Mark Herrmann Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988, and has been Newsday’s national golf writer since 2002. A former Mets beat reporter, he has covered baseball's special events, including the World Series and the All-Star Game Show More

When Bob Joyce returns to Southampton this week from his winter home in Florida, he will be able to tell his friends and students about having played in a tournament that had the most rigorous qualifying process anyone could imagine. It took him 52 years to earn a spot.

And of course, he can tell them all about having won it. Joyce, a former PGA Tour player, longtime head pro at Southampton Golf Club and now the pro emeritus there, won the PGA Half-Century Championship in Port St. Lucie earlier this year. The competition was open only to pros who have been in the PGA of America for 50 years or more.

“It was fun beating all the old guys,” he said with a laugh, about having finished first among two dozen golfers by shooting 77 and 74 in two rounds. Not bad for someone who is 80. “If I shoot my age, I’m not very happy,” he said, adding that he once shot 66 when he was 75.

The point is, Joyce still is intent on looking forward, with regard to his own game and to the play of students such as aspiring pro Michael Miranda of Farmingville, a three-time Suffolk high school champion who now is a college star for St. Thomas Aquinas. Golf is in Joyce’s blood as much now as it was when he started entering tournaments nearly 70 years ago.

“We grew up loving competition in Bayside. It was that way for my brothers and me and for the whole community there,” he said, referring to brothers Mike and Tom, who also are both golf pros (and both shot their age when they were in their mid-60s), and Kevin, who played pro basketball.

To illustrate how much he always has craved competition, he told a story about qualifying for the U.S. Public Links as a 16-year-old. He rode to the tournament in Indianapolis with two fellow New Yorkers. None of them made the cut into the match play segment, so they headed home. About 300 miles outside of the city, he asked the driver to stop because he felt compelled to go back and play in a 36-hole consolation event. “So there I was with my clubs and my suitcase and I hitched back,” he said. “I played the 36 holes and took a Greyhound bus home.”

In some ways, he feels freer to compete than he had during his years at Southampton, when he was raising a family, running the pro shop and serving as an officer in the PGA of America. Now, his big responsibility is babysitting for the four of his six grandchildren who live near his place in Palm Beach Gardens.

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“I try to instill in the kids I teach that you’re never too old to stop learning. You can always make changes, always get better, always do something to improve,” he said.

Joyce has the reputation of giving many free lessons. About eight years ago, an old friend from Bayside said a Long Island couple was looking for someone to help their son in golf. That is how Joyce began working with Miranda, then 12.

“He has tremendous talent. It wouldn’t surprise me if, after college, he would be on the tour in a year or two. He is nowhere near his potential,” Joyce said, adding that Miranda now works with Joe Ingoglia at Fresh Meadow.

As for people in the 60-and-older age bracket, Joyce suggests they maintain flexibility and work on their short game. “If you say, ‘Well, I’m getting old,’ you’re never going to get better. If you stay in reasonable shape, you can still play well and enjoy the game,” he said.

He plans to do just that for himself. “I can’t wait,” he said, “to play in that 75-year Championship.”

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Outings

St. Joseph Church in Babylon will hold its 12th annual outing at Southward Ho Country Club, Bay Shore, on May 22. Call (631) 669-0068 . . . The Kiwanis Club of the Five Towns and the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center at Northwell Health Children’s Hospital will hold the 44th annual Marty Mongoni Golf Outing July 17 at Tam O’Shanter Club, Brookville. Call (516) 808-3105.

Aces

Jerry Wood, Garden City Golf Club, second hole, 148 yards, 6-iron

John McGrady, Harbor Links GC Executive, third hole (par 4), 254 yards, driver

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Bob Marra, Rock Hill G&CC, seventh hole, 143 yards, 7-wood

Richard Porcelli, Spring Lake GC Thunderbird, third hole, 158 yards, 4-iron

Bob Martin (of Rockville Centre), Verandah GC, Fort Myers, Fla., 14th hole, 150 yards, 6-iron

John Fargnoli, Timber Point Red, fifth hole, 174 yards, 4-hybrid

Robert Murphy, Timber Point Red, second hole, 165 yards, 4-iron

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Charlie Miller, Poxabogue GC, seventh hole, 72 yards, pitching wedge

Alan Becker, Middle Island CC Dogwood, fifth hole, 144 yards, 8-iron

Bill Chapman, Eisenhower Blue, 17th hole, 123 yards, 8-iron