Here on the East End, it may seem that golf is solely a sport for the elite. And to a degree, that’s true as some of the most lauded and pristine golf courses in the world are located on the South Fork and Shelter Island, many costing a whopping six figures just to become a member. For those not a part of the 1% who are still looking to tee off at some point this year, fear not! There are quite a few easily accessible, reasonably priced public golf courses scattered around the East End that are perfectly prepped for trying out that new set of clubs you got for Christmas or squeezing in a quick nine holes before you hit the beach. Most offer special rates for residents, so locals can catch a bit of a break, and twilight rates (golf outings booked toward the end of the day) are typically available.
Indian Island Country Club, 661 Riverside Drive, Riverhead, 631-727-7776
Located between the Flanders/Riverside hamlets and the town of Riverhead is the Indian Island Country Club, perfect for those golfers located west of the Shinnecock Canal. County-owned and operated, the 18-hole, par 72 course opened in 1972, complete with views of Peconic River Inlet. Weekday rates for Riverhead residents are $34, $36 on weekends while nonresidents pay $36 and $51, respectively. Open every day until dusk, the grounds also include putting greens and a 25-stall driving range. Tee times for groups of up to four may be booked up anywhere from an hour to a week in advance.
Montauk Downs State Park Golf Course, 50 South Fairview Ave., Montauk, 631-668-5000
Open year-round, the historic Montauk Downs ranks among the most celebrated in New York, according to state parks superintendent Tom Dess. The 40-acre spread holds an 18-hole championship course, a driving range and a slew of putting greens. Operating since 1926 and state-run since the late 1970s, the Downs’ windy conditions and moderately difficult holes present just the right amount of challenge for even the most seasoned of putters. This year, newly appointed lead golf professional Angela Tocco made history as the course’s first woman in the position, managing the pro shop and coordinating instruction. To play a round, it’s $43 per person during the week and $48 on weekends and holidays. Reservations can be made up to a week in advance. Visit parks.ny.gov/golf to schedule a tee time.
Poxabogue Golf Course, 3556 Montauk Highway, Sagaponack, 631-537-0025
Moving west, the nine holes tucked in at Poxabogue Gold Course in Sagaponack bridges the gap for all your golfing needs between Montauk and Southampton. Sitting right on the border where Southampton and East Hampton towns meet, the facility’s expansive driving range runs parallel to Montauk Highway, while the course lends itself to perfecting any player’s short game. Residents of Southampton can play nine holes for $18 or 18 holes for $30. For nonresidents, it’s $30 for nine and $40 for 18 holes. Individual clubs are available for rent ($5 a club) while full bags are available for $30 up until 4 p.m. Be sure to check out Fairway Restaurant, located on the Poxabogue grounds, for one of the best day-long breakfasts around.
Sag Harbor Golf Course, Barcelona Neck Road, Sag Harbor 631-725-2503
Just off Route 114, nestled into Northwest Harbor, is Sag Harbor Golf Course. Situated on a peninsula within the Barcelona Preserve, and completely surrounded by trees and dune grass, the nearly 50-acre course holds nine holes and welcomes an almost exclusively walk-up clientele, although reservations are available a day ahead of time. Open every day of the year except Christmas, it’s $25 to play during the week and $35 on the weekends. Club rentals are available for $20 a bag.
Shelter Island Country Club, 26 Sunnyside Ave., Shelter Island 631-749-5404
For well over a century, the Shelter Island Country Club has been welcoming all golfers with open arms to its playable, and uniquely pretty, terrain. Known locally as “Goat Hill,” the nine-hole public golf course covers about 2,500 yards of hilly landscape (it doubles for excellent sleigh-riding in the winter), keeping even the gutsiest gamers on their toes. Atop one of the highest points on the island, the course offers views of Peconic Bay and Dering Harbor and seven of the nine holes are blind, making for an interesting match each and every time. $25 per person to play both nine and 18 holes every day and be sure to check out the on-premises restaurant, The Flying Goat, for lunch with one of the best views in town and a chilly G&T or glass of rosé when they’re open in the warmer weather.
Southampton Golf Range, 668 County Road 39, Southampton 631-283-2158
There’s sure-fire fun for the whole family at the Southampton Golf Range. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. all summer long, the possibilities are endless for experts and novices alike. Rent a set of clubs for $5 per person and get about 100 balls to hit for less than 20 bucks. With 30 spots in total at the driving range, 14 of them are covered with ample seating and fire pits. Mini golf is available, perfect for the kids or for those that aren’t taking their swing too seriously. Equipped with plenty of practice bunkers and putting greens, this is the ideal spot for fine-tuning your game at your pace. Get tips from a pro as PGA golf lessons are available year-round via their indoor golf simulator.