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Gene Bernstein given LIGA's Distinguished Service Award

Gene Bernstein did something no one else ever has done or will likely do again. He made Long Island an annual pro tour stop, one that attracted Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. He established the senior tournament, originally called the Northville Long Island Invitational, that lasted for 21 years. For that, and for having served as president of the Metropolitan Golf Association, Bernstein was given the Long Island Golf Association's Distinguished Service Award.

Bernstein, who has masters and doctorate degrees in English literature and taught at Notre Dame before returning home to run the family's oil business, was honored Monday during the LIGA's Presidents Invitational at Garden City Country Club.

"Gene has done a lot for golf on Long Island and in the Met area," LIGA executive director Doug Vergith said, "but as much as he has accomplished as an executive and leader, he is equally respected by those who know him well for his calm, kind and soft-spoken manner. He is a true gentleman."

Alignment tool

For 60 years, Robert Chorne's family business has been making golf clubs, including many for tour pros. Now, Chorne has come up with a simple device designed to help make sure those clubs are aimed in the right direction.

From his store, Nassau Golf in Freeport, Chorne is preparing to sell a product he calls the Tour Edition Target Alignment System. It is a small, portable unbreakable plastic item that is meant to replace alignment rods or other elaborate gizmos that pros and other golfers use to check their setups.

Picture a big yellow letter "T" with an extra horizontal bar at the bottom to match the one on the top. Each of the bars has an arrow pointing to the target. The top one lines up the clubhead, the bottom one lines up the golfer's feet. The device lies flat on the ground and can be used on grass, driving range mats or a practice putting green. The inventor said the purpose is to make sure the golfer sees the right alignment, and remembers it when he or she goes to the course.

"I've tried it with golfers and it's phenomenal," said Chorne, who inherited the golf shop from his late father, Marty. He said he has a U.S. patent pending on the device, and has received orders from some of Long Island's top teaching pros. The price is expected to be around $20, and he hopes to market it as a gift at charity outings.

He has been thinking about something like this for some time. "The idea came to me one night, in a nightmare," he said. "Every golfer struggles with alignment, including myself. This gives you everything in a simple device. It's portable and it works."

Chip shots

After an extensive search through records and newspaper clippings, U.S. Golf Association researchers found no evidence of a U.S. Open qualifying round that was only 17 holes, as was the one last week at Bethpage Red (where the fourth green sustained winter damage). Officials can't say for sure, though, that it never has happened. Victoria Student, a USGA historian, did point out that it is perfectly legal . . . Peyton Greco, a junior at Smithtown East, recently made an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole at Smithtown Landing. She didn't get overwhelmed or distracted by celebrating it. She stepped to the par-3 seventh and made a hole-in-one.

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