GM: Former Great Rock course to re-open to golfers Monday

05/28/2014 7:00 AM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Blackwell's restaurant at Great Rock.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Blackwell’s restaurant at Great Rock.

The Wading River golf course formerly known as Great Rock that’s been closed since January will be re-opening to golfers on Monday, June 2, with an Aug. 15 opening date planned for the restaurant on the property.

Brian Curtin, who had served as general manager of the course and its restaurant, then called Blackwells, since 2008, is coming back to help lead operations at the new course — which he said still doesn’t have a name.

He’s also hiring back many of the former employees who had lost their jobs when the course and restaurant — located just north of Sound Avenue near the Inn and Spa at East Wind — shut down for good on Jan. 1.

The incoming ownership won’t be disclosed  until they close on the property, Mr. Curtin said. In the meantime, they will be operating under a user agreement.

Mr. Curtin said there are no plans to build any housing on the property, as had been sought by the prior owners, Great Rock Golf 2006, LLC, which shut down operations after having been involved with several protracted lawsuits, including with the town, neighbors and creditors, and having fallen into tax default.

“The only interest and desire is to provide a fantastic public golf facility and an affordable-yet-upscale American dining experience,” he said. “We’ll be honoring all gift certificates owed by the previous ownership throughout the season. There were also some members who bought discounted packages; those will be honored as well.”

The course also hired Great Rock’s prior superintendent, Dan Wolf, who started caring for the grounds again earlier this month.

“I’m very optimistic about the course and its conditions for this year,” Mr. Wolf said. “Luckily, the winter was longer than usual so real growth didn’t start until I got here almost a month ago. Given the commitment of the new ownership, I expect to have the grounds at full strength very soon.”

Both Mr. Curtin and Mr. Wolf had previously worked at the famed Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, which has hosted the U.S. Open four times.

As for more long-term plans, Mr. Curtin said the restaurant building will be renovated this summer, and the course itself will be getting reconfigured.

“At some point, the plan is to do a complete redesign, with a golf course architect adding between 400 and 700 yards to the golf course, if plans allowed it,” he said. “But our number one priority this year is to keep the golf course very enjoyable, so people have a memorable round. Roughs will be cut shorter, so people can be able to find their balls. We’d also like at some point to re-grade the greens for a faster outing.”

“We’re all very excited about the future here,” Mr. Wolf said. “Expect big things in the coming months.”

The course will be open at 7 a.m. from Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. on the weekends. The course has a new phone number for golfers looking to make a tee time: (631) 886-2700.

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