Merrick Road Park Golf Club – Long Island Golf, Long On Enjoyment.

Just 17 miles from bustling JFK International Airport and some 14 miles from famed Bethpage Park Black there’s a delightful nine-hole course away from all the fuss and bother.

I discovered Merrick Road Park golf course during the week in reporting on the 2017 Northern Trust and also just 13 miles from the then host PGA Tour venue at Glen Oaks.

It was the first time Northern Trust sponsored this Play-Off Series event and what a memorable head-to-head final round struggle between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.  Spieth went into the last day three clear of ‘DJ’ and then at one stage was five clear after just five holes but when Johnson holed back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 the duelling duo were tied.

Dustin Johnson denies Jordan Spieth with victory in the 2017 Northern Trust (Photo @pgatour)

They got to the last with Johnson then holing a remarkable 20-foot birdie putt to force the play-off and then at the first extra hole, ‘DJ’ again took on the water over the dog-leg right 18th hole hitting a massive 341-yard drive and shutting-out the reigning Open champion Spieth with a second straight birdie on 18.

There was no such heroics or drama in teeing-up at Merrick Road Park Golf Club.

Francis Duane

The course is run by the City of Hempstead and designed in 1967 by Francis Duane.  Duane grew-up in the Bronx and after attaining a degree in landscape architecture he went to work at the New Hampshire Department of Forestry and Recreation. Just a year later, he joined Robert Trent Jones and became his chief assistant, working with the leading architect in golf for almost 20 years.

Duane decided to launch a solo practice in 1963, but two years later would be stricken with health issues, including being bitten by an insect in 965 and was stricken with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a debilitating disease that soon confined him to a wheelchair.

Duane continued his solo practice, but would eventually decide to join Arnold Palmer’s design business for three years in the early 1970s. Due to debilitating disease, he could no longer travel to sites anymore, so was left doing small jobs at his home in Port Washington, New York.

He was elected into American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) as a member in 1964 and as ASGCA President in 1972. He was elected as a Fellow of the organization in 1991, and served as a member of the Society for 30 years until his death in 1994.

Some of his more notable courses include Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri and scene of Brooks Koepka’s third Major success in winning the 2018 PGA Championship from a fast-finishing Tiger Woods;  Big Sky Resort Golf Course, Big Sky, Montana; Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Half Moon Bay, California;  Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina;  Kapalua Resort, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii and Tamcrest Country Club, Alpine, New Jersey.


Merrick Park Road GC with Merrick Cove bordering the 1st and second holes and Merrick Cove to the right on this Google Maps photo

I took a liking to Merrick Road Park straight away and even before tee-off given its location laid-out alongside Merrick Cove that is lined all on the northern edge of the waterway with colourful houses and boats, and with the course also overlooking Merrick Bay.

As mentioned in my opening sentence, it is a 9-hole course boasting two par-5s, the opening hole at 480-yards which s the club’s No. 1 index hole, and then the longest being the sixth at 497-yards.  There is pair of par-3s, the second at 147-yards and the eighth at 159-yards, while there is five par-4s with the longest being the fourth at 405-yards and the shortest being the seventh measuring just 330-yards.

Overall, the course measures 3,440-yards off the blue tees, 3,115-yards off the while and 2,845-yards off the red or ladies tees and, all up, there is 27 bunkers with the sixth boasting five.

The view off the opening hole at Merrick Road Park GC – The par-5 first hole laid-out along Mud Creek. (Photo @tourmiss)

For a first-timer, the first hole can be distracting given the vista as you find your way around water’s edge to the putting surface.   There is this row of charming-looking houses laid out on the side away from the water along the aptly named ‘Clubhouse Road’ and at the back lined along the waterway and with the shoreline banked-up with wooden sleepers to protect from any erosion.  Every second house seemed to own a boat of sorts.

Aside from the presence of water all the way down the left, the only other ‘trouble’ being a bunker left at the dog-left adn then a bunker each left and right at the green.

The second was just as stunning with the hole, and like the first, heading out from the clubhouse and the sparkling waters of Merrick Cove in the distance.  The line of colourful houses continued and each very different to their neighbour.  You stand on the tee at the second and your eyes wander off down waterway and with one, and very distant, lone tree capturing your focus and attention on the shot ahead.

You could be standing on the tee at Pebble Beach or for that matter any of the ‘ocean courses’ in either North or South Carolina.  It was irresistable and after putting-out on a raised green you just wanted to grab your mobile phone and take a picture or a video.

View from the second green at Merrick Road Park GC (Photo @TourMiss)

The third hole, and at 351-yards, dog-legs left and with a well-positioned tree right on the dog-leg to catch anything errant and with a hungry-looking bunker front right and one to catch you mid-green left.  The hole runs parallel with Merrick Bay and as you approach the green there is the sight of

Merrick Road Park GC and the view from behind the 3rd green looknig back down the fairway. (Photo @tourmiss)

Merrick Road Park GC and the bunker guarding the approach to the green. (Photo @tourmiss)

The fourth hole, and the longest of the par-4s, takes you back in the direction of the second tee running, as it does parallel with the third hole to your right.   Be cautious of two bunkers, one on top of the other, down the left side.  As you approach the spacious green there is the sight in the background of the colourful row of houses that we saw walking down the first and second holes.

Merrick Park Road GC – The 4th hole green (Photo @tourmiss).

The par-4 fifth hole is slightly right off the tee and where you pull out the driver but with a bunker cut into the right side of the fairway to help keep you honest but at 354-yards another good chance for par, hopefully at worst but then it’s rated No. 2 on the scorecard.

It is big-hitters time at the par-5 sixth hole and also as mentioned earlier, at 487-yards it is the longest on the course with the hole a dog-leg left, and a bunker left right on the bend in the hole. This is where those long off the tee can take on the bunker and the task will shorely be made easier with any sea breeze to your back.  The green is guarded by four bunkers three front and one middle back, and enjoying two more bunkers than any other hole.

The view from the back of the sixth green, and you can make out the bunker in front of the green, at the Merrick Park Road GC. (Photo @tourmiss)

Arriving at the seventh, you’re see that it is much like the fifth dog-legging right and also with a bunker slap bang at the dog-leg and then no real trouble hitting to the green with the bunkers both left and right set back from the green to penalise any loose shots.

The eighth, and the last of the par-3s, is pretty straight forward at 159-yards and with a bunker left front of the putting surface your only real danger – another par ‘at worst’ hole.

The closing hole, the 403-yard par-4 ninth is also pretty much what you see is what you get, so just open-up the shoulders and give it a rip.  There is a bunker down the right side at driving distance and another bunker front left while another back right.


The ninth hole at Merrick Park Road GC (Photo @tourmiss)

After what was a very leisurely nine holes, I walked off not breaking the course record though in picking my ball out of the cup, I gazed back down the fairway and across the water down the left at the first and thought to myself  ‘what a great nine-holes’.

I don’t know why it’s taken three years to write this review but I’m thinking now that there will be other PGA events on Long Island while the 2024 Ryder Cup is set to head to Bethpage Park (Black) and maybe a great chance to get back Merrick Road Park.

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