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Top Long Island golf courses for newbies — or pros

Pratice your golf swing at the driving range

Pratice your golf swing at the driving range at Cantiague Park in Hicksville. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

It's been a banner year for golf on Long Island, where players hit courses in record numbers all through the pandemic. Even though the fairways might not fully green up for a few more weeks, it’s never too early to plan a day or two on the links or at the driving range. Here are a few of the area’s top golf experiences, from a world-renowned course to an over-the-top driving range set to open soon:

FOR A GOOD VIEW

Generations of Long Islanders have flocked to Robert Moses State Park for a summer outing, and its 18-hole pitch-and-putt course has proved to be a favorite for people that aren’t fans of the sand and the sea. It’s hard to beat the scenic views of the Atlantic and the laid-back vibe of beachside golf. Nothing says "Long Island" quite like a casual 18 holes at the ocean’s edge.

TEE OFF — AT NIGHT

Heartland Golf Park in Edgewood is known for its 92-stall driving range and family-friendly mini-golf course, but the par-3 course offers an incredible experience after dark. Designed to replicate some of the most famous holes on the PGA tour — including an "island green" modeled after the daunting 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Verde Beach, Florida — Heartland offers players a chance to enjoy nine unique holes under the lights. These nighttime rounds are some of the best deals on the Island, too, at just $20 per person.

BUCKET LIST DAY ON THE LINKS

Of course, there’s one course on Long Island that rises above the rest. Bethpage State Park’s world-famous Black Course has played host to two U.S. Opens and the 2019 PGA Championship. The ominous sign at the first tee warns: "The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only for Highly Skilled Golfers."

Getting a tee time remains just as challenging as the course itself. If you’re flying solo (and perhaps willing to wait), you can simply walk up to the register and they’ll get you in the next available slot. Foursomes don’t quite have that luxury, but New York State residents can create an online account and book up to seven days in advance. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can camp out in your car overnight, where numbered parking stalls can assure you a tee time for the next day.

GOOD FOR BEGINNERS

For those just beginning to work on their game, there are plenty of courses that are much less daunting than Bethpage Black. From the Rockaways (the scenic Bay Park) to Riverhead (Sandy Pond’s par-3), there is no shortage of nine-hole experiences for newbies just looking for a taste. If you’re looking for a full round, Brentwood Country Club is flat with plenty of open space and uneventful greens. This course is pleasant for everyone — even the evergreens dotted along most holes are back far enough to give novices enough room to breathe.

GOOD DEALS

Most venues on Long Island charge similar prices, so 18 holes will likely cost anywhere from $35 to $60. Twilight rounds, which start in the midafternoon, are offered at lower prices, and weekdays are less expensive, too. Try heading to the Town of Oyster Bay's Honorable Joe Colby Golf Course in Woodbury. Nonresidents can play a weekday twilight round (starting at 4 p.m.) for just $25.

HIT THE DRIVING RANGE

Heading to a local driving range is a staple of Long Island living, so naturally there’s plenty of buzz about the impending debut of the area's first Topgolf facility. The chain, with more than 50 locations worldwide, combines a sports bar atmosphere with a driving range setting, allowing guests to play while eating, drinking and watching live sports. The Holtsville site plans on opening by the end of the year, so until then, check out Cantiague Park in Hicksville, which has heated and covered stalls that allow players to work on their game year-round.

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