As Nassau Country Club members are raising money, recruiting volunteers, building a scoreboard and doing everything else that goes into hosting Long Island's biggest tournament of the season, there is one chore they do not have to worry about: Selling tickets. Admission to the U.S. Women's Amateur will be free.
The club wants the national championship, Aug. 4-10, to be a celebration, so everyone is invited. Members rejected the option to charge for tickets because they realize an occasion like this does not happen every day.
"Well, we did it 100 years ago," said tournament co-chairman Doug Fletcher, referring to the 1914 Women's Amateur at Nassau. Members wanted to mark the centennial anniversary by hosting it again. "No one has ever done that before."
The U.S. Golf Association's decision to return to Nassau is a tribute to the staying power of the layout bordering the Glen Cove train station. Head pro Drew Pohalski said that, a century later, it still demands accuracy off the tee, strategy on second shots (you never want to be above the hole) and a steady putting stroke on fast greens (completely redone after a nematode infestation two years ago).
"When you play Nassau, you get what you put into it. Very rarely do you hit a good shot and get a bad result," Pohalski said, adding few scores have been under par in the Nassau Invitational, an annual international men's amateur event, and local pro tournaments.
Bobby Jones prepared for his first major win, the 1923 U.S. Open, at Nassau. It is where he found and first used the Calamity Jane putter that made him a golf legend. History is reflected in the new slogan, "Nassau Country Club . . . Where Champions Play," which is featured on the website 2014uswomensam.com along with registration information for the needed 400 volunteers.
"We've hosted the Long Island Open, the Met Open . . . every local tournament you can think of. The preparation for this tournament is 100 times greater and different from any one of those," Fletcher said.
Back in 1914, when Katherine Harley Jackson won, the host club did not have to raise $500,000 through member donations and corporate sponsors, as it does this time. Fletcher said preparations also include providing shuttles to and from public parking at Glen Cove High School, arranging for medical services (donated by North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center), building a 45-foot scoreboard, publishing a journal, supplying 20,000 bottles of water and accommodating 80 employees of Golf Channel (which will air a segment this Monday morning on how the club originated the universal Nassau golf bet).
"It is rather clichéd, but this is giving back to the game. We have a very generous membership," said Peter Quick, club president and tournament co-chairman. Quick traveled to St. Louis last weekend to see the top U.S. women's amateurs practicing for the Curtis Cup. Among those was Annie Park of Levittown, who qualified for this year's Women's Amateur by reaching the quarterfinals in 2013 -- having edged Kelly Shon of Port Washington in the round of 16.
Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor will have its annual tournament May 12 at Mill Pond Golf Course, Medford. Call 631-239-5640 . . . St. Ignatius Loyala Church, Hicksville, will hold its 17th annual outing May 27 at the Town of Oyster Bay Golf Course. Call 516-931-0056.