National Golf Links of America
As the summer and weekend playground of well-heeled New Yorkers, the Hamptons is known for cedar-shingle mansions, farm-to-table restaurants and miles of pristine beaches. But the area is not all horses and surfing, either; golf is also the locals’ sport of choice.
The National Golf Links of America, designed by Raynor’s mentor, Charles Blair Macdonald, was intended to mirror some of the UK’s most historic links courses and has become one of the most renowned destinations for golf in America. In fact, its par-4 second hole is an homage to the 3rd hole at England’s Royal St. George’s. Meanwhile, the 7th hole, aptly named “St. Andrews,” is a transparent nod to the 17th hole at Scotland’s Old Course at St. Andrews.
Set on a somewhat modest 350-acre property, it beckons golf tourists of all stripes and skill sets craving a piece of Old World history in a stateside locale. The National also borders the Peconic Bay, a prime swath of Hamptons real estate.
“It’s a great spot,” Thomas says. “You have to run shots up and use slopes. When it plays firm and fast, it’s a really cool little course. It’s not very hard, it’s not very long, but it’s pretty fun.”
From the courses he loves to play, it’s clear that Thomas thrills in the puzzles that complex courses pose. And it’s training to face those unique scenarios that helps give him his edge. “Every tournament I go to, in my prep I’m practicing the shots that I know I’m going to be taking a lot of during that competition,” he says. “That way, when I get out there, I’m ready.”