Sleeping in and swimming in the pool and catching up on a spot of administration were the precursors to the latest round of golf at Deepdale Golf Club, a seriously private track just off the Long Island Expressway about a 10 minutes drive from base camp in Locust Valley, Long Island.
Our round here was arranged through Raymond Floyd Junior, a friend of a friend and so it turns out a friend of a few friends we‚??ve met during our US travels.¬† You may have guessed that Ray‚??s father is none other than Raymond Floyd Senior, aka the legendary golfer who won the US Open down the road at Shinnecock.¬†
Unfortunately Raymond and his buddies were on a golfing weekend up in Canada at a place called Red Tail so we played unaccompanied.¬† But a huge thanks to Raymond for having us (I hear he and a few of the guys at his work including Andy Leveen, are often distracted from the stockmarket by the antics of a couple of kiwi lunatics).
A constant theme we‚??ve come across in these parts revolves around a chap who lives not far away and goes by the name of Julian Robertson.¬† No we don‚??t know him, and no we haven‚??t met him (yet), but yes he has two outstanding golf courses in New Zealand that we are bookending our trip with.¬† Mr Robertson is a member of Deepdale and a few other courses we‚??ve played on Long Island and seems to be as revered around these parts as Charles in England.¬† Or maybe his name is just very closely linked to New Zealand because of all the great publicity he drives, particularly in the US, for Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers.¬† The rumour is that Mr Robertson is one of 18 billionaires who knock it around at this club.. ¬†Deepdale probably best describes itself on its website where it says it is "one of the preeminent private clubs in America continues to this day, welcoming a diverse membership of men and women united by their common love of the game of golf."
The property at Deepdale an old estate and the golf course, originally designed by C B Macdonald and his proteges Seth Raynor and Charles Banks but then redesigned by Mr Wilson after the Long Island Expressway was cut through the course, now weaves its way through the estate passing by a number of old buildings which have no been converted.¬† An old indoor tennis court adjoins the 9th hole and this has now been converted into a caddyshack.¬† An old barn lines the 15th hole and this is now the quarters for the professional and his assistants.¬† Upon arrival we were greeted by Scott and made to feel entirely at home in the grand clubhouse despite playing unaccompanied.¬† I forgot to say g‚??day to Scott from a friend of his from his days on Wall Street and none other than Jeff Leveen ‚?? one of these infamous brothers who seem to pop up everywhere. ¬†¬†We were introduced to our caddy for the day, a kiwi turned English lad by the name of Dylan, and we scooted down to the range to hit a few balls. Hitting balls pre-round is part of the routine in the US ‚?? unlike downunder.¬† We‚??ve both got very used to warming up and it helps being loosened up before the first hole or two ‚?? particularly as our bodies are getting creakier by the day ‚?? feel like 25 going on 55 at times.¬† Today I went for the unusual option of hitting some chip and pitch shots for 15 minutes before we played which definitely helped (to both warm up and score better) although I have to be wary not to do that again as it may be interpreted as ‚??practice‚?? which is not part of the ethos of the journey!!
We started on the 4th hole (pictured below) at Deepdale as there were a few groups around and this place is low key and understated and you do what works. Which I like. Wasn‚??t so sure about the first shot of the day though, a 165 yard into the wind par three to a front pin in a portion of the green only about 8 paces wide.¬† I shut my eyes and knocked it close which set the tone for a good day ahead. JP and I played a best ball and were 5 under par through the first 6 holes as we traded birdies.¬† As we were thinking about best-ball-Paul-Goydos-59 we went off the boil, started missing the putts and ended up at the mark of 5. But lets not get distracted with trivial matters like scoring on what was an absolutely pristine track.
Deepdale‚??s reputation has proceeded it as we‚??ve traveled around Long Island. Firstly the greens here are as pure as they get. ¬†The story goes that the pro‚??s come out here to replicate the putting experience at Augusta National the greens are that pure. Being so quick they also take a heap of break and a few greens with a tilt on them, for example the uphill par four 15th, require a pretty creative 2 putt.¬† The same can be said about the 18th which would just be scary with them rolling at a 14 on the stint meter (which is where they normally are but today we were given some respite and they were quite a bit slower as greenkeepers in these parts are worried about this crazy heat wave and not cutting them too short in fear of losing their greens altogether).
Looking back at Deepdale four days on and sitting in a plane which has been designed for school children - my knees are up by my head and I‚??m only of average height - I can‚??t think of one particular hole that absolutely stands out at Deepdale and would make it into my ‚??best composite 18 in America‚?? (*** see blog post to follow) but I can remember every single hole and every single shot with complete clarity. When you play as much golf as we do, and you start on the 4th hole, knowing the routing and broadly understanding every hole is really the sign of a great course.¬† The 10th hole is a different one as it reads 400 yards on the card but plays sharply downhill at about the 270 mark right towards the green such that a well struck driver and you‚??re not far from the front edge. Good for the ego if you‚??re so inclined to hit driver but we both kept the ball at the top of the hill with irons ‚?? Jamie a little further back on this occasion after hitting a tree‚?¶
The dogleg left, par four 8th to an elevated green surrounded by beautifully sculpted bunkers. Don't leave it short and get stung by the false front!
The tight par four 15th, played uphill and to the left. ¬†The barn on the right is the Professionals abode.
The short par four 16th, with our man Dylan watching on.
We finished playing the last couple of holes alongside a father / son duo who are members here which gave the day a nice personalized touch.¬† Sans golf it was time to shower up (top 5 shower in the US) and a wander through the clubhouse which as the old homestead was really something. And then back to home base to chill out.¬†