National Golf Links of America
National Golf Links of America is a prestigious links-style golf course in Southampton, New York, located on Long Island between Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and Peconic Bay. Though the course is noted for hosting the initial Walker Cup in 1922, which the United States won 8 and 4, it has never hosted a major men’s championship. The Walker Cup was again held at National in 2013.
The National was founded in 1908 under the leadership of Charles B. Macdonald. The golf course was constructed with the assistance of Southampton engineer, Seth Raynor. After studying many of the courses in Scotland and England, Mr. Macdonald set out to build a first class course in the United States which would incorporate many of the better qualities of golf courses in the British Isles. Among the famous holes represented at the National are the Road Hole and Eden from St. Andrews, Alps from Prestwick, Redan from North Berwick and Sahara from Sandwich. The National has inspired a number of golf architects who have made frequent visits to study some of its challenging and enduring features.
Once he found what is today’s property, it didn’t take him long to spot a fine location for a Sahara hole from Royal St. George’s and an Alps hole from Prestwick, and a Redan hole from North Berwick. Not surprisingly, given his extended time in St. Andrews, The OId Course heavily influenced his thinking both directly in the Eden, Long and Road Hole versions he created and indirectly through wide fairways and large, rolling greens.
Thus, like The Old Course, The National Links remains to this day much more than a historical relic or museum piece – the dilemmas posed by its golf holes have never dulled. In fact, their timeless appeal highlights a strategic void painfully apparent in many courses built since WWII.
A primary reason that The National Links plays exceptionally well today is because of the work performed by its last two Green Keepers. Firstly, beginning in the late 1980s, Karl Olson began reversing several decades of neglect by clearing trees and brush, restoring fairway width and playing angles to the course, and recapturing lost bunkers and green sizes.