Saturday, January 28, 2006

Fishers Island Club

I played Fishers Island again recently and have an updated post here titled A Mulligan at Fishers Island.

Most people have never heard of Fishers Island or Fishers Island Club (ranked #29 in the world). It is a seven mile long island, located on the narrowest part of the Long Island Sound between New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is quite small, the entire island being only 3,200 acres and is one of the most affluent places in the world. It is hard for a U.S. locale to have a WASPier origin or a better pedigree. Fishers Island was granted to John Winthrop Jr., an early governor of Connecticut, in 1640. The family owned the island for several generations and finally sold it in 1863. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it evolved into a retreat for families with last names like Dupont, Firestone and Whitney. Fishers Island remains a secluded enclave. I was lucky to get an invitation to play the course this past summer. I had heard great things about the course and about the island in general.

The day held much promise. We slept well the night before in a local hotel and then went down to New London, Connecticut to catch the seven am ferry. Although geographically part of New York's Long Island, you access it via Connecticut. The day was scheduled to be over 100 degrees with high humidity. The morning was quite foggy and misty and you couldn’t see more than ten feet off the pier. As we waited for the ferryboat to arrive, the workers started to arrive. The painters, gardeners and other day laborers who make the daily journey over to Fishers Island to work. The island itself seemingly has no resident workers, only the ultra-wealthy. There is nowhere for workers to live on the island, and even if there was they could not afford to live there.

The boat pulled out with the fog horn constantly going. As we traveled southward down the Thames River, we passed the submarine base (excuse me, General Dynamics facility) on the eastern shore, although the fog was so thick that you couldn’t see much of it. The facility we passed is not trivial. It supports twenty-one attack-class submarines and is one of the largest in the world. As we exited the channel there were several buoys and a lighthouse. All were in full operation this morning, beeping and whirling through the thick fog. As the ferry was exiting the river and about to enter Fishers Island Sound we could see a Los Angeles Class attack submarine floating in the water on the western shore. Getting to Fishers Island has to be the most dramatic and unique approach to any course in the world. At all the others you drive in, and no matter how grand the approach, there is something special about arriving by boat with the smell of the salt air and the rhythmic pounding of the waves. The forty-five minute ride went by quickly with the fog lifting along the way. We soon began to see the outskirts of Fishers Island. Once docked, we let the workers off first then slung our golf clubs over our shoulders and disembarked.

As the ferry was docking a New York State Trooper on shore began looking everyone over. I am sure this is a great assignment for a NY State Trooper based on Long Island. It sure beats patrolling the Long Island Expressway. Dressed formally, he was wearing his full grey dress suit, light brown smokey the bear hat with purple band and his reflective sunglasses. Unlike the L.A.P.D., he is not there “to protect and to serve”. He is there to chase you off public land. If you are not recognized or greeted by a resident you risk being put back on the boat. Although Fishers Island is part of the Continental United States, they have their own unwritten, but enforced rules. No day-trippers here. As passengers disembarked, the trooper stood near the stern of the boat with his arms at the parade rest position, peering at everyone through his sunglasses. There was no Chamber of Commerce welcoming you here.

The member we were playing with picked us up in his rusted 10 year old Range Rover. The beat-up car is consistent with the Fishers Island Weltanschauung. There are no overt displays of wealth on Fishers Island. You would see no Bentleys or Rolls Royces tooling around the Island. If you saw a BMW it was at least 20 years old and slightly beat up. This was money of the understated variety. The anti-hamptons. Residents' cars are your only means of transportation. The island has no taxis. There are only a handful of paved roads on the island. The place is an odd mixture of a small New England village with the distinctly Caribbean island feel.

The closest land mass is actually the State of Rhode Island, less than a mile away. Connecticut is two miles away. This helps explain the New England feel of the place. However, they have taken the New-England-protestant-work-ethic-chic to the extreme.

We wound our way around the main road past the old movie theater and then through what passes for a town on the island. A small general store, a post office and an ice cream shop, then past Barlow pond and Middle Farms pond. As you get toward the eastern end of the island you approach a small guard station. It was a little white sun bleached shed. Sitting outside the guard station was a teenager on a beach chair. He makes sure that your car has the Fishers Island Club sticker on it, although it really seems like overkill. Everyone on the island knows everyone else. But, it is the last fail-safe to make sure no un-invited guests get to the club. Up the long winding road and finally you arrive at the Fishers Island Club. This is not a golf club or a country club; it includes tennis courts, a beach club, thus the more generic name of Fishers Island Club.

The course was designed by Seth Raynor who was a protégée of Charles Blair MacDonald. Raynor was the town surveyor in Southampton when MacDonald was constructing the National Golf Links in Southampton. Actually, Raynor’s official title was “street commissioner.” In his autobiography Macdonald raves about Raynor's abilities to drain water, lay pipe, clear land and seeding; Raynor had no peer, Macdonald felt. Fisher's Island is supposed to be Raynor’s masterpiece. Masterpiece is meant to imply an outstanding piece of artistry. Not here. If Michaelangelo had stopped painting halfway through the sistine chapel and then the Vatican hadn't maintained it, would it still be considered his masterpiece? Same with Fishers Island. Raynor designed but never fished the course and the paint is peeling!

Apparently, Raynor’s idea of designing a golf course was to walk around and put in tees and greens without much else. While this can sometimes be the purest way to do a golf course as evidenced by many designers that did it properly, most famously Old Tom Morris, it does take some imagination and skill, which Raynor clearly did not possess while designing this course. The first hole is ruler straight with little character. The second, an attempt at a Redan hole is weak. Last time I checked, Redan holes don't have water. In the interest of fairness, I didn't dislike the entire course. The next four holes including the “Punchbowl” and “Biarritz” holes are quite good and interesting. Then the course becomes a let down. Seventeen is a poorly conceived and executed hole with flat terrain, minimal bunkering and a benign green.



Exhibit 'A' is seen above, which is an aerial view of the seventeenth hole. The brown is the fairway. This picture was taken from the club history, taken in 1999. I played the course under similarly poor conditions, which I don't get. Yes, I understand that links golf is supposed to play firm and fast, but burning out the whole course doesn't make sense. Courses in the UK don't irrigate because it rains all the time. Maintaining a course in the eastern U.S. like this does not create a world-class golf course.

The fifteenth hole, like the seventeenth and first is essentially a straight hole tee to green with a flat green. I didn't think eighteen a particularly strong finishing hole either at 452 yards for a par five. Someone needs to explain to me again how a golf course ranks so highly in the world with so many average holes. Oh, I see, it's the exclusivity and the water views of Connecticut.

I heard rave reviews about Fishers Island, most people citing the views of the water from every hole. So, a water view is the mark of greatness alone? Not exactly. Even water views from every hole can’t save Fishers Island. Let’s admit it, not all water views are the same. Looking out at New London, Connecticut is not exactly the same as looking out on the Monterey Peninsula or the Irish Sea. Having worked with one of the great course designers of his time, Charles Blair MacDonald, Raynor should have done better. He should have stayed a municipal employee, laying pipe.

Apparently, it wasn’t all his fault. He died half-way through construction and never let anyone know where he wanted his bunkers put in. So, they never put them in. The course was never really finished. Maybe it is because they are trying to show what frugal yankees they are even though the members have a higher net worth per capitia than any course in the top 100. You’d think they could have paid someone to finish the course? It any event, maybe I am being unfair to Raynor who has been dead for many years. It’s not entirely his fault. In fact, I admire his work at Yeamans Hall very much and can see where he can use his skills in a very artful fashion. He just didn't have the inspiration here. Fishers Island reminds me more of his design at Morris County, New Jersey, than it does of other world class courses.

Fishers Island is arguably the most difficult club in the top 100 to get accepted into. We are told that you need twelve letters of recommendation and only then once admitted, you are let in as an associate member. Realistically, you have to own a house on the island to be a member and since there are less than 500 residents on the entire island, it’s not happening.

I have been lambasted for not saying positive things about Fishers Island. Sorry, folks, but I call 'em as I see 'em. It's a bit too exclusive for me. Also, a course that is ranked #29 in the world should be held to a higher standard and should be impressive. I simply think it is over-rated, particularly by people who compare it to Pebble Beach or Cypress Point. Not even close.

Post Script

Despite my misgivings about Fishers Island, the member we played with was a perfect gentleman all day and we are still very thankful we got invited.


Additional Post Script as of March 2006


It's no surprise to us that in this month's Links magazine in an article written by George Peper, the original creator of the top 100 world rankings the following quote is attributed to a representitive of Fishers Island: "We do not wish our course to be ranked, visited or for that matter, known. Please convey that message to your panelists." We rest our case.


www.fishersislandclub.com

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are a little ignorant. there is a year round population that is pretty poor. I think those people who you thought were rich but were trying to play down their money were actually poor. Your guide was probably trying to impress you. Tons of random people go to the island every day, it is public land and the trooper does not stop anyone. There is a lot of cheap housing on the island. There are even housing developments with government subsidized housing. granted the course should not be ranked 29th in the world.

Anonymous said...

Ive player Fisher's island twice & feels it far exceeds Pebble Beach is overall greatness. I think u had too much Long Island Iced Tea when u wrote your review!

Anonymous said...

With all the errors and insinuations, I seriously doubt the author has ever set foot on Fishers Island.

Anonymous said...

Very well written article. . . I, being from Fishers Island enjoy reading what other people think about the culture and course alike. I believe the authors view's on the course are pretty poor. How can one say that it lack character when there's no possible way to keep it from burning out, and with holes such as numbers 4,5, 6, the view from the tee on 7, 9, 14, and 18. It's terrible how the author probably drank a few rum punches and forgot his name by the end of the front. Learn how to drink and play sir. . . then come back.

Anonymous said...

I agree with one of the other posters, I have visited the Island for many years, spending long weekends and week long vacations several times a year. And the population is not all high and mighty. Likewise the trooper does not throw unknowns off the Island. I am not rich (annual income of less then $30,000) and nor are the friends I visit on the Island. They are hard working blu collar individuals, several generations actually...that love the little Island and have stayed to raise their families. I don't know anything abou the golf course. But the Island itself is warm and welcoming.

Anonymous said...

WOW you clearly have no clue. I guess anyone can get a blog these days huh? I agree with the above posted I bet you have never set foot on the course. Id make sure I kept my day job if I were you cuz you sure anrent gonna make it as golf course writer.

Top 100 Golfer said...

The author stands by his comments and has indeed played Fishers Island.

Anonymous said...

I have just read this malicious synopsis on one of the finest golf courses in the world, and I am here to refute most everything that has been foolishly written. First of all - STICK TO THE GOLF COURSE. The true golf enthusiast could care less about your interpretation of the Island; it's people, etc. My only comment on this is that most everything you said about the Island itself and its people is oh so wrong. I have visited Fishers almost annually for thirty-two years. I come from much further away than New York or New England, and have friends and relatives on the Island. Some reside year round, others have second homes. They are kind, and friendly people. Having played many top 100 courses several times,and having played all over the U.K. and myself belonging to a top 100 course, I speak with experience. Fishers is Raynors best work without a doubt. Trust me, Seth Raynor is one of the top ten golf architects that ever lived. It is said that he did all the designing and work at Yale, and C.B. MacDonald just put his name on it. Albeit the first hole is rather lackluster and straightforward like the writer said, there is reason for this. Try reading (in case you did not know - he designed Riviera, L.A.C.C., Bel-Air, Palos Verdes G.C., and many other notable courses) George Thomas' Golf Architecture in America and how he and so many of his Golden Era peers would intentionally create a lackluster, and easy opening hole. That has purpose! Of course, Raynor drew from the classic U.K. links holes and from all his prior work with C.B. MacDonald on laying out his Redan, Eden, Punchbowl, Cape, Road, and Biarritz holes, etc. The fifth is easily one of the best par three holes in the world. The Double Plateau ninth is one of the most scenic holes in the world. The stretch of four holes around East Harbor (12 thru 15) is the Amen Corner of Northeastern golf. The Cape hole 14th being one of the best par fours on the planet. The Short (16th) hole is understood to be one of the architecturally perfect 140 yd. par threes in the world. I will contend that 17 and 18 are not the strongest of finishing holes, but they sure are pretty, and when the match is on the line, they seemingly get a lot tougher. Fishers never used to be this highly regarded or ranked, and its recent accolades are long overdue.

Anonymous said...

I encourage readers who know Fishers Island to update the Wikipedia article about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishers_Island

Anonymous said...

I feel that this author let preconceived ideas of the island interfere with his whole experience there, to the detriment of his course review. He also failed to understand that the people who live, visit, and work on Fishers like it the way it is! It's a gorgeous spot, and speaking as a Club worker, I've found it to be surprisingly, refreshingly unpretentious. I think the reviewer was the ONLY one constantly thinking about money during his stay; no one else concerns themselves with it all that much. It's a shame that such a lovely experience was wasted on the reviewer, and I think it was churlish and tacky of him to make snide comments on an environment into which he was generously invited and of which he knows practically nothing.

Anonymous said...

The author has obvisouly never played the Course at Yale or LACC or The Creek Club. This is a phenomenal course in both layout, implementation and playability.

Anonymous said...

If you want the same recovery shot over and over again, Fisher's Island is the course for you.

Anonymous said...

WOW! WHAT AN IDIOT! I'm sorry, but I just got home from my first time playing fisher island and that is the best comment I can give for this author. This course is the most spectacular course I have ever played. Better than the teeth of the dog, which I feel is better than Pebble Beach. Maybe I'm thinking so much of it because I played most of my golf in the states. Yes winged foot and plainfield and baltasrol are great, but they are similar in a way. This course is completely unique for the states.
First of all, this course, like all the great ones, can be played over and over and you would never get sick of it. Second, there are many different ways to play this course. You have the ability to play a bump and run or shoot straight at the hole. Combine this with a breathtaking view on almost every hole and a wind that must be negotiated with almost every shot, and you have a materpiece!
So... I repeat... IDIOT!

Anonymous said...

I bet half of you who are commenting on the course have never stepped foot on Fishers Island Club...Cmon.

Racerock said...

The Fishers Island Club deserves a top 100 ranking as much for its legendary mystique as for the awestruck beauty of the layout itself. I have played the course twice and walked it many times in the off season. It is a tremendous golf challenge and nearly unplayable should the winds kick up. For those interested in a personal perspective on Fishers Island read on...

Fishers Island is in my soul though I was not born there. There is a distinct culture of this island that I would describe as being of two worlds. There is no doubt the presence of unbelievable wealth evidenced by the magnificent mansions usually hidden from view of the common interloper. There is also the world of the native islanders who were either born on the island or directly descended from a native born. These are ordinary working class people who, together, form the fabric of the island. The islanders are decidedly close knit group and in a strange paradoxical way they are very distant. Everyone does, in fact, know everyone else. At the same time you may feel like you don't know anyone, especially if you find yourself in between the two worlds of Fishers Island. That's where I found myself...not one of the elite and not one from the salt of the island, instead, a resident without a constituency.
I owned a home on the island for nearly 17 years and during that time I'm not sure if I really got to know any other islanders. Fishers Island is indeed a beautiful corner of the world and I will forever remain a 'resident' of that special place.

Racerock said...

One other thought about golf on Fishers Island. The best hole on the island does not belong to the Fisher Island Club. Instead, that honor belongs to the 2nd hole on the lessor known golf course on Fishers Island, the 9 hole Hay Harbor course. The 2nd hole is a 390 yard par 4 that runs uphill with the ocean along the entire right side. A spectacular hole and a magnificent 9 hole course in its own right.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure who gave you the information, but most of it is incorrect. As people have said, there is a year-round population of workers, there are over 500 residents on the island, and you are the first person I have ever heard say that the golf course isn't deserving of its ranking. With 3 holes in the top 1,000, I don't understand how you didn't enjoy it. Tell me, have you ever played holes quite like 3, 4, 5, 9, 11, 14?

Anonymous said...

WOW...how many times has WOW been said? Everyone who has made a comment seems to either be from the island or some how affiliated with the island leading me to believe the author's UNBIASED opinion is probably true.

People need to learn how to respect differing opinions and get on with their lives.

Sounds to me like this Fisher's Island is a rather closed community trying to lock themselves away from the real world. Some secret society may be a brewing I'd watch out.

I say to the people of Fisher's Island, get out of your cocoon and back into reality. It will be healthier for you!

Anonymous said...

Me and my family have spent our summers on the island for generations, and generations to come. My family belongs to the Big Club, and i agree with the ranking of the course, since i play on it every sunday during the summer. "Ive player Fisher's island twice"...the person who wrote this obviosly has not been to the island enough to feel how welcoming the island is to new people. Also everyone who says that the island is not a retreat for the wealthy IS WRONG. Ofcourse its a retreat for the wealthy, the only people who arent wealthy and come from wealthy families are the help.

florence said...

I have played appox 75 of the top 100 no matter which list you use. I belong to 2 top 100's myself, including Canterbury, which has held several majors. My 2 favorites are Cypress Point and Fishers Island, and I am not sure of the order! After what this person wrote, I would NEVER listen to anything his says about any course again. Fishers Island is just a tremendous, indescribeably gorgeous course. Number 4 is my personal favorite hole in the word. Even the holes some people are panning, like 1 and 18 are great links holes. The series of 3 through 7 is so amazingly great that I can't even describe in words how good it is and how much I can't wait to get back there and play it again. Anyone out there who has not played this course: if you ever get invited, drop everything and go!! top100golf@aol.com

Anonymous said...

What a NIMROD!!!! You Obviously dont know a thing about the Island and doubt you have ever been there!!! Case in point, Golf Didgest just ranked it in the top 10, the only course to get it. Half of what you said is not even true with regards to the community itself!! Stay on your course where ever that is!! By the way.... what ya shot? probably didnt brake 100!

Top 100 Golfer said...

I may not have broken 100 but I least I know that a 'brake' is something that stops an automobile and to 'break' 100 you need to know how to spell properly. Also, while not a math genius, I also believe that there are 9 other courses ranked in the top 10 other than the elitist Fishers Island.

Anonymous said...

Almost all of your reviews are pretty interesting to read. I like the average golfer's point of view. However, your review of Fishers Island is the only one that is a complete waste of time. Did you even proof read it? You barely mention anything about the course itself! You only mention two holes by name and only said they were interesting. What you should have done is kept your warped view of the Island to yourself and written a review of the course. What did you like? What did you not like? Take people hole by hole and give a reivew. I don't care that you thought it was over rated, that's your opinion, but it carries no weight if you don't explain why. There have been significant improvements since you played, so if your lucky enough to come back, pay attention to the course. FYI, your review of the Island is terrible, stick to golf course.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with you, fishers island is one of my all time favorites. not only is it a beautiful setting but almost all of the holes are great holes. Really fun to play, i go back every year and will continue to do so. if i had to guess, i would say that someone didnt treat you properly, and you are taking that out in your review. remember, you role is to give an unbiased review, not based on emotion from something someone did or said to you. you are totally off base on this one.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to play there recently, and would like to add my comments. There can't be 29 courses in the world, or 15 in the country any better-it's just not possible. Words can't desribe the majesty of this place. The design is awe inspiring, and the unique and natural setting will literally stop you in your tracks. I will get a good chuckle the next time I watch Pebble Beach on TV.

童貞卒業 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I had to stop reading when you started decribing the course, so I'm not sure if you mentioned your handicap , or when you started playing. I am 47 years old and have been playing for 40 of them, I am also a 3 handicap, and have played many of the great courses in the USA, Cypress, Pebble,Spy, Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Somerset,National, etc etc. I am going to bet you took up the game a little later in life, and you probably try to match your shoes with your shirt. Wake up, Fishers is on a par with Cypress, end of conversation!

MacBoube said...

Mr. Top 100 - I am MacBoube and you have my long winded post re. Fisher's from a couple of years ago. I just returned from there and wanted to give you an update, particularly since FIGC catapulted into the top 10 recently. As I stated two years ago......LONG OVERDUE. It is and has been a top ten course for at least 34 years (I first played it in 1975). The condition of the course at this moment is beyond perfect. It is uncharacteristically extremely green from all the rain experienced in June and July. And speaking of green, the greens are just immaculate.........all 18 of them, rolling at over 11.5 and without a single flaw. In my opinion, superintendent Donnie Beck and his brother have conditioned this course better than anytime in recent and non recent memory. Having the pleasure of playing back to back rounds in sunny and clear conditions is beyond pleasurable - it is orgasmic! With only a one club wind each day, the links still provided a stern test, with these lightning quick greens. Each time I play, I realize how this may be not only the MOST BEAUTIFUL COURSE IN THE WORLD, but also THE VERY BEST ROUTED COURSE IN THE WORLD. I know that is a tall statement - but I believe it as true. The outbound nine is without peer and the second nine is second only to the front nine. Give me a Redan, Eden, Punchbowl, Biarritz, etc. anyday.....but put them on Fisher's and (I know this will piss some readers off)...WOW !!!!

MacBoube said...

Oh, I forgot to comment on the Hay Harbor course on Fisher's Island. I played it too, for about the 100th time over the last 34 years, and it is indeed special. The original course, layed out in
1897 as "golfing grounds" had 5 holes. In 1910, it was changed to nine holes. Apparently Raynor tweaked it when he was employed in 1925 to construct the BIG CLUB. It is a very cool nine holer, a great walk, and a grand links course. By the way, I don't know about all your other commentor's truthfulness about whether they have actually visited the island, but the dude known as "Racerock" (Racerock is actually a piece of rock that is off the island in the L.I. sound) must be real and believe me he is knowledgeable re. his golf. He accurately states that the 2nd hole at Hay Harbor may be without equal. That is easily one of the architecturally special and visually spectacular par four golf holes in the galaxy. Likely the hardest second shot anyone has ever seen.

Next time you or you readers visit F.I., and you want to learn facts about the Island itself, and it's colorful history, visit the Museum
in town and speak to Pierce Rafferty, he knows everything and then some, including the storied history of the BIG CLUB and the Hay Harbor club. He actually penned the FIGC 75th Anniversary book which is something you definetely should read. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

Just played Fishers Island for the 1st time on 2 consecutive days. What a treat! The course was in great shape from tee to green, no burned out fairways. I have played 8 of the top 10 courses and I would put Fishers Island in 1st place in terms of sheer beauty of every hole as well as a challenging but fair course. It is indeed a gem, attested to the jump in rankings from #29 to #9. There are so many unique holes that we were awestruck at Raynor's genius. In terms of the author's concerns about blueblood, WASP enclave, who really cares. I enjoy his blogs, but he needs another trip to Fishers Island for a re-evaluation.

Tom Fitzgerald said...

I was lucky enough to get an off season invite and I loved the golf course. I have not played most of the great clubs the author has played but I have played golf all my life, I have 100 rounds on the black and had the chance to play many great courses in the Met area. I am a 4 handicap and I know a great course in a spectacular location when I see it. I realize it could have been designed better but I greatly appreciate what they did within that landscape. I would not pick it apart, overall it is a good challenge and breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

As someone who grew up spending every summer of my life on Fishers and a member of the Big Club I want everone reading this to know every word from the author is true. The Island is horrible and the golf course terrible. Dont waist any time trying to visit. It is totally not worth it. You will hate it all.

Anonymous said...

Well Mr 100 I have to say you have no clue about Fishers Island.I worked as an Assistant pro to Tom Obrien in the early 90s.Ive played that course a number of times and while the elitest clintelle are a bit much the course itself is one of the most beautiful and challenging layouts ive ever played.As far as how you become a member you are so wrong as to how you become one.It is a legacy club meaning you have to be born into the club there are no 12 letters to get you in.I would appreciate that if you dont have the facts you dont speak .By the way how in the hell did they let you play anyway lol

Top 100 Golfer said...

Thank you to the asst pro for his comment. I have obviously taken a lot of heat on my comments, but I assure you everything I wrote was relayed by a member. Perhaps they try a bit too hard to impress with the history, exclusivity and apocryphal stories. I've often wondered myself how I got on myself as I'm not listed in the social register and my name ends in a vowel :)

Anonymous said...

Learn your golf history buddy. I have played the course once and it is the best course I have ever played.
To bad the round was wasted on someone who can't appreciate greatness when he steps foot on it!!

deep fork said...

童貞卒業を考えているなら、迷わずココ!今まで童貞とヤッた事がない女性というのは意外と多いものです。そんな彼女たちは一度童貞とやってみたいと考えるのは自然な事と言えるでしょう。当サイトにはそんな好奇心旺盛な女性たちが登録されています

Everyone worked up enough!?

deep fork said...

Gee, a course that evokes strong emotions! I look forward to my first invite!

NEILSON said...

im 20 years old and recently stopped working at the club to join the military. the people i worked with are some of the most knowledgeble people ive ever met. i was able to go out after every shift to play for free and it never got old! i always shot a different score ranging from 79 to 116. that course is always a challenge and the groundskeepers work hard to keep it that way. despite the weather being 100 degrees and the course being burned out fishers island is by FAR one of the best courses to walk with amazing veiws from almost every hole!
when i was going to school on the island i commuted every day, and the average number of people living there in the winter was 500, jumping to 5000 in the summer. do some more research befroe posting your next blog. those people live there by choice. despite the cost.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Top 100 Golf, your review of the course is 100 percent dead on. The course is one of the worst and most uninspiring in the country, and the island is really a horrible place to visit. It is about time that someone with your keen insights into the island and the Fishers Island Club debunk the other reviews and ratings of the course by the likes of Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Club Atlas.

Fishers Island is certainly one of those places to avoid at all cost. Tell your readers to stay away and play in the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket where the roads and the golf courses remain uncrowded.

Also, based on the comments by the Club members, it is good that your picture is not posted on your blog. The Trooper would turn you right around at the ferryboat. Better stay on the mainland.

Anonymous said...

poorly maintained dog track

Todd Silvis said...

I had the opportunity to work as an asst golf professional under Tom O'Brien from '93 to 94 and I can assure you Fishers Island is one of the most unpretentious spots ever. The membership was quite appreciative of our efforts to serve them; of course there is no finer man than Tom O'Brien. If you are looking for immaculate turf conditions' forget it. If you play for the love of the game; try to be a member. Nothing compares to standing on #11 teebox with a 30 knot breeze into you and attempting to hit a knockdown 4 iron to a postage stamp green. Granted, the par 5's are short in length, but hit it crooked and you'll be hacking out of the fescue all day. The vista from #7 teebox well... you just have to experience it. The charm and scenery of the "big club" are unmatched anywhere.

john said...

sir,

you must be out of your mind. today i played fishers island for the first time, and am truly speechless. from the people to the golf course everything was PERFECT!! the people of the island are beyond kind and just genuine and the golf course is certainly top 10 in this country. the holes are strong and i am interested to hear what you shot considering how you feel about it. the course was green and burnt in some areas which made for perfect play. the greens were by far the best i have ever played including many top 100 courses. they were green and rocks but accepted good golf shots. the staff is amazing and truly made us feel welcome. this place is a gem and it is a great thing that they are hidden and as private as they are, it is really my new favorite place to play golf or even take in a beautiful summer day.

Anonymous said...

I just played my first round on Fishers Island. I truly believe it to have been the most awesome golf experience that I ever had. What a challenge to your golf skills not to mention the beautiful panoramic
views. The members were very friendly. As far as golf is concerned, my wish is to get invited back again next year. Just
truly a beautiful place.

Anonymous said...

WOW! There it is again, WOW! Speechless to say the least. Hey, I'm open minded and welcome opposing opinions. Blue blooded, W.A.S.P enclave was the best comment I picked out. Seriously,to the author, leave your contentious views to yourself. You used an article on a golf course to stretch your political agenda on an unsepecting community. I grew up on Fishers so obviously expect a little self predjudice when an "UNQUALIFIED" Outsider makes rants an raves that are way out in left field. From start to finish your accounts of what you were seeing were not accurate at all. eg. The ferry doesn't pass the Sub base, that's further up the river. The ferry passes Gen Dyn they build the subs. Someone of your education should know the difference. So on AND on your inaccurrate accounts continued, Like another post read, what about the course itself? You spent the majority of the artical else where. Where did you learn to write. Get you facts before drawing conclusions allways the first rule of play. I've played a couple tournements on both courses while in High School on the Island
(84'). The big club to this day holds high regard to other courses played since then. A thought I am having is perhaps your intent here is to play us all into giving a great review by being the a--hole yourself. What better advertisment then to hear praises from the people themselves.

Top 100 Golfer said...

Thanks for the comment. All comments, positive or negative are welcome. Sorry, I'll have to let the community know I'm coming next time so they are not "unsuspecting". I'm clearly not qualified to off an opinion because I didn't grow up on the Island? You make a fair point on the General Dynamics plant, my point was that it was exciting to see a big submarine up close. My description of Fishers Island is like the coverage provided by Fox News: fair and balanced. Like the curate said of his bad egg: parts of it are excellent.

Anonymous said...

I am playing Augusta this coming fall, and I hope you NEVER get on it.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe you hated this course! I know someone that has played it and said its better then pebble.

Anonymous said...

Your comment WAS like Fox News: incorrect facts, wild insinuations, and no substance.

I have to admit I enjoyed your description of the ferry ride. : )

Anonymous said...

I've gone to Fishers all my life and several things struck me:

1) Everyone does not know everyone.
2) I assure you there are BMWs that were sold in this century, like mine. The island tradition of having a beaten up SUV is fading -- lots of people just drive there year-round cars up for the summer.
3) Poor people live on the island, usually the help. Middle class people often are year-rounders.
4) You don't need to own a house to be in the club. I rent, for example.
5) The stepped up security when you went was probably because Porter Goss, the former head of the CIA, goes here. For a few years (around when you went) they had increased security.
6) Your numbers are wrong. The year-round population is between 200 and 300, and the summer population swells to 2,000.
7) I think that if Michelangelo had only completed half the Sistine Chapel and it was ill-maintained, it would still be considered a masterpiece.
8) I'm flattered that you called Fishers the "anti-Hamptons."

You have a right to criticize the course, but your blog is NOT about criticizing people. I take offense to your recent comment, calling islanders "elitist." I hope the member who graciously invited you didn't read that.

Top 100 Golfer said...

Thank you for the last comment. I accept your criticism. Your comments on the CIA presence are helpful as people have said I made up the state trooper and other security, which I didn't. I'm sure the entire island doesn't have an elitist mentality and perhaps I overstated some things, but my basic point remains the same, I didn't like the feel of the island and I do like the Hamptons! I will be sure to re-evaluate with an open mind on my next visit.

Anonymous said...

I was thrilled to be invited to play Fishers Island and all I can say is that it is tremendous. You can't ignore the setting and the experience of arriving by water (took my boat from long island). It adds a dimension that you seldom find. I'm partial to courses on the water, and Fishers is one of the most spectacular settings around. I think the wow factor ranks right up there with the ocean holes at Cypress Point and Pebble and is arguably greater than National (which is not easy to say). I understand why the membership likes to keep a low profile and rejects publicity...there's not really any upside to them otherwise. The course is a gem and I look forward to my next visit and it's on my list of "one's to join", though not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Just played 36 at Fisher's for my first and hopefully not last time. Was absolutely blown away with the golf course! What a great and fun test especially with some wind thrown in. Love Macdonald/Raynor/Banks courses. Have a major problem with the reviewers remarks about #18. Would it change your opinion if the card read par 4 instead of par 5? Do not judge a golf hole by the number on the card. Years ago there was no par on a scorecard. Next time play it as a 4. That might change your opinion.

Robert Thompson said...

This is a review that is way off the mark -- I found Fishers to be one of the most interesting courses I've ever played, with remarkable holes right through to 14. I felt it closed well with 16-17-18 all strong holes. Not sure I get where you were coming from with this one.

Anonymous said...

Fishers is the most over rated top 100 course going around. I love it's beauty an the fact that we saw the ocean from 14 holes but if it wasn't on an island in NY and was inland in Montana it would be number 500!! I Understand it's alure but I am not sure I will go back. Great members course. That's the category we put it in. Maybe 5 top holes. The rest normal. But I must say the views make it awesome from that point.

Anonymous said...

I have played Fisher's 4 times now and agree this is possibly the most overrated track in the top 100...the ocean views are beautiful, and there are a couple of spectacular holes...but place this course anywhere else and i think its not anywhere near top 100

Anonymous said...

Though the scenery of the course was nice, Fishers Island was one of the worst kept courses i have played. But what made the experience bad was the pretentious, snobby, rude manor of the club and its members. The Club and its members have a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

Not a lot of substance in this review. Maybe you can clarify what you liked and didn't like about the course? Ok, #1 is ruler straight, so you don't like it. Fair enough. #2 you don't like because the Redan has water? It is a natural pond, and it should never come into play. Why does the water bother you so much? #3 you liked, why? Risk/reward? The approach shot is amazing. #4-#6 are extremely tough from the black tees. Great holes. #7 is another risky/reward tee shot. Did you like it? The approach is dead up hill, wind hard from left with only blue sky as the backdrop to the pin. Beautiful hole. #8 as a par 4 (black tees) is a nasty test of golf. #9 has a great approach and better view. #10 may be straight, but it into the wind, up hill to an elevated green. #11. How could you not mention this hole? #12 has one of the best sand traps and best greens. #13 is always into the wind. #14 has the best second shot on the course. #15 is the start of the trip home, and pretty straight forward par 5. #16 is a great little par 3 with a brutal green. #17 may not be the best hole on the course, but the #18th as a par 4 is the best closing hole I have ever played. So tough. Try to review the golf course. You use the bad egg analogy (parts are great), why don't you explain what parts are great and which parts are bad in your amateur opinion?

Anonymous said...

Just played the other day. The place blows Pebble out of the water and aside from the front nine at Royal County Down this is one of the finest places i've ever been and most beautiful ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I like how the people that agree with your assessment have perspective and have played it multiple times but the naysayers are the people that "just so happened to play there YESTERDAY". Doubtful.

Devo said...

Good thing I still went to Fishers after reading your review. It was the best golf trip I have ever been on, and in fact might be my favorite course played aside from probably Shinnecock. The course was in spectacular condition and every hole was different and a challenge in its own way. Raynor did an outstanding job with building around the natural terrain and rolling hills. We also played Hay Harbor twice on our trip and that course could very well be the best 9 hole golf course in the country. Fisher's Island is an amazing place that everyone should try and get to. Drop everything and go see it if you are invited, you won't regret it.

This guy has zero validity on his reviews in my eyes. He said he likes Seminole because it was browned out and a nice change of pace from lush green fairways, he ripped Fishers apart for being brown. Not very consistent. Don't listen to this guys, Fisher's will be one of the best places you have ever played!

Anonymous said...

With so many factual errors it is hard to take you seriously as a golf writer. Beyond your delusional description of the Island itself, almost nothing you say about the golf course is true. Since when is having water on a redan hole such a horrible thing? The course hasn't been burnt out like that photo in years and I doubt that was the condition you played it in. Also, the aforementioned George Peper spoke at an event at Fishers Island this month and said that his three favorite courses in the world are St. Andrews, Cypress, and Fishers Island.

Anonymous said...

The reviewer clearly missed the point in this review. Aren't you supposed to review the course? Instead of writing about the course, you wrote a misinformed review of Fishers Island. It comes across as petty jealousy about a community of wealthy folks. Golfers don't care if you felt excluded -- or special if your guide was nice to you. Your review is a waste of time.

Just so you know, two-thirds of Fishers Island is not public land. It's owned by the Fishers Island Development Corporation. They maintain the road and have employees who staff the guard house. The state trooper has nothing to do with that enforcement. It seems like you just made things up based on what you saw. You clearly didn't even read the wikipedia page about Fishers.

Please keep your reviews limited to the course next time. It's irrelevant if it's hard to get to, the people are nice or rude, or if you get to take a boat to get there.

Anonymous said...

Your review has completely played into the hands of the members. They want to keep people from discovering the island. It has pristine empty beaches.

If your mission was to help the club keep it's low-profile and exclusivity -- well done!

The reason people who play a lot or are members (like my parents) say it's a bad course is b/c they want to keep it to themselves.

You thought you would hurt these people, who you clearly resent, by writing a bad review but you've done them a huge favor.

Top 100 Golfer said...

To the writer of the prior comment (2 comments before) my advice is to lighten up. The purpose of golf, and this blog, is to have fun. It is my blog and I'll write what I like. If you want to read purely about the architectural merits of the course I suggest you read Ran Morrissett's reviews on golfclubatlas.com, there are none finer. If you want to write about the relative merits of holes only, go ahead and start your own blog. As my blog has stated since the day I began writing this is about THE JOURNEY. What is it like to play these top courses? What is the ethos of exclusive private clubs? How remote are they, how did you get there? The blog respresents my personal like and dislikes and quirks and biases. And me not always understood sense of idiotic humor. Plus, my loyal readers demand to know where they can get the best lobster roll among top 100 courses (which would be Maidstone sitting by the beach).

mimi said...

I am sure you felt you were writing a very literary piece, but you totally overdid your opinions. Fishers Island is a lovely place with a beautiful Links course..and absolutely wonderful welcoming people. When it rains , the course is watered, when it is dry, the course is dry. This is an island with no extra water unless God sends it.....

Anonymous said...

The author has no credibility - statement about passing the submarine base is false - the base is at least a mile upriver; the ferry does not pass it.. The ferry passes general dynamics.

Anonymous said...

The author has officially lost his mind. In the past year I have played some of the great courses such as Eastlake,The Old Course, Muirfield,Carnoustie, and Glen Eagles. I played Fisher's last week and I was blown away. It may have been the best course I have ever played. Conditions were great and the hospitality of the staff was top notch.

Anonymous said...

can you rent a house and play golf somehow some way on the island? i live in CT and would love to rent something for a month and be able to play golf there too on either course!! any help in this regard would be welcome.. i have two great boys 11 and 13 and we love to golf and fish so its paradise for us!!thank you

Anonymous said...

People who can't break 100 shouldn't be allowed to critique golf courses. You're like a color blind art critic. While you may have a basic understanding of golf course architecture from what you read in books, you'll never experience a golf course the way we players do. It will forever elude you. How can one appreciate the strategic nuances of a golf course when ones only strategy is "don't shank this one"? This blog sucks.

Top 100 Golfer said...

I break 100 every time I play, thank you. For the record some of the greatest architects who have designed courses are mid to high handicappers. You, my friend, are an elitist snob!

peach said...

I've lived in CT for many years and, am embarassed to say, I had never heard of Fisher's island Golf course until this year. I am not a golfer, but still amazed I was ignorant of the course's existence. It seems to be a cherished secret. As I inquire among my golfer friends playing on the course seems to be a "bucket list" item. Is Fisher's ever open to the public. Is it only through a club member that one gets to play?

Anonymous said...

I am a golf professional from CT who visits the "Big Club" as they call it on the island each year to play in an outing. I must say that after reading your review of the golf course dozens of times, I have come to this conclusion...This is the worst review of any golf course I have ever read. One trip to the island, and you are smearing the people who live there, the amazing designer, and the beautifully understated course.....You obviously have no clue...I rank it ahaead of Pebble & Winged Foot

Anonymous said...

As a PGA Professional (located in MD at the time) I've been extremely fortunate to play Fischer's Island Club via a connection with the Head Pro I was working for at the time. We were treated very very well at the Club and I was awestruck by nearly every hole - both in the design and the obvious beauty of the property. Each hole demands something of the golfer ESPECIALLY on your approaches to the green complexes!!

We played after heavy rain storms the day/evening before and were limited to cart path only which enhanced our experience by walking about the course a bit more. It was windy (20-20 mph) following the rains the previous day and trust me the course played very challenging - I expect the wind is not uncommon on the Island. I'm equally sure Raynor designed it to "accommodate" these conditions. The variety in design is like no other - far more interesting the Pebble Beach, perhaps comparable to Cypress Point .

I felt I might be on an entirely different golf course on nearly every hole. And the scenery - though not "part of the course" surely enhances the experience for anyone who gets to enjoy this course.

We were welcomed to play a second round which was somewhat exhausting due to the wind and demands of the course design, but most definitely worth it.

I've been fortunate to have played Pebble Beach (for $88 on a windless day in 1983) and though it's difficult to compare the two courses (and I would not) I believe Pebble is slightly easier. The dramatic scenery is different between the two but equally enjoyable. In summary, the initial poster is way off base in the negative comments regarding Fischer's Island Club course. It seems he has little if any sophistication regarding golf course design, architecture or intellect.

Anonymous said...

you dont know what your talking about the course was amazing its not all about condition. the maidstone club is similar in condition and is also always ranked in the top 100 so somebody see s the beauty

Anonymous said...

Clearly opinions are high on this one. I have played pretty much all of the top ten PVGC, Augusta, Cypress, Merion, Pebble and I think Fishers Island is right where it should be ranked. Definatley not a top 10 but fantastic on so many fronts and just a great golf experience. Similiar to other reposnders comments I do think with better routing the course would have a shot at the top fifteen.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I live on this island. There are over 2500 people, but under 250 residents. In the summers, welthier people come to the island to visit and as a get away from there real home. In the summer, The fairway is not like this, since the "summer people" get jobs there and fix it. The course makes its money because the price to be a member is $50,000 dollars. Also the wealthy people donate and help pay. Also, anyone can come to the island. The cost of the fairy is $40 dollars round trip. By the way, there is another golf course on the island. It is the "Hay Harbor Course", another club on island. You can pay less to be a member, and even less than that to be a member of an "after 5 club" where you can only play after five o'clock.