07/25/12 8:00pm
07/25/2012 8:00 PM

Regular readers of the Golf Gazette know I have little tolerance for cell-phone use on the golf course. Come to think of it, I’m not a big fan of walking down a supermarket isle and listening to a fellow shopper on their phone asking the party on the other end if they should get the eight-ounce or the 16-ounce container. Do you really need help buying a bottle of ketchup? And then there are those out for their daily walk, arms flailing, chatting up a storm. Catching up with their spouses do you suppose? Hmm. But the worst of the worst are those who talk or text while driving. Makes my blood boil.

I would like to take the opportunity to commend those who have a sliver of cell-phone etiquette and move to the periphery when they make or receive a phone call. To you folks, I say thanks.

Etiquette: The conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.
—Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Golf course etiquette should be the first thing a beginning player is taught: where to stand; when to hit; repairing divots; raking sand traps; marking your ball on the green; where to walk; fixing ball marks on the green. And the list goes on.

There are some golfers who unintentionally, or perhaps intentionally, try our patience by disregarding what to do and what not to do when playing a round of golf. I chatted with some of your golfing neighbors to find out which breach of golf etiquette annoys them the most.

Karen Danzer of Southold said, “When I’m on the green and there is a person’s shadow in my putting line and the person doesn’t move.”

Playing out of turn annoys Tony Mortillo of Greenport. “It bothers me when I’m waiting my turn to hit and a player in front of me hits before I do.”

Barbara Koch of Southold had this to say: “I get upset when the group in front of you finishes playing a hole and they take their time putting clubs back in their bags, they talk, they count up their strokes. They should leave the green and do all of that on the next tee.”

Jack Malone of Cutchogue complained, “Slow play really gets to me, when nobody in front of you gives a hoot and they don’t let you go through.”

And what ticks off your golf guy? Finding sand traps not raked and ball marks on the green left unrepaired.

Share with us your thoughts on golf course pet peeves with a comment below. Read Jay’s full column in Thursday’s paper.

07/12/12 8:00pm
07/12/2012 8:00 PM

The 2012 Ike Championship, a prestigious yearly event run by the Metropolitan Golf Association, was held June 26 and 27 at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, bringing together the top amateur players from the metropolitan area. Competitors played qualifying rounds at different sites in late May for the right to play at Atlantic for the championship trophy.

The first day of competition saw 104 players tackle the difficult, wind-swept, 7,000-yard course. Forty players with the lowest scores from the first round moved on to play 36 holes on the final day of the tournament. Connecticut native Cameron Wilson was this year’s medalist, finishing nine strokes ahead of runners-up Joe Saladino of Huntington Country Club and Max Buckley of Westchester Country Club. Wilson, a junior attending Stamford University, recently played in his first United States Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Our local representative in this year’s “Ike” was David Kuck, playing out of Cherry Creek Golf Links in Riverhead. Kuck shot a sizzling round of 74 at Huntington Country Club to qualify for this year’s tournament. “Qualifying for this event is the best achievement so far in my golfing career,” Kuck said.

Kuck, a physical therapist, did not start playing golf until after he graduated from college. “I started playing golf late in life and now I can’t get enough of it,” he said. “I tried qualifying for MGA events seven times before I qualified for this year’s Ike. Now I know I can compete at this level.”

Kuck said he was nervous in the early going of round one. He settled down nicely on the back nine, however, he failed to make the cut, which was at 79. I walked with David on his last nine holes and was impressed with his enthusiasm and class. I expect to see him competing again soon.

Having attended golf tournaments most of my life, it amazes me how few people come out to watch these very good players. Normally there is no admission charge and you can get right up close to the action.

In addition to watching great golf and not seeing anything resembling a poor swing, many of these tournaments are held at some pretty swanky country clubs, clubs that only the “one percent” get to see.

There are different ways to spend your day at these events. Some choose to find a shady spot and watch as the competitors file through. Others will pick a player or two and follow them around the course. Both techniques make for a very enjoyable day on the links.

You can go on-line to the United States Golf Association, the Metropolitan Golf Association, the New York State Golf Association and the Long Island Golf Association for events in our area.

TEE TIMES Big news from the Dempsey household regarding the 2013 United States Women’s Open, which will be held at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton next June. I will be covering the event as your golf guy and am happy to report that my wife, Jean, will also be working at the tournament. Jean has signed up to work as a course marshal. She is very excited. So excited in fact, I think she may end up sleeping in her uniform. There is a problem, however. Those who know Jean know she takes any assignment given to her extremely seriously. In this case, she has already started to practice for her role at Sebonack. Lately, while enjoying our dinner and with yours truly in mid-sentence, Mrs. D may blurt out, “Quite, please!” She has also taken to blocking my path to the bathroom, saying things like: “Golfers coming through. Sorry, you’ll have to wait.” Eleven months to go before the ladies tee it up in Southampton. Wish me luck.

The USGA is looking for volunteers, women and men, to work at the 2013 Women’s Open. There are many different jobs and committees to choose from. You will only work a few hours during the week and will be given a pass to attend every day of the tournament. It’s a good deal and a great experience. Call Laura Caleal at (631) 287-4444 for details.

Vince Scheraldi of Cherry Creek Golf Links and The Woods at Cherry Creek reported holes-in-one at the Riverhead courses. Colin Brown aced No. 8 at The Woods while Gale Stenquist holed out on the second hole at Cherry Creek. Vince said both aces were made within minutes of each other. You can bet there were lots of beverages flowing in the clubhouse that day. Tim Dougherty recorded his second career hole-in-one on Swan Lake’s seventh hole, 47 years after his first ace as a 12-year-old.

A fund-raiser for the Joe Theinert Scholarship Fund will be held on Monday at Claudio’s Clam Bar in Greenport. One of the prizes will be for a foursome to play at three golf courses that are difficult to get reservations at: Altantic Golf Course, Noyack Country Club and The Bridge Golf Course. Bidding will start at 7 p.m. at Claudio’s Clam Bar. Anyone interested in bidding who cannot make it to the event may make a phone bid to Steve at (631) 484-6505.

There is still time to sign up for the rescheduled J. C. Mendreski Memorial Scholarship Golf Outing that will be held July 30 at the Woods at Cherry Creek and Stonewalls Restaurant. The cost is $150 per person. Registration will start at noon, followed by a barbecue lunch at 12:30 p.m. and a shotgun start at 1:30 p.m. Afterward, there will be an open bar, a buffet dinner and the awarding of prizes. To reserve a place, call Ross at (631) 512-5811 or Jill at (631)846-3136. Non-golfers are welcome to attend the dinner for $55.

19TH HOLE You don’t need to be a golf fan to enjoy author Jeff Miller’s new book, “North Fork Country Club — 100th Anniversary — 1912-2012” (Penguin Publishing). Miller, the former Suffolk Times editor, effectively delves into the archives of North Fork Country Club, providing interesting and amusing stories, tales and history about the club, its founders and members, past and present.

06/26/12 9:00am
06/26/2012 9:00 AM

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | The new proprietors of Sandy Pond Golf Course in Riverhead: Ken Weinstein, left, and Chris Wahlers.

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” author Mark Twain said after learning his obituary had been published in The New York Journal in 1897. The scuttlebutt heard locally last fall at delis, supermarkets and around town was that the nine-hole golf course in Riverhead, Sandy Pond, would be closing. Greatly exaggerated rumors? Yes, thank goodness.

In January, Ken Weinstein of Long Beach and his brother-in-law, Chris Wahlers of Mattituck, came to the rescue, becoming the new proprietors of Sandy Pond Golf Course.

“I learned that the previous owners were leaving at the end of the year,” Weinstein said. “I expressed some interest in purchasing the golf course and talked to my brother-in-law to see if this was something he would be interested in. We negotiated a lease and an agreement on the equipment. On January 1st we took over.”

And take over they did. With the help of the mild winter, the new owners immediately began making improvements at the course. “We turned up all the willow trees and cleaned up the ponds,” said Weinstein. “We want to make the ponds a focal point when people walk onto the property. We overseeded and cleaned up all the grounds to make it more presentable. We installed new irrigation around the entire property and on the tee boxes and greens.”

Weinstein, a retired Wall Street executive, handles the day-to-day operations. Wahlers works in the communications industry, has a “green thumb” and helps out whenever he can. With some experience in turf management, Wahlers has set up an experiment behind the pro shop for all to see. Spread out on a long table are small pots containing different types of grasses. “We want to see which grasses grow the greenest and the quickest,” he said.

The new owners have a list of things to do at Sandy Pond. This year they will work to improve the course and the clubhouse. If things go as planned, they hope to apply for a liquor license in the fall. “We would like to build a nice patio area with tables, chairs, and umbrellas where our guests can relax before or after a round of golf,” said Weinstein.

The results of the hard work are already evident. “I played Sandy Pond with my wife, Cathie, recently,” Mike Flanagan of Aquebogue said. “We were delighted to see the changes that have really spruced it up.”

George Ender of Hampton Bays, a 15-year member of the club, said, “The course is already vastly improved.”

Weinstein said, “I don’t know what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but here we are.”

Ken and Chris, we’re glad to have you here.

Our other par-3 golf course, Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, is in fantastic shape after repairing the vandalism on parts of the course that occurred early this spring. Aren’t we lucky to have not one, but two extraordinary par-3 golf courses where we can hone our golfing skills?

TEE TIMES Laurel Links Country Club hosted a qualifying event on June 12 for the upcoming New York State Open Championship, which will be held at Bethpage Black in July. Local participants included Scott Anderson and Darin Goldstein, both from Laurel Links, along with Ed Burfeindt from Island’s End Country Club. All three golfers played well, with Anderson shooting a 73, making him eligible for the finals at Bethpage.

Eighty-year-old Paul Dahm, a retired Catholic Priest, recorded his first career hole-in-one on the fourth hole at Sandy Pond. He has been playing Sandy Pond Golf Course since 1995.

Cherry Creek Golf Links will again hold junior golf camps this summer. Contact Vince Scheraldi at (631) 413-3760 for more information.

OUTINGS The Rett Syndrome Research Outing will be held July 16 at Calverton Golf Links. Call Steve Garms at (631) 786-2249 for information.

The inaugural Ecumenical Golf Outing, hosted by the men of First Presbyterian Church and St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic churches of Southold, will be held Aug. 13 at Island’s End Golf Course in Greenport. Men and women of all faiths are welcome. Contact John Orgass at (631) 765-2859 for details.

06/06/12 7:00am
06/06/2012 7:00 AM

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | Steve Duke has been a success at selling cars and playing golf.

Back in 1980, I took a job selling cars for Buzzy Chew at Kinney Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Riverhead. Cars were really not “my thing” as evidenced by the fact that my first set of wheels as a teenager was a Ford Falcon. I then went on to own not one, but two Volkswagen Beetles. Not really super hot chick magnets. My tenure at Kinney, not surprisingly, was less than one year.

Buzz and I realized we should part ways after I devised a plan to get potential customers to view our entire inventory without leaving my desk. If the weather was a bit unsettled, the last thing I wanted to do was walk around outside looking at car after car. I would send my customers out on their own, telling them I had placed one of my business cards, which I cleverly named the “mystery card,” on the dashboard of one of the vehicles. If they located the “mystery card” I would give them $100 off the vehicle of their choice.

Being the enterprising and creative automobile salesman that I was, I had actually never placed a card in any of the vehicles, but it got my customers to spend hours checking out every one of the hundreds of cars we had in the huge lot. When they returned exhausted, saying they were unable to locate the “mystery card,” I congratulated them on their perseverance and told them it was their lucky day. I was still going to give them $100 off for their efforts. Buzz was a good sport and not terribly sad to see me move on.

My desk at Kinney was located directly in front of the truck manager, Steve Duke. When you think of Steve Duke you think of a number of things. Legendary automobile and truck salesman. Fabulous golfer. No nonsense, hard-working straight shooter.

I had not met Steve before working at Kinney, but knew of his reputation both on and off the golf course. Steve and I recently got together and took a trip down memory lane.

Steve Duke was born and raised in Mattituck and was a well-known all-round athlete. “I played all sports in high school: basketball, baseball, soccer and ping-pong. I think I had 12 letters,” Duke said. “I was crazy about baseball.”

Shortly after graduating from Mattituck High School, Duke entered the armed forces and served during World War II.

After his hitch in the service, Duke returned to Mattituck and worked for a short time at an ice cream parlor where he met the future Mrs. Duke. He began his career in the automobile business working as a salesman and troubleshooter for a Ford dealership in Riverhead.

After a few years, Duke moved on to a Chevrolet agency in Riverhead that became Crabtree-O’Keefe Chevrolet. Crabtree-O’Keefe eventually became Kinney Chevrolet-Oldsmobile, which Duke retired from in 1986, leaving a long list of loyal customers behind.

Steve Duke’s entry into golf came by way of a sales contest held by Chevrolet in 1954. Ever competitive, Duke won the contest. The prize was a trip to the Caribbean. Deciding he and his wife needed a new refrigerator and stove more than a week in the sun, Duke took prize points instead of the trip. Along with the new appliances, Steve chose a set of Spalding golf clubs. He had played little golf up to that point. His boss, Mr. O’Keefe, suggested he join North Fork Country Club in Cutchogue, which he did.

Being a natural and gifted athlete, with the help of club professional Fred Bornhauser, Duke fine-tuned his game very quickly. His first time on the course, Steve shot a not so awful round of 116. By year’s end he was scoring in the 80s.

Duke has had nine holes-in-one during his career, has been club champion two times and a runner-up a number of times. His biggest thrill, however, was beating the fabled Steve Doroski in the first round of his first club championship. It has been many decades since the match, but Duke was able to recall every shot like it was yesterday.

Does Steve Duke have any problems with the game of golf today?

“It seems to be that some people are in such a hurry to get done,” he said. “I find that annoying.”

In addition to his successes in athletics, his accomplishments on the golf course and the thousands of vehicles Steve Duke has sold during his lifetime, he’s got it right. Slow down and stop and smell the roses.

Prior to our time together, Steve had just completed a round of golf with his regular group. There are not many sports you can participate in as a nonagenarian. You’ve got to love this game.

TEE TIMES Vince Scheraldi of Cherry Creek Golf Links and The Woods in Riverhead reported two holes-in-one. Kevin Perace aced the second hole at Cherry Creek and Donal Clare holed out on No. 2 at The Woods.

OUTINGS Scleroderma Charity Golf Tournament, June 27, Cherry Creek Golf Links. Call the pro shop at (631) 369-6500 to sign up.

05/07/12 10:00pm
05/07/2012 10:00 PM

Most of us have had a few heros in our lives. It may have been an athlete. Perhaps a movie star. Maybe a political figure. Come to think of it, scratch the last one.

My first hero was “The Duke of Flatbush,” Duke Snider, who played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers back in the 1950s. Golfer Jack Nicklaus is also on my list, earning his way there for what he has done both on and off the golf course. And my hands down number one all-time hero is Jesus. In an interview I did with John Feinstein a few years ago, I asked John if he could play a round of golf with anyone, living or deceased, who would it be? His answer, “Jesus.” I’m right there with Mr. Feinstein.

I suppose if I thought about it a bit longer, I could come up with a few more heros to add to my list. Recently, I was able to do just that.

How many times in your life has someone done something that really ticked you off? Somehow you navigated your way through the situation without being tossed in jail, but a few hours later you said to yourself, “I really should have done this,” or, “If only I had said blah, blah, blah.” Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Too little, too late.

My new hero found himself in an irritating situation and actually had enough courage to do something about it. This being a golf column, my hero performed his act of fearlessness, where else but on a golf course. I recently sat down with this individual and recorded his recollection of the event. Here it is in his own words:

“A few years ago I had an occasion to golf with two other gentlemen and we had a threesome. Before teeing off on the first hole, a fellow came up in his cart and asked if he could join us.

“No problem, I said. After the introductions were made, I said to the man that I only had one request, that he didn’t use his cell phone. I told him if he must use his phone to put it on vibrate.

“As I was about to tee off, his cell phone rang. He went to his cart and answered the call. I asked him again, very politely, to turn off his phone. As we approached the first green, his phone went off for a second time. On the next hole his phone rings for the third time. So, I went over to his cart, took his cell phone and threw it into the other fairway, telling him to have a good day. I told him to go ahead of us if he wanted, which he did, and I never saw him again. I don’t like cell phones on golf courses, it’s as simple as that.”

My regular readers know how I feel about cell phones and golf courses. Unless you’re expecting an emergency call, a real emergency call, put it away. You’re playing golf. Have fun and relax. At the very least, if you really think you’re that important, wait until you get to the turn or finish your round before pulling out your security blanket.

Now, to reveal the name of my newest hero. Stand up and take a bow, Bob Scott (the jeweler).

Bob reminded me he had two of his buddies by his side just in case things got ugly, but still good for you, Bob. Job well done.

TEE TIMES Our first reported hole-in-one of the year goes to Stan Siejka of Southold, who aced the seventh hole at Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue.

I asked Stan what his golfing experience had been prior to getting his ace. “Twenty-five holes,” he said.

Thinking I may not have heard him correctly, I said, “Did you say you’ve been playing golf for 25 years?”

“No, 25 holes,” Stan repeated.

My hearing is not that good, so I asked again, “You mean you’ve played 25 rounds of golf.”

“No, I had played a total of 25 holes of golf in my life before my hole-in-one,” said Stan, clearing up my astonished confusion.

OUTINGS The seventh annual North Fork Breast Health Coalition will be held June 8 at Calverton Links. For more information, call Susie Bandiera at (631) 722-3025 or email susiq@optonline.net.

04/19/12 3:00am
04/19/2012 3:00 AM

You may not know this, but there is a beautiful golf course located in the Land of Oz. Yes, that Oz. Let me begin.

Back in the 1930s, the great and powerful Wizard of Oz, an avid golfer, built a magnificent golf course just outside of the Emerald City. Breathtaking magnolia trees line the entryway to the clubhouse and colorful azaleas abound the course along with dogwoods and pines. A most beautiful sanctuary, indeed. Built on a former plantation, Winkie National Golf Course has become a treasured jewel of golf in the Land of Oz.

Every April the top golfers from Oz compete for the honor of wearing the Emerald Jacket, an honor the winner carries with him for a lifetime. However, there were, and still are, some big problems at Winkie National.

During its early years, Winkie National allowed only those with green faces to caddy and allowed only blue-faced golfers to play the course. Getting pressure from the citizens of Oz, some of the rules at Winkie National were eventually changed, allowing anyone to caddy and play golf at the spectacular course.

However, one archaic and narcissistic rule haunts Winkie National to this day, and the rule comes directly from the Wizard, himself. Winkie National does not offer membership in the club to the women of Oz. It doesn’t matter if you’re a palace guard, a flying monkey, a munchkin, a witch. Unless you are of the male species, you are not going to receive an invitation to become a member at Winkie National Golf Club.

Giving credit where credit is due, Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, along with Glinda, the Good Witch, have lobbied for years, hoping to get the Wizard to open the doors of membership to women at Winkie National, unfortunately to no avail.

Here’s a story most people don’t know. A few years ago, the Wizard invited Elphaba, a 13-handicapper, to play Winkie National as his guest. The two were on the back nine when Elphaba hit a ball far to the right and into a water hazard. With no one looking on, the Wizard, pretending to help Elphaba retrieve her ball, came up from behind and shoved her into the water. He said it was an accident. That was the last anyone ever saw of the Wicked Witch of the West, no matter what you may heard about her demise.

Glinda, in addition to her duties as a witch, is now president of IMW, a large company that manufacturers magic wands. Glinda has been ignored at Winkie National and has yet to receive an invitation to join the club even though the former president of IMW, a male, was a long-time member.

The Land of Oz is a little more than 200 years old. How sad and unfortunate the powers that be at Winkie National discriminate as they do. The muckie-mucks at Winkie National should be ashamed and embarrassed. Good old boys are obviously alive and well at Winkie National Golf Club.

Let’s hope someday, and someday soon, the Wizard and his phony cronies will see the light.

Wouldn’t it be great if the ladies of Oz could just say, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

BTW, congratulations to Bubba Watson on winning this year’s Masters Golf Tournament.

03/28/12 3:00am
03/28/2012 3:00 AM

You may have heard this little ditty: It ain’t the arrow, it’s the Indian. No, your golf guy isn’t so desperate for material that he’s now writing about the wild west. This week we’re going to address golf equipment, a/k/a the arrow.

The golf equipment industry rakes in a tidy sum each year and, like so many products on the market, golf equipment manufacturers are regularly shaking it up, changing colors, designs, shapes and technology. These changes, we are told, will help us hit the ball longer and straighter, putting our handicaps into single-digit territory.

Timeout, Tonto.

I have to admit, I must give credit to the new drivers out there today. For most of my life I couldn’t hit my driver worth a darn. A few years ago the golf industry introduced drivers with huge heads and beefed-up technology. With these new drivers, even I can hit some pretty decent drives every now and then, so let’s chalk one up for the club manufacturers in the driver department.

As far as the rest of the clubs in your bag go, I’m not so sure. Much of the equipment out there seems to be geared for the better skilled players. We see “so and so” out on tour hitting great shots and think we should be able to hit shots just like our heros if we use the same equipment, right? Wrong. In this case, with irons, I think it’s the Indian and not the arrow. Unless you are a skilled, competitive golfer, clubs used by the pros should not be in your bag.

There are a few manufacturers out there that actually design sets with the average golfer in mind. These sets do not contain the conventional 3, 4 and 5 irons. In their place you will find hybrid clubs which are easier for the average golfer to hit. Even some pros today are getting rid of their higher irons and replacing them with hybrids.

Believe it or not, a number of years ago sets included 1 and 2 irons. The legendary golfer, Lee Trevino, put it best when he said: “If you are caught on a golf course during a lightning storm, hold up your 1 iron. Not even God can hit a 1 iron.”

If you are new to the game, there is no need to purchase expensive equipment. You can upgrade your weapons down the road if you find that you enjoy chasing after a little white ball, but first find yourself an inexpensive set of clubs. And don’t worry about carrying the 14-club limit. All you need is a driver, fairway wood (maybe), a few hybrids, a 7 and 9 iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge and a putter. That’s enough equipment to get you going.

The most important thing in golf is not your equipment, it’s having a good swing. Invest in developing a fundamentally sound and repeating swing. It’s not that easy, but with a good swing it won’t matter what equipment you use.

Yes, Kimosabe, it all comes down to the Indian.

TEE TIMES The Southold Town Recreation Department will be offering three golf programs this year.
Golf Fitness, under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Poplarski, will kick off on April 8. This program will target golf swing analysis and body mechanics. Dr. Poplarski is the wellness director for the U.S. Open Golf Championships.

Beginner/intermediate golf lessons will be conducted at Island’s End Golf and Country Club beginning May 2 for all golfers 14 years old and over.

Basic golf with Tom McGunnigle will begin on May 26 for residents 18 and over.

For more information, stop by the Southold Town Recreation Department on Peconic Lane in Peconic or phone (631) 765-5182.

Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead will be offering great specials throughout the season. Contact the club at (631) 727-4653 to enjoy this wonderful Robert Trent Jones course.

Cherry Creek Golf Links and The Woods at Cherry Creek will again be offering men’s and women’s golf leagues this year. Contact the club at (631) 369-6500 for details.

OUTINGS The inaugural Ecumenical Golf Outing hosted by the men of First Presbyterian and St. Patrick’s R.C. Churches will be held on May 16 at Island’s End Golf & Country Club in Greenport. Men and women of any and all faiths are welcome to participate. Call (631) 765-2597 for details.

Hamptons Collegiate Baseball has scheduled a golf outing for June 27 at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville. Call (631) 897-5544 for information.

02/14/12 3:00am
02/14/2012 3:00 AM

Come on now, stop your complaining. We managed to avoid winter until the third week of January and that was a short-lived snow event. That’s pretty darn good in my book. For those of us who hold down the fort on the North Fork during the winter months, we have no reason to peep one iota about “Old Man Winter” this year.

The only time I take a hiatus from the links is if there happens to be snow covering the fairways. This winter a number of our local courses have remained open, so along with my wife, Jean, and my hardier playing companions, we’ve been able to get out a few times, playing some winter golf at Cherry Creek Golf Links and Indian Island Golf Course.

I prefer playing golf in cooler weather. Hot and humid may work for some, but not your golf guy. A couple of layers and I’m happy as a pig in sand.

Many golfers play golf according to the calendar and pack their sticks away regardless of how nice the weather may be. Unless these folks commit to an off-season conditioning program, they will need a bit more time to get in shape for an 18-hole romp come springtime. For those folks, here are some ideas to make the transition from their cozy couch and the Golf Channel to the golf course.

Whether you chose to walk or take a cart when you play, your legs have to be in shape. Bundle yourself up, get outside and go for a walk. If you only do one type of exercise this winter, walk.

Get some light weights and develop your own 15-minute workout. Three times a week is perfect.

Add some stretching or yoga and you’ll be good to go when you hit the links this spring.

Swing a club for couple of minutes a few times a week, just to keep your muscle memory from collecting dust. And practice your putting. No excuses now. You don’t need any fancy thing-a-ma-jigs. All you need is your putter, a ball and a glass to aim at. A few minutes a week spent practicing your putting stroke will pay big dividends during the season.

This year the PGA Tour promises to be very exciting with a great crop of young players such as Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas and Matt Kutchar. From across the pond we’ll see the likes of Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Camilio Villegas. And don’t forget the faithful core of middle-aged guys such as Rocco Mediate, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and David Toms. Oh, did I mention Tiger Woods?

On the ladies side players such as Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Suzann Pettersen and Yani Tseng will keep things exciting as we head to the United States Women’s Open Championship which in June of 2013 will be played right across the bay at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton.

19TH HOLE What would you rather watch, a golf tournament or “Dancing With The Stars”?

Fran Backofen of Peconic: “I’m a big fan of ‘Dancing With The Stars’.”

John Abbott of Laurel: “You don’t even have to ask.”

Betty Kiernan of Southold: “A golf tournament, definitely.”

Josh Carrick of Aquebogue: “I’d much rather watch a golf tournament.”

Will Tiger Woods win a tournament in 2012?

Backofen: “Hmmm. I think it’s possible.”

Abbott: “No!”

Kiernan: “Yeah.”

Carrick: “I think so. Yes.”

What is your biggest gripe about the game of golf?

Backofen: “The game is so slow to watch. But I guess it’s enjoyable if you’re playing.”

Abbott: “All the crazy rules.”

Kiernan: “Putting. I stink.”

Carrick: “How difficult it is to play.”

What current professional golfer would you like to have dinner with?

Backofen: “ I have a friend who worked with Michelle Wie, so I’d have to say her.”

Abbott: “Lefty, Phil Mickelson.”

Kiernan: “Phil Mickelson. He’s still playing, right? I like him.”

Carrick: “Tiger Woods. That would be very interesting.”