16. Friar's Head Golf Club
Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw (2002)
The challenge for architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw at Friar’s Head was to design some holes in breathtaking sand dunes perched 200 feet above Long Island Sound, and other holes on an ordinary potato field to the south. Said Crenshaw, “Our job was to marry the two distinct elements. We didn’t want one nine up in the dunes and the other down on the flat.” The solution was to move the routing back and forth and to artfully reshape the farm fields into gentle linkslike land. They pulled it off so impressively that Friar’s Head has moved steadily up the rankings each survey period until this year, from No. 34 in its 2011 debut to No. 15 in 2019-2020. It moved down just one spot for our 2021-2022 rankings.
100 Greatest History: Ranked since 2011. Highest ranking: 15th (2019-2020).
Watch Golf Digest’s latest “Every Hole At” course videos below:
Panelist comments, Friar's Head Golf Club:
“A great journey through meadows, farmland and dunes. It actually feels like three courses in one. Truly different than other Long Island gems like Shinnecock and NGLA. Coore & Crenshaw created a course with unique character."
"Though less than 15 years old, Ken Bakst has created a club with a true sense of history -- no yardage markings on the course, walking-only so no cart paths, no distances on the score card, and no rakes for the bunker, ala Pine Valley, feels decidedly like a haven for true golfers and old-school."
"The walk to the 16th tee along the new bridge is sensational. Such an amazing spot to soak in the views of the Long Island Sound on a beautiful summer day."
"All sorts of varied shots, looks, directional changes, a drivable hole, short 3s, long 3s, tremendous par 5s that offer tremendous risk/reward, centerline bunker features that promote decision making, and the setting, ambiance, and memorability are all outstanding."