Smithtown has completed a partial renovation of the town golf course that was in such bad shape that golfers began playing elsewhere, officials said.
The town has spent $500,000 of a planned $1.1 million total on upgrades to the Smithtown Landing Country Club, including paved golf cart paths, a new irrigation system and improvements to a building that golfers use to take a break.
“The property was in bad need of repairs,” Smithtown spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo said. “Roads and golf paths were ailing, and golfers were choosing to play elsewhere.”
The town has budgeted an additional $600,000 for more improvements scheduled to begin in the fall.
Phase one of the project also included a new ID card system set up at the entrance to the pool and golf course. Residents pay a membership fee to receive ID cards, and visitors are charged for admission.
In two weeks, Garguilo said, the new system has boosted revenue to $6,000, up from $400 during the same period last year. The previous entry system wasn't as strict, and people often got in without paying, she said.
Michael Hebron, the club's director, said the improvements promote the town’s vision for the facility as the “jewel of the town.”
“Someone once called it a hometown course with a country club feeling,” he said.
The club, which boasts views of the Nissequogue River and farmland, was purchased by the town in 1971 after five years of private ownership. With the latest renovations and additions, Smithtown Landing offers an 18-hole course, a nine-hole par-3 course, one driving range, two practice greens, a pro shop, clubhouse, pool and private catering facilities.
Hebron, who was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 2013 and has been the club’s director for 35 years, also contributed to recent improvements by building a putting course.
“It’s not like mini golf with windmills and stuff,” he said. “It’s a putting course to learn to improve your putting skills."
A sectioned off, concrete course houses nine holes, each surrounded by small patches of golfing green just large enough for short-distance putting.
Hebron funded the $50,000 practice area, and helped with the design and construction.
The town is planning on showing off the renovated course at the first Sarazen Par Three Match Play Championship, scheduled for July 25-28.
The championship is named after Gene Sarazen, who won seven major championships in the 1920s and '30s and designed the par-3 course at Smithtown Landing. Golfers of all skill levels, ages 16 and older, can register for one of 64 available spots in the tournament by contacting the Smithtown Landing Pro Shop at 631-979-6534.
Smithtown Landing Country Club renovations:
- Repaved golf cart paths and entryway
- Starter shack for check-ins
- Landscaping and irrigation
- Traffic signage
- Putting practice course