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Nissequogue Golf Club

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Nissequogue Golf Club, 21 Golf Club Road, St. James hosts the New York Cancer Foundation’s 2nd annual Raising Hope Golf Classic on Thursday, Sept. 24. Founded in 2016 by Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca, the Foundation’s mission is to help relieve the financial stresses experienced by cancer patients undergoing treatment including expenses such as rent, mortgage and utilities. The Foundation also provides transportation to and from treatments through a partnership with UberHealth. Registration and breakfast will be held at 10:30 a.m. with a noon shot gun start followed by cocktails and dinner. To RSVP, email [email protected]

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Barry Chandler delivers food to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters. Photo from Nissequogue Golf Club

It was a hole in one for Stony Brook University Hospital workers April 5 when the Nissequogue Golf Club donated 600 meals to the facility. The club followed up that act of kindness with a donation of 120 meals to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters in Yaphank April 16.

Nissequogue Golf Club staff members deliver food to SBU hospital. Photo from Nissequogue Golf Club

According to the club’s general manager, Barry Chandler, the hot, homemade meals included meatballs and rigatoni. The club also donated 25 cases of bottled water to the hospital.

Chandler approached the club’s president Art Seeberger with the idea of donating to the hospital and Seeberger then asked the club’s board for approval. The club’s president then made the initial contribution of $500, and Chandler matched it.

The planning process began with Chandler contacting the hospital to ensure all the details were covered before the delivery. The 1,600 meatballs, 200 pounds of rigatoni and 110 gallons of sauce which made up the first meals for hospital workers were prepared by the club’s chef Joseph Badalato and his kitchen crew. Chandler said meatballs were an easy choice for the meals.

“Our chef is Italian, and we love his meatballs,” he said. “So he gets the whole gang together in the kitchen, anyone who can help, and we start rolling meatballs based on his specifications.”

When it came to the delivery to Stony Brook University Hospital, club member Ann Shybunko-Moore lent her truck to transport the meals, and Seeberger, Chandler, Badalato and sous chef Vince Minelli made the delivery. Chandler said SBU had someone greet them at the door with carts and hospital employees brought the food in so the volunteers didn’t have to step inside the hospital.

According to the golf club manager, other hospitals and first responders were reaching out to its offices to see if they too may have their first responders fed by Nissequogue Golf Club. A wife of one of the workers at Suffolk County Police Headquarters heard about the golf club’s good dead and asked if food could be delivered to the Yaphank facility. Chandler said the club received a card after the delivery signed by more than 50 of the employees at headquarters.

The golf club staff is currently discussing the next group to feed, which most likely will be health care workers at another hospital.

Pictured, Nissequogue Golf Club staff members deliver food to SBU hospital, top and bottom left; bottom right Barry Chandler delivers food to the Suffolk County Police Headquarters. 

Tim Kearon, left, instructs a student in golf at the Tsai Hsing Golf Academy. Photo from Mastro Communications

Golf’s off-season proved to be a hole in one when it came to life experience for one assistant golf professional.

Tim Kearon, an assistant pro at the Nissequogue Golf Club, spent four months in Taipei City in Taiwan, teaching students in third to sixth grades how to play golf along with the sport’s core values this past winter. The East Setauket resident said the golf program, Tsai Hsing Golf Academy, was established by Dominic Chang, a U.S. businessman and member of the Nissequogue Golf Club who founded the Family Golf Centers chain. John Elwood, the club’s head professional, worked with Chang to put the initial program at the private Tsai Hsing School together, where the businessman is board chairman of the school.

Tim Kearon, left, poses with a student. Photo from Mastro Communications

Chang said in an email that the golf instruction department was created in the fall of 2017 with a full-time Professional Golfers Association instructor and one full-time Taiwan PGA instructor along with several part-timers on hand. He credited Elwood with being instrumental in putting the initial program together, and Kearon with refining it further through his teaching.

Kearon, 25, said he thought it would be an opportunity of a lifetime when Chang invited him to teach there.

“I thought it was a no brainer,” he said. “As soon as it was given to me, I took it. I didn’t take much time to think it over, and it was a big step for me.”

While golf is popular in Taipei, Kearon said it’s not always easily accessible, and to have a golf program in a school is unusual. The program is a mandatory physical education class that lasts 45 minutes twice a week for four weeks. The assistant golf pro, who participated in a similar program called First Tee in Nassau County where he grew up, said the core values of golf — respect, honesty, sportsmanship, confidence, leadership, judgment, etiquette, responsibility and perseverance — create the main lesson plan. He said out of 1,000 students perhaps only 100 are good at golf but most will learn those values.

“At least with the core values, 100% of the kids are going to walk away with something positive,” he said. “If they don’t like golf, they have that which is a huge part of it.”

Chang agrees with the philosophy.

“Because golf teaches similar virtues on and off the golf course, Tsai Hsing School decided to incorporate a golf program as part of physical education for third- through sixth-grade students, as kids learn these important core values before they hit the first golf ball,” Chang said.

Kearon said that while teaching is second nature to him, being in a foreign country was outside of his comfort zone, even though he found learning about a different culture and food enjoyable.

While the students spoke English, he encountered a language barrier outside of academia, but he said the people of Taipei couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming, and the students were extremely polite.

“For me, I appreciated that more than anything and that really got me through,” he said. “I don’t think I would have made it had it not been for the locals being so friendly and just everyone in general taking care of me and looking out for me,” Kearon said.

While Kearon was there, Elwood was able to visit him for a week to see the school firsthand. Elwood said it was helpful for him to see how it operated in person, and he was pleased Kearon took the opportunity as many golf pros in the cooler weather head to Florida or sit it out.

“It was a nice opportunity for him to see a different culture,” Elwood said. “Also, it helps differentiate Tim from every other assistant pro in the area, something unique that’s going to stand out, I think, probably for the rest of his life.”