With its rural landscape and proximity to multiple bodies of water, it’s no surprise the North Fork provides naturally breathtaking backdrops almost everywhere you look — including its public golf courses. And with spring on its way and the weather starting to turn, what better time to dust off your clubs for a little “sightseeing”?
“Since it’s fairly flat out here, anywhere you stand you’re getting a good panorama of the whole course,” said the Rev. Peter Kelly of Southold, a lifelong golfer.
Whether you want to get up close and personal with an osprey nest (watch your swing!) or take in the view of nearby Connecticut, there’s no shortage of options at local links.
From west to east, here are a few holes that are sure to be worth the greens fees for the view alone.
Indian Island Country Club, Riverbed
For prime views of Peconic Bay, make your way to the fifth and sixth holes at this Riverside Drive course. The fifth hole — which general manager Mike Giglio cited as the course’s signature hole — features new bulkhead work but more importantly, an expansive view of the bay that might make you want to slow the golf cart down just a little. Both holes are located near an osprey nest.
“It runs all along the water and you can see the houses along the way,” Mr. Giglio said of the sixth hole. “You can see the whole Peconic Bay, the osprey nest. It’s just beautiful.”
Cedars Golf Club, Cutchogue
It comprises just nine holes, but this course on Cases Lane, which was purchased two years ago by Tim McManus and Paul Pawlowski, isn’t short on natural beauty. In fact, its first tee overlooks a natural pond that is an extension of a nearby creek. Its ninth hole, said general manager Ken Pearsall, also features a great water view.
“The ninth hole is very important in terms of views,” Mr. Pearsall said. “It’s been beautified and reshaped.”
Swan Lake Golf Club, Manorville
Surrounded by the heavily wooded Pine Barrens, this 18-hole course features a man-made lake that attracts — you guessed it — a fair number of swans. The course’s ninth hole provides a particularly good view of the water and accompanying wildlife, said general manager Jason Scharf.
“It’s framed by the Pine Barrens, cranberry bogs, natural lakes and nature preserves,” Mr. Scharf said.
Island’s End Golf and Country Club, Greenport
The hole that gets everyone talking at this Route 25 course is the 16th, which runs directly alongside a bluff overlooking Long Island Sound.
“You can see Connecticut,” said Bill Fish, general manager and the course’s head professional. “Everyone seems to stop there and takes pictures all the time.”
Of course, there is one potential downside to this 185-yard par 3.
“The balls can definitely find their way into the Sound with a really poor shot,” Mr. Fish said.