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Country Club

Photo by Kimberly Brown

Staying active has been hard enough during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most indoor sports still have restrictions or are closed entirely, making it difficult for Long Islanders to keep them-selves occupied while living life under pandemic rules.

Yet luckily for some, there is one sport that has not let anyone down in 2020 — golf.

While other activities were cancelled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, golf courses like this one at the Port Jefferson Country Club became a popular pastime. Photo by Kimberly Brown

As the virus pandemic hit Long Island in March, golf became one of the most popular outdoor sports to play throughout last year. It is one of the few activities where contact is either extremely limited, or even nonexistent, as it can even be played alone.

General manager of the Port Jefferson Country Club, Brian Macmillan, explained how his business has done ex-ceedingly well given the circumstances.

“We saw a great increase in membership and play,” he said. “With many off of work or not losing time in their day-from-work travel, more people were on the course. It seemed to be the only safe activity for anyone to do.”

But the pandemic has created minor setbacks for some golf courses like PJCC. The shortage of cleaning supplies stunted the business for only a short time, but what became a bigger issue was the shutdown of production from golf companies.

“Keeping up with golf balls and gloves was an issue that hit later in the year,” Macmillan said. “The golf compa-nies shut down production for a period while product was in the highest demand ever. Getting products in the door was tough, but we found ways to use different companies to get our members what they needed.”

Besides the increased play, there were many positive attributes to come out of the pandemic. For example, the Wil-low Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai said COVID brought their members closer together as they com-bated the new mandates New York State implemented.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

“The challenges of 2020 triggered changes in how we operate on a day-to-day basis,” Robin Rasch, general manager of Willow Creek, said. “This strengthened our team here as we continue to evolve and adapt to COVID mandates.”

Without consistent loyalty from golf members, country clubs would have had a difficult time surviving. Thankfully, the businesses have been able to thrive while simultaneously bringing golf lovers together, at a safe distance of course.

“Eventually, golfers came to understand that being on the golf course was a safer place to enjoy the outdoors — the game of golf — and connect in a safer manner with friends,” Rasch said.

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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.