Timber Point weathers two storms

After making their putts, a group of golfers

After making their putts, a group of golfers leave the fifth hole on Timber Point Golf Club's blue course, known as "Gibralter", which overlooks the Great South Bay. (Sept. 25, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Mark Herrmann

Newsday columnist Mark Herrmann Mark Herrmann

Herrmann has covered the Mets and Yankees since 1988,

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On a sunny, crisp weekday morning, a ride to Timber Point's striking Gibraltar hole with Suffolk County golf course guru Steve Tooker is a reminder of how remarkable fall golf is on Long Island. One look at a post-Sandy photo in Tooker's iPhone is a reminder of how brutal the fall can be on the same land.

Little less than a year ago, a chunk of Gibraltar was eaten by erosion, while the next hole on Timber Point's signature Blue Course, the par-4 sixth, was caked knee-high with sand. As recently as March, those holes were unplayable, if not totally unrecognizable.

"Everybody forgets about Irene," said Andy Carracino, who is in his 21st season as the pro at the Timber Point, the county course in Great River. "We had just started to recover last fall, and then Sandy hit."

But these days you would never know there had been one storm, let alone two. Timber Point was rebuilt and restored by Tooker, area supervisor for the Suffolk parks department and a second-generation course superintendent (his father Roger tended Rock Hill and Pine Hills), and his crew. Everyone else associated with the historic 27-hole layout on Great South Bay showed typical golfers' resolve and resourcefulness in keeping the place going.

"People were calling, saying, 'I heard you guys are closed, you got annihilated, you're not going to open again,' or, 'I heard the Blue is never going to open again,'" Carracino said. "Thank God for credit lines and bridge loans to get you through lean times."

Many Long Island courses, especially those on the South Shore, are like Timber Point in that they took a double lashing in August 2011 and October 2012. They bounced back. The view from those places is that nature makes their courses so vulnerable and nature makes their courses so beautiful.

"Weather, to me, is a law of averages. We had it in back-to-back years. Maybe now we can go 40 to 60 years before the next one," Carracino said.

Timber Point made it through the Hurricane of '38 just fine. It was designed in 1923 by H.S. Colt and C.H. Alison, renowned English golf architects. They left their mark in Great River with Gibraltar, a 188-yard par 3 on a bluff reminiscent of the limestone promontory on Spain's south coast.

Local pros gave strong reviews when they played the Met PGA Senior-Junior tournament there last week. Some of them knew what the place had endured: Salt water and hot weather combined to burn the fairways after Irene, then Sandy created different havoc.

"You had to get creative," Carracino said, thinking back to last November, when the club cobbled together three usable holes from the Blue and six from the White to form a back nine for the Red.

"Who could think about playing golf? They were busy rebuilding their own homes and workplaces. But the upside was that after that, we could tell people, 'Take a day off. The work isn't going anywhere,'" said the pro who hopes he is done with storms. Outings

Glen Head Lions Fall Classic will be next Thursday at Glen Cove Golf Club. Proceeds go to LI Lions Quest Initiative and Lions Camp Badger. Email ad@glenmortgage.com . . . The 16th Annual Marty Rybecky Golf Classic to benefit Port Washington Youth Activities will be Oct. 14 at the Village Club of Sands Point. Visit pyasports.org . . . The Nassau County Firefighters Burn Center Foundation will have its golf outing Oct. 15 at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course. Email boats29@

verizon.net.