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Golf

Port Jefferson's Shane DeVincenzo. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Two years ago, Port Jefferson’s boys golf team handed Ward Melville a loss that broke a 88-match win streak. The Patriots returned that favor at Port Jefferson Country Club Oct. 3, winning the round by a single stroke to snap the Royals’ undefeated streak this season.

Port Jefferson junior Shane DeVincenzo, a two-time All-County and All-State golfer, came in at one over par in the first wave. Although it wasn’t his best round, shooting a 37, he was pleased with his result.

“My personal best on this course for nine holes is a 32,” DeVincenzo said. “I think it takes confidence more than anything — you go into these matches saying you’re going to win and [that] helps you believe it. If you go into it thinking you might not win, it’s going to be a lot closer.”

Ward Melville’s Palmer Van Tuyl. Photo by Bill Landon

The match was a lot closer than it was the first time the two teams met, and that didn’t surprise Port Jefferson head coach Chuck Ruoff. Either way, he was wowed by what DeVincenzo continues to do out on the course. Last time the two teams met, the junior shot a 34.

“He’s unbelievable,” Ruoff said of his Suffolk County runner-up from last season.  “For the remaining matches, if we go out and play the way we’re capable of, I think we’ll end up with the result we want.”

The Patriots may be a young team, with just one senior on the roster, but Ward Melville’s underclassmen were right behind the rest of the pack, like sophomore Palmer Van Tuyl, who shot a 41.

“I hit a bunch of good shots, but Shane DeVincenzo is a tremendous golfer,” Van Tuyl said. “He started off with a few medium-length par putts, so I was down early. And toward the middle of the round I had a couple of ups and downs for par.”

Port Jeff junior Josh Gelfond, a two-time All-League player, struggled with his ball contact. He shot 40,  edging his opponent by  two strokes, but has done better than his plus four performance on his home course.

“My best is a 34, so today I was pretty good around the greens and scrambling, but my ball striking wasn’t the best,” he said. “Normally around the greens is one of the strongest parts of my game, but I need to work on consistency with my iron play.”

Ward Melville Gavin Gerard. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville head coach Bob Spira said the narrow win was especially gratifying for him after losing to the Royals earlier in the season.

“We practice chipping and putting — the short game is really important,” Spira said of his team’s many workouts at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, the Patriots’ home course. “The kids golf a lot themselves [outside of the team], and that creates a lot of depth, [despite how] very young we are.”

Ward Melville junior Alexander Korkuc had his short game working for him, but after shooting a 44 left a few strokes out on the green. He looks to improve with four games left in the regular season.

“I thought my chipping and pitching was very good today, but I left a couple of putts short,” he said. “I just misread a couple of putts. As a team we just have to practice harder, work on our drills better and stay positive.”

Ruoff attributes a large part of his team’s success — the Royals went on a 6-0 run to start the season —  to the association with Port Jefferson Country Club.

“They love being around the course; the facility provides a lot for them,” Ruoff said. “They’re able to practice and play, get instruction basically whenever they want, so it’s a very strong relationship.”

With the win, Ward Melville improves to 5-1, but Ruoff said despite the blemish, he sees big things happening for his Royals this season.

“They just want to compete,” he said. “I set them in the right direction, and they’re taking care of the rest.”

Susan and Bob Dow, along with professional golfer Patrick Reed, at center, hold up the PGA TOUR tournament trophy. Photo from Wellspring Communications

By Kevin Redding

As cancer continues to touch his family’s life, a Miller Place golf lover is raising thousands of dollars on and off the course to combat the disease. Bob Dow, the winner of last year’s PGA volunteer tournament, which raises a total $15,000 to local charities, is back at it this year to raise more money and awareness.

Dow remembers it as clear as day. Following his wife Susan’s routine breast health exam at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip in September 2011, the 58-year-old business owner recalls his fear when the phone rang and the doctor on the other end asked Susan to come back in. They found something.

“I was sick to my stomach when I heard this,” Dow said. “I just didn’t know what that meant, whereas my wife is the type of strong person who just said, ‘OK, what do we have to do here?’”

“I’m a super competitive person both in business and in life, and I’ve always approached everything in my life with the mindset that I will do my best.”

Bob Dow

For Susan, 55, who was soon diagnosed with breast cancer, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before she got this call, as the disease had been so prevalent in her family. Her grandmother died from ovarian cancer and her mother is a 30-year breast cancer survivor.

The Dows attacked the diagnosis head-on, spending the next few years in and out of the hospital through six surgeries. Bob Dow said his wife never missed out on the big family moments, such as their daughter’s sporting events, senior prom or graduation.

But Dow has been no slouch either. Aside from taking part in cancer awareness walks and events over the last five years, he was determined to do something more for the cancer cause than merely serve as a caregiver. He got his opportunity last year when he volunteered as a PGA marshal at the Barclays golf tournament, which took place on Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale.

A longtime lover of the sport, Dow was drawn in, excited to be around professional golfers like Stewart Cink and Patrick Reed, but it was when he discovered a PGA Tour Volunteer Challenge offered by Barclays that he was able to against cancer his way to help his wife and others fighting cancer.

The nationwide challenge, which began in 2015, is a friendly fundraising competition among the thousands of volunteers that participate to try to drum up as many votes as possible for “favorite volunteer,” mostly through a ready-made website and individualized campaigning.

The person with the most votes presents a $10,000 check in their name to a charity of the tournament’s choosing, and an additional $5,000 to one of the winner’s choice.

Bob Dow, at left, holds up his $10,000 check for The First Tee of Metro NY after last year’s win. Photo from Wellspring Communications

When he wasn’t helping to keep the flow of the tournament going by controlling the crowds or making sure the players are able to move from one hole to the next without a problem, Dow as volunteer went above and beyond to collect a total 1,460 votes through Twitter, Facebook and email blasts.

He won the challenge, and presented a $10,000 check to The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and $5,000 to his chosen charity, American Cancer Society, Hauppauge chapter.

“I’m a super competitive person both in business and in life, and I’ve always approached everything in my life with the mindset that I will do my best, will work the hardest and, in this case, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I was going to win,” Dow said, adding that his wife was his biggest inspiration. “She is the love of my life.”

His wife, who is currently in remission, said in a series of texts that although she’s the one who inspired him, he’s truly her hero.

“I am so blessed to have married my best friend,” she wrote. “I am incredibly proud … a little overwhelmed, but that is just par for the course (no pun intended). I wish I can say I was surprised, but that is just who he is — always willing to be there, lend a hand and fight for a cause. When he has a passion for something, he will move heaven and earth to see it through.”

That passion continues to burn as Dow sets his sights on winning this year’s challenge, now sponsored by Chicago-based company, Northern Trust.

In a competition of 1,200 volunteers, he’s campaigning to raise more money for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the tournament’s charity of choice, Tackle Kids Cancer, with a new inspiration: his sister-in-law who was diagnosed six months ago with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

“I’ve seen [Bob[’s not just passionate about being a volunteer, but also about doing everything he can to advance the research for cancer cures and treatments…”

Peter Mele

This year, he’s also volunteered to be the face of the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink campaign, which advocates men to take on the cause of the fight against breast cancer.

“Bob is one of those people who, when he puts his mind to something, he perseveres and has no other goal but the finish line,” said Katie Goepfrich, specialist of community events at the society. “He’s going to do everything he can to make a difference in the world right now.”

Peter Mele, executive director of Northern Trust, called Dow an ideal volunteer.

“He’s very passionate about what he does and is quite passionate about the American Cancer Society,” Mele said of Dow, who spoke recently at the organization’s media conference. “As I’ve come to know Bob, I’ve seen he’s not just passionate about being a volunteer, but also about doing everything he can to advance the research for cancer cures and treatments to help people survive this terrible disease. I think his message gets out there really well.”

In true fashion, Dow is eager to be the one to present the checks again this year.

“When they calculate the votes next Saturday, I want to be on top again,” he said.

From now until 2 p.m. Aug. 26, people can vote for the Dow family in the volunteer challenge at www.tourchallenge.com.

Gerry Mackedon has become a swinging success, finishing qualifier nine strokes ahead of second

Gerry Mackedon swings away during a St. John’s University tournament. photo by Big East/Stephen B. Morton

By Desirée Keegan

Gerry Mackedon can be found swinging his golf club until the sun sets.

Once the Port Jefferson native’s shift is over at the local country club, the St. John’s University sophomore takes time to perfect his game.

“Gerry spends six or seven hours a day maintaining his game and training for his tournament schedule,” said his father Bill Mackedon, a Professional Golfers’ Association of America head golf professional at Port Jefferson Country Club. “During the summer months, unlike with most kids, there’s really been no taking the summer off. He’s very dedicated to giving himself the opportunity to, and improving, his skills to become the best golfer he can be.”

Gerry Mackedon competes for the Red Storm as a freshman. Photo from St. John’s Athletics Communications

Gerry Mackedon is coming off some recent successful tournaments, and is currently competing in the New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course to prepare himself for the USGA U.S. Amateur golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, Aug. 14 to 20.

Last month he won the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship sectional qualifying round at Huntington Country Club with a 131 36-hole performance — nine strokes under par and ahead of the second-place finishers at even par.

“I am deeply honored by this accomplishment and hope I can represent Port Jefferson Country Club by playing my best golf ever,” Mackedon said in a country club statement. “I am extremely thankful to all of the members who have shown me support in many ways during the last few weeks.”

Winning by that margin is something St. John’s University head coach, Mal Galletta, said is an impressive achievement.

“No matter what his score is in relation to par, to win anything by nine shots in golf shows tremendous ability to put yourself way ahead of the competition,” he said. “His ability to go low, too — it really shows that he’s not just comfortable with winning by one. Not many players can do that or have that mind-set, and I think that’s going to bode well for him in his future.”

Mackedon also placed first at the Michael Hebron championship, the Long Island Golf Association’s top amateur stroke play, Aug. 1 at Bethpage Black.

“It’s nice to play a tough golf course like that — Riviera is a tough golf course as well,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do so playing well in that tournament gives me some confidence.”

“He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”

— Bob Spira

Mackedon began swinging the club seriously at the age of 10, but was a tri-sport athlete at Ward Melville, playing baseball and basketball.

“I think children should play multiple sports,” the standout golfer’s father said. “It enhances their abilities in each. I think it helped in his development as a golfer.”

Although the swing for baseball is different than golf, the Ward Melville graduate tried out for the varsity golf team in seventh grade, and made the team.

“His stroke was good and he had a great straight ball — at that stage he just needed to work on his mental game,” Ward Melville head coach Bob Spira said. “He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”

Mackedon captured the Suffolk County individual title by shooting a 145, three strokes over par, and also led Ward Melville to its second-straight Suffolk County team championship his senior year. He finished second in the state tournament — one stroke behind first.

He also competed in the renowned American Junior Golf Association circuit, where he shot an average of 77.3 per round, and placed first in both U.S. challenge cups — the Long Island and Northeast junior classics. He took second place in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Bethpage Red, finished third in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Eisenhower Park White and carded a 64 to post another first-place showing at the Met PGA junior event.

“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy.”

— Mal Galletta

“Gerry’s ability to go low is very special,” said Jim White, a Port Jefferson Country Club member and former Long Island caddie scholarship winner. “To win U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying medalist honors by nine strokes is unheard of. He’s a great kid.”

Bill Mackedon said he and his son practiced on his short game for the first two years as the young golfer’s body changed month to month, before adding to his repertoire.

“The initial training and development was to make him an outstanding player around the greens,” the father said. “Then we worked on his full swing and training him to play at the highest level he could possibly play at.”

The head pro said his son’s determination never wavered.

“He stayed within the Mackedon realm when it comes to instruction, but he’s a student of the game,” he said. “He studies the swing — he does what he needs to do. In my opinion, he out trains and outthinks most athletes on the golf course and I think that’s why he’s been so successful.”

He learned from not only his father, who won numerous PGA section events and three player of the year awards while still holding three course records, but also from his grandfather, a head professional for more than 35 years.

Gerry Mackedon winning the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship qualifier at Huntington Country Club. Photo from Bill Mackedon

Galletta said he sees the work put in, as his athlete came away with a one-hole playoff win for the Connecticut Cup Championship in October — just a month into his college career.

“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy,” he said. “Besides his playing record, I was really impressed with the length he can hit the ball, even in high school. He’s committed to the team and wants the team to win just as much, if not more than he’d like to see himself win.”

His achievements have helped him proudly continue his family’s legacy.

“My wife Michele and I are very excited of this segue into possibly playing beyond college golf,” the college coach said. “I think it’s the beginning of a very bright future for Gerry.”

At the Riviera Country Club, he will be competing in the USGA championship won by the likes of Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

“I just hope Gerry enjoys the experience out there,” Galletta said. “Even people who are just part-time golfers, or even those who don’t know Bill or Gerry, should rally around him and be proud of that fact that someone is doing well enough at that age to compete on a national level. It’s a top-notch professional championship setup, and having competed in it myself I know it’s a different feeling than anything else he’s ever competed in. I hope he takes it all in and if he puts his head to the fact that he can do well, besides just thinking about the fantastic achievement of qualifying, I think big things are coming his way.”

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Sophomore finishes sixth in state tournament

Shane DeVincenzo swings away during the state Federation golf tournament in Bethpage, where he placed fifth. Photo from Matt DeVincenzo

Intense focus is a common characteristic among many successful golfers.

For Port Jefferson golfer Shane DeVincenzo it’s no different. On a whiteboard in his room, he wrote down five goals back in January — place in the Top 10 in the American Junior Golf Association preview tournament, rank in the Top 20 among New York State high school golfers, win two tournaments this summer, become a Suffolk County and state champion, and sign a letter of intent to play golf in college.

Shane DeVincenzo with his fifth-place medal following the state Federation tournament at Bethpage. He became the first Royal since 1962 to be named All-State. Photo from Matt DeVincenzo

The standout athlete clearly has a laser-like focus on his goals, as he has already checked off the first two items on his list, and the sophomore isn’t stopping there.

“My whole summer is going to be golf,” Shane said. “I’ve progressed really quickly, and the better I get the more I like it.”

Shane started swinging a golf club during the summer before eighth grade. As a freshman, he traveled upstate to compete for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association title, and finished 60th. Returning this past season, he placed ninth in the AJGA preview tournament; finished second in the county, losing in a sudden-death playoff hole; and moved up to sixth in the state and fifth in Federation, which earned him All-State honors. The 16-year-old is the first Royal since 1962 to achieve the feat.

“I still don’t think it’s sunk in yet — to me, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal,” Shane said of his huge turnaround in the state tournament. “But it pushes me to keep going.”

Although he may not notice how big the boost up in the rankings really is, especially being that there are no classes or divisions in New York high school golf, his head coach at Port Jefferson was there to reassure him he’s growing in the sport, and fast.

“The first few days he came down to tryouts, you could see he had some ability, it was just a matter of where he was going to go from there, and how hard he was going to work,” Port Jefferson head coach Chuck Ruoff said of his initial impressions of Shane. “I’ve seen tremendous progression. The trajectory he’s taken in the past three years — the improvement — I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He has come a long way not only individually, but he has also helped make a name for the school, as he joins recent Port Jefferson athletes who have turned in some stellar performances in wrestling soccer, basketball and now golf recently.

“We’ve been fortunate this year to have a couple of kids that put Port Jeff back on the map in a lot of different ways,” Port Jefferson athletic director Danielle Turner said. “It’s changing the whole athletic scape of the district. He’s been a light switch.”

“I’ve seen some kids among other teams we play — a lot of great players — and Shane is certainly putting himself right up there. He’s the best player to come through Port Jeff, definitely in my time and probably ever.”

— Chuck Ruoff

Besides working with Ruoff for the past three seasons, Shane signed up for lessons with Port Jefferson Country Club head professional golf instructor Bill Mackedon, who competed in PGA tour events, won three Player of the Year awards and still holds three course records. Mackedon’s father was also a head pro at country clubs for 35 years.

“He has fantastic fundamentals,” Mackedon said. “We’re fortunate that we come across children that are gifted athletically, and he’s certainly one of those kids. Shane’s developed so nicely.”

The pair has also been working together for three years, in the hopes of becoming more competitive over the last two.

“He has exceptional talent and I think he can play at the highest level if he continues to improve,” Mackedon said. “I think the future is certainly bright for him.”

Shane has learned to properly grip the club from his coaches, successfully complete pulling back on the iron, lowering it and swinging away, and now he’s working on rotating his lower body to gain maximum distance.

“I give credit to both of them,” Shane said of his coaches. “They’ve taught me a lot of things. They’ve brought me a long way.”

Mackedon said given Shane’s age and current skill level, his future success will come down to conditioning, which they work on twice a week. His Port Jeff coach said his athlete never stops working.

“Shane is a perfectionist,” Ruoff said. “Until he feels he’s comfortable with it, he won’t stop. He’ll continue to work at that skill, continue to address that problem. By the second year of him playing, he was clearly the best player we had. He was making a name for himself among other players in the league, and took even another step forward this year, and clearly established himself as the best player in our league.”

Shane was taking on players from top teams like Ward Melville, Northport and Middle Country. He used his work ethic and drive to help Port Jefferson outscore Ward Melville twice this past season, for the first time in school history. The Patriots had previously gone on an 88-match win streak that ended last year.

Shane DeVincenzo tees off during the the state Federation tournament at Bethpage. Photo from Matt DeVincenzo

“I’ve seen some kids among other teams we play — a lot of great players — and Shane is  putting himself right up there,” Ruoff said. “He’s the best player to come through Port Jeff, definitely in my time and probably ever.”

In Ruoff’s eyes, Shane’s greatness is evidence of his dedication to the sport, and the changes he has made to continue to reach his goals.

During the state tournament, Shane was one shot off the lead going into the back nine. He got into an unlucky situation where his ball was buried in a bunker, and his score rose as a result.

“At that point, he could’ve done one of two things — he could have let that be the end, and let it continue to bother him, or push through it,” Ruoff said. “And he didn’t let it affect his game. That poise, confidence and consistency is something we’re striving for. He has all the tools — the physicality and the skills. He’ll be our team leader this fall and we’re hoping to go back to Cornell [University] and make our way to the top of the leaderboard.”

Shane’s father Matt DeVincenzo, athletic director in the Comsewogue School District, who has seen two of his sons go on to make names for themselves in wrestling, couldn’t help but smile thinking about all his son has achieved in such a short time.

“It turned out to be the best choice for him,” he said of Shane, who also played middle school football, baseball and basketball, and continues to wrestle. “He’s matured so much since last year — he doesn’t get as rattled when he doesn’t make a good shot — he looks like a seasoned kid out there.”

DeVinenzo recalled the first time he took his son to the Country Fair after they returned from a golf camp, which is where he got hooked on swinging the club.

“I recorded him because I thought it was fun,” DeVincenzo said. “Now, Shane and I look at the video to see how far he’s come.”

Shane DeVincenzo, second from left, with the top eight golfers in the state. Photo from Port Jefferson school district

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A golfer lines up his shot at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo from Paul Muto

The sports are simulated, but the uniqueness of this new Hauppauge business is very much real.

Simplay, located at 180 Commerce Drive, opened its doors back in November in the heart of the Hauppauge Industrial Park as Long Island’s largest simulated sports arena, but its offerings go much further than just virtual driving ranges. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Wyllie, who opened Simplay alongside co-owner Chuck Merritt, said his business has wide appeal to the full gamut of people in the greater Smithtown community, acting as place to blow off steam in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, corporate events and more.

“Chuck and I shared a vision of bringing an unprecedented simulated sports and indoor country club offering to the Long Island community,” Wyllie said. “We’ve worked hard and built the stadium, so to speak, and are confident the players will want to come.”

Simplay is a 15,000-square-foot space filled with simulators that customers can rent on an hourly basis either in-store or online. But when they are not golfing, patrons can also kick back in front of any of the 14 high definition televisions throughout the facility, or hit the fully stocked bar near the front entrance.

Chris Wyllie plays hockey at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo by Phil Corso
Chris Wyllie plays hockey at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo by Phil Corso

For the average businessperson spending their time at the industrial park, Simplay serves as a place to blend work and play, Wyllie said. Deals could virtually be brokered over a leisurely game of virtual golf, or over the facility’s indoor putting green.

For the recreational golfer, Simplay boasts its array of 87 different Professional Golfers’ Association courses to hone skills on, whether it’s during a lunch hour or after hours.

“There are only a few places on Long Island with golf simulators, but nobody has the multi-sport applications that we do,” Merritt said. “We hope to be that go-to destination on Long Island.”

For the family, there is even more up for grabs, Wyllie said. In an attempt to keep the young ones occupied while the “grown-ups” work on their strokes, simulators could be transformed into virtual hockey arenas, football games or even zombie dodgeball bouts.

“It’s a big deal to people to know that we are very serious about golfing,” Wyllie said. “But all these others things we offer are important because they take this out of seasonality and allow anyone to let loose.”

In the back of Simplay, Wyllie and his partner Merritt crafted two VIP rooms and a 4,000-square-foot venue room they said was ideal for business meetings and corporate functions. It’s enough options to make someone’s head spin, but the co-owners said that was the goal, because their facility was multifaceted for different uses.

And to keep the community ties strong, Simplay has already reached out to various golf teams based out of Smithtown schools as a potential place to host practices and team events, Wyllie said. Such things, he said, could lead to more collaborative plans like golf leagues and more to attract patrons from not only Smithtown, but greater Long Island.

“There is a tremendous need for something like this in this community, we believe,” he said. “We haven’t even tapped into 50 percent of what we can offer since opening yet. There’s more to come.”

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The Stonebridge Country Club is doused in flames Tuesday night. Photo from Jeff Bressler

By Phil Corso

A brutal blaze overtook the Stonebridge Country Club in Smithtown on Thursday night.

Calls came into the Smithtown Fire Department around 6 p.m. for the fire at 2000 Raynors Way inside the country club’s maintenance shop and golf cart storage facility, a spokesman for the department said. It took several crews of emergency responders to battle the flames, but no one was injured in the incident, officials said.

The cause the fire was under investigation.

Firefighters battle the blaze at the Stonebridge Country Club. Photo by Jeff Bressler
Firefighters battle the blaze at the Stonebridge Country Club. Photo by Jeff Bressler

“Upon arrival at the scene, the alarm was quickly upgraded to a working structural fire,” said Jeff Bressler, public information officer for the Smithtown Fire Department. “The two-story building was fully engulfed in fire and exterior attack began to get it under control.”

Bressler said the building suffered major damage. Its upper level, which was used to store golf carts, was deemed a total loss. The lower level, which housed maintenance equipment, was also heavily damaged.

Firefighters knocked down the front entry of the building once the flames were under control and started searching the inside, where they found no one was in the building and there was no extension of the fire, Bressler said.

It took fire officials from Smithtown, Hauppauge and Nesconset’s fire departments and ambulance support from Central Islipe and Hauppauge’s volunteer ambulance groups.

This version corrects the day of the fire.

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Port Jefferson’s Shane DeVincenzo scored a hole in one at the Port Jefferson Country Club on Oct. 8. Photo from the Port Jefferson school district
Port Jefferson’s Shane DeVincenzo scored a hole in one at the Port Jefferson Country Club on Oct. 8. Photo from the Port Jefferson school district

It was one for the record books, as Royals freshman Shane DeVincenzo recorded his first hole-in-one during a game against Mount Sinai at the Port Jefferson Country Club on Oct. 8.

“Not many people can say they’ve made a hole-in-one, particularly during a competition,” Port Jefferson head coach Charles Ruoff said. “Shane has quickly become one of the strongest players in our league as a ninth-grader.”

DeVincenzo, who has been playing golf for the past two seasons, took the hole-in-one shot with a six iron on Hole No. 2, playing 166 yards. He went on to shoot 33 for nine holes, barely missing a 15-foot putt for 32.

“We are all very proud of Shane,” athletic director Debra Ferry said. “He works really hard.”

With DeVincenzo’s hole-in-one, the Port Jefferson varsity golf team went on to win the League VI game against Mount Sinai, with a final score of 8-1.

File photo

The Crab Meadow Golf Course is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

The town-owned golf course in Northport hosts between 42,000 and 45,000 rounds annually, according to Don McKay, director of parks and recreation for Huntington Town.

“The playing conditions here are outstanding,” McKay said in a phone interview. “There is a very dedicated staff and I think one of the best features of this course is that you have a view of the Long Island Sound from 16 of the 18 holes on the golf course. The views are stupendous.”

McKay has been researching the history of the golf course since its beginnings in the 1920s.

Originally, Crab Meadow Golf Course was part of the Northport Country Club, which was established in the 1920s. McKay believes that world-renowned golf architect Devereux Emmet designed the original course in 1921, and that the membership then was approximately 125 people. The Northport Country Club was abandoned in the 1940s, according to McKay, and he speculates it had to do with the Great Depression.

Then in the 1960s, with Huntington Town Supervisor Robert J. Flynn, the Crab Meadow Golf Course began to develop.

“I say it all the time, if it weren’t for Flynn, we would never have the golf course today, along with many other municipal parks in Huntington,” McKay said. “His vision for Huntington was extraordinary.”

McKay said that in 1961, a $2.5 million bond was put up to vote to Huntington residents to fund a townwide park program. Included in that plan was use of the Crab Meadow property to create a new golf course. The referendum failed, but Flynn did not give up. He got more groups to back his plan, including the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, and was able to get the bond approved the following year in 1962.

Robert J. Flynn Jr. said his father’s greatest pride was knowing how many people enjoyed the town parks and Crab Meadow Golf Course.

“He believed in the importance of recreation,” Flynn said. “His vision was to establish a municipal park program that would last for decades to come.”

According to McKay, once the town made the purchase of the land, the municipality began to restore the course and alter the layout a bit.

William F. Mitchell designed the current course, which officially opened in 1965. It’s an 18-hole course that is 6,574 yards by 5,658 yards and open to the public. There are social clubs at the course, including clubs for men, women and seniors, that anyone is welcome to join. “The club members are the MVPs of the course,” McKay said. There is also a restaurant, concession stand, locker rooms and a pro golf store.

Maureen Lieb worked at the golf course at its inception in the 1960s. She started working for the town in 1964, immediately after she graduated from Suffolk County Community College.

“When the golf course was opening, they asked if I would want to work there,” Lieb said in a phone interview. “It was between being a meter maid or working on the golf course. There wasn’t any question.” She started as a cashier and eventually became the manager.

Lieb said she worked out of a trailer when she first started working for the golf course, because it took another year after the course was opened for the club to be built.

“I always loved my job,” Lieb said. “I was very lucky. I enjoyed the residents the most that came to golf. They were so nice and I’ve actually kept in touch with some I met when I first started working there.” She retired in December 1993.

The Huntington Town Board authorized a special one-day reduced tournament green fee of $25 at the course on Oct. 21, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. The day will also feature reduced fees for golf carts, driving range and food.

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Jim Smoot tees off for Huntington last fall. Photo by Mike Connell

Tyler Gerbavsits has used his summer vacation to sharpen his golf play. Already one of the best young players on the links in Suffolk County, the Huntington sophomore is gearing up and looking ready for the fall season with the Blue Devils.

Gerbavsits is a member of a talented group of Huntington golfers. At the Long Island Golf Association’s Junior Championship at the Garden City Country Club, the athlete was joined by teammate and state tournament qualifier Jim Smoot. The duo both posted first-round scores of eight over par 78, with Gerbavsits finishing second in the boys’ division, which was based on one day’s play.

The twin rounds of 78 qualified the two Huntington stars for the junior division match play championship the following day. Finishing tied for seventh in the standings, Gerbavsits and Smoot drew each other in the first round of match play.

The pair battled it out through the front nine, with Gerbavsits being one-up after four holes and then Smoot turning it around and taking a two-up lead after seven holes. However, Gerbavsits won the eighth and ninth holes, bringing the match to even after the first nine holes.

The back nine was, again, a battle. Gerbavsits took a one-up lead after 11, but Smoot again responded by bringing it back to all-square after the 12th hole. Smoot took a one-up lead after the 13th hole. Gerbavsits won the 15th, bringing the match back to all even.

Both Huntington golfers made par on 16 before Smoot won the 17th hole with a par on the par-three, giving him the advantage with a one-up lead going to the 18th hole. With both of them making par on the final hole, Smoot won the match one-up, posting a score of 77 to Gerbavsits’ 78.

At the Long Island Amateur Championship, hosted by the LIGA at Southward Ho Country Club in Bay Shore, Gerbavsits was among 141 players competing for 31 qualifying spots on the first day.

With plenty on the line, Gerbavsits posted a round of one-under par 70, one of the lowest scores of any qualifier. The cut was made at 74.

The Huntington sophomore recorded an eagle on the par four 15th hole, where he holed out from 130 yards with a nine iron. Gerbavsits also tallied four birdies, eight pars and five bogeys over the round. Match play for the 32 participants followed later in the week, with Gerbavsits facing Cold Spring Harbor graduate Steven Tanen, a college senior and a member of McDaniel College’s golf team. Gerbavsits lost on the 17th hole after a great match, shooting a 75 to Tanen’s 73.

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The Smithtown East girls’ golf team poses for a team photo.

By Clayton Collier

The Smithtown East girl’s golf team’s undefeated season came to an end last Wednesday when the Bulls fell to Syosset in the Long Island Championship, 421-444, on the Bethpage green at Bethpage State Park.

Juniors Alexa Niven (84) and Cassie Hall (87) led Smithtown East in the loss, while fellow junior Peyton Greco and senior Natalia Schaefer both shot a 39 on the back nine for the Bulls.

Smithtown East was at a noteworthy disadvantage heading into the Long Island Championship, having never played at Bethpage, a location familiar to Syosset. Weather conditions in the days leading up to the contest limited Smithtown East to just a walk-through of the course, rather than having the opportunity to tee off prior to last Wednesday’s championship.

“They never even got to play the course at Bethpage, so that was just unfortunate,” Andrea Niven, Alexa’s mother, said. “That’s not to say that that’s why they lost, but when you’re unfamiliar with the course, I think it takes something out of it a little bit.”

Even with the disappointment of the loss, Hall said she enjoyed playing on a course as nice as Bethpage.

Junior Alexa Niven swings away for Smithtown East. Photo from Niven
Junior Alexa Niven swings away for Smithtown East. Photo from Niven

“The course was really beautiful,” she said. “I wish I could’ve played a bit better, but it was still a lot of fun playing and we played against great girls, too.”

Though Smithtown East did fall in the Long Island Championship, the girls’ golf team put up a head-turning performance the previous week en route to capturing the Suffolk County Championship, highlighted by a 78 finish from Niven, who finished second individually in the county. Additionally, Smithtown East broke the county record with an 855 two-day total, eclipsing the previous mark of 859. With the season now finished, the team said they were pleased with the year they put together.

“Overall I thought we had a really successful season,” Greco said. “We had a really strong team again this year and I think it showed in counties. Breaking the previous county total was a pretty amazing accomplishment for us.”

Niven, Hall and Greco will all be back for their senior year, keeping Smithtown East’s top three in their order for another season. Greco said she is looking forward to what lies ahead.

“I think we’re going to have another strong team,” she said. “Our goal is always to win the county championships and then see what happens from there.”

The three rising seniors have played together since middle school. Greco said head coach Bob Woods has been a big factor in helping her to grow as a golfer.

“He keeps me relaxed before counties, because they definitely get my nerves going,” Greco said. “He always tells me to take it one shot at a time and that the only important shot is the one I’m about to hit. He doesn’t just do that for me though, he tells everyone before we play. I use that not only for high school golf, but outside tournaments too, and it really makes a difference.”

In addition to the three, Hall said there are several other golfers to look out for in the 2016 season.

“I think you should be on the lookout for Jen Leddy, she’s a junior but I think she’ll be great next year,” Hall said. “There’s also freshman Sam Klee that played our No. 6 this year, as well as sophomore Jamie Werner and eighth-grader Alexa Lubomski — they would rotate playing No. 6 throughout the year.”

With the season now in the books, the team will have the summer to enjoy before gearing up for next year.
Smithtown East will lose Schaefer to graduation, who will continue her golf career at the collegiate level as she heads to Long Island University Post in the fall.

“I love how close it was to the city for internship opportunities and their business programs were impressive,” Schaefer said. “Being recruited for the golf team really sealed the deal and sold me.”

Overall, Schaefer was thrilled to have ended her high school career with a county championship after the team went 10-0 in League I heading into the postseason.

“It’s been an awesome feeling after being part of the team for so long,” she said. “Having my hard work pay off and sharing it with my coaches and everyone that’s been rooting for me has been an unforgettable experience.”

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