makes for some barren or sparse patches where the sun struggles to reach.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
Trying to reach the green from the tee on the 227-yard ninth is like a point guard trying to loft a running one-hander over a center in a pick-up basketball game. You have to put some air under it, or it'll be swatted aside. Trees block the path to the green, a sight not normally seen. Dialing up too much distance will send your ball into a wide-open clearing behind the green, which isn't a problem in itself, but the return chip toward a back-to-front sloping green could be.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
Unless you put your ball over a fence or deep into the woods, you should be able to find wayward shots easily. But save yourself the frustration of trying to pitch off pine needles and twigs.
500 Searingtown Road, Roslyn 11576
(516) 571-8120 / 8119 (wait time)
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