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How To Get On Top Private Courses

A world of golf exists in Nassau far removed from Bethpage and Eisenhower Parks, the waterside layouts on the South Shore and the handful of municipal courses scattered around the county. Some of the best golf courses in the country — not just Long Island — are behind the gates of private clubs, especially on the north shore’s “Gold Coast.” Unfortunately for the public golfer, opportunities to experience those courses are extremely limited.

The gates aren’t completely closed, however. One way to tee off on nationally renowned courses like the Piping Rock Club or The Creek in Locust Valley is, quite simply, to pay. Charity events at private clubs are open to all players, provided they have the ability to pay entry fees typically ranging anywhere from $500 to well into the thousands. Outings raise funds for hospitals, schools, community organizations, memorial funds and other groups, so the high costs benefit good causes.

Of course, if those costs are prohibitive, it helps to know a member of an area club or a local pro who could put in a good word. Use your networking skills. Perhaps a business client or your playing partner at Bethpage is a member at a nearby club.

There are creative ways to gain access. If a friend happens to be getting married at a club, get him to negotiate a round of golf into the plans. (Worked for me.)

Bethpage Black is often viewed as an “impossible” course to get on because of its international popularity, but, in truth, it only requires a little more effort and patience out of local players than is necessary elsewhere. Golfers with a New York State driver’s license can take their chances with the telephone reservation system, though tee times disappear quickly. Singles who walk up without a reservation will usually be on the tee with only a minimal wait. Same for twosomes, though the waits will likely be a bit longer.

For full groups looking to tee off early in the morning but lacking a reservation, there’s the famous sleep-in-the-car option, essentially a rite of passage for local and visiting golfers. Head to Bethpage the day before and enjoy the experience and camaraderie.