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11/21/15 3:00pm
11/21/2015 3:00 PM

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Sibling rivalry is defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “competition between siblings, especially for the attention and approval of their parents.” The competition may be when one sibling keeps his room cleaner than the other, gets better grades in school, does things around the house without complaining and eats everything on his plate. READ

04/12/15 12:00pm
04/12/2015 12:00 PM

Kathy and Jim Mulligan had finished packing their golf gear in anticipation of a golf vacation that was only a few days away. Both are decent players and enjoy the game regardless of how well they score.

A few days before setting out for their golf get-away, Kathy said to Jim: “I’ve been thinking. We always play golf with Joan and Harry and they are such great company. What happens if we get teamed up with a beginner, a club-thrower, a cheater, or even worse, someone with a potty mouth? That could ruin our whole day.”  (more…)

06/27/11 1:55pm
06/27/2011 1:55 PM

How difficult can it be? We’ve all pushed a lawn mower, spread some fertilizer and watered our lawns. No big deal, right? So how hard is it being a golf course superintendent?

Ladies and gentlemen, being a golf course superintendent requires the skills of a meteorologist, a farmer, a horticulturist, a public-relations expert, a personnel manager, a bookkeeper and a salesman.

Oh, one more thing. You had better like going to bed early, waking up hours before the sun rises, and working 15 hour days, seven days a week.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Laurel Links Country Club superintendent, Bill Shuford, to talk about his job.

“I consider myself like a farmer who looks at his soil and decides what needs to be done,” Shuford said. “Most of my time is spent riding the course, looking around.”

With the help of two assistants, Shuford drives the course up to 15 times every day, taking detailed notes along the way.

Like vineyards, golf courses have micro-climates. “We can have a 15-degree temperature difference from one section of the course to another,” said Shuford. “Every night we set up our plan for the following day based on soil samples and by checking moisture levels. We decide what areas to water, fertilize and are in need of treatment.”

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | Bill Shuford's job as the Laurel Links Country Club superintendent is a multifaceted one.

In addition to the daily hands-on duties the job requires, Shuford is also responsible for making regular reports to governmental agencies regarding the chemicals used on the course.

Shuford’s love of golf began when he was 5 years old and continued into his college years.

“I couldn’t afford to play golf when I was in college, so I got a job working on a golf course,” he said. “I never considered golf course maintenance as an occupation, but once I did it, I loved it.”

After graduating with degrees in sociology and psychology from Lenior-Rhyne College in North Carolina, Shuford took a trip up the East Coast watching baseball games and playing golf.

“I played at a course on Long Island and spoke with the superintendent,” he said. “I told him I really loved golf course maintenance and asked him if I needed to go back to school for it.”

The superintendent responded, wisely, “Do you think you can talk to a blade of grass and get it to grow?” Shuford got the message and went on to the University of Massachusetts, receiving a degree in turf management.

After working at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton for eight years and at Island Hills Golf Club in Sayville for almost three years, Shuford landed at Laurel Links where he has been for the past decade.

Shuford continues to educate himself in his field by attending conferences, taking continuing education classes and reading trade publications. “The day I stop learning I might as well just pack it up,” he said. “If I think I know everything, I’m done.”

When Bill is not working, which isn’t too often, you can find him spending time with his wife, Patricia, and sons, Liam, Ryan and Tyler. The Weather Channel is a constant in the Shuford household along with reruns of “Seinfeld.”

Shuford ended our chat with a statement which summed up why the course conditions at Laurel Links are phenomenal. “I welcome input from our members,” he said. “When someone tells me how great the condition of the course is, it makes me work that much harder to make it even better.”

TEE TIMES Island’s End Golf and Country Club professional Ed Burfeindt qualified for the New York State Open, shooting a 71 at The Hamlet in Mount Sinai. Burfeindt finished tied for 11th place in a field of almost 100 players. The finals will be held at Bethpage Black in July. … Cherry Creek Golf Links in Riverhead will hold junior player development programs this summer. Age groups vary with programs available to both experienced and inexperienced players. Contact Vince Scheraldi at (631) 369-6500 for information.

06/10/11 4:46pm
06/10/2011 4:46 PM

The lords of the links must be rolling over in their graves. Let me tell you why.

Lately, there has been some relaxing and neutering of the hallowed and time-honored rules of golf. For instance, there is a new ball on the market that helps to prevent golfers from slicing. It’s illegal, but many players have indicated they intend to use it — illegal or not. I suppose it’s not a bad idea. Less time spent looking for wayward shots should help to speed up the game, something most of us would like to see. However, a golf instructor’s livelihood can depend on trying to cure the dreaded slice, so don’t expect to see these golf balls being offered in many pro shops.

In Oakland, Calif., there is a group of well-healed businessmen who have taken things into their own hands, so to speak. Not only do they allow the tossing of buried balls out of bunkers, but they also permit teeing-up your ball in the fairway. This creative bunch have given themselves a name. They are known as Flogton, which is “not golf” spelled backwards.

A spokesman for Flogton said the intent was not to challenge the rules of the game, but rather to increase participation, even if it means bending or breaking some rules.

Another rule modification the group practices is to allow the use of illegally altered wedges, which tend to create more spin on the ball. One such club has been made with a cheese-grater inserted onto the face of the club. Pat Gallagher, a founder of Flogton, said, “You’re not cheating, you’re just playing a different game.”

Some players looking for more distance and accuracy off the tee have been using cooking spray on the face of their drivers. A Flogton devotee said, “We don’t want to antagonize anybody, but we think there is room for change.”

This year marked the debut of the WIDE Open, a golf tournament inspired by executives from Golf Digest Magazine and TaylorMade Golf. Instead of using the familiar 4 1/4-inch cup on the greens, the hole size was increased to 15 inches. Not only did the usual four-hour round turn into a three-hour jaunt, but the players also made more birdies and rarely three-putted. “This experience gave us amateurs a chance to play like the tour pros,” said a happy tournament participant.

One PGA Tour veteran, Tom Watson, has suggested that many golfers should play from closer tee boxes, meaning, for example, teeing off from the white tees if you normally tee it up from the blues. The USGA is initiating “Tee It Forward” this July, a program encouraging golfers to play the course at a length aligned with their average driving distance. I recently gave the gold tees a shot and really enjoyed myself. It’s fun making pars and birdies.

Being old school, I won’t be resorting to most of these new and novel tactics. The cooking spray, however, does sound interesting. Just because your golf guy is an old fuddy-duddy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something new. If it will get you to enjoy the game and play more, go for it. Statistics show there were 24 million fewer rounds of golf played in the United States in 2010 than in 2005. Maybe it’s time.

Oh, do me a favor, please. Don’t say anything if you see me on line at the IGA with a can of Crisco.

TEE TIMES Henry Stasiukiewicz of Cedars Golf Club reported the club’s first hole-in-one of the season. Friday, May 13, was not unlucky for Peggy Bowles, a member of the Cedarettes. She aced the seventh hole at the Cutchogue course that day. Peter Cowan checked in with the first hole-in-one of the year at North Fork Country Club. Joe Deerkoski found the cup on the 140-yard, sixth hole. Also at North Fork, Harry Shields aced the 13th hole. Congratulations Peggy, Joe and Harry.

19TH HOLE One of golf’s most entertaining figures recently passed away. Seve Ballesteros was a magician on the course. Learning to play the game with only a 3-iron, Seve could execute shots that others would watch in disbelief. Ballesteros could beat almost anyone using, simply, one club. He did just that in a tournament at St. Andrews in Scotland, shooting a 68 with his trusty 3-iron. I can’t think of any of today’s players with the style and creativity of Seve Ballesteros. He will be missed.

OUTINGS Calverton Links will be the site of an outing benefitting RSRT (Rett Syndrome Research Trust). The event will be held on Monday, July 11. For information, contact Greg Wayrich at (516) 818-5783 or Steve Garms at (631) 786-2249.

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