[This flyover was updated on May 13, 2017.]
Bay Park is one of the four County-operated nine-hole courses in Nassau, a wide-open par-30 that's perfect for beginners and those looking to iron out some wrinkles in their swings. Though these four County courses -- Bay Park, North Woodmere, Cantiague and Christopher Morley -- aren't exactly known for their variety, Bay Park actually offers a small taste of links golf (albeit without the deep rough and sand) on the water in East Rockaway. There are very few trees, and the wind off the bay and ocean is a constant and often disruptive factor. Think of Bay Park at its windiest as the British Open's really short par-3 tournament, only with more geese and less Colin Montgomerie.
There are three par-4s, two of which are more than 300 yards. But the shortest of the three is actually the toughest. The 299-yard opening hole falls off left of the fairway into a tangled slope of weeds and rough, and the green sits perched on a tall mound that drops off severely to the sides and behind the flag. Miss long and you'll need to demonstrate some prowess with your sand or lob wedge to redeem yourself -- all while the group (or groups) ahead of you watches from the second tee.
The other par-4s -- #5 and #9 -- are rather benign carbon copies of one another. Both turn slightly to the right, though the ninth is better protected by sand traps. The par-3s are all similar in layout with few danger zones. All of them offer wide-open entrances to the green, so there's no risk in missing short of the surface. With only a few trees scattered away from the fairways, there is plenty of room for recovery shots. The 142-yard second hole often plays directly into a fierce wind that can toy with your ball as it attempts to reach the slightly elevated green.
Just under 2,000 yards, Bay Park is flat and easy to walk. The breeze off the bay is notable at its softest, potentially overwhelming at its strongest. Bay Park is a very practical layout -- it gets the job done without any frills. Fairways are in good condition despite the park's susceptibility to flooding. Greens roll on the slow side but are fair and generally easy to read. Not all of them are flat -- the green on #1 is pitched back to front, and the surface on the 190-yard fourth tilts rather significantly from back left to front right. At last check, a bunker on #7 was in the process of being filled in with sod.
Since Bay Park began using motor carts a few years ago, flood-prone areas in the rough and behind teeboxes have been carved up by tire tracks. Fairways have been spared of similar damage for the most part, thankfully.
During peak times, pace of play turns to a slow crawl, especially on the par-3s. It's wise to allot yourself some extra time to finish your nine holes here if you plan on playing at a busy hour.
HOLE(S) TO REMEMBER:
The first hole is the only one on the course where you can get yourself into trouble. You can avoid it if you keep your misses to the right off the tee and stay short on your approach.
AREA(S) TO AVOID:
Again, don't miss long on #1. And if you pull your iron badly to the left on #2, you bring the course's outer fence into play and may wind up on someone's fishing charter.
- There is no driving range.
- County residents need to remember to bring their Leisure Passes. Since the Nassau parks upgraded their equipment a few years back and now scan passes into their computer system, the courses are much less lenient when it comes to forgotten and even expired passes.
- You can unwind after a round by grabbing a beach chair out of your trunk and setting up shop along the waterfront -- either in the picnic area or next to the parking lot.
WHERE TO GRAB A BITE AND A BEER:
Long Islanders love their Italian pizzeria-restaurant hybrids, and one of the better ones in the area is Villa Maria on Atlantic Avenue, just a few minutes from the Bay Park entrance. A large waterfront deck for food and drinks is the main attraction at Reel, formerly The Fishery. Play late enough and you could catch live music there, too. If all you need is popcorn to hold you over after you play nine, check out Barrier Brewing Company, and don't be dissuaded by the hidden industrial location. An interesting selection of house brews awaits.
First Avenue, East Rockaway 11518
(516) 571-7245 / 7244 (wait time)
[This flyover was updated on May 13, 2017.]
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