Written by Andy Newman, Portwashington@antonnews.com Friday, 03 May 2013 00:00
There’s a song from the classic Broadway show and movie, All That Jazz, that says, “Dreams can come true again when everything old is new again.” That’s an apt description of the dream envisioned by the members of the Sands Point Golf Club several years ago that’s about to come to fruition.
The project, a complete renovation of the 1927 course originally designed by the legendary A. W. (Tilly) Tillinghast, and re-designed by noted architect Keith Foster, should be ready for its grand re-opening tournament on May 18th. Work first began last September and includes a complete new irrigation system.
“I would have no doubt that Tilly would be so proud of the work that Foster did here,” said Sands Point’s golf pro, Rob Gick, a long time resident of Port Washington. “In the Twenties the club hired the top architect then and I think we hired one of the top architects today.”
The club was once a private farm with a nine-hole course, which Tilly incorporated into his original design. It’s now the back nine. A group led by former New York Governor Averill Harriman first formed the club. The late governor also served in the Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Bill Shea, the man who brought baseball back to New York after the Giants and Dodgers left, was also a member. Singer and TV personality Perry Como, a Sands Point resident, even hosted Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus on the course.
“Obviously the footprint is the same,” Gick continued. “We’ve done a lot of bunker work, a lot of tee work, yet the holes are still the same. The par will still be 72 but we’ve added almost 300 yards to make it 69,050.”
When asked about the playability of the new layout and what the most challenging hole will be, Gick was noncommittal. “If you were to ask me last year I would have said the 14th hole, “ he answered. “I can’t answer that now. The 14th hole was our signature hole, 600 yards, and par 5. It still is but I don’t know what our new signature hole will be.”
Gick also said that local interest about the renovations has been steadily building. “We’ve gotten a lot of response from people calling us and asking when the course is going to be ready,” he commented. “There’s a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement in the area. Groups are calling us to book events that never called us before. I’m proud of what’s been done here with this course,” he added. “It’s a hidden gem. Not enough players know about it.”
Gick has been the pro at Sands Point for five years and prior to that he was the assistant pro. At one point he thought he’d be a pitcher, competing for Schreiber High and C.W. Post. “I started caddying here as a kid and just loved the game,” he explained. He’s had a number of top ten finishes in PGA tournaments over the years.