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Golf

Photo by Diana Fehling

 

By Diana Fehling

The athletes had great weather at Middle Island Country Club, when the Comsewogue/Miller Place combined golf team went against Sachem on March 22. 

Sachem won 8-1. 

— Photos by Diana Fehling 

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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0 1999

Leading the way for the Wildcats’ golf team was senior co-captain Gavin Melandro, a six-year varsity veteran and four-year All-League player, who lived up to his No. 1 position on the team winning his match by shooting a 43 against Longwood at Spring Lake Golf Club, Middle Island, Oct. 8. Kevin Beagan, a senior and co-captain of the team, shined from the No. 6 position defeating his opponent by three strokes. Andrew Vignola, who according to coach Rich Muller is the most consistent player, shot a 48 and is vying for a spot on the final six-man roster for postseason tournament play. Freshman Timmy Manzello, the No. 1 player for the JV squad, made his varsity debut in exhibition play. Muller said he deserved to be brought up, adding that Manzello shot a respectable 56. 

Longwood beat Shoreham-Wading River 7-2.

The Wildcats are back on the links Oct. 11 at Great Rock Golf Club in Wading River where they’ll take on Mount Sinai at 4 p.m. to conclude their regular season.

“I hope to have as many individuals qualify for the county tournament by playing well at leagues and having the team qualify would be special,” Muller said. “I have high expectations for my top three: Gavin Melandro, Tristan Costello, who didn’t play today, and Andrew Vignola to make the county’s. Depending on conditions, and what player shows up, we should do well.”

Photos clockwise from top left: Melandro sinks a putt on the ninth green; senior co-captain Matt Baylous with his tee shot on the 10th hole; senior co-captain Will Cutinella with his approach shot to the ninth hole; Liam Daly, a senior co-captain, chips onto the green; and Manzello chips onto the ninth green. 

Port Jefferson Country Club hosted a sectional qualifying round July 15 for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship, featuring local talent with the hope of making the cut to compete in the final round at Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort and Country Club Aug 12-18.

The qualifier was one of 96 tournaments held across the country, and with 84 golfers vying for the top three spots to make the cut, Brent Ito of Ann Arbor, Michigan tied with Ethan Ng of New York City to finish at 7-under. Andrew Chambers of Boca Raton, Florida finished 5-under, to round out the top three.

Ward Melville alum and Port Jeff resident Gerald Mackedon, a junior at St. John’s University, shot a 68 in the first round followed by a 72 in the second, coming in at 4-under for the tournament to secure the first alternate position for the championship in Pinehurst.

Port Jeff resident Jon Sherman survived the first round with a 75 and shot a 79 in the second to finish at 10-over.

Port Jefferson resident and 2019 graduate Shane DeVincenzo, who earlier this season won his second consecutive Suffolk championship, went on to place second in the New York State championship round June 3 at Cornell University. DeVincenzo shot a 77.

Matthew Mirocco, another Ward Melville graduate, finished the day shooting 80.

Complete results can be found here.

Schedules match play championship

Smithtown Landing golf course gets a makeover. Photo from the Town of Smithtown

On July 8, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and his fellow elected leaders joined with PGA master professional and golf Hall of Famer Michael Hebron and tournament organizer David Capo at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Wehrheim announced registration was officially open for the first-ever Sarazen Par Three Match Play Championship, aka “The Squire”. The announcement came one week after major renovations and repairs to the golf club were completed.

Left to right: PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron, Director of Parks Joe Arico, Director of Recreation Tom McCaffery, Superintendent of Highways Robert Murphy, golf championship organizer David Capo, Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo, Director of Traffic Safety Mitch Crowley, Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varrichio, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, Town Clerk Vincent Puleo and Councilman Tom Lohmann. Photo from Town of Smithtown

“Over the last year-and-a-half we set out to invest in smart improvements to the Smithtown community that would result in a return on investment for the taxpayer. The renovations just completed here at Landing speak to this point,” Wehrheim said. “I am very pleased to present the community with this exciting match play event, which will undoubtedly bring attention to the historic roots here at Landing and generate a weekend of new foot traffic for surrounding businesses.”

Recent renovations to the Smithtown Landing Country Club include repaved golf cart paths, entryway, roads, curbs and pavement, new starter shack, newly renovated halfway house, sidewalk areas, benches and fencing. An entryway island was redesigned and landscaped with plantings, signage and renovated crosswalks featuring all new traffic calming signs and lighting. Additionally,  ID cards have been instituted for the pool and golf course, which has already generated $6,000 in new revenue in two weeks. Building renovations are set to begin in the fall. The Smithtown Departments of Parks, Building and Grounds; Recreation; Traffic Safety and Highway were responsible for the completion of the work. 

“It’s been an honor for me to be here for many years and see the influence the town’s golf course has had on the community. To be a part of this team has been an opportunity for me to share what we can do with the community,” PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron said. “Children’s camps, children going off to play golf in college, children developing social and business skills through golf … to be a small part of the big picture here has been a real honor.”

This event is meant to honor the life of golf legend Gene Sarazen, known as “The Squire,” who helped to design the Par Three Course at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Many golfers who have played on the course have said it is one of the most difficult par three courses they have played. 

“We embarked on a five-year project in the Town of Smithtown, and part of that is understanding the history … it’s a fascinating place,” said golf championship organizer David Capo. “After finding an old map, learning that the course weaves along the historic Culper Spy Ring … I came down to talk with Michael Hebron and his knowledge about the history of Smithtown Landing helped to inspire this event.”

The opening ceremony will take place on July 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the two-day championship running July 27 and July 28. Golfers at all skill levels (ages 16 and older) are invited to register for the 64 available spots in this 100 percent handicap par three match play championship, held on the Sarazen par three course. 

The opening ceremony will feature presentations by Wehrheim, Hebron and members of the Sarazen Family. Practice rounds are available by contacting the pro shop at 631-979-6534. 

Registration is $29 per golfer to enter the tournament. Tickets to attend the opening ceremony party are $25. Registration closes on July 20. 

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Port Jefferson’s boys golf team defeated Mount Sinai on the links 8-1 Sept. 27 at Willow Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai, moving its record to 4-1 this season. The Royals will be back in action Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m. at Port Jefferson Country Club against Longwood.

Crab Meadow Golf course.

Vandals struck the Town of Huntington’s Crab Meadow Golf Course causing about  $124,000 in damages earlier this week.

Huntington Town officials announced four holes at the Crab Meadow Golf Course in Northport were damaged overnight between July 30 and 31.

“It’s a shame that someone would attempt to destroy one of the town’s great recreational attractions,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). “Don’t let them spoil your fun — I encourage all who enjoy golf to take advantage of our discounted rates while the three greens are repaired.”

“It’s a shame that someone would attempt to destroy one of the town’s great recreational attractions.”

– Chad Lupinacci

The vandalism to holes 1, 11 and 17 occurred between 9 p.m. July 30, when the final golf cart was turned in, and 2 a.m. July 31 when a golf course employee arrived, according to the town.  The damage appears to have been done by a blunt object as opposed to a dirt bike, town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said.

One of the greens sustained insignificant damaged, which will be repaired in-house by town employees, Lembo said. The town will be filing an insurance claim for the estimated costs of  repairs at $124,000, which will take approximately four to six weeks, and for any lost revenue during that time.

The town has filed a police report, and the public safety department is ramping up park ranger and security patrols immediately in response to the incident. While gates to the golf course are locked each night and public safety officers patrol, according to Lembo, there are no security cameras at the site.

Due to the damage, the town will offer a 10 percent discount on greens fees for golfers as there are temporary greens in place at holes 1, 11 and 17. One exception, this excludes the
demand-based pricing promotion implemented earlier this year.

The town established a pilot promotion late this spring to drive up nonresident business, which has been a success. The golf course offers discounted rates during off-peak hours, reducing rates to tee off for nonresidents and residents without a golf cart. This has resulted in increased use of the golf course.

“We hosted approximately 1,000 rounds of golf this weekend, which is about 18 percent higher than usual,” said Greg Wagner, the town’s director of Parks & Recreation.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 800-220-TIPS (8477).

Redeems last season’s one-hole playoff loss for runner-up status

Port Jefferson's Shane DeVincenzo bested his last season runner-up record by placing first in the Suffolk County championship Nov. 4. Photo from Port Jefferson athletics

By Jim Ferchland

For Shane DeVincezo, the mental game of golf has always been his focus. The Port Jefferson junior came into the Nov. 3 Suffolk County championship hoping to place in the Top 9, as is his goal every season, and after finishing with a 69, 2-under par, on the first day of the tournament Nov. 2, he knew he was in a good place to keep pushing toward his target position.

“I thought, if I try to go out there and win, the Top 9 will just automatically happen,” he said. “If I try to go for Top 9 and just worry about that and not push for the lead, I think I’ve got a good chance. I thought, with the position I’m in right now, there’s no doubt I can make states.”

With his first place Suffolk County finish, Port Jefferson golfer Shane DeVincenzo qualified to compete in the state tournament. Photo by Jim Ferchland

DeVincenzo followed up his day one performance with an even-par 71 Friday to capture the county title with a 36-hole total of 140, good for 2-under-par at Manorville’s Rock Hill Golf and Country Club.

The Port Jefferson golfer avenged his second-place finish from last year’s tournament in capturing the top spot. In 2016 he lost to East Hampton’s Turner Foster on a one-hole playoff. Foster finished tied for second in Suffolk Nov. 3.

Port Jefferson head coach Chuck Ruoff said he is proud of what his athlete has accomplished.

“He wasn’t going to let last year define him,” Ruoff said. “I know that in his heart last year gave him a lot of motivation. For two days he just went out and played his best.”

DeVincenzo overcame a rocky front nine in the first round by his standards, shooting one over to start his tournament. He rallied after that and finished three under on the back nine for the best score of the day.

“I felt I did really good,” DeVincenzo said on his performance on that back nine. “I wouldn’t say it was really a bad front nine — the front nine is a lot harder here and you just gotta get through it. On the back nine, my putter got rolling and I made a lot of good putts which saved me. Three under par is pretty good.”

He said there was something familiar about the Manorville course that he thought gave him an advantage.

“These greens are kind of like Port Jeff,” DeVincenzo said. “They’re just a little more sloped, but distance-wise and yardage-wise, they’re practically the same. Playing at Port Jeff definitely helps playing at Rock Hill.”

Port Jefferson junior Shane DeVincenzo swings away during the first of the two-day Suffolk County championship tournament. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Ruoff has been by DeVincenzo’s side since he starting golding in eighth grade, and said he’s in awe of the 16-year-old’s abilities.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Ruoff said of DeVincenzo’s talent. “He picked up the game somewhat late for someone who’s got to this ability level. Just between how hard he works and the instruction he’s given, it’s just really hard to explain. Year to year he’s made huge jumps in his game.”

Although DeVincenzo also trains at Port Jefferson Country Club under head professional Bill Mackedon, he said he looks at Ruoff like his best friend, adding that his coach makes the game a lot easier.

“We bond very well — I really like him as a coach,” he said. “Ever since I started in eighth grade, he’s been there as a supporter. Even when I’m struggling he’s there to help me. I have him to back me up and he helps me boost up my confidence.”

DeVincenzo golfed in a foursome Nov. 3 along with Pierson’s Henry Brooks, Eastport-South Manor’s Andrea Ternavasio and Sayville’s Sean Haselton. DeVincenzo has played with his Sayville opponent before.

“Me and Shane have been playing together for a long time,” Haselton said. “He got hot with the putter today and that’s what did it for him. I feel we feed off each other — he makes a good putt, then I make a good putt. We both played really solid. It’s fun to play with people playing well.”

Haselton finished the first day with a 73, one over par, and ended day two tied for second with

Foster and Habrorfields’ Pat Healy. In the team competition, he helped Sayville win its first county title since 2013 with an 813, ahead of Harborfields (826) and Smithtown West (831).

Port Jefferson’s Shane DeVincenzo eyes his target. Photo by Jim Ferchland

DeVincenzo, the second-place trio, Huntington’s Tyler Gerbavsits (148), Sayville’s Brendan Smith (152) and Smithtown West’s John Pawlowski (153) all qualified to compete in the state tournament, along with Connetquot’s Kyle Zere and Huntington’s Matt Giamo, who finished tied for eighth at 154. They earned the final two spots by besting Harborfields’ Andre Chi in a one-hole playoff.

Pierson’s Brooks also said he enjoyed playing alongside top competitors, saying he was fascinated seeing DeVincenzo play for the first time.

“He played great today,” Brooks said of DeVincenzo. “He was hitting every drive straight — drilling long putts. He was really dialed in.”

Even before DeVincenzo’s performance at Rock Hill, Ruoff said his athlete is the greatest player he’s ever coached.

“Without a doubt in my mind he is,” Ruoff said. “There have been some great players that we’ve had the privilege of seeing at Ward Melville, who is our closest competitor, through the years. As far as Port Jeff goes, he’s been the best player I’ve been around by far.”

Ruoff said he sees DeVincenzo finishing Top 5 in the state.

“I feel that anything can happen on a given day in a round of golf, but he’s certainly right at the top,” Ruoff said of DeVincenzo. “Every year he has slightly exceeded his high expectations, and I have high expectations for him. He just blessed with a lot of talent.”

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.