The architect’s evident respect for the land—very little is built up from, or onto, the flat field on which QFC sits—reflects Bendelow’s “naturalist” philosophy of golf-course design. As his grandson Stuart, whom Ran interviewed in 2002 (http://golfclubatlas.com/feature-interview/stuart-bendelow-september-2002/), explained, “I don’t think he was a strong proponent of reshaping the countryside to make a golf course. Using the natural setting made for the best result and the least expense. His goal was to give the best possible golf layout he could within the client’s budget. This often meant doing without extensive ground movement, water hazards, heavy trapping or other features costly to build and maintain.”

Consistent with Bendelow’s hands-off design philosophy, the water hazards at Quogue—like this inlet from the bay running between the 5th and 6th holes—are found, not built. The Atlantic Ocean lies just beyond the homes in the distance.

Consistent with Bendelow’s hands-off design philosophy, the water hazards at Quogue—like this inlet from the bay running between the 5th and 6th holes—are found, not built. The Atlantic Ocean lies just beyond the homes in the distance.

Given that Bendelow’s nine opened in 1901, QFC would have been one of his early designs; Stuart’s remark that his grandfather’s “early courses were very simple, in design and in construction,” strongly suggests that it was. If so, Bendelow likely spent little time at Quogue. As Stuart explains, his grandfather’s “time at these [early] courses was relatively short. Following the staking of the course and instructions to whoever was going to be responsible for construction, he moved on to the next job.” Bendelow’s rapid-fire approach to course construction, Stuart notes, “is what made him the ‘Johnny Appleseed’ of American golf.”

Tom Bendelow, the “Johnny Appleseed of American Golf” (Credit: Michigan State University).

Tom Bendelow, the “Johnny Appleseed of American Golf” (Credit: Michigan State University).

Now 114 years later, Quogue remains a simple, flat affair where the hands of the architect become apparent only when the golfer reaches the greens and surrounds. Do not mistake simplicity and flatness for blandness. I find flat courses in general to be underrated, if not ignored. Playing golf on a wide-open, flat field distills the game to its essence and conveys a certain timelessness. Not insignificantly, the 1st and 18th holes on the Old Course at St. Andrews rest on precisely such land. The starting and finishing holes at Quogue bear more than a passing resemblance to those at the “Home of Golf,” as well as those in North Berwick—and pay homage to that tradition. After all, whether it was Bendelow, Hepburn, Wilson, or some combination thereof, it was the Scots who designed Quogue.

Evocative of some of the great links of the world, Quogue’s first and final holes leave from and return to the clubhouse along the same piece of flat land.

Evocative of some of the great links of the world, Quogue’s first and final holes leave from and return to the clubhouse along the same piece of flat land.

Quogue provides ample width off the tee to satisfy the average player and enough intrigue on and around the greens to challenge the expert player, timeless qualities in golf-course architecture. “One word frequently used in [my grandfather’s] writings on golf courses is ‘sporty,’” Stuart notes. “I think he meant by this that it should present an enjoyable play for both beginner and advanced player; not too hard to discourage the new player and not without challenge to the more accomplished golfer.”

From bikes, to cars, to boats (here, along Quogue Canal behind the 5th green), golf at QFC is an immersive, interactive experience with the village and its inhabitants.

From bikes, to cars, to boats (here, along Quogue Canal behind the 5th green), golf at QFC is an immersive, interactive experience with the village and its inhabitants.

Though QFC has nine holes for golf, members often play 18 from two sets of tees: the first loop from the black tees and the second from the orange tees, reflective of QFC’s flags, which are orange with black writing. The current scorecard not only lists all 18 holes separately, but assigns different names to each. That detail might feel a bit forced; apart from length and angles, the holes play very similarly on the “front” and “back” nines. But the legend in the upper-left corner of Mark Ruddy’s painting confirms my suspicion that, instead, many of the “back nine” names were once those of the nine Hepburn holes lost after the 1938 hurricane—in which case maintaining two names for each current hole is a most fitting tribute indeed. The legend also reveals that some of the current names are homages to the original Wilson nine (e.g., “Quaquanantuck”) or altogether new (e.g., “Clubhouse,” “Hedges,” and “Long”), while some of the original back-nine names (e.g., “Redan,” “Valley,” “The Pond,” and “Plateau”) have not been retained.

image029

image031

Quogue has tremendous variety in its nine holes: two par-3s, both of which carry architectural significance (a punchbowl at the 2nd and a hybrid Biarritz/Redan at the 4th); a nice mix of short, potentially drivable par-4s (at the 3rd and 6th) and long par-4s (at the 5th and 7th); and two par-5s, which bookend the round and run parallel to each other departing from, and returning to, the clubhouse. Notably, the yardage of the Bendelow nine has barely changed over time—and is actually shorter now (3,252 yards, taking the longest of each hole’s front- and back-nine yardages) than it was in 1938, when it stretched to 3,279 yards.

Above all, QFC is blessed with naturally firm, bouncy turf that allows for the ground game—and begs for it when the winds kick up on this exposed landscape only a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean. As another 1898 Outing article put it during the era of Wilson’s nine, QFC “shar[ed] with Shinnecock Hills in the boon of a thin sandy turf” ideal for golf. That was necessarily even truer in 1901, as it is today, as Bendelow’s nine opened on a different plot of land closer to the bay and ocean. The greens are accordingly kept like on the links of Great Britain: pure, but just grassy enough to allow all players to try to make putts without too much fear of the consequences of missing. QFC’s flatness, moreover, lends suspense to almost every hole, as hazards are barely visible from the tee. The sum of these parts makes Quogue a nine-hole course worthy of further consideration.

The evening light draped over the 1st green has a particularly calming effect at wide-open Quogue, which remains “one of the finest on Long Island” and “one of picturesque beauty,” as the Suffolk County News described the course when it opened in 1901.

The evening light draped over the 1st green has a particularly calming effect at wide-open Quogue, which remains “one of the finest on Long Island” and “one of picturesque beauty,” as the Suffolk County News described the course when it opened in 1901.

Ian Andrew has led a restoration over the last few years, which has seen the removal of interior trees at QFC that influenced play. This was especially true for those trees that separated the adjacent 1st and 9th holes, where bunkers and mounds now serve the same purpose. Views have opened up, and the course’s trademark flatness is now widely apparent, though detractors could say that some of the course’s modern-era “definition” has been lost.

Among the longest “through” views opened up by recent tree removal at QFC is this one from the 1st green across the 8th and 4th greens and the 5th fairway beyond, as well as the 6th green in the background on the far left. On reaching the 1st green (in the foreground), the golfer encounters a repeating feature of Bendelow’s design: bunker complexes consisting of multiple, small, geometrically shaped hazards in close proximity to the green edges and surrounds.

Among the longest “through” views opened up by recent tree removal at QFC is this one from the 1st green across the 8th and 4th greens and the 5th fairway beyond, as well as the 6th green in the background on the far left. On reaching the 1st green (in the foreground), the golfer encounters a repeating feature of Bendelow’s design: bunker complexes consisting of multiple, small, geometrically shaped hazards in close proximity to the green edges and surrounds.

Although less long, this new “through” view from the 1st fairway out over the 9th fairway, 8th tee, and 7th green highlights the intimacy of Bendelow’s routing. Note the pushed-up back and moat bunkering, also typical of many of the greens at Quogue.

Although less long, this new “through” view from the 1st fairway out over the 9th fairway, 8th tee, and 7th green highlights the intimacy of Bendelow’s routing. Note the pushed-up back and moat bunkering, also typical of many of the greens at Quogue.

A series of aerials—one, thanks to Jim Sullivan, taken by the U.S. Army three months before the 1938 hurricane; another from Google Earth in 2006; and a final one taken by a professional photographer earlier this year—offer a fascinating look at QFC’s progression over time. Apparent in each of the aerials are the abundant open-front greens and the geometric appearance of the heavily bunkered green complexes.

A June 1938 aerial of QFC (Credit: U.S. Army Air Corps). The nine Hepburn holes to the left of Ocean Avenue (at left center/bottom) were those lost/abandoned, like the Ocean Avenue bridge itself, after the September 1938 hurricane. Of the remaining/current Bendelow nine to the right of Ocean Avenue, note that the 4th hole (at right center, the hole perpendicular to all the others on that side) was not the bunkerless Biarritz/Redan par-3 that it is today.

A June 1938 aerial of QFC (Credit: U.S. Army Air Corps). The nine Hepburn holes to the left of Ocean Avenue (at left center/bottom) were those lost/abandoned, like the Ocean Avenue bridge itself, after the September 1938 hurricane. Of the remaining/current Bendelow nine to the right of Ocean Avenue, note that the 4th hole (at right center, the hole perpendicular to all the others on that side) was not the bunkerless Biarritz/Redan par-3 that it is today.

A 2006 aerial of QFC. Where the Hepburn-designed back nine once sat, homes—and the extended Post Lane—now do. Note the visible swale (the dark-green patch in the middle of the green) in the Biarritz/Redan 4th. Apart from the changes to that hole and the 6th (where two bunkers once guarded the end of the fairway), Bendelow’s original design remains remarkably intact more than a century later.

A 2006 aerial of QFC. Where the Hepburn-designed back nine once sat, homes—and the extended Post Lane—now do. Note the visible swale (the dark-green patch in the middle of the green) in the Biarritz/Redan 4th. Apart from the changes to that hole and the 6th (where two bunkers once guarded the end of the fairway), Bendelow’s original design remains remarkably intact more than a century later.

A close-up May 2015 aerial of QFC (Credit: Vincent T. Vuoto/BestAerialPhotos). Note the Church Pews along the left of the 3rd fairway and the extended scar bunker intruding into the fairway from the right. According to Google Earth, the Church Pews were added in the 2007-2008 timeframe. Note also the renewed absence of interior trees, especially between the 1st and 9th holes (top center) and 7th and 8th holes (middle right)—a credit to the recent Ian Andrew-led restoration. In the foreground are the 5th green and 6th tee, the closest the golfer gets to the bay and ocean at QFC.

A close-up May 2015 aerial of QFC (Credit: Vincent T. Vuoto/BestAerialPhotos). Note the Church Pews along the left of the 3rd fairway and the extended scar bunker intruding into the fairway from the right. According to Google Earth, the Church Pews were added in the 2007-2008 timeframe. Note also the renewed absence of interior trees, especially between the 1st and 9th holes (top center) and 7th and 8th holes (middle right)—a credit to the recent Ian Andrew-led restoration. In the foreground are the 5th green and 6th tee, the closest the golfer gets to the bay and ocean at QFC.

After having been moved in 1900 from its old location on Jessup Avenue, the QFC clubhouse has remained at the new Club Lane location ever since. But the club did raze the original structure in 2012, building in the same spot a wholly new structure that opened the following year. While retaining the low-profile nature and basic structure of its predecessor, the current clubhouse has a shingled facade characteristic of many homes in Quogue and throughout the Hamptons.

The original QFC clubhouse, after having been moved to its current location in advance of the 1901 season. At right, a golfer plays off the original and current first tee of Bendelow’s nine-hole course (Credit: Quogue Historical Society).

The original QFC clubhouse, after having been moved to its current location in advance of the 1901 season. At right, a golfer plays off the original and current first tee of Bendelow’s nine-hole course (Credit: Quogue Historical Society).

Immediately before it was demolished in September 2012, the original clubhouse looked very much as it had more than 100 years earlier (Credit: Neil Salvaggio).

Immediately before it was demolished in September 2012, the original clubhouse looked very much as it had more than 100 years earlier (Credit: Neil Salvaggio).

The current QFC clubhouse retains the orientation and basic structure, if not the facade, of the original.

The current QFC clubhouse retains the orientation and basic structure, if not the facade, of the original.

While more subtle than the Himalayas at St. Andrews or the Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes, QFC’s practice putting green, with the club’s flagpole at its center, has 18 holes with correspondingly labeled iron flag sticks.

While more subtle than the Himalayas at St. Andrews or the Punchbowl at Bandon Dunes, QFC’s practice putting green, with the club’s flagpole at its center, has 18 holes with correspondingly labeled iron flag sticks.

A Hole-by-Hole Tour of the Golf Course at Quogue Field Club

Hole 1 (“Fairview”): 528 yards, par 5 / Hole 10 (“Clubhouse”): 492 yards, par 5

Playing straight away from the clubhouse and into a prevailing wind coming from Shinnecock Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, this par-5 is a “par bonus birdie” hole. (By contrast, the adjacent 9th, which runs downwind in the opposite direction, is a birdie hole.)

QFC’s flatness is unmistakable from the first tee, which offers views over almost the entire course and, late in the day, of the rising moon.

QFC’s flatness is unmistakable from the first tee, which offers views over almost the entire course and, late in the day, of the rising moon.

Where trees used to separate the 1st fairway (to the right) and the 9th fairway (to the left), bunkers now sit. Here, a dual-sided bunker encountered after crossing Quaquanantuck Road, which bisects the adjacent fairways and allows passersby to gaze upon the course. The dark stand of trees on the right is out of bounds, which lines the first 350 yards of Quogue’s opener. Although the playing corridors and green open up from the right side, the out of bounds makes it a risky target from the tee.

Where trees used to separate the 1st fairway (to the right) and the 9th fairway (to the left), bunkers now sit. Here, a dual-sided bunker encountered after crossing Quaquanantuck Road, which bisects the adjacent fairways and allows passersby to gaze upon the course. The dark stand of trees on the right is out of bounds, which lines the first 350 yards of Quogue’s opener. Although the playing corridors and green open up from the right side, the out of bounds makes it a risky target from the tee.

When the green first comes into view after a slight left turn in the fairway, the golfer encounters a feature that repeats throughout the course: an open-front green, at grade, with “squared up” elements that allow for low, wind-skirting, run-up shots—a regular necessity on a course as exposed to the wind as Quogue. These inviting features, together with the pushed-up backs, evoke comparisons to the greens built around the same time by Bendelow’s contemporary and fellow Scot Donald Ross.

When the green first comes into view after a slight left turn in the fairway, the golfer encounters a feature that repeats throughout the course: an open-front green, at grade, with “squared up” elements that allow for low, wind-skirting, run-up shots—a regular necessity on a course as exposed to the wind as Quogue. These inviting features, together with the pushed-up backs, evoke comparisons to the greens built around the same time by Bendelow’s contemporary and fellow Scot Donald Ross.

As the golfer walks to the 2nd tee, the view back to the 1st green reveals yet another feature integral to the design at QFC: pushed-up high points at the back of otherwise low-profile greens. Unlike the other holes where this feature repeats, the area behind the pushed-up back of the 1st green is bunkerless, requiring a delicate pitch off of tight grass, or wispy rough, to a green running away. Note the green mailbox; it contains extra scorecards for those who forgot to take one before teeing off.

As the golfer walks to the 2nd tee, the view back to the 1st green reveals yet another feature integral to the design at QFC: pushed-up high points at the back of otherwise low-profile greens. Unlike the other holes where this feature repeats, the area behind the pushed-up back of the 1st green is bunkerless, requiring a delicate pitch off of tight grass, or wispy rough, to a green running away. Note the green mailbox; it contains extra scorecards for those who forgot to take one before teeing off.

Hole 2 (“Punchbowl”): 148 yards, par 3 / Hole 11 (“Hedges”): 161 yards, par 3

Quogue’s first par-3 features what might be the first of its kind in the United States: a punchbowl green. Raynor’s nearby Westhampton Country Club also has a punchbowl green (http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/westhampton-cc-ny-usa/), but Bendelow’s course at QFC opened 13 years earlier.

Quogue’s first par-3 features what might be the first of its kind in the United States: a punchbowl green. Raynor’s nearby Westhampton Country Club also has a punchbowl green (http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/usa/westhampton-cc-ny-usa/), but Bendelow’s course at QFC opened 13 years earlier.

Despite playing in the opposite direction of the 1st—therefore with the prevailing wind—QFC’s first par-3 somehow always plays one or two clubs longer than the yardage. Because the green is a punchbowl, hitting and holding any part of it ensures a makeable birdie putt. Even recovery shots from the surrounding, moat-like bunkers are navigable, as the green’s contours allow the golfer to feed his ball to any pin. These rear-guard bunkers are another common feature at Quogue, acting as a check against overly bold play beyond the pushed-up greens.

Hole 3 (“Seaward”): 270 yards, par 4 / Hole 12 (“Post’s Corner”): 272 yards, par 4

Traditionally the easiest par-4 at QFC, the 3rd has been beefed up in recent years by the addition of “Church Pews” bunkering along the left side of the fairway. In theory, the Church Pews should be largely aesthetic due the shortness of the hole, as even a mid-iron tee shot with no chance of reaching them leaves the golfer with a wedge second. Only the golfer attempting to drive the green (or simply mis-clubbing) should bring the Church Pews into play. The problem with the seemingly innocuous mid-iron tee shot is twofold: (1) out of bounds and a now-lengthened lateral scar bunker guard the right side of the hole and fairway beyond, and (2) golfers wishing to avoid the right side often favor a draw, which adds distance and brings the Church Pews into reach.

From the tee, the bunkers—either the Church Pews on the left or the scar bunker cutting into the right side of the fairway—are barely visible, a function of QFC’s low-profile, flat topography.

From the tee, the bunkers—either the Church Pews on the left or the scar bunker cutting into the right side of the fairway—are barely visible, a function of QFC’s low-profile, flat topography.

Any shot from the Church Pews, which extend more than 50 yards, is of the awkward, long-bunker-shot variety.

Any shot from the Church Pews, which extend more than 50 yards, is of the awkward, long-bunker-shot variety.

The green, surrounded by bunkers on all sides and nestled into the reeds at the edge of Shinnecock Bay, is one of the flattest and largest on the course. Note the rare fronting bunker at the green’s entrance—an anomaly at QFC, but warranted at the 3rd given the shortness of the approach shot and the size of the green.

The green, surrounded by bunkers on all sides and nestled into the reeds at the edge of Shinnecock Bay, is one of the flattest and largest on the course. Note the rare fronting bunker at the green’s entrance—an anomaly at QFC, but warranted at the 3rd given the shortness of the approach shot and the size of the green.

>>>continued>>>