"Blink and you'll miss it" is a handy way to describe the peaceful seclusion of the Cedars Golf Club, though it's not entirely accurate. Even if your eyes are taped wide open, you still won't stumble upon the course. Truth is, unless you live on the North Fork, are roaming the quiet residential streets south of the village green in Cutchogue or happen to catch a glimpse of the street sign as you cruise along Main Road, you'd never know about Cedars and its collection of tree-blanketed par-3s.
Cedars is a 1,120-yard walk in the park, but it's also a step back in time to days as a beginner, to simple golf unspoiled by thoughts of handicaps and hip turns. It's nine holes in the time it takes to hit a large bucket at the range, with a hundred times the personality. Greeted by a hand-painted wooden sign at the curb, players pull into a gravel driveway and unload their bags under the watch of a weathered barn-like clubhouse. Instead of walls of $120 windbreakers, a table near the pro shop door balances a stack of golf-related VHS tapes. A tomato plant soaks up the southern-sky sun next to the clubhouse while observing play on the ninth green. The same curbside sign bids you farewell.
The course itself is a par-27 where only a couple of clubs are necessary. With the exception of the 175-yard sixth, all the holes play between 100 and 130 yards. Cedars appeals to all generations. Families make up foursomes, grandfathers tee off with grandkids, local couples play their weekly nine and North Fork visitors make a quick loop during downtime away from the vineyards and shops. It's a throwback brimming with "homespun charm," as Mark Herrmann describes in this Newsday feature from April 2011.
Steps away from the clubhouse door, the first shot is over a small pond. Anything in the air should reach the other side, and from there the path to the green is clear. Cross the road for #2, an interesting 110-yard hole with a diagonal green. A bunker short and trees just behind the green make sure you're paying attention to distance control.
The third plays from an elevated tee. Three sand traps and a right-to-left green keep you on your toes, as does the pitched surface up ahead on #4. Like the third, #5 sports a downhill drop, with offline shots destined to land in the sand. The sixth is the answer to the "Which of the following doesn't belong?" quiz question. At 175 yards, it forces you to keep your wedge in the bag for just one hole and dust off a middle or even long iron.
Trees overhang the seventh tee as if challenging you to reach the pin without putting your ball in the air. The hole plays through a narrow corridor, passing two bunkers en route to the flag. Water reappears on Cedars' final two holes. A pond hides left of the green on #8, and though the roomy rough on the right side seems safe, you'll have to pitch or chip back onto a green tilted toward the drink. Two more ponds cut across the ninth "fairway" and threaten to gobble up ground balls.
Perhaps the most striking feature of Cedars is its greens, which are smooth and manicured like you'd expect to see on a full-length course. They can also be extremely soft, so much so that balls can plug down to their equator and forceful steps leave a temporary imprint in the turf. After a vandalism incident early in the 2012 season (see this Patch article for details), the greens have proven to be resilient as well.
Cedars has more than a dozen bunkers, all bulky in stature. Many of them have high lips that reject inadequate escape attempts. Scoff at Cedars' barely quadruple-digit yardage if you must, but don't underestimate its traps. Tees are beaten all day long by swipes and chunks from irons, so it might take an extra moment or two to find a smooth spot to your liking.
Between swings, Cedars is a pleasant walk. Holes are marked by engraved wood signs accompanied by cedar-plank waste barrels. Flowers dot the landscape. Small hills are manageable for all players, young and old.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
Few people arrive at Cedars with thoughts of dialing in a soft fade, but some left-to-right action helps on #2, where a diagonal green is sandwiched by sand short and trees long. Plus the deep half the green is obscured by some short trees. If there's nobody on your tail, grab some extra balls and try running a few up onto the surface and popping others high over the trees and sand trap.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
You can't see it from the tee, but there's a pond just to the left of #8 green. Anything to that side of the surface will very likely be underwater or buried in the brush.
305 Cases Lane, Cutchogue 11935