Even though he is not a golfer, Davidson College basketball coach Bob McKillop had a healthy regard for everyone who played in the Catholic Youth Organization outing Monday at Hempstead Country Club. He has a natural respect for the sport, having seen one of his former pupils compete in professional golf tournaments.
The pupil, Stephen Curry, also has a flair for basketball.
McKillop was the guest of honor at the CYO fundraiser, which exemplified golf’s vital place in Long Island’s activity and economy. Friends, fans and well-wishers played 18 holes, then packed the club’s dining room to celebrate McKillop’s career: his playing days at Chaminade and Hofstra, coaching success at Holy Trinity and Long Island Lutheran High Schools and 29 years at Davidson, where he helped shape the career of the superstar Curry, a three-time NBA champion (and such a golf aficionado that he has played in two official Web.com Tour events).
“You come back to home, you come back to treasured memories,” McKillop said, having traveled from North Carolina despite Hurricane Florence. “You come back to people who impacted you, who helped you, who taught you, who were great teammates. Everything that great people can be, I experience every time I come back to Long Island.”
McKillop’s presence was a good draw for golfers, who took part in one of the most popular and effective forms of fundraising Long Island has. Every week from spring through fall, at public and private courses, outings support all manner of causes and organizations. In many cases, a golf outing is a charity’s largest source of financing.
Some of the outings are modest, some are expansive. The Joe Namath Legends Classic last week encompassed four courses at Bethpage State Park. All told, golf outings on Long Island bring in millions for scholarships, medical research, clothing, shelter and other needs.
“This is an important fundraiser for us every year,” Paul Echausse, executive director of the CYO of Long Island, said Monday. “We’ve started a couple of new programs, focused on some of the poorer communities out there. I think it’s important to honor some of the great athletes who have gone on and lived lives based on CYO values. Bob is right up there.”
Holding the event in Hempstead, the same town as his alma mater, was right on par for McKillop. “Driving by, it has changed dramatically. But I remember that when we were at Hofstra, we played St. Joe’s, we played LaSalle, we played Temple. Those are teams we play against now in the Atlantic 10. So, it rekindles a lot of memories,” he said. “You can’t play at a school and have a great experience at school without having a lot of fond memories.”
He is pleased that nearly three decades worth of players feel the same way about their Davidson experiences. He always is gratified when he hears Curry compliment his old college coach for having paved his way to becoming one of the world’s greatest players. But McKillop said those comments probably reflect more on Curry than his coach: “In his first interview after he scored 30 against Michigan [in the NCAA Tournament], instead of talking about the shots he made, he talked about the screens that were set for him, the passes that were made to him.”
Despite all the mutual respect, Curry never coaxed McKillop to the first tee. “I’ve played H-O-R-S-E with him,” the coach said, referring to the basketball shooting contest. “I’ve never played golf with him.”
Bill Newsome, Wheatley Hills GC, third hole, 176 yards, 4-hybrid
Chris Towers, Wheatley Hills GC, sixth hole, 220 yards, 3-hybrid
Artie Valenti, Lawrence Y&CC, fourth hole, 152 yards, 6-iron
John Komara, Brookville CC, 11th hole, 133 yards, 8-iron
James Bishop, Brentwood CC, third hole, 180 yards, 6-iron
Vivian Sachs, The Greens at Half Hollow, 14th hole, 96 yards, driver
Maddy Lambert, The Greens at Half Hollow, fifth hole, 75 yards, 8-iron
Gary Owens, Blue Ridge GC, second hole, 150 yards, pitching wedge