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

The 100-year history of St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Stony Brook is all wrapped up in the story of Long Island, or vice versa. Either way, it is safe to say that the rolling hills of St. George’s have been shaped and graced by names that roll off the tongue.

For starters, the club would not exist if not for the former Ella Smith, who convinced her husband Devereux Emmet to leave Cooperstown so they could return to the ancestral estate near the site named for her family, Smithtown.

Emmet founded the club and designed the course, having broken into the golf business because his wife also was also an heiress to Alexander Stewart, who developed Garden City. When that town’s founding fathers wanted an architect for a golf course near the current Stewart Avenue, they picked Emmet, a lawyer who played some golf. Despite the fact he was a rookie, he created a gem, Garden City Golf Club. He went on to design many more, including Huntington Crescent and Huntington Country Club.

Ella Smith’s sister Bessie married Stanford White, architect of the nation’s first golf clubhouse, at Shinnecock Hills. White and Emmet became close friends as well as brothers-in-law. White’s son Lawrence was one of St. George’s charter members in 1917.

Regardless of its old-money origins, the club probably would not have made it through the Great Depression if not for the generosity of its president. Frank Melville, founder of the Thom McAn shoe business, thought nothing of writing a check for $4,000 (worth roughly $200,000 today) to keep the place running. His son, Ward, later became club president. He also was a philanthropist who donated land for Stony Brook University next door and for nearby schools. To this day, Ward Melville High’s golf team plays its home matches on the course.

St. George’s is visible from Nicolls Road, north of Suffolk Community College’s Ammerman Campus, named for the late Albert Ammerman, founding president of the college who also served as St. George’s president.

All of this really still does matter, said Ammerman’s son John, a former club president (sheepishly admitting he approved the removal of many fairway-clogging trees his dad had planted) and head of the centennial committee.

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“I think in general there is a deep-seated need to be aware of history, especially if you’re involved with an organization, as we have been,” he said. “I think it’s interesting to think about what happened at some of the early meetings, what it was like at the first board of governors meeting in 1917 or the meetings during World War II, when they discussed whether St. George’s would survive.”

St. George’s (named for the old St. George’s Manor, which was nearby) hired Gil Hanse, a world-class golf architect and Long Island native, for a renovation in 2008. For the past six years, it has been listed among GolfWeek’s 100 Best Classic Courses.

The entire legacy is being cited in a year-long 100th anniversary celebration. There will be a gala dinner, a 100-day match-play event and a weekend tournament in which everybody will play with hickory-shafted clubs. On June 23, exactly 100 years after opening day, it will host the Long Island Amateur Championship. A special guest will be George Burns, who won the 1972 L.I. Amateur at St. George’s before going on to win four PGA Tour events.

“The golf course is the key. It’s a great golf course,” current president Brian Shannon said. “I’ve played other courses on Long Island and I walk off saying, ‘I don’t want to do that again for a while.’ I love playing this course every single day.”

Theclub still is part of Long Island’s fabric, and vice versa.“I think it’s the enduring nature of the game,” said greens chairman John Lynch, a member for 34 years. “And the interesting thing, from a golf perspective, is that St. George’s is the best it has ever been.”



The Rotary Clubs of Babylon, Bay Shore, Islip and Syosset-Woodbury will hold their annual golf outing July 11 at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club, Manorville. Contact . . . The City of Glen Cove Parks and Recreation Department will hold the 29th Annual John Maccarone Hall of Fame Golf Tournament July 17 at Glen Cove Golf Club. Funds go to scholarships for graduating student-athletes. Call (516) 676-3766.


Matt Durnan Jr., Garden City GC, 18th hole, 181 yards, 4-hybrid

Ralph Caruso (of Wantagh), Mount Airy GC, fourth hole, 151 yards, 5-hybrid

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Denise Wolfbiss, Cold Spring CC, third hole, 118 yards, 7-iron

Jeff Halpern, Lake Success GC, sixth hole, 188 yards, 4-hybrid

Denis Somerville, Pine Hills CC, 17th hole, 140 yards, 7-iron

Bob Gartland, Laurel Links, 14th hole, 112 yards, 9-iron

Lawrence Pette, Bethpage Green, 11th hole, 159 yards, 8-iron

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Lori Paisano, Heatherwood GC, 4th hole, 149 yards, 7-wood