[This flyover was updated on April 7, 2011.]
Designed at the hand of Robert Trent Jones and situated side by side in the heart of Nassau County, the Blue and White Courses at Eisenhower Park are the area's fraternal golf twins. The two share many of the same traits -- wide-open fairways, returning nines, gaping greenside bunkers and numerous fairway traps. The twins even have twins of their own, the identical par-3 holes used to alleviate slow play. But the Blue is much shorter, by nearly 900 yards, than the more straight-laced -- with added emphasis on straight -- White Course.
Eisenhower Blue is a 6,026-yard par-72 that is flat and forgiving, an appealing destination for beginners, seniors and walkers. It has four dogleg holes, a characteristic of the elder Red Course, the Devereux Emmet classic next door. Strategy on the Blue is simple -- fire a clean shot off the tee and get your irons in the air. A strong ground game is useless on a course whose only defenses are hefty traps and sticky rough fronting elevated greens.
Consistently long drives on the Blue Course can make scoring a cinch. Despite the Blue's dearth of distance, players that drive the ball 250 yards and up benefit from a major advantage over shorter hitters. That's because tee shots of such length turn most of the course's fairway bunkers into nothing more than helpless bystanders. Once in position, these players can spend their day popping short or middle irons over the greenside traps and onto the elevated surfaces -- from either the fairway or the rough. And since three of the four doglegs veer left, long hitters who can smack a draw sit even prettier.
For shorter hitters who drive the ball in the 200- to 225-yard range, the Blue can be frustrating and wearisome. At this distance fairway traps are poised to gobble up wide tee shots on the majority of driving holes, a nuisance that longer hitters can avoid with confidence throughout the course -- except, maybe, on the 405-yard third. Staying on the short side of the bunkers means longer approaches, and a round on the Blue for this player will include plenty of high pitches over the traps. More staggered bunkering in the fairways would go a long way toward removing this bias and introducing the use of brain cells on the teebox.
There is no bend in the 458-yard opener, a par-5 that is reachable in two for long hitters with nothing of concern in the sprawling fairway. The longest par-4 on the course, the 405-yard third, plays straight out as well, but undulations in the fairway as it narrows between two bunkers require some second thoughts on tee strategy. Many players will hit driver anyway, seeing an uneven lie in the fairway as little reason to sacrifice yardage. Finding either of the two traps likely takes par out of the mix.
On other courses, a hole like the 445-yard sixth might show up as a signature par-4, but here, the left dogleg is a vulnerable par-5. The bend is close enough to make iron a conceivable play off the tee for the ultra-conservative, but most players will look to blast drives beyond the trees and onto the far end of the fairway. Two traps inside the turn do little to discourage that plan. Blue's front nine returns to the clubhouse area with a harmless 342-yard par-4, a 114-yard par-3 and a ninth hole with a center-line bunker deep in the fairway that could thwart the more powerful drivers. A big hump makes pins on the green's right side difficult to get to.
Like #6, the par-5 11th bends left, though not quite as sharply. The hole sets up for a nice draw, but with no trees up the left side, the fairway can be easily found with shots of any shape and sort. Another center-line trap deep in the fairway complicates lay-up attempts (pictured) and a single, spacious bunker -- a staple of the White course -- protects the wide green from long approaches. Low scores are tempting on the 342-yard 12th and 309-yard 13th, but only through the air -- steep-faced bunkers and stretches of rough front the greens. Run-ups are a no-go on the 370-yard 14th as well, where two wide traps cut the green off from the fairway.
Left-to-right hitters finally get a break at #16, the only one of the Blue's doglegs that favor their ball flight. But the break is over once the tee shot is on the ground. The fairway ends abruptly and yields to the thick stuff about 50 yards short of a green that slopes down hard from the left and sports a raised hump on its right side. The Blue then ends the way it began -- with a par-5 that is reachable in two. This one, however, is not straight like #1. It turns left but offers a clear shot at the far end of the fairway. The half-pipe shape of the fairway around and beyond the turn helps gather shots in position for attacking approaches.
The Blue's par-3s vary in yardage, but not much else. All four of them require the same airborne shots over two bunkers. Miss short and the result is either a recovery out of the sand or a lob over it. Rough slopes down off the backs and sides -- short-side misses should be avoided. Only #17 features a small bunker behind the surface. As mentioned earlier, each par-3 has a twin hole at its side (pictured).
Sand gets top billing on the Blue Course. Unfortunately it does not get the treatment a star deserves. The bunkers on the Blue are in dreadful shape. They are filled with rocks, some just small pebbles, others massive stones. This is great news for geologists, but poor for golfers, especially those who don't care to carve up the face and sole of their sand wedge. The only redeeming quality is that a ball ticketed for the heart of a trap has a small chance of benefiting from a generous kick off a boulder three times its size.
[NOTE: The bunkers on the Blue Course were reshaped and refilled with new sand during the 2010-11 offseason, according to Newsday's Mark Herrmann. Click here to read more.]
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
The sixth hole is a low-risk, high-reward par-5 where a blast through a dogleg can eventually be topped off with a tap-in birdie. A strong drive will bypass the trees and two bunkers inside the turn and find its way within a long iron's reach of the green. A draw would help shave some yards from the approach, if you can swing it. Mounding behind the bunkers can even supply a generous kick toward the center of the green if you land your approach just short of the putting surface.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
Unlike the Red Course, which keeps inaccurate shooters on the defensive, the Blue does not protect itself against players bombing drives through dogleg turns. There is no water on the course and trees are far enough from the target areas so that recovery shots are largely unnecessary. In short, outside of the steep bunkers, trouble spots are hard to find. The Blue's shortest par-4, the 309-yard 13th, has three partially obscured sand traps off the fairway's left side. Getting caught up there means wasting a scoring opportunity, as the following shot from the sand will need to clear the greenside traps from 100 to 125 yards.
Merrick Ave. at Stewart Ave., East Meadow 11554
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