Tag Archive | "poxabogue"

A Major Accomplishment for Poxabogue Pro

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Rob Corcoran (far left), a club pro at the Poxabogue Golf Center, played a practice round before last week's PGA Championship with former major champion Jim Furyk (far right). Also picture are Corcoran's caddie, Rob Sullivan (second from left) and Furyk's caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan.

Rob Corcoran (far left), a club pro at the Poxabogue Golf Center, played a practice round before last week’s PGA Championship with former major champion Jim Furyk (far right). Also picture are Corcoran’s caddie, Rob Sullivan (second from left) and Furyk’s caddie Mike “Fluff” Cowan.

By Gavin Menu

It was back to pitching and putting at the Poxabogue Golf Center Tuesday afternoon, teaching children how to hit driver and tracking the flights of his students’ iron shots. To the casual observer, it would be hard to tell that club pro Rob Corcoran had just come off the highlight of his golfing career.

Corcoran, who winters in Florida but returns every summer to teach at Poxabogue in Sagaponack, qualified as part of the field for last week’s 96th PGA Championship, professional golf’s fourth and final major tournament of the year, which was played at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

Corcoran shot rounds of 76 and 77 (+11) to open the tournament, failing to make the weekend cut. Rory McIlroy, the number-one player in the world, won the tournament with a score of 16-under after sinking a par putt on the 18th green in darkness late Sunday.

Regardless of missing the weekend cut, Corcoran said it was the best week of his life and certainly the highlight of his playing career to be inside the ropes alongside players like McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, who also missed the cut at Valhalla.

“I wished that I played a little bit better, but as far as the experience went, it was  incredible and such an eye-opening experience,” Corcoran said after arriving back in East Hampton. “All and all there was not one negative I left there with.”

Every year, the PGA welcomes 20 club professionals as part of the major championship field. Corcoran, 38, posted an impressive 12th place finish at the PGA Professional National Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in June to qualify for last week’s tournament, which was his first appearance on the PGA Tour.

His June finish in South Carolina also earned Corcoran an automatic berth in next year’s National Club Pro, which will be played at the Philadelphia Cricket Club next June, where another 20 pros will earn the right to play in golf’s fourth major.

“That’s the goal next year, to get back to the PGA,” Corcoran said. “I’m trying to stay diligent in training my body to stay fit and to stay strong. And use this experience to get better going forward.”

At Valhalla, Corcoran played four practice rounds of nine holes each leading into the tournament, playing the last practice round with Jim Furyk, a long-time pro and winner of the 2003 U.S. Open. Corcoran said Furyk’s father is also a club pro, and understands how demanding it is to balance work with competition and also how hard it is to reach the highest levels of golf as a working professional.

“We were out there for probably three hours for nine holes,” Corcoran said about his round with Furyk. “For me, it couldn’t have worked out any better. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy.”

What Corcoran discovered playing the PGA at Valhalla was that the course was 400 to 600 yards longer than most tournaments he plays. As a result, what would normally be a 7-iron to the green turns into a 4- or 5-iron, shots that are much more difficult to control.

“What I took from the week is golf is becoming a long hitter’s sport,” Corcoran said. “Even though there are a few guys like Jim Furyk who are able to manage these difficult golf courses, the long hitters are at a huge advantage.”

As he got back to teaching on Wednesday, Corcoran said the experience will likely make him an improved instructor. He said he has drawn a tremendous amount of energy from spending a week with the greatest golfers in the world.

“I’m more energetic to practice my game, I’m more energetic to teach golf lessons,” Corcoran said. “When you’re chipping balls 10 feet from Tiger and 15 feet from Phil, and you’re watching their techniques up close, that’s pretty good stuff.”

Rob Corcoran, left, with Phil Mickelson at last week's PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

Rob Corcoran ( left) with Phil Mickelson at last week’s PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

Poxabogue Pro To Play PGA Championship

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Rob Corcoran, a club pro at Poxabogue, has qualified for the 96th PGA Championship next month in Kentucky.

Rob Corcoran, a club pro at Poxabogue, has qualified for the 96th PGA Championship next month in Kentucky.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller

Little old Poxabogue Golf Club in Sagaponack will soon be represented on one of the biggest stages in all of golf.

Rob Corcoran, an assistant club pro at Poxabogue, has qualified for the 96th PGA Championship, to be played at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, from August 7 to 10.

Corcoran, 38,  will make his major golf debut after an impressive 12th place finish at the PGA Professional National Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last month. In the fourth and final round on June 25, Corcoran shot an even-par round of 72, including a score of two-under on the back nine, to remain at 4-over (292) for the tournament.

Of the 312 club professionals who began the week in Myrtle Beach, only 20 advanced to play in next month’s showcase event for the PGA.

“This will be my first major,” said Corcoran, who spends his winters playing and teaching in Melbourne, Florida. “I wish I had got into a few more, but it’s tough.”

Corcoran qualified for last week’s National Club Pro, as it’s often referred to, with his second-place finish in last July’s Metropolitan PGA Professional Championship at the Rockland Country Club in Rockland County. During that tournament, Corcoran shot a second round score of 61, which set a new course record at the time.

After working for the summer at Poxabogue, he returned to Florida over the winter and spent the last six months preparing for last week’s tournament, studying the greens at The Dunes Golf Club online and working on his game so that it fit to that particular course. The result of his hard work will be his first-ever appearance on the PGA tour, and in a major nonetheless.

“I’m very comfortable with my golf game right now,” said Corcoran, who entered the back nine at The Dunes outside the top-20. “I had some stretches of brilliance, and some stretches of driving the ball into the trees and three putts. I was a riding a rollercoaster all week. But I played my last 11 holes of the tournament at three-under par. “

Corcoran made two huge par saves on 10 and 11, then birdied 12 and 13 to put himself back into position to qualify for the PGA Championship, the only major men’s tournament to reserve a large number of spots for club professionals, with 20 spots in 156-player field set aside.

“After those two birdies, I stepped up to the 14th tee box and I had a calm that came over my body,” Corcoran said. “I thought to myself, ‘whatever happens from here to the clubhouse, I’ve already proven I’ve had a really good tournament and I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t finish well.’ I just played golf.”

Corcoran pared the last five holes of a very difficult golf course to stamp his ticket to Valhalla this August.

“The big deal is to go down there and make the cut,” said Corcoran, tempering his expectations as he plans to leave the East End for Kentucky on Saturday, August 2. “My plan is to play practice rounds with guys who have similar games to mine. I’ll see how they manage it and just pick their brains and be a fly on the wall inside the ropes.”

Poxabogue Celebrates 50th Anniversary

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Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack.

Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack. Photo courtesy of Poxabogue.

By Tessa Raebeck

On “Poxy days,” Alfred and Robyn Poto would wake up their young children, Jennifer and Eric, get out the family bikes and head down Town Line Road to the Poxabogue Golf Center on Montauk Highway. After breakfast at the Fairway Restaurant, the family would spend their morning hitting golf balls on the range.

“When I think of Poxabogue, I smile,” recalled Jennifer, now a grown woman. “It has a warming sense of tradition and milestones for so many people.”

Opened in 1964, Poxabogue is celebrating 50 years of tradition this year. Originally a small potato farm, the Sagaponack course and driving range was started to give local residents an affordable alternative to the region’s standard of elite, members-only clubs.

Over a half a century, Poxabogue has become the range of choice for locals, tourists and summer residents alike.

“When I was a kid, I loved going to the range, it was a nice little family activity,” said Jennifer Poto, whose family had a summer home in Sagaponack. “It became a family tradition for us. Poxy golf and breakfast both just instantly remind me of my childhood.”

“It was a place where we could interact with our young kids, while surrounded by the beautiful landscape,” her mother, Robyn Poto, said. “No better way to start off a weekend morning, only to end the visit with a great breakfast with Dan [Murray],” who has been operating the Fairway Restaurant, the independently owned diner next to the course, since 1988.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

An ad celebrating the opening of Poxabogue Golf Course in 1964. Photo courtesy of the Bridgehampton Historical Society.

While the Poto family enjoyed their “Poxy days” on sunny summer mornings, others honed their golf skills at Poxabogue bundled up on winter weekends and after school.

“I’ve always loved hitting golf balls there since I was young,” said Brendon Spooner, who grew up in Wainscott around the corner from the range. “It’s good for learning the game, having the nine-hole course out here.”

When developers threatened to turn the property into a housing development or a miniature golf attraction in the early 2000s, residents—billionaires and longtime locals alike—quickly spoke out to save Southampton’s only public course. In March 2004, the towns of East Hampton and Southampton recognized the public pressure and stepped up to the plate, splitting the cost to purchase Poxabogue.

Southampton bought out East Hampton’s share of the course in 2012 and is now the sole owner. PGA Director of Golf Steven Lee took over the day-to-day operations last June.

Mr. Lee manages the course and runs it as if it’s his own, paying the town in an agreement similar to a lease. He has a relationship with the town, he said, “to provide the people of Southampton and East Hampton with a public golf course in an area that has mostly private clubs.”

“What makes it special is that there’s not a lot of public golf out in the Hamptons,” said Mr. Lee. “And it’s really ironic, because at a time when all of the golf courses started becoming bigger and bigger and more expensive and more challenging—and that’s really one of the things that’s driven people away from the game—now they have Poxabogue, where people are coming out to. They love coming out, they love hitting balls.”

Matt Nielsen started playing at Poxabogue when he was 16. Some of his friends from East Hampton High School worked on the range, driving the caged carts around picking up balls. Mr. Nielsen first came to Poxabogue to perfect his golf game by taking aim at the carts his friends were driving, but he quickly became a regular.

“It’s important because it gives us locals a place to play that we can actually afford,” he said. “Some of the private courses out here cost more money than I will make in my lifetime. It’s a course for real golfers, not the rich stockbroker that just plays to close a business deal.”

Like the regulars on the range, Mr. Lee is hopeful Poxabogue will enjoy another 50 years providing the community with a place to play golf. One of his goals, he said, is to get more of locals to come out and hit balls in the off-season.

“As long as I live here, that’s my course,” Mr. Nielsen said.

They’re Back At Poxabogue

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By Claire Walla

For 15 months, The Fairway Restaurant — a small white box-of-a-building connected to the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack — sat empty. After 22 years in operation, not a single side of scrambled eggs was served up. Not a single customer entered its doors. But it wasn’t because no one wanted to go.

Quite the contrary.

“We missed it terribly,” said Sag Harbor resident Joan Carlson.

For the past 20 years, Carlson and a group of nearly a dozen other women have met at Poxabogue on Tuesday mornings. They call themselves “The Tuesday Thinkers.” It’s a name which they said actually generates snickers from certain husbands who wonder what they do the other six days out of the week, but they don’t mind.

When restaurant owner Dan Murray was forced to shut his doors on March 30, 2010 because a lease agreement failed to be reached with the building’s manager, Ed Wankel, a large crop of loyal customers — including The Tuesday Thinkers — were forced to go elsewhere.

“We were like orphans caught in a storm!” Carlson continued.

That is, they were until this summer. After Southampton Town took-over the building’s management, Dan Murray very quickly entered into a new license agreement with the town. And after fully refurbishing the building’s interior, he reopened the restaurant — just like it was before.

“The first day we opened, the second customer we had walked in and said: Nothing’s different!” Murray recalled. “At first I got very upset” — Murray labored for weeks with contractors and suppliers to rebuild the restaurant after having gutted the place in the spring — “But then I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s exactly what you wanted.’”

And after a frantic summer season, during which Murray said he and his crew (largely the same as it was before Fairway closed) worked through many of the kinks inherent in getting a business up and running, everything at Poxabogue is finally business as usual.

Though Murray said at one point he had considered changing the menu, and even considered revamping the interior design, he realized that snazzy aesthetics and innovative cuisine are not what keep customers coming back for more.

“I just think, especially with everything that we went through, people wanted their place back,” Murray continued. “And the best way to give it back to them is to give it to them the way it was.”

For Niki Yektai, that meant restoring unusually low countertops. In fact, Murray insisted on keeping the pint-sized countertops, even though mid-sized stools are hard to come by; Murray ended up shipping his in from Tennessee.

“They’re the perfect height,” Yektai exclaimed. In fact, she said she and her family are so smitten with them her husband designed the counters in her son’s studio with Poxabogue in mind.

Of course, she added, counters aren’t everything. Yektai prefers the Poxabogue crowd, which she called a “lovely mix of farmers and city people; I’m very comfortable there.”

And it doesn’t hurt that she isn’t barred from spreading out her personal papers while she sips her morning coffee.

“I’m a really bad customer because I will definitely bring my whole desk with me,” she admitted. “I’ll do some bills, then I’ll do some writing, or an illustration.”

Yektai, a children’s book author, even authored one of her books, “Bears At The Beach,” atop the surface of that unusually low countertop.

An atypical allowance for most Hamptons eateries, Yektai is in good company at Poxabogue.

Across the room from The Tuesday Thinkers earlier this week sat artist Leif Hope with a stack of sketches and a pencil in hand. As he flipped through the pages of caricatures he had drawn, he pointed to several that had been sketched at a table within the small restaurant.

“I’ve done a lot of drawings here,” Hope said. And with a coy nod, he motioned to the man sitting across from him: “Most of them were while I was waiting for him.”

Bernie Goldhirsch cracked a subdued grin. Goldhirsch and Hope have been coming to Poxabogue on a regular basis for several years. They are such regulars they give a friendly wave to nearly every customer that walks by in the span of a 20-minute conversation. In fact, it was Goldhirsch who formed a petition to bring the old Poxabogue restaurant back when it closed last spring. He said he got more than 500 signatures.

“In a community where a lot of the eateries are also snobberies, you need a place like Poxabogue,” he said. “Years ago, I realized [The Hamptons] is a place that’s filled with celebrities who don’t want to be known as celebrities. Whatever that need is, Poxabogue seems to be part of it. Every town needs an ‘Eddy’s Luncheonette.’”

Just last March, Murray signed a 10-year lease with the town of Southampton.

“So we’ll be here for at least another 10 years,” he said. “If not more.”

Poxy’s Cafe Opening Delayed by Mold

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By Ellen Frankman

While mold festers in the basement of the Poxabogue Golf Center, Michael Avella waits. The chef and owner of the Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck is all set to begin his new venture in the space formerly known as the Fairway Restaurant, but a timely opening seems to be slipping further and further away.

At the June 17 Southampton Town Board Work Session, Town Management Services Administrator Richard Blowes assured the board that a discovery of mold is nothing new on the East End. “It certainly has not been an uncommon incident throughout Southampton Town and I’m sure everywhere in this type of climate,” said Blowes.

The issue has nevertheless proved alarming and far more significant than the town and those involved anticipated. Avella, who had hoped to open the Love Lane Café by the July 4 weekend, is now waiting patiently for the town to hire a contractor for the mold remediation project.

According to George Maul, a consultant with Insight Environmental hired by Southampton Town to investigate the problem, three major areas of mold growth exist: the walls of the basement, a rear portion of the café, and the closet of the pro shop.

“The basement is very significant. It’s heavily damaged and probably should be stripped down to the foundation,” Maul informed board members at the meeting. He also made it clear that a major roof leak is likely the cause of the mold, which is both growing and airborne in high concentrations.

In order to remediate the situation as efficiently as possible, Maul suggested isolating each of the three infested areas before gutting them. While his estimated cost of the project was between $40,000 and $50,000 (not including the price of the roof repair), outside contractors have entered quotes for the work as high as $90,000, numbers that both East Hampton and Southampton towns likely cringe at.

While Blowes assured board members that employees and patrons of Poxabogue are in “no imminent danger,” Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Flemming found the news rather alarming. Flemming, whose own child suffers from allergies, remarked that the town had an obligation to inform customers of the mold issue. Along with Flemming’s suggestion of a posted notice, recommendations were also made by Maul to seal off the air conditioning and pro shop closet so as to temporarily lower risks.

“I don’t think we can keep the shop open without some very clear notification to anybody who’s going in there,” Flemming stated.

The debate over whether or not the pro shop can remain open is still up in the air.  While Maul appeared confident that the remediation work would take no more than a week, making it feasible for the golf center to stay open during its busiest season, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst suggested that shutting down Poxabogue briefly would allow for a more rapid and thorough gutting of the building. Either way, all seemed to agree with Maul that “time is of the essence” in handling the matter.

The cost is equally as important for the town. “We need to get a few comparative quotes,” said Throne-Holst.

Meanwhile Avella remains patient. With the intention of Poxabogue’s Love Lane Café having the same “look and feel and atmosphere of Love Lane Kitchen,” Avella emphasized that he is hoping to get into the space as soon as possible.  

“I’m in this for the long haul. I believe we were the right people to put in there. If not this month, next month, and if not next month then the month after,” remarked Avella.

Poxy’s Fairway Cafe Closes Doors, Waits for New Owner

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By Marisa Maier

For 21 years, Dan Murray has operated the Café on the Green, or Fairway Restaurant, at the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack. But after months of disputing impending changes to his lease, Murray shuttered the windows of the famous local eatery on Sunday, March 28, much to the chagrin of scores of local patrons.

Last Thursday, Ed Wankel, President of Long Island Golf Management, the company which oversees the golf course, was called into an executive session with the Southampton Town Board and representatives from East Hampton Town in a last ditch effort to broker a reconciliation between Wankel and Murray. The two towns jointly purchased Poxabogue Golf Course in 2003 and five years later signed a five-year management deal with Long Island Golf Management.

In a press release distributed earlier this year, Wankel contends his original contract with the towns called for “a new concession fee schedule … a requirement to put in a point of sale system and to make a minimum of $70,000 in capital improvements. Improvements that include the renovation of the rest rooms … as well as … to provide dinner service to the public.”

Beginning last year, Wankel planned to raise the rent from $6,500 to $7,500 a month or a tenth of collected revenue, to be tracked by a yet-to-be installed point of sale system which documents all transactions through the business. He asked that the restaurant correspond with the hours of golf from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., instead of the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule that has been in place. In addition, Wankel wanted the lessee to invest in structural improvements to the restaurant.

According to Murray, these new lease terms proved to be onerous. After airing his side of the controversy in local publications, the circulation of a petition signed by 500-plus people to keep Murray at Poxabogue and the intervention of the towns, Wankel remained firm and planned to hand over the lease to Mattituck-based caterer and restaurateur Michael Avella when the lease expired on March 31. Wankel believes Avella will be ready to unveil his new cafe, dubbed Love Lane Kitchen, at the beginning of May.

Of Thursday’s executive session, which was attended by Wankel, Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi said, “Obviously we are bound by what was written into the prior contract. To the disappointment of both towns involved, the community and Dan weren’t able to resolve [this issue] and it looks like Mr. Wankel will go in another direction. The position of the towns was to keep the same concessionaire [Dan Murray].”

Nuzzi added the diner-style eatery is a well-known place for community to gather and nosh on inexpensive comfort foods.

Every Wednesday morning in the off-season, local surf caster Adam Flax met with his clutch of fishing buddies at Fairway.

“It was a nice, good local place where they could accommodate six guys and we could be pretty loud and no one would bother us,” noted Flax. “It kept [the fishing] group together. We would tell stories from the previous year. We talked about new lures and equipment.”

Having grown up in Tenafly, New Jersey, Flax is a home-grown fan of the diner and says eateries of this ilk are few and far between on the South Fork.

“We are searching to find a replacement place,” said Flax. “Old time places, where you can order something simple are a dying breed.” 

Sagaponack Feeling Left Out

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At Sagaponack Village’s board meeting on Tuesday, village trustees and mayor Don Louchheim expressed frustration with both East Hampton and Southampton towns for leaving Sagaponack out of dialogue pertaining to changes to Poxabogue Golf Course.

Last week at an East Hampton Town Board meeting, council members voted in favor of $1.1 million worth of capital improvements to the course. Because the golf course is owned by both towns, Southampton Town also has to agree to the expenditure.

“We were not even informed of the expansion of the restaurant and pro shop,” said Louchheim who also talked about the possibility of a miniature golf course. “And I’m not sure we are getting away from night activity.”

“Talk about arrogance,” added Louchheim, expressing irritation that the town has left the village out on these talks. “We need to ask our attorney what authority we have over this.”

Trustee and parks and recreation liaison, Alfred Kelman said that there was a lot of controversy about the idea of nighttime activity and a miniature golf course at Poxabogue from various citizens advisory committees.

“Let me find out and I will get us in the loop,” Kelman said.

“I’m sure there is going to be a lot of community opposition,” Louchheim said. 

Trustee Joy Seiger said that she wouldn’t mind a miniature golf course, and it would be something that would add value to the community.

“I would be there playing,” she said.

But according to Ed Wankel, of Long Island Golf Management, who represented the golf course at the East Hampton meeting, the first phase of the Poxabogue plan involves moving the driving range tee line up and adding safety fencing around the course. There will also be improvements to the irrigation system, he said, and two additional sheds are proposed to house ball-dispensing machines.

In an interview Wednesday, Wankel said that plans for a miniature golf course had been discussed, but are not included in this initial phase. He added that if plans for a miniature golf course go ahead, it will be proposed without lighting. He also notes that phase one of the project does not include any changes to the parking, pro shop or restaurant.

Special Events

Sagaponack Village officials are asking for more changes to their local laws. In July of last year, the village created a new local law requiring a permit for outdoor special events that include 50 or more people. A letter of intent is to be sent to the village at least 180 days prior to the event, which makes this crunch time for any events to be held in June 2009.

So far the village has received four letters of intent for outdoor assembly permits and on this week’s agenda, three of them were up for discussion.

The village board didn’t have any problems with one of the events, scheduled for July 25 at the Wolffer Estate when the James Beard Foundation will host an event expected to entertain 600 or so guests.

Mayor Louchheim did, however, express concern over another event to be held on the same grounds. The Group for the East End has submitted a request for an event on June 20, but the letter of intent does not include the number of people expected to attend.

“If we are giving them the tentative green light — do we have any other requirements?” Louchheim asked rhetorically, “We should, to get an idea of the size.”

He requested that the current local law be changed to include the projected size of the event.

Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt showed up for Tuesday’s meeting, to make sure they have complied with the village’s requirements for a fundraising party on June 13 at Tee and Charles Addams Foundation on Sagaponack Road. Their letter of intent includes the size of the party, which is estimated at 150 people, but the board was more concerned about the parking.

“Where would you be able to park?” Louchheim asked party planners, “You have to make arrangements … a lot has changed since the incorporation [of the village].”

“We have a quarter mile long driveway, that’s the problem,” said Kevin Miserocchi, executive director of the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, who noted the driveway is too narrow for parking. He asked the board if parking would be allowed in front of the property along Sagaponack Road.

“We try to discourage it,” said deputy mayor Lee Foster.

“That corner has had so many accidents over the years,” trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer said.

“But I think there is enough room to get off the road and onto the shoulder,” Louchheim added.

Miserocchi said that he would be willing to hire a valet company for the event.

“We will work with the valet company,” Sieger said representing the town, “it really works out very well.