The layout at Cherry Valley Club was not designed to make golfers intimidated or awestruck, but to make them want to come back every day. So they have, for 100 years. It is a welcoming course with welcoming members, who this month are rolling out their annual hospitality for military veterans and caddies.
“We appreciate what we have and we want to share it,” said longtime member Tom Matteini, who heads the Folds of Honor tournament for veterans, which will be held Aug. 21, a day before The Keith, an event that invites all of the metropolitan area’s caddies to play and be treated like members.
Those celebrations fit into a busy centennial summer for the club in Garden City, which produced a 100-year logo, held a gala dinner, published a book and will engage in an old-fashioned hickory-shaft tournament. And there will be plenty of everyday golf on a course that still is the challenge that Devereux Emmet envisioned when he drew it up more than a century ago.
“One thing I’ve always felt is that it is deceptively difficult,” said Bill Nugent, a member since 1959 and former president. “It looks a lot easier than it really is. It’s rare that somebody comes in and tears the place up. There was a Met Amateur qualifying tournament about 10 years ago. There were 90 who played and I think the highest you could be was a 4 handicap. There were only 12 people who shot 77 or better. That speaks for itself.”
Cherry Valley, named for a nearby street that still exists, was considered tough enough to host U.S. Open qualifiers in 2002 and 2009. “I think the greens have very subtle breaks,” Nugent said. “We have fescue that is pretty severe and the rough is difficult.”
Credit all of that to Emmet, who also designed Garden City Golf Club. Much of the current Cherry Valley course began as a public layout, Salisbury Links. Members of the Garden City Company, which owned the property, took it private in 1916. There have been some changes — part of the original course is now on Adelphi University’s campus — but the flavor still is the same.
It is a very local flavor, current president Jim Healy said, indicating that the vast majority of members live in Garden City. Many of them turn up to play with veterans in the Folds of Honor event that raises money for military families.
“It’s the only tournament I know that’s not a tournament,” Matteini said. “The format is, play whatever format you want.” Every year, the ceremonial first shot is hit by a World War II veteran, and just about all of the witnesses get misty.
Just as emotional is The Keith, named for the late Keith Cerrato, a Cherry Valley caddie killed as a teenager when he was hit by a car. Caddies get royal treatment, with head pro Ed Kelly and club members hoisting the caddies’ clubs onto carts, ushering the guests to breakfast, posting their scores and hosting a dinner for them. The caddies all have sponsors, and the money goes to scholarships.
“We can’t help our son anymore, but we can help other sons and daughters. The club lets us do this,” said Mary Lou Cerrato, Keith’s mom.
The club plans to keep doing this sort of thing for decades. Healy cited debt-free status and a successful new family-activities initiative to draw young people. “I’ll see everybody in 2116,” was part of his toast at the gala. “Nobody responded to that,” he said, but added that Cherry Valley still will be welcoming members then.
The 36th annual Southold Greenport Rotary Golf Classic, benefiting Eastern Long Island Hospital, Camp Paquatuck and other Rotary service projects, will be Aug. 31 at Island’s End Golf & Country Club, East Marion. Call (631) 298-8026.
Michael Merlo, Meadow Brook Club, ninth hole, 170 yards, 4-hybrid
Walter Stockton, Glen Oaks White, second hole, 214 yards, 4-wood
Craig Murphy, Cold Spring CC, third hole, 125 yards, pitching wedge
Jonathan Friedman, Glen Cove GC, eighth hole, 111 yards, 9-iron
Stephen Yazulla, Smithtown Landing GC, second hole, 155 yards, 6-hybrid
Michael Dunn (of Holtsville), Binghamton CC, second hole, 134 yards, 9-iron
Howard Stein, Stonebridge GL&CC, ninth hole, 159 yards, 7-iron
Josie Lazzara, Stonebridge GL&CC, ninth hole, 123 yards, 9-wood
Bob Thomas, Mill Pond GC, 14th hole, 122 yards, pitching wedge
Tony Farchione, Swan Lake GC, 13th hole, 142 yards, 5-wood
Greg Walsh, E. Donald Conroy GC, eighth hole, 85 yards, sand wedge
Gabriel Oh, E. Donald Conroy GC, fourth hole, 85 yards, pitching wedge