Members purchase Olde Vine Golf Club in Riverhead

06/21/2014 10:00 AM |
Riverhead, Vineyards Golf Club Head Pro Louis de Kerillis on 1st Tee Box Par 5. (Credit: Joseph DeMaria)

Vineyards Golf Club Head Pro Louis de Kerillis on the first tee box. (Credit: Joseph DeMaria)

It’s their course now. And one of the first orders of business for the 50-plus members who just purchased the Olde Vine Golf Club property in Riverhead is to find new members. 

They don’t expect it will be too hard. 

With new plans for the course already in the works, the new owners believe the club — just re-branded as The Vineyards — believe theirs will fast become one of the region’s premier golf destinations, not only because of its family- and couples-friendly atmosphere and spacious amenities, but thanks to the course itself.

It’s a quick play, members say, fitting right in with many people’s busy lifestyles. And though it’s relatively short at 5,800 yards from the tips (compared to nearly 7,200 yards at a course up the street), the course’s sand, fescue and ever-changing winds make it a challenge for even experienced golfers.

“I’d be the last person to speak ill of a county course,” said former Suffolk County executive Bob Gaffney, a Vineyards club member, “but a round at Indian Island can last five hours. Here, it’s more like three and a half. And you can go out anytime and play.”

The members purchased the 75-acre property May 20 for $1.25 million from George Heinlein.

What’s most exciting to the club members, says member Randy Spellman, is that they now “control their own destiny.”

“We’re a newborn baby here,” he said. “We’re looking for members and it’s a great time. A huge benefit for new members is they’d be getting in on the ground floor. Costs will go down as memberships go up and I predict that in a short time this will be among the better courses in the area, dollar for dollar.”

Those costs now amount to a one-time $7,500 initiation fee — $4,000 until Aug. 31 under an ongoing promotion — for a full family or individual membership, as well as $613 monthly dues for an individual or $875 monthly for a family.

That makes The Vineyards affordable — as far as private golf clubs go. For a comparison, according to a 2006 Bloomberg News article, memberships at the exclusive Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton then started at $500,000 annually. Friar’s Head Golf Club — just up the street from The Vineyards, off Sound Avenue — was charging $250,000 just to get in the door at that time, according to a Links Magazine article.

But The Vineyards doesn’t want for amenities. Its 12,000-square-foot clubhouse, which has a bar and restaurant, meeting rooms, lockers and an outdoor patio, is supplemented by a separate fitness room, an inground pool and two tennis courses. Mr. Gaffney said about 75 percent of the people living in the neighborhood adjoining the course — as he and his wife do — belong to the club in some capacity. Others hail from elsewhere in Riverhead and beyond.

He said the course’s low annual maintenance costs are the key to keeping prices down.

“This was designed to be a golf club manageable in size, scope and expanse,” he said. “But it’s elegant.”