New Year’s Day Golf in New York City

Dyker Beach Golf Course, Brooklyn, New York, January 1, 2013. That's the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background. There are good municipal golf courses on the other end of it, too (in Staten Island).

Dyker Beach Golf Course, Brooklyn, New York, January 1, 2013. That’s the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background. There are good municipal golf courses on the other end of it, too (in Staten Island).

For the past six years, my friends and I have played golf on either New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve—usually in New York City, which seldom gets much snow. On January 1, 2008, we played at Dyker Beach Golf Course, in Brooklyn. In 2009, we had to drive a couple of hours south of the city, to Galloway, New Jersey, to find a course where we could play on grass. One year, we played in the Bronx, on one of the two courses in Pelham Bay Park. In 2012, for the first time, we were able to play on our home course, which didn’t close for the season until the following day.

Bay Course, Seaview Inn, Galloway, New Jersey, January 1, 2009.

Hacker (real name), Bay Course, Seaview Hotel & Golf Club, Galloway, New Jersey, January 1, 2009.

This year, our home course had closed on Christmas Eve Eve and Pelham Bay still had snow, so we returned to Dyker Beach. Other Gene drove us, in his wife’s car, which has millions of cool features that he doesn’t know how to use. The three guys who sat in the back seat didn’t bother to remove the dog seat cover, which was quilted and was actually sort of comfortable. We saw snow on the way down:

Interstate 84, near the Connecticut-New York border.

Rt. 7, in Connecticut, on our way to I-84.

We made great time because everyone else in the tri-state area either was still passed out or was trying to treat their hangover. And there was no snow at Dyker, except for this patch, on one of the greens:

P1050060

The guy in the golf shop let us play as a fivesome—or, at any rate, he didn’t guess that we were planning to play as a fivesome and therefore didn’t specifically tell us not to. We saw some leftover damage from Hurricane Sandy, but it didn’t affect play:

P1050018

Overall, the course was in terrific shape. Some of the grass was bright green and obviously still growing, and the greens were fast and unfrozen.

Dyker's ninth fairway rounds quite close  to Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge--a good reason not to park on that block.

Dyker’s ninth fairway runs parallel, and quite close, to Seventh Avenue in Bay Ridge–a good reason not to park on that block. In fact, you probably shouldn’t walk on that sidewalk, or drive on that street.

Even though there were five of us, we kept pace with the single playing one hole ahead of us and stayed ahead of the single playing one hole behind us (in a cart). We finished in just under three hours.

Eighth Green. That's Poly Prep Country Day School in the background.

Seventh Green. That’s Poly Prep Country Day School in the background.

Gene P., the night before, had warned us in an email that the forecast was for temperatures in the low teens, and he suggested that we consider rescheduling. But he must have been looking at the forecast for Alaska, because the temperature in Brooklyn never got below about 40.

Sixteenth green. We might be interested in buying one of those houses across the street, and using it as a winter clubhouse.

Sixteenth green. We might be interested in buying one of those houses, across the street, and using it as our winter clubhouse.

We played Double Skins, with an added feature that I suddenly thought of on the third hole: Ball Marker Stymies—in which the old Stymie Rule is applied to ball markers rather than balls. That means that if somebody’s ball marker is in your line on a green you have to putt over it or around it. (And you can’t mark your ball with a hockey puck. Each marker—we decided—must be poker-chip-size or smaller.)

Stymied.

Stymied, on a breaking putt.

After golf, we had lunch at Pipin’s Pub, in Bay Ridge, the home of the famous Pipin Burger (bacon cheeseburger with American cheese). The fries at Pipin’s Pub need work, but we have nothing bad to say about the Pipin Burger. Our waiter took this photograph, despite making it clear that he believed he had better things to do:

Pipin's Pub, January 1, 2013.

Pipin’s Pub, January 1, 2013.

On New Year’s Day 2008, we had lunch at Pipin’s Pub, too—and at the same table. Here’s proof:

Pipin's Pub, January 1, 2008.

Pipin’s Pub, January 1, 2008.

Happy New Year, and so forth.

Fritz, Dyker Beach, January 1, 2008.

Fritz, Dyker Beach, January 1, 2008.

Hurricane Sandy Update: Lido Golf Club

One of the water holes at Lido Golf Club, during an event I played in back in September. There are more water holes now.

Back in September, I played in a literary golf outing, called the Grudge Cup, at Lido Golf Club, in Lido Beach, New York. That’s one of the competitors in the photo above, teeing off on (I think) the fifth hole, a par 3. A little over a month later, Hurricane Sandy hit Lido hard. Here’s a post-storm aerial photo, which Golf World ran a couple of weeks ago to illustrate a story by Bill Fields:

Postdiluvian Lido Golf Club. The green of the hole in the photo at the top of this post is at the upper left. (Photo from Golf World.)

The golf course was inundated—and, it goes without saying, the neighbors got it worse. The Google Earth screenshot below, which predates the storm, shows just how vulnerable those neighbors were. (The body of water at the bottom of the image is the Atlantic Ocean.)

The golf course is near the center of this Google Earth screenshot. The course and the adjacent neighborhoods were flooded from both sides.

Lido Golf Club is still closed, and the front page of its website has a button you can click to make a donation to the Red Cross.

Lido Golf Club in better times.

Hurricane Sandy Golf Update

The huge old oak tree near the fourth green, which was nearly destroyed in the Halloween storm a year ago, dropped one more branch yesterday, during Hurricane Sandy, creating a shortcut to the fifth tee.

Playing golf during the hurricane turned out to be impractical, but five of us did play an inspection round Tuesday afternoon, after the storm had passed. There was surprisingly little damage to the course, other than the busted fence in the photo above and a white pine that had fallen across the fifth tee, visible in the photo below. We decided to play the pine trunk “as it lies,” and, because it was lying between the white tee markers, that meant getting the ball up fairly quickly.

Adam teeing off on the fifth hole.

Thirteen years ago, on the first night of the Sunday Morning Group’s first annual October golf trip to Atlantic City, we ate dinner at a terrific Italian place downtown. We looked for it again a couple of times during the next few years, but no one could remember its name or exactly where it had been, and we eventually gave up, although we didn’t stop talking about it. (“Remember that great Italian place we ate dinner at in 2000?” etc.) Last night, during the storm, while I was watching the Weather Channel and searching the Web for frightening pictures of hurricane damage, I noticed a photo on the MSNBC site of a flooded street in Atlantic City, and scared my wife by shouting “That’s it!”

And that truly is it: Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern, on Fairmount Avenue. Someone please tell me that the hurricane didn’t sweep it away.

Hurricane Sandy Golf

On Sunday, two three-man teams tied at -10, so we held a playoff: wrong-handed overhand throw over the fence between the first tee and the putting green, closest to the pin. This was supposed to present a “perfect storm” of difficulty, but Corey (our new pro) and Nick (who works in the golf shop and plays three sports at a local high school) can throw better lefty than most of the rest of us can throw righty, and since the two of them were on the same team it wasn’t close. That’s Corey, throwing, in the photo above. At the far right is Stanley, nervously practicing.

While the burgers were grilling, Hacker (real name) suggested that we play golf during the hurricane “to monitor the storm and protect the course.” We’re going to try that on whichever day the weather seems worst, assuming that trees haven’t fallen across our driveways. Someone said that we might as well play naked, because if we didn’t the hundred-mile-an-hour winds would “blow our clothes off.”

This hurricane has made everyone think about the storm we had exactly a year ago, when we lost power for a week and I had to fly to Chicago to take a shower. Here’s what things looked like then:

And here’s what the golf course looked like a week later, when I got back from Chicago:

No one thought we’d play again that year, but, thanks to Gary and his crew, we were open again as soon as the snow had melted, and we stayed open through New Year’s Day—a record by almost a month.