One of my favorite holiday tunes is the Andy Williams classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Thanks to the commercialism that has stepped all over the real reason for celebrating the holiday, this “wonderful time” seems to be getting longer and longer with decorations and holiday sales showing up long before Dec. 25. And now we have “Gray Thursday.” Give me a break.
One thing that was longer this year was the golfing season. I have been playing golf for many moons and I cannot recall a year that had such an extended stretch of fantastic golfing weather. If you did not hit the links as much as you would have liked in 2014, you certainly cannot put the blame on Mother Nature.
So, what were the big golf stories of 2014?
Eldridge Woods — you may know him as Tiger — failed to win a major tournament. His quest to break Jack Nicklaus’ major tournament win record of 18 seems to be drifting away down the fairway.
In September, at Gleneagles Golf Course in Scotland, the United States Ryder Cup Team lost, yet again, to the team from Europe. The red, white and blue have won the event only twice out of the last nine competitions. People have asked me (like I know) what the reason for this may be. My take is that American golfers are spoiled. From the time they are young, most golf prodigies play on pristine courses under ideal conditions. Not so across the pond. Just ask anyone who has taken a golf vacation in the British Isles. The Europeans are used to playing on less than perfectly manicured courses and much of the time they must play in far from stellar weather conditions.
However newsworthy these stories may have been, the one that trumps all else on my list is that women were admitted for the first time as members into the most hallow of golf sanctuaries, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club at Saint Andrews in Scotland. Hey, it only took 260 years for the old crust to realize that it was time to welcome the ladies. A vast majority of the membership voted in favor of admitting female members. “This is a very important day in the history of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club,” said Peter Dawson, the club secretary.
Q&A TIME The Golf Gazette closes out 2014 with a Q&A thanks to the help of four of our local golfers.
Question No. 1: Will Tiger Woods win another major golf tournament?
Mary Lou Cahill of Mattituck: “He’s dinged up so I don’t think he’s mentally or physically up to it.”
Karen Danzer of Southold: “No. I don’t think he’s as focused as he used to be. He’s getting a little long in the tooth and there are a lot of good, young guys out there.”
Mike Gallagher of Peconic: “I think not. He isn’t the player he was 10 years ago, physically or mentally.”
Bennett Karnis of Shelter Island: “I hope so. As I well know, the body breaks down after years of playing sports, but I think he can do it if all the stars are aligned.”
Question No. 2: Next year, would your rather make a hole-in-one or shoot your best personal round?
Cahill: “A hole-in-one, no doubt about it. It involves luck and that’s what makes it fun.”
Danzer: “I would rather shoot my personal best round. A hole-in-one is a freak accident.”
Gallagher: “I would like to break 80 next year. If I move up to the gold tees does that count?”
Karnis: “A hole-in-one because I haven’t had one. I’ve won my club championship, but would like to get my name on the hole-in-one plaque in the clubhouse.”
Question No. 3: What was the highlight of your 2014 golf season?
Cahill: “My highlight every time I play golf is the socialization part. The lure of the game is certainly to become a better golfer, but being out there in a beautiful place with people you like on a sunny day is what it’s all about.”
Danzer: “When I broke 100 back in July.”
Gallagher: “It was when I holed out my shot from 140 yards with my 7-iron on the 13th hole at Island’s End.”
Karnis: “I have many old sports injuries and swinging a golf club is not the best thing for me. But to be out there playing golf with my buddies, smiling and laughing, yes, that’s my highlight this year, and every year.”
AN ACE AT SANDY POND Our final reported hole-in-one for the 2014 season, courtesy of Kenny Weinstein, the owner of Sandy Pond Golf Course in Riverhead, was made by Bruce Reisman on the fourth hole with a pitching wedge.
19TH HOLE Tom, Dick, Harry and Fred were a regular foursome and wanted to play golf on Christmas morning. Standing on the first tee, they discussed how they were able to get away from their wives on Christmas morning. Tom said he purchased a new HD plasma screen TV for his wife. Dick had bought his wife a new car. Harry gave his wife a cruise in the Caribbean. Fred piped up and said, “I asked my wife if she wanted me to stay in bed and snuggle or if I should go play golf. She told me not to forget my sweater.”