Calverton Links straddles an invisible line between the expansive Pine Barrens region to its south and the sprawling, open fields of the North Fork. Fortunately for golfers who enjoy plenty of available space on and around the fairways, Calverton has more in common with its neighboring areas to the north than the dense woodlands close by.
The course also straddles a more discernible line of pines and ponds that divides the Links into two sections with distinct personalities. Originally a nine-hole course that circled the clubhouse, Calverton Links was expanded into its current 18-hole layout in 1999 by architect Kelly Blake Moran. Seven of Moran's holes are routed over rolling terrain bordered by fields and farms, and as a result, holes 11 through 17 on the "new" western side of the course play considerably differently than the original nine. What's left for Long Island golfers is a 2,919-yard front nine comprised mostly of short, attackable par-4s and a 3,330-yard back nine with sharper angles, heavier winds and a handful of exciting risk/reward opportunities.
The first two holes loop around Calverton's 20-stall driving range. Slightly uphill, #1 hides its wide, two-tiered green behind a broad sand trap. Driver-wedge will get you home on the 330-yard second (347 from the back) as long as you clear the two right-side fairway bunkers. To keep those traps out of reach, and to lessen the chance of flirting with OB on either side of the hole, plan a hybrid-short iron route to the green instead. The 112-yard third is a delicate par-3 with water in front and behind the green. Balls will run toward the back of the surface, so take extra care when attacking a rear pin.
Calverton delivers a kick in the shins at the 504-yard fourth, where the tree-lined landing area demands some sharp accuracy off the tee. Hit the right side of the fairway to ensure a clear look at the green on the second shot. Par-4s at #6 and #7 are vulnerable scoring holes each measuring 293 yards from the white tees. A half-dozen bunkers and a tiered green do their best to keep birdies and pars to a minimum on #6. Fairway traps and out-of-bounds protect the far end of the seventh fairway from overly aggressive drives.
Though only slightly longer than their par-4 predecessors, #8 and #9 ratchet up the degree of difficulty a few notches. Water influences play on both holes in different ways. The fairway on the 340-yard eighth (outlined in further detail below) is narrowed by a pond on the left. On #9, the fairway is clear of any H2O-related danger, but sticking out of the green's mouth is a tongue-shaped bunker that coaxes players into deep shots to a surface flanked very closely by another pond.
Before you head through the trees to the back section of the course, there is still work to be done on the original property. But even though the back nine begins only a few paces from the ninth green, the par-4 10th -- 452 from the blues, 435 from the whites -- might as well be miles away on a different course. Only the strongest drivers will fly safely by the two bunkers perched on the high side of the fairway between 225 and 250 yards from the tee. Right-side pins are heavily guarded by sand and a shallow landing area. Holes cut on the left are more vulnerable, but a steep decline off the left side of the green is the penalty for inaccuracy. No matter what, the approach into this green will be long, uphill and hard to hold on the surface.
Thick rough seems to roll toward the green in waves at the 130-yard 11th. Take note of the stronger wind gusts before pulling a club. The 12th, outlined below, is a risk-reward par-4 that offers so much space off the tee that the first-timer may struggle to make any sense of it. There's plenty of open real estate beyond the wide-mouthed trap on the 13th fairway too; reach it and the green is just a downhill short iron away.
Two of Calverton's final holes are, for most players, three-shot par-5s that require smart planning on the final approach. Trees form a narrow corridor around the deeper half of the fairway on the 536-yard 15th. Calling the green "two-tiered" is an understatement; a more accurate description is "two-storied." The 509-yard 17th also features a green with two levels. Optimal position on the right edge of the fairway leaves a tricky approach to a diagonal surface guarded by a near-side bunker.
The round closes the way it began -- with a short par-4 near the clubhouse. A fairway bunker plops itself right in the middle of the ideal landing area, but if you can avoid the trap, there's nothing between you and par but a simple iron shot.
One of Calverton's most noticeable features is its thick, manicured rough. Though the majority of holes present the golfer with ample space off the tee, it is important to avoid repeated strolls into the tall grass. A good hole can quickly turn sour with just one snagged clubhead.
The greens at Calverton come in all shapes and depths. Some are slim and turned diagonally, others are wide and shallow. Many of the greens offer a safe haven on one side and a danger zone on the other. A right-side pin on the downhill par-3 16th is sheltered on a small finger of green by water short and sand long. On the left, the flag is vulnerable on a deeper section of the surface without any cover. It may sound obvious, but mastering the angles around the course's fairways is the first step toward easier entrances into the scoring sections of Calverton's putting surfaces.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
With the course's contrasting nines comes a variety of hole features. Two of Calverton's par-4s are notable for entirely different reasons -- #8 for its subtlety, #12 for its complete lack thereof. The landing area on the 340-yard eighth (385 from the back) is pinched by a small pond on the left side, reducing the width of the fairway to as little as 15 yards. From the second shot forward, the hole takes on some characteristics of a "redan" par-3. The green is set diagonally from right to left and runs with speed from front to back. Instead of bunkering on the short left side of the surface, a tree and the threat of water serve as protection. It's important to hold your approach shot on the same tier as the cup, otherwise a three-putt is a distinct possibility. But play too aggressively and you could scoot through the green.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the course, the 12th is just as subtle as the screaming engines of planes circling over the adjacent airfield. Surrounded by a farm and the wide-open expanse of Moran's extension, this par-4, bent at a right angle, meddles with your depth perception as it impresses you with its landscape. The flag appears twice as far into the distance as the 365 yards indicated on the scorecard. Players have two options -- cut the corner with a long drive over the gaping bunker complex or play conservatively to the wider fairway. The aggressive route includes all the standard benefits and trappings of a high-risk/high-reward hole. A well-placed tee ball along the safer route still leaves an uphill shot to a very shallow, sand-fortified target.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
What makes the 435-yard 10th so difficult is the razor-thin margin for error around the green. One way to avoid a sandy splashdown or a descent off the sideslopes is to resist the urge to go after the pin with long irons or fairway woods. Unless you clear the bunkers off the tee, lay up short of the green on the second shot and try to pitch it close. Trying to pick up the pieces after you've tumbled into the waste below the surface or into one of the traps will typically get you no better than bogey, and that's without accounting for the green's substantial right-to-left slope.
149 Edwards Avenue, Calverton 11933
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