July 05, 2006


Not far from the junction of the Twin Forks is the Great Rock Golf Club, one of Suffolk County's newest semi-private courses. It's scenically situated in the wooded hills of Wading River, a short distance from Long Island Sound and it's as visually beautiful as it is challenging.

During the summer of 2002, work was finished on the 13,000 square foot clubhouse that hints of an elegant era when dark woods like mahogany were the chosen style. The grandeur of three large fireplaces, a club room and incredible men's and women's locker rooms were designed to be reminiscent of private, affluent Gold Coast clubs that will surely catch your eye.

Even the pro shop is ingrained in deep, dark rainforest-inspired woods and the clubhouse is the habitat of Blackwells Restaurant. While it advertises itself as casual, it's really an upscale adventure in dining that includes an outdoor dining terrace overlooking the golf course.

Without sounding like a devotee of Great Rock, I again have to reiterate that the course is simply beautiful. The 1st hole should be played to the left of center, unless you are skilled enough to lift it over the right sand trap, great risk, but greater rewards for those who choose the latter.

The 2nd hole has a fairway that slopes a bit from right to left and the green, once you reach it, is quite large. When contemplating the third hole, go for a long iron as it will probably be enough to manage the dogleg to the left. Be aware that the fourth hole has a very deep bunker on the right of the green; hit it there and you'll seed a Phil Mickelson-like sand save for par.

The 5th hole is the first of three medium-length par 3's and be advised to pay careful attention to the right edge of the green. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the challenge of the shortest par 4 at the 6th hole while the 7th is heavily lined with big trees. It's a par 5, but a super tee shot could get you in great position for a possible eagle as long as the approach gets you on the dance floor.

The 8th hole has an elevated green that slopes rather deeply from the back to the front and the view at the 9th hole is quite breathtaking from the tee; this particular par 3 almost always is governed by the wind direction. Even though I am aware that I should keep my ball below the tree line, the wind generally takes it up, up and away.

The back nine presents a par-4 10th hole that has become the course's signature hole and is one of the most difficult on the course. Par is really a challenge at this location and it has to be played to really be appreciated .The 11th hole is an extreme dogleg to the right and is another one that puts pressure on even the most experienced of players. At number 12, don't be deceived by what first appears to be an easy tee shot to a wide fairway as the wind will grab your ball again if you don't put its presence into your success equation.

The 13th hole is a dogleg to the left, while the downhill 14th puts you against the wind again. I'm usually in good shape on the 15th, especially since I'm aware that I don't need to overshoot my tee shot. Location is much more important than distance on this hole. On the 16th, the yardage is short, it runs downhill and a sharp dogleg to the left comes into play. When playing the 17th hole, remember to stay away from the fairway bunker on your drive. As finishing holes go, the 18th is a memorable one. What you simply want to do is avoid the lake at all costs.

Since its completion, numerous PGA touring golfers have played this course and proclaimed its excellence. Try it yourself and you'll discover this gem of a course is worth every penny. For more information, call the course at 929-1200 or reach them online at http://www.greatrockgolfclub.com/.

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