The White Course at Timber Point is the shortest and "newest" of the three nine-hole layouts along the waters of the Great South Bay in Great River. The original 18-hole Timber Point course was part of an ultra-exclusive private club built in the 1920s and considered to be one of the country's finest golf courses of its time. Twelve holes from the original layout exist today in modified form on the Red and Blue Courses. Suffolk County purchased the course in 1971, and the area between what is now the inland Red and coastal Blue (and on top of what had been the original course's opening and closing holes, among others) was eventually developed into the White.
Timber Point is one of four Suffolk County-operated courses, joining Bergen Point, West Sayville and Indian Island. Flat and generally wide open, the White is an easy course to walk and a simple one to navigate. Its 3,141 yards run straight as an arrow from tee to green, though a couple of ponds complicate the routes along the way. If you can avoid these hazards there is little else to block your path to the green. Fairway bunkering is sparse and greenside traps do little to discourage an offensive strategy.
Make sure you stretch adequately and knock the rust off your swing at the range, because the White offers up a prime scoring hole at the start, and you will not want to waste it. The opening hole is a 308-yard par-4 where a good drive will leave no worse than a short iron to the flag. However, that second shot will be directed at the White's toughest green, a surface that climbs uphill from the front and rolls back down off the back. The 465-yard par-5 second feels tighter than it really is, thanks to a pair of hazards and a slim fairway squeezed by one hazard and the adjacent fourth hole. Playing in the opposite direction, #4 also includes two ponds, the farthest of which is very much in play to the right of the fairway. While shots may not necessarily find the water, any ball entering the tall reeds around the hazard is more than likely a goner. This growth can also blind the player who sends a tee shot short of the hazard in the right rough. From that position, all that's left is a 150-yard shot to the green on this 344-yard par-4, but it will have to be executed with absolutely no view of the back-to-front surface.
From here on out, all holes -- except for the par-3 sixth -- play back and forth. The fairway on the par-5 fifth makes a left turn just short of the green. Depending on their length off the tee, players must choose between an aggressive diagonal approach shot over two bunkers and rough, or a safe layup short and right of the putting surface. The final three holes are straight par-4s with little variation, though the 353-yard eighth does have one defining characteristic. Its fairway bottlenecks midway to the hole between two small trees that serve as both helpful landmarks off the tee and potentially harmful obstacles. Shots that miss the green off to the left side are at risk of getting lost in more of the course's tall reeds.
From the #3 tee there is a sweeping view of Great South Bay beyond the Blue's #7 green, but that's as close as one will get to its shore on the White Course. Both of the White's par-3s face inland and play a club or two shorter with bay breezes whipping in from behind. A left-side trap is all that shields the back-to-front green on the 136-yard third. On #6, another small pond presses into the left side and up against the green, but a properly struck short iron should find a safe area of the surface and leave a decent birdie opportunity on this 120-yarder.
Timber Point resides on low-lying land that juts into Great South Bay at the opening of the Connetquot River, exposing all 27 holes to relentless winds. The gusting wind and its interplay with the coastal holes of the Blue course -- namely the famous Gibraltar hole -- is what makes that layout so popular, but the challenge is certainly heightened on the White too as the wind speeds up. The low terrain also makes the course susceptible to flooding.
Despite the heavy foot and cart traffic at this highly popular facility, and its flooding issues, Timber Point's fairways and greens are resilient and well-maintained. Greens are slow and almost all identically sized. The course is open with room to miss the fairways, but poor shots can overshoot the rough and find patches of taller fescue-type grasses, especially around the closing holes.
Timber Point draws big crowds, largely attributed to its combination of quality golf, bayside scenery and reasonable rates (even for non-residents). Rounds can move slowly on all three courses during peak times. The occasional wait though will give you a chance to admire the natural surroundings -- including the deer and other wildlife that tend to roam the grounds.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
You can walk off the first green either encouraged or bitterly disappointed, because there's a fine line between a nice opening score on #1 and a badly blown opportunity. The 308-yard par-4 (338 from the back) requires a solid drive and a deft short iron or pitch. Execute both and you're rewarded with a strong shot at par or better. Just don't get careless around the green, especially if your short game still hasn't made its way out of the car so early in the round. The green on #1 has the most pronounced slope on the course. It's a steep climb from the foot of the green to just past center, and then a rapid drop as it rolls downhill off the rear. A promising start can quickly turn into an early buzzkill with only one bungled chip or putt.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
Steer clear of the right side on #4. This advice might seem obvious considering there is a water hazard within a fairway wood from the tee in that direction, but shots that stay short of the drink in the right rough can still be troublesome. Views of the green are non-existent from behind the pond's tall reeds, so you'll be taking a fully blind hack with a middle iron over a hazard. If you catch a bad break and settle too close to the reeds or a tree, a recovery shot back to the fairway might be necessary, and that's nothing you want any part of on a 344-yard par-4. Avoid all this by keeping it left off the tee.
150 River Road, Great River 11739
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