Golf Gazette: So far it’s been a fine golfing winter

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.”