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Golf architect Tillinghast made a mark on Long Island

Grounds crews work at the U.S. Open Golf

Grounds crews work at the U.S. Open Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. Credit: AP, 2009

Golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast had a legendary career, capped by what is said to be his final design, Bethpage Black. So when it was announced this week that he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, there was only one logical response. "I was amazed. I was under the assumption he was in already," Bethpage head pro Joe Rehor said. "Well, it's about time, isn't it?"

Tilllinghast's time finally came 80 years after his career ended when he became part of a Hall class with Mark O'Meara, David Graham and Laura Davies. "You hear all the buzz about the Pete Dyes and the newer architects, I guess people forget about the old-timers," Rehor said.

There has been no forgetting Tillinghast on Long Island, where his credits include Bethpage Red and Blue Island Hills, Sands Point Golf Club, Southward Ho, North Hempstead and Rockaway Hunting Club.

"I emailed our president and some of our board members and their feeling is, we're always proud to be a Tillinghast course," said Darren Goralski, head pro at Island Hills in Sayville. He added that in the past, the aforementioned courses held a Tillinghast Cup tournament.

Maybe it is time to revive that. It always is time to admire a man whose designs are still strong and relevant nearly 100 years after they opened. "It was the foresight to build a course that could be modified. It's genius in its own way," Rehor said, noting that Tillinghast's early 20th Century bunkers still are in play in the high-tech equipment era.

Goralski said, "I think playability is the greatest thing. Here, at least, it's a fun place to play. It doesn't beat you up too much."


Unusual playoff

What were the odds that two teams from Fresh Meadow would tie for first three strokes clear of an all-star field, at the Long Island Golf Association's George Sands Memorial Invitational? The Island's best-ball championship at North Shore Country Club had quite a finish. It was so good, in fact, that it wasn't really a finish.

Three holes of sudden death did not produce a winner between the father-son team of Jon and Jason Doppelt and Andrew Mendelsohn and Jordan Barrow. Jon Doppelt joked that they should just settle it with 18 holes at their club yesterday morning. Then someone else said, "Let's do it."

So the four members went out and had a do-it-yourself homespun playoff. Barrow won it on the 18th green with a 30-foot putt.


Following a son's ace

At 86, Don Hehir Sr. still takes pride in his children's achievements. So he was thrilled with his son Brian, 62, who called to say that, playing as a guest at Friar's Head on Oct. 7, he made his first hole-in-one. Don, a golfer for more than 40 years, recalls telling him, "You got one before I did."

Not by much. Two days later, after telling his buddies during a round at Crab Meadow that his son had just made an ace, Don got one of his own on the 130-yard third hole. He couldn't wait to call his son. "He was happy as a pig," Don said, adding that Brian was almost apologetic for having done it first. "He said, 'You know, I play more than you do, Dad.' "


He scores a double eagle

Joseph Larsen, a 5 handicap at Wheatley Hills, was a guest at Cold Spring Country Club last week and had an experience he never will forget. He hit a big drive on the par-5 16th hole, then nailed a 221-yard 3-hybrid into the hole for an albatross, a double eagle 2.

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