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Local roundup: Middle Bay to open soon

From left, head pro Ronnie Wright, owner Tariq

From left, head pro Ronnie Wright, owner Tariq Khan, and course superintendent Greg Kolodinsky pose for a portrait on 7th green of the golf course at South Bay Country Club, formerly Middle Bay Country Club, in Oceanside on May 22, 2013. Credit: Barry Sloan

A venerable Oceanside course that was shuttered by superstorm Sandy and then sputtered after a reopening last year is ready for a fresh start. The Golf Club at Middle Bay is scheduled to open the weekend after next.

Having been a private facility for more than 50 years, the former Middle Bay Country Club will have some openings to the public, said Ron Wright, director of golf. Morning tee times will be available Fridays through Sundays, with reservations required a week in advance.

The owner, Mays department store heir Lloyd Shulman, who had been leasing the course, decided to keep control, Wright said. That has translated into investments in maintenance under new superintendent Justin Buhler, a former assistant at the Meadow Brook Club, and a new fleet of carts.

"It's a different scenario when there is someone who has the means and is willing to spend them," said Wright, who is in charge of the entire day-to-day operation. He was an assistant pro at the club for 12 years and lives right next to the course.

Middle Bay filed for bankruptcy after it was devastated by Sandy and was considered finished. It was revived last spring as South Bay Country Club under Hewlett Harbor businessman / philanthropist Tariq Khan. But last summer, Khan, owner of five 7-Eleven stores, had to fight a lawsuit from 7-Eleven that claimed he diverted profits. Rather than close it again, Shulman, according to Wright, said: "You know what? I'm going to take this on myself."

Even though Marc Bender of Roslyn is a 6-handicap who golfed at American University, he played 22 years without ever making a hole-in-one. He got razzed by his family because his mother has two aces and his father one.

That changed recently, in a big way. Bender, who commutes to Florida for his business, Tee Times USA, made an ace with a 6-iron at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club outside Orlando. He remembers every detail: it was into a gusty wind, on a 158-yard hole, witnessed by business partner Adam Wachter of Locust Valley, at 4:30 in the afternoon. Eight days later, playing with Wachter at Harmony Golf Club, on a 192-yard hole at 4:30 p.m., he made another hole-in-one. With the same 6-iron. "Hands down," he said, "I have a favorite club in the bag."

Fact of the week

Germany and South Korea, with 39 and 38 percent, respectively, have a much higher portion of golfers who are women than the United States (20 percent), according to the National Golf Foundation. A study found that those countries treat golf as more of a sport and that courses have little or no gender bias.

Quote of the week

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who used to announce the Masters, on the deliberate manner of closer Kenley Jansen: "That's the way Jack Nicklaus would stand over a putt -- like a pillar of salt."

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