There is no shortage of interesting par-4s at Tallgrass Golf Course in Shoreham, but the gradual conversion of the sixth hole from a strategic par-4 to a long, uphill par-3 -- as documented here in 2012 and again last spring -- still feels like a significant loss.
What had previously been a 295-yard par-4 with risk/reward potential is now an approximately 190-yard par-3 with a shallow green not designed to accommodate lengthy iron or hybrid shots. The reason for the change: a high frequency of overzealous drive-the-green attempts hooked far off the property and into adjacent homes and yards.
In 2012, former general manager Phil Tita said the goal was to keep #6 as a par-4, even if the lack of space made that a challenge. By last spring, those plans were scrapped, signaled by the addition of a new par-3 teeing area. Golf On Long Island visited Tallgrass last week and played the course for the first time as a par-70 (though scorecards and hole signage have yet to be updated to reflect the change).
Results on #6 were a mixed bag. One long-hitting member of the GOLI twosome held the green with a middle iron; the other lifted a high-arcing tee shot that landed on the rain-softened front apron and stuck a few paces short of the green. Another member of the group -- a senior player with limited distance -- needed a fairway wood to get up the hill and, as a result, his shot rolled off the back of the green and down the steep embankment.
When the hole was a par-4 ranging from 295 at the tips to 214 from the forward tees, the deep descent behind the green was the red flag dissuading aggressive runs at the pin. Long hitters could throw caution to the wind and envision short eagle putts with an understanding that seemingly great shots might run hot through the green and down the slope. The smart play was to the right side of the fairway, away from the big sand trap on the left. In between cautious and heroic, players could challenge the big bunker and try to gain strong position on the far side of the sand, just short of the putting surface.
Now with the hole playing as a par-3, the safe shot is simply leaving the ball short, then chipping or putting on. Long irons or more needed to cover the distance and the climb will need some spin, finesse or luck to hold what is one of the shallowest greens on the course. The drop off the rear edge is prominently involved on all shots. Meanwhile, the hole's other notable feature -- the huge sand trap up the left side -- rarely comes into play.
[TOP LEFT: The hole as seen from the front of the tee. ABOVE RIGHT: One of Tallgrass's shallowest greens falls straight down off the back edge. LEFT: Looking back over the less intrusive sand complex.]