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The Open Island

COLONIAL SPRINGS GOLF COURSE
One Long Island Avenue, East Farmingdale; 516-643-0051. Yardage: 3,434 (Pines); 3,377 (Valley); 3,359 (Lake). Par: 36 (all nines). Slope: 126 (any combination). Architect: Arthur Hills, 1995. Greens Fees: $59­$95.
T&L Golf Rating: ***1/2

If it's quiet as a tomb on Colonial Springs' three handsomely manicured nines—in the heart of L.I.'s suburban sprawl—it may be because they are surrounded on all sides by enormous cemeteries. The hereafter doesn't intrude through the screening trees, though it must be said that both the golf and the 225-acre setting are heavenly. For his first design in the Northeast, Hills created three well-balanced nines, each leading away from a broad Shinnecock-like clubhouse and returning to its doorstep via a demanding ninth hole skirting one or another edge of a twisting, eleven-acre, man-made lake. The Lake is slightly narrower than the other nines and has three lengthy par fours. The Valley has the toughest and most visually intriguing par three as well as the course's signature hole, a stunning par five for which the nine is named. The Pines has OB left on five holes and a great risk-reward scenario over water on the approach to the ninth. PS: Allow extra time to spend on the all-grass, double-ended practice range. With target greens arranged within a landscaped bowl, it's as dramatic as many a golf hole.

LIDO GOLF CLUB
255 Lido Boulevard, Lido Beach; 516-889-8181. Yardage: 6,896. Par: 72. Slope: 133. Architect: Robert Trent Jones, 1949. Greens Fees: $39­$44; less for local residents.
T&L Golf Rating: ***1/2

Big Sky country thirty miles from Times Square?In a sense, that's what you get at Lido. The land lies low, the sky is one vast bowl, the wind laughs in your face, and you feel as significant as an ant on a picnic blanket. Great fun. Built on a strip of barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Reynolds Channel on the southwest shore of Long Island, Lido is a links with a legacy. Cornelius Vanderbilt was among the moneybags who hired C. B. Macdonald to build the original Lido, which in the 1920s was as highly regarded as Pine Valley or Macdonald's own National. The Navy took the seaside land during World War II, and afterward Jones redesigned the course almost from scratch on the channel side. But echoes of glory remain along the water on the front nine and on the challenging closing holes, especially the heroic 487-yard par-five sixteenth, a reworking of Lido's famed "Channel Hole" (the former fourth at Lido), which Tom Doak called "the all-time best example" of target golf. To reach the green in two via the shorter right-side route requires two pinpoint water carries, including a nearly blind tee shot. Reservations available up to one week in advance.

EISENHOWER PARK, RED COURSE
Eisenhower Park, East Meadow; 516-572-0327. Yardage: 6,794. Par: 72. Slope: 123. Architect: Devereux Emmet, 1914. Greens Fees: $52­$60; less for Nassau County residents.
T&L Golf Rating: ***

With the exception of the second hole, this is virtually the same course (then part of Salisbury Country Club) on which Walter Hagen won the 1926 PGA Championship. The topography is essentially flat, but the holes are nuanced and inviting, elegant examples of the pre-bulldozer era. From the back tees, par fours like the third, fourth, tenth, fifteenth and eighteenth demand just what they did in Hagen's day: two long and perfectly placed shots, often with wind a factor. Only Nassau County residents and their guests can play, so start buttering up anyone you know who lives there. If you can't get on the Red, the somewhat shorter and easier White and Blue tracks (both by Robert Trent Jones) ain't, as they say in New York, chopped liver.

GREAT ROCK GOLF CLUB
141 Fairway Drive, Wading River; 631-929-1200. Yardage: 6,193. Par: 71. Slope: 129. Architect: William "Buddy" Johnson, 2001. Greens Fees: $60­$80.
T&L Golf Rating: ***

Counterprogramming amid all the links layouts. Opened in 2001, this woodland site is too spread out and hilly to walk (the routing doesn't return to the clubhouse until eighteen) but beautifully verdant and unsullied by housing. The ninth and sixteenth tees offer long-distance views, confirming that Long Island is basically flat. It's short but no pushover, with narrow fairways, interesting approaches and subtle greens. And there really is a great rock—a massive twenty-foot-high boulder that looms behind the tenth green, a well-guarded, uphill 444-yard par four.

TALLGRASS GOLF CLUB
24 Cooper Street, Shoreham; 631-209-9359. Yardage: 6,587. Par: 71. Slope: 127. Architect: Gil Hanse, 2000. Greens Fees: $52­$70.
T&L Golf Rating: ***

Hewn from a family-owned sod farm and surrounded by the family's other sod farms, Tallgrass lies awash in sun and sky, a classic swatch of agricultural eastern Long Island. Hanse, a Long Island native who also designed a course in Crail, Scotland, built a links with wide fairways, yawning bunkers and acres of tangled fescue. Opened in July 2000, Tallgrass is well maintained and has enjoyed good word of mouth, but it lacks the powerful mood and distinctiveness of Long Island National or Harbor Links. Still, there are some memorable holes, notably the par-four eleventh, which runs a gauntlet between a high berm on the right and a long waste area on the left before tucking into an alcove green.

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