03/13/14 12:34pm
03/13/2014 12:34 PM
Gates at Great Rock are locked as the course and Blackwells restaurant have been closed since Jan. 1. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Gates at Great Rock are locked as the course and Blackwells restaurant have been closed since Jan. 1. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Great Rock golf course and Blackwells restaurant, which occupy the same property in Wading River, have been closed since January and one of the property owners says the complex will likely be sold soon.

“There’s a sale pending,” said Paul Elliott, a principal in the group that owns the property. (more…)

11/05/13 12:46pm
11/05/2013 12:46 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Calverton Links on Edwards Avenue closed abruptly for the season on Oct. 31.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Calverton Links on Edwards Avenue closed abruptly for the season on Oct. 31.

Calverton Links abruptly closed for the season on Oct. 31, and it doesn’t appear it will reopen anytime in the foreseeable future, said the golf course’s general manager, Steven Lee.

“I asked the family what the future of Calverton Links was and they said they don’t know, but they know they don’t want to be involved with running it anymore,” said Mr. Lee, who spent 15 years working at the 172-acre Edwards Avenue golf course in Calverton. “They said they were looking for someone to buy it.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, Calverton Links was not listed for sale. Bill Schulman, the owner of Calverton Links, could not immediately be reached for comment.

His daughter, Lenore Treiman, a real estate agent in Florida, would only say Tuesday that the golf course was “closed for the season,” a fact also illustrated on a sign on the course’s Edwards Avenue fence, as well as a message sent to course members on Nov. 1.

Eagle’s Landing Caterers, a catering hall located on the premises of the golf course, is also closed for the season, and has stopped taking bookings into next year. Tony Maaiki, the catering manager at Eagle’s Landing, said he had “no clue” what the future of Calverton Links was.

“It’s closed for the season as far as we know,” he said. “We’re not taking any bookings for next year or anything.”

Mr. Lee said he took a second job at Poxabogue Golf Course in Bridgehampton in June, where he is now employed full-time.

On Tuesday morning Jeff Seeman, the superintendent of the golf course at Calverton Links, said the golf course faced competition from nearby municipal golf courses, who he said were able to lower their prices because their courses are “technically subsidized by the county,” he said.

Six golf courses are available to the public in Riverhead Town, as well as exclusive Friar’s Head Golf Course, which is private access only. One of the public courses is owned by the county – Indian Island Golf Course, which offers rate discounts to county residents who purchase a green key.

“Our daily rate structures need to support our private enterprise of running a golf course, which every year becomes more and more expensive,” Mr. Seeman said. A daily round of golf during the week at Calverton Links cost around $55 and included a bucket of golf balls, he said.

Calverton Links wouldn’t be the first golf course in the area to note a struggle to draw golfers recently. Over the summer, Long Island National Golf Course was purchased by real estate developer Donald Zucker for $6 million after its prior owner filed for bankruptcy. According to the New York Daily News, Zucker later said he was going to make the course private.

ryoung@timesreview.com

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Calverton Links on Edwards Avenue closed abruptly for the season on Oct. 31.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Calverton Links on Edwards Avenue closed abruptly for the season on Oct. 31.

07/11/13 5:00pm
07/11/2013 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Riverhead 4-year-old Olivia Sulzer got a chance to meet golf phenom Casie Cathrea at the U.S. Women’s Open.

When Scott Sulzer received tickets to a practice round of the U.S. Women’s Open June 27 at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, he figured it would be a great opportunity for his 4-year-old daughter to mingle with some of the top golfers in the world.

As a longtime golfer who caddies at prestigious Friar’s Head in Baiting Hollow, Sulzer knew practice rounds are often the best time to interact with the golfers. And his daughter, Olivia, who was quickly developing a growing admiration for golf, was more than thrilled leading up to the tournament.

“She and I have a thing,” Sulzer said. “I love to play golf and she loves to come with me.”

Father and daughter arrived at the pristine golf course and headed right for the merchandise gate to pick up some items for Olivia to have autographed. Within the first hour, she had about 10 signatures.

They arrived at the eighth hole to find Casie Cathrea, a 17-year-old amateur phenom from California who grew up playing basketball and doing karate before focusing on golf. Cathrea was nearing the end her of practice round and was nearly out of golf balls that she had been handing out to kids. Cathrea saw Olivia and offered her a deal. She told her if she followed her over the next two holes, she’d give her the final golf balls she was using.

Cathrea gave Olivia and her dad passes they could wear to follow her onto the ninth tee.

“I saw that once [Olivia] got onto the tee, it looked like she wanted to play,” Cathrea said. “She walked with us on nine and we started talking a bit and it looked like she was having a lot of fun.”

Sulzer was beaming as he watched his daughter interact with one of golf’s rising stars.

“I was like, man, this is the best-case scenario I could have asked for,” he said.

The two girls hit it off immediately. Cathrea asked Olivia if she wanted to try putting. Olivia replied that she didn’t know how.

Cathrea stood behind the little girl, demonstrating how to swing the club until Olivia sank a putt of her own.

Cathrea tossed Olivia the golf ball and asked her if she was planning on coming back for the tournament. Sulzer explained that they had only planned on attending the practice round.

Without hesitating, Cathrea, who will attend Oklahoma State University this fall, offered them tickets to the first day of the tournament.

Three days later as Cathrea prepared to tee off for the start of the biggest tournament of her career, she spotted Olivia.

“She gave me a little card and it said good luck and had a little Popsicle stick in it,” Cathrea said. “All four days I ended up leaving the Popsicle stick in my yardage book so whenever I opened it, it was sitting right there.”

The good-luck charm served Cathrea well. She wound up making the cut after the first two days, accomplishing the first of her two goals. By the end of the tournament, she had accomplished her other goal as the lowest-scoring amateur in the tournament.

On the final day of the tournament, Cathrea tied for the best score of any golfer with a 2-under-par 70.

She finished the tournament tied for 25th place.

Sulzer texted Cathrea a congratulatory note after the tournament. Cathrea wrote back to tell them how she kept the Popsicle stick with her throughout the tournament.

“What’s so nice is in other sports you don’t see this interaction,” Sulzer said.

When Cathrea spoke with reporters after the tournament, she mentioned how meeting Olivia was one of her biggest highlights.

It reminded her of her own youth, when she was about 8 or 9 and her dad took her to a golf tournament at Silverado Golf Club in Arizona.

Ben Crenshaw was delivering a clinic after the round and kids were taking turns driving the ball. Cathrea’s father nudged her out with the rest of the kids to take a turn. She smoked the ball down the middle of the fairway.

“Ben said, ‘I bet you can’t do that again,’ ” Cathrea recalled.

So, she did it again.

Crenshaw sent Cathrea a package of memorabilia after they met and the two have been close ever since. Two years ago they teamed up at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at the famed Pebble Beach. Playing as a pro/junior team, they shot 22-under-par to win the tournament.

“Ever since then Ben’s been a great mentor to me,” Cathrea said. “I feel like if Ben could do that for me, I could do that for Olivia.”

Cathrea paused for a second when asked what stood out about Olivia.

“It was something about her that just seemed different than everybody else,” she said. “Her and golf just kind of clicked. It’s hard to explain.”

Since the tournament ended two weeks ago, Cathrea has kept in contact with the Sulzers every few days. Cathrea said she hopes to visit them again the next time she’s back on Long Island.

“I know she’s genuine,” Sulzer said. “When I spoke to her on the Fourth of July she said if there’s anything I can do to help Olivia with golf, give me a call.”

Sulzer knows his daughter has a long road ahead if she chooses to pursue golf. But if she does, she’ll undoubtedly have a lifelong mentor and friend in Casie Cathrea.

joew@timesreview.com

07/01/13 11:54am
07/01/2013 11:54 AM

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton hosted the U.S. Women’s Open this past weekend.

Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton hosted the 68th U.S. Women’s Golf Open this past weekend, which ended Sunday with Inbee Park hoisting her second Open trophy. Park, 24, won her first Open in 2008 while just 19.

Park shot an 8-under-par 280 to win the tournament by four strokes over I.K. Kim. The top three finishers were all from Korea.

Sebonack was the first Long Island golf course to host a women’s Open.

The nearby location of one of the top golf tournaments brought out plenty of fans from the North Fork, some of whom were watching a big-time golf for the first time.

Times/Review golf columnist Jay Dempsey caught up with some of the locals at Sebonack to get their take on the tournament and the golf course:

“I love seeing the women play. The course is fantastic.” — Jan Rose of Orient.

“I wanted to see the women swing. Maybe I can learn something.” — Don Rose of Orient.

“This is my first time at at tournament. Maybe it will revive my interest in golf.” — Cathy Gallagher of Southold.

“I’ve never been to an event like this. I wanted to see the course and it’s dynamite.”  – Chris Gallagher of Southold.

“I’m not a golfer, but I wanted to see the course. It’s beautiful. I’m here to enjoy the walk and the day.” — Terry Connell of Southold.

“I’ve been told that to improve my golf game, I should swing more like the women. So I came over to watch the ladies swing.” — Allan Connell of Southold.

“I wanted to see Morgan Pressel because my middle name is Morgan.”  – Andrew McKenzie, 6, of Laurel.

09/03/12 9:00am
09/03/2012 9:00 AM

JOE WERKMEISTER FILE PHOTO | NBA legends Julius “Dr. J” Erving (left) and Charles Barkley were part of last year’s golf tournament at Friar’s Head to raise money for youth mentoring.

Some of the greatest athletes ever will once again descend on the North Fork for a charity golf tournament hosted by 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell.

Friar’s Head Golf Club in Riverhead will host the MENTOR’s Champions Golf Challenge on Sept. 9-10 for the second straight year.

NBA legends Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Julius Erving and Alonzo Mourning will be among the star-studded group to hit the links to support the National Mentoring Partnership, which was founded 20 years ago. Russell, the legendary Boston Celtics center, has served as a founding board member of the program.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson will be a guest alongside co-host David Feherty of CBS/Golf Channel. They’ll serve as the hosts of a Celebrity Roast of Bill Russell, which will be the evening of Sept. 9.

“I am very proud to have many of my friends join me at our golf tournament to support mentoring,” Russell said in a press release. “They are still some pretty competitive athletes but more importantly they are donating their time and effort to reconnect with the youngsters of the country and that’s what mentoring is about.”

Last year Barkley was spotted around Riverhead leading up to the golf tournament. He even performed some impromptu karaoke with a resounding rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”

Watch a video report of last year’s golf tournament at Friar’s Head:

08/09/12 8:00pm
08/09/2012 8:00 PM

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | Tom McGunnigle, front and center, with some of his students.

Some of you out there, probably mostly baby-boomers, may remember the television show from the mid 1970s starring Lee Majors, “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Majors played a former astronaut, Steve Austin, who was injured in an accident and had to have many parts of his body replaced or repaired. Austin, with his newly reconstructed bionic body, went from adventure to adventure in the weekly series.

Well folks, I have discovered the North Fork’s very own bionic man. Our guy is 66 years old, lives in Peconic and has worked at many trades during his life. He has jumped horses at Madison Square Garden, been a race-car driver, farmer, welder, school bus driver and sports coach.

Our Six Million Dollar Man (probably around 30 million of today’s devalued dollars) had hip problems as a child and was on crutches. He was involved in an accident in 1976 where he lost his leg (it was reattached), lost part of his thumb, broke his ribs and fractured his shoulder. He had a blood disorder and had to have his spleen removed. He has had six “minor” surgeries, as he calls them, having his knees, hips and shoulder replaced.

And just who is our bionic man? If you’ve ever taken a golf lesson through the Southold Town Recreation Department, he is the smiling guy with the infectious laugh.

Tom McGunnigle has been giving golf lessons to young and old for over two decades. “I’ve had everything replaced and I’m not quite as nimble as I used to be,” McGunnigle said.

He could have fooled me. I recently went up to the McGunnigle farm in Peconic to take in one of his weekly golf sessions and witnessed a sweet, smooth swing from instructor McGunnigle.

Tom McGunnigle began coaching in 1987 when he took over Southold High School’s bowling team. “I was farming potatoes at the time, which were selling for two cents a pound and I needed some additional income,” he said. “I was a good bowler, so I applied for the job of Southold High School’s bowling coach.”

In 1989 McGunnigle also became Southold’s golf and softball coach.

McGunnigle took up golf after his 1976 accident. “I wanted to get some exercise so I took up golf and joined Island’s End,” he said.

McGunnigle became club champion at Island’s End and has the distinction of driving the greens on the first and second holes, back to back. He is modestly proud of his feat of taking four shots to get from the clubhouse to Long Island Sound.

Like most things he has done, McGunnigle’s golfing skills are self-taught. “My kids will tell you I analyze everything to death,” he said. “My wife says I don’t have fun doing anything because I over-analyze things, but that’s my way of having fun.”

In the late ’90s, the Southold Town Recreation Department approached McGunnigle about offering golf classes in the adult education program. With space being limited on the Southold school grounds, McGunnigle offered a chunk of his farm to serve as the practice facility. “After working out the insurance details, we began the lessons at my farm,” he said.

Getting to Tom’s practice facility is an adventure in itself. Located off the North Road in Peconic, you navigate your way down the dirt driveway with it’s twists and turns, drive past a few barns and voilà, McGunnigle magically appears before you. Acres of land complete with yardage flag sticks, sand traps and a ball-retrieving tractor. More on the tractor later.

McGunnigle offers a series of six lessons beginning with his belly-button drill. He moves onto the triangle and wrist break theories. Then it’s time for his hip high to hip high swing approach. Bubba Watson and John Daly did not attend that session. He finishes up with putting, chipping and bunker play.

One student, Sandy Rave of Peconic, said: “He makes it simple and doesn’t complicate things. And it doesn’t matter how old you are. He’s very knowledgeable.”

Back to the ball-retrieving tractor. McGunnigle’s state of the art, high-tech ball picker-upper is a 1952 Farmall tractor. This little baby runs and performs as well as its owner operates his golf clinics.

Asked what he likes best about teaching golf, McGunnigle answered: “I get the most satisfaction when a student takes it in and asks the right questions. That I love.”

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.