John Dundon

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13 Must-Tee Public Golf Courses on Long Island

Tiger Woods hits a tee shot off the 17th hole at Bethpage Black during the Barclays on Aug. 22, 2012 in Farmingdale (Shutterstock)

Whether aiming to try the same greens as legends such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have in the past or play country club-quality courses at an optimal value, these public golf courses on Long Island are must-plays this summer.

Bethpage State Park, Black Course
“The Black” has hosted U.S. Opens and PGA events. It’s the longest public golf course on LI. Walking only! 99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale, bethpagegolfcourse.com.

Bethpage State Park, Red Course
The Red Course’s changing elevations, thick cuts of rough, and trees are akin to the challenges posed by its big brother, the Black Course. Precision is key. 99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale, bethpagegolfcourse.com.

Bergen Point Golf Course
Located on the Great South Bay, the stiff winds and open layout here allow golfers playability and room to miss without penalties. 69 Bergen Ave., West Babylon, bergenpointgolf.com.

Cherry Creek, Links Course
This behemoth trails only Bethpage Black, playing at 7,187 yards. It’s for long hitters who appreciate playability. The fairways are wide and forgiving, with hazards and bunkers enclosing many of the green layouts. 900 Reeves Ave., Riverhead, cherrycreeklinks.com

Crab Meadow Golf Course
This neatly kept course nestled in the hills overlooking the Long Island Sound has elevated tee boxes and greens combined with prickly placed hazards, making for an aesthetically pleasing but challenging 18 holes. 220 Waterside Rd., Northport crabmeadow.com

Eisenhower Park, Red Course
This is not the premier public course in the eyes of many golfers, but it’s draped in history. The Red Course has played host to PGA majors and has been given prestigious honors by golf publications for decades. Stewart and Merrick avenues, East Meadow, nassaucountyny.gov.

Harbor Links Golf Course
The Championship Course, playing at just a shade under 7,000 yards, is seated atop rolling hills and long fescues that give the feel of a country-club quality round. Its well-manicured fairways and greens serve players well. 1 Fairway Dr., Port Washington, harborlinks.com.

Heatherwood Golf Course
Looking for a warm-up round, or just a shorter course in general? Heatherwood features 12 par 3’s and comes it at a total par 60. Wellkept facilities and greens make this round worth it! 303 Arrowhead Ln., Centereach, heatherwoodgolfing.com.

Lido Golf Club
Lido is one of the toughest tracks on the Island. The course is surrounded by water, and that’s apparent while playing the back nine. Between that and the wind gusts, make sure to bring lots of balls. 255 Lido Blvd., Long Beach, lidogolf.com.

Mill Pond
Looking for a wide-open track with lots of room for erratic shots? Mill Pond is perfect. There are very few trees or natural obstructions from fairway to fairway, making every shot feel important. A scrambler’s best friend. 300 Mill Rd., Medford,
golfatmillpond.com.

Rock Hill Golf and Country Club
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Rock Hill offers prime value with green fees as low as $46 on weekdays. From the tips, Rock Hill’s slope rating (136 at the end of last year) is the third highest of the Island’s public tracks. 105 Clancy Rd., Manorville, rockhillgolf.com.

The Golf Club at Middle Bay
This private club became a public course in 2014 and has been a top South Shore course since. Golfers need long irons and woods in the bag for lengthy par 5’s that are a distinct feature of Middle Bay. 3600 Skillman Ave., Oceanside, thegolfclubatmiddlebay.com.

West Sayville Country Club
Another Suffolk-owned course, this gem on the Great South Bay gives golfers fits with wind gusts and heavy dune out-of-bounds areas lining many fairways. 200 Main St., Sayville, westsayvillegolf.com.

THE 5 HARDEST PUBLIC GOLF COURSES ON LI

5. Bethpage Red: This is a pure straight hitters course that punishes inaccurate drives like few other courses do.

4. Rock Hill Golf Club: Even if all clubs in the bag are working for golfers, the putter can unravel the entire round at Rock Hill.

3. Montauk Downs: Golfers will be forced to play through windy conditions to the greens where they’ll then find some of the most difficult putting greens on the Island.

2. Lido Golf Club: The final five holes at Lido could be the most difficult stretch of public golf on the Island.

1. Bethpage Black: The Black’s thick rough, elevation changes, and length will give even the best golfers in the world fits.

U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills: Driving Pros Mad

The 2018 U.S. Open will be June 14 to 17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton.

The magic of Southampton’s Shinnecock Hills Golf Club lies in its history.

It is one of the inaugural five golf clubs of the U.S. Golf Association. Its clubhouse is the oldest in America. And it’ll soon be the only venue to have hosted the Open in three different centuries.

But for USGA officials tasked with making sure the Open venue poses a stiff test for the world’s best golfers, the layout of the East End’s crown golf jewel carries more weight than its illustrious backstory.

“They’ve been growing the fescue out over the past couple of weeks,” Shinnecock Caddie Master Greg Gagliardo tells the Press. “They brought the fairways in tighter back in September.”

The most recent design modifications undertaken at Shinnecock Hills involved seven years of back and forth with USGA officials. The renovations undertaken were intended to make the course more Open-centric. Seven acres of fairway were converted into rough.

The latest modifications came after the 2017 U.S. Open at Wisconsin’s Erin Hills, where the course played far too easy for the pros and featured a winning score of 16-under par. It was clear that USGA officials were keen on creating a stiffer challenge in 2018.

“The club undertook a restoration to return the golf course to its roots,” USGA official Jeff Hall told Golfing World late last year, speaking of that first renovation.

“The restoration work was wonderful, but we need to strike a balance between being true to the architecture and testing the best players in the world,” Hall said. “In collaboration with the club, we’ve undertaken a tightening of the golf course.”

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club

Many tees have also been pushed back. The course will be playing around 7,500 yards, far longer than the length of 6,996 it was back in 2004, the last time the Open came to Southampton.

“I think we’ve struck the right balance between making sure accuracy is a key component…and being true to the architecture and design,” Hall said.

Long Islanders will make the trek to the East End and watch a new generation of PGA pros try to take on one of America’s original golf masterpieces. Of the top 10 golfers according to the Official World Golf Ranking, only 2013 U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose has played at Shinnecock Hills before. Rose missed the cut back at the ’04 Open, shooting an impressively bad 15 over par Thursday and Friday combined.

Shinnecock’s layout has a few blind tee shots, but the course’s beauty is evident right off the first tee box. Doglegs, bunkers, and of course the iconic thick fescue are visible more often than not from the slightly elevated tee boxes overlooking Peconic Bay.

“The first tee offers a nice view of the golf course,” Gagliardo says. “The fescue will be blowing in the wind. Even with the tents in the way, it’s a nice panoramic view of the course.”

Shinnecock had not previously been a course that mandates 325-yard drives down every par-4 to be in contention on Sunday. In light of these modifications though, it seems that USGA officials are intent on rewarding long hitters like Dustin Johnson, moving with a common trend in the game.

Back in 2004, it was not the course’s length or tightness that gave golfers fits. The par 3 seventh hole was the most contentious point of the weekend.

“The seventh hole is unplayable,’’ PGA tour pro Ernie Els said at the time, when only two golfers finished the weekend under par.

“The majority of the field is going to make (bogey) there,” Els ranted. “It’s ridiculous. The green has to be a little bit receptive. The green slopes right to left away from you, and where they put the flag, you had no chance. They didn’t quite set it up the way the hole was designed.”

Ex-Met Ed Kranepool Fighting for His Life

Ex-Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool hopes to score a new kidney.

For New York Mets legend Ed Kranepool, the letters “A.B.” used to be an abbreviation for his next at bat, of which he amassed 5,436 throughout his playing days in Flushing.

Now, it’s an important detail – his AB blood type – in Steady Eddie’s quest to find an organ donor to replace one of his defunct kidneys. His are functioning under 20 percent, according to his doctors. Time is of the essence.

“I thought, originally, that I was having a heart attack when the kidneys began to shut down,” says Kranepool, of Old Westbury. “I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet.”

That day, at the behest of his wife and grandchildren, Kranepool sought medical advice. Physicians ruled out a heart attack. The path forward became as clear as the route to first base: Get a clean bill of health and be a candidate for a kidney transplant. But Kranepool was dealing with a serious infection that kept him off the transplant list.

“You need to be in tip-top shape for (transplant specialists) to consider you for a transplant,” Kranepool says. “So, we met with so many doctors. We went to the heart doctor for stress testing, then back to the kidney specialist. I even had to get a signoff from my dentist.”

When all of the potential harbors for infection were checked, Kranepool received the OK to pursue a kidney match. It has since become the focus of his attention. While under very different circumstances, this isn’t the first time Kranepool has overcome adversity.  Being sent down to the minor leagues just a few months after winning the World Series stands out.

“With the Mets for six or seven years at this point, we win the World Series in ‘69, you go from one year playing in the Major Leagues to the next where they send you down,” Kranepool says. “That’s a tough bullet to bite. It takes something inside of you to want to fight your way back.”

But, he did it.

“If you go down there and sulk, hit .100 or .200, you’re getting released,” Kranepool says. “You show them that you can do it, so I went down there and tried to hit .350. I earned my way back.”

For good measure, “Kraner” hit .280 his next season in the majors. That was the best batting average by season during his illustrious 18-year career in the big leagues.

Although he was never fleet of foot as a player, Kranepool, now 73, takes especially slow, ambling strides as he walks to ensure the loss of his recently amputated toes don’t cause a fall. He does this across his basement-turned memorabilia display, brandishing dozens of autographed photos and baseballs acquired throughout his playing days in MLB, pointing out certain precious moments with his intimidating Louisville Slugger- turned walking cane.

Kranepool has been selling memorabilia to fans and collectors, giving others a chance to enjoy some of the precious items he collected.

“We were always raising money for something,” Kranepool says as he expands upon a few select plaques from his countless days of charity work, digging in excitedly at every piece featuring charitable events organized in the name of Yankees’ legend Joe DiMaggio.

Kranepool grew up in the Bronx and was, admittedly, a Yankees fan. Now though, Kranepool has many more precious moments to live for. He’s got seven grandchildren who keep him active. He loves boating and looks forward to getting back on the many local golf courses he’s walked for charitable causes.

Martin Gover, President of Momentum Sports Management Inc. and Kranepool’s friend, says that it’d be tough to find someone more deserving of the help.

“Ed is a true New Yorker through and through, someone who has always given back,” Gover says. “He’s the longest-tenured Met and is beloved by fans.”

With luck, Kranepool will have a pinch hitter of his own come through in the clutch.

OPEN INVITAION

Kranepool is offering a limited number of collectors the opportunity to visit him at his home to examine and purchase unique Mets and Yankees memorabilia directly from his collection. The items for sale are autographed vintage photos, autographed assorted team and individual baseballs, great baseball memorabilia from different teams, as well as unsigned, never-before seen photos from when he was with the Mets.

This is an opportunity to visit Kranepool for a Meet and Greet at his home this spring. The meetings will take place between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, as well as some weekends. All home visits will be by appointment only. This memorabilia sale will help pay for some of Ed’s major medical bills from this past year.

Those interested should contact Martin Gover of Momentum Sports Management, Inc. at 212-918-4545.

Organ Donor Need By The Numbers

114,882: People on the national waiting list for organs.
9,359: People waiting in New York State.
8,110: People waiting in the New York Metro area.

In NY, you can register to become an organ donor when you visit the DMV, register to vote, apply for an idNYC card, register for health insurance through the health benefits exchange, or at LongLiveNY.org.