Novice golfers Eddie and Beverly Fried of Old Bethpage are reluctant to play at Bethpage State Park - even though the famously challenging golf course is practically in their backyard.

"We're intimidated by the big golf courses," says Fried, 68. Instead, he and his wife, Beverly, 66, enjoy the relaxing 18-hole, par-3 Cedar Beach Pitch and Putt in Babylon. The course is less stressful than championship 18-hole courses. Yet it offers some of the thrills of an actual golf course, as opposed to a driving range or a miniature golf course, they said.

GOOD FOR BEGINNERS

Pitch and putts offer comparatively short holes sculpted from beautiful seaside scenery. The pressure is also lower - though not completely off - at other par-3 courses. Most rent clubs, balls and carts.

WHERE TO GO

Cedar Beach Pitch and Putt : Ocean Parkway between Cedar and Overlook beaches, Babylon, 631-321-4562, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Fees: $7-$8; Holes: 18

At the edge of the Cedar Beach parking lot, this well-maintained course is a few hundred yards from the surf. With holes no longer than 100 yards, it's a learner's paradise.

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Cedars Golf Club : Cases Lane Ext., Cutchogue, 631-734-6363, 7 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Fees: $10-$12; Holes: 9

Cedar trees, natural ponds and immaculate greens cover this course, carved out of the terrain on the edge of West Creek. Your second round is half price.

E. Donald Conroy Golf Course at Sumpwams Creek : 75 Cedar St., Babylon, 631-669-2340, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Fees: $9-$12 ($8-$10 7 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday); Holes: 9

Its rolling hills have five elevated greens; 90 minutes of par 3s are better practice than a driving range, says Don Podesta, 57, of Bay Shore. The course "gives you a variety of shots."

Heartland Golf Park : 1200 Long Island Ave., Edgewood, 631-667-7400, heartlandgolfpark.com , 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. through September. Fees: $15; Holes: 9

Lit up for late-night golf, Heartland's 9 holes mimic famous courses around the world.

Jones Beach State Park Pitch and Putt : Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, 516-785-1600, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Fees: $7; Holes: 18

Sea breezes cool you as you play this rolling course by the Boardwalk and its many attractions.

Robert Moses State Park Pitch and Putt : Robert Moses Causeway, Fire Island, parking field 2, 631-669-0470, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Fees: $11; Holes: 18

Wedged into the western end of the park near Field 2, the course is somewhat secluded and runs along the Atlantic Beach.

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Sandy Pond : Roanoke Avenue, Riverhead, 631-727-0909 (last tee time 90 minutes before sunset). Fees: $11-$12; Holes: 9

Waiting times are short because Sandy Pond is rarely crowded, says manager Garth McGill. The longest hole is 160 yards.