Shinnecock Hills is the capital of the golf universe this week, and there are plenty of agonizing East End traffic reports to prove it. And while vaunted Long Island clubs like National, Sebonack, Maidstone and others are picking up some of Shinnecock's spotlight rather than the likes of Pine Hills and Poxabogue, let's just say those places don't exactly welcome walk-ups.
So where does that leave the public golfer who happens to be staying in the Hamptons or the Riverhead area this week for the U.S. Open? Here are some friendly outlets, from closest to farthest from the epicenter:
EAST OF SHINNECOCK
Right there in the middle of the Sunrise Highway soup is the Southampton Golf Range, a family-owned throwback with a driving range, mini golf and batting cages. It's located about a mile east of Shinnecock and offering extended hours during Open week. Bonus points for media members -- it's directly across the street from media parking, so keep your bags in the trunk (it's open until midnight).
Poxabogue Golf Center is a quaint par-30 that's been a fixture in the Bridgehampton area for more than 50 years. Its suitable for all skill levels and features one of the biggest practice ranges on the Island. It also attracts a fair share of celebs for a little public nine-holer.
Also nine holes, the Sag Harbor State Golf Course is the least known of Long Island's NYS munis, though it's been around for nearly a century.
Keep heading east, almost until you can't go any farther, and you'll find one of the most popular NYS munis at Montauk Downs. Nothing can replicate Shinnecock, but with the ocean to the south and bays to the north, the swirling winds at Montauk are similar.
Shelter Island Country Club -- aka "Goat Hill" -- is nearly as old as Shinnecock. A ferry to Shelter Island plus nine holes make for a nice Open Week afternoon.
On the North Fork, Cedars Golf Club is another pleasant nine-holer tucked away in Cutchogue.
Like Montauk Downs on the South Fork, Island's End Golf & Country Club is perched almost on the tip of the North Fork, hence the name. It features one of the most picturesque par-3s on Long Island -- public or private.
WEST OF SHINNECOCK
Indian Island Country Club is one of Suffolk's four county munis and the only one on the East End. Parts of the course play along the Peconic River and Flanders Bay; the rest is more of a parkland layout.
Sandy Pond is another throwback nine that has been rejuvenated under new ownership in recent years. There are water holes, fescue and an overall friendly vibe.
Once the private Olde Vine Golf Club, the Riverhead course known as The Vineyards Golf Club features Shinnecock-esque winds that team up with very fast greens with slope.
Next door to The Vineyards are Cherry Creek's Links and Woods courses. Though not a links design in any sense, the Links 18 is one of the longest layouts on the Island and features the region's only par-6 at #18. The Woods is a shorter, more strategic course with trees bordering nearly all fairways.
Manorville delivers a trio of 18-hole options with varying styles. Swan Lake Golf Club is comfortably open and offers some of Long Island's most spacious putting greens. Rock Hill Golf Club is roomy in some areas, tightly wooded in the rest, but challenges throughout the course with thick, unforgiving rough over hilly terrain. The par-73 Pine Hills Country Club is nearly as long as Bethpage Black.
For courses beyond those areas, check out our Long Island course map, which includes links to flyover descriptions of all courses, as well as our Visitor's Guide to Long Island Golf for a broader overview of the local scene.