Long Island golf this week lost a good friend, even though few people really knew how good a friend he was. Nelson Doubleday was more widely known for his involvement in baseball, of course, as Mets co-owner. But golf was a passion for the Locust Valley resident who died Wednesday at 81. He continually spread his love for the game, on the course and behind the scenes.
"He was an active member of the club. He was on the board all the time I've been here," said Rick Meskell, the longtime pro at the Meadow Brook Club, where Doubleday's most public contribution was to get a good friend and business partner to come play on the Island. It was Doubleday who persuaded Jack Nicklaus to participate in the Northville Long Island Classic in 1994 and 1996.
Gene Bernstein, the tournament's founder, said, "Getting Nicklaus to the event was huge in terms of credibility and gallery support. That [first] year was the biggest in attendance we ever had and it carried over for two to three years more." Bernstein recalled having first pitched the idea of a senior tour event for Meadow Brook over lunch with Doubleday. "I assume, but don't know for sure, that he recommended it to the board of stewards."
Acquaintances say that would be typical for Doubleday: working quietly and not coming around later to take credit. Meskell said, "He was a very kind and generous man." The Meadow Brook pro dealt with Doubleday on a professional level when the latter bought the Toney Penna equipment company. "His president was Nathaniel Crosby, a U.S. Amateur champion," Meskell said, referring to Bing's son. Doubleday later bought half of Nicklaus' equipment firm. Like Nicklaus, Doubleday was a member at Augusta National.
Doubleday lived just off the fourth green of the Piping Rock Club and he was a member there, too. When he noticed that golfers at Piping Rock, Meadow Brook and The Creek remained on Long Island for the July 4 weekend, he organized the Liberty Bell tournament in 1973. It still is going strong. "It's the largest member-guest in the country," Meskell said.
Plus, the man could play. The pro said that at his best, Doubleday was a single-digit handicap. He passed along his fervor. His daughter, Phoebe Timpson, is part of the Meadow Brook team that has won the Women's Metropolitan Golf Association's Long Island title 12 times. She was the WMGA player of the year in 2011.
Play Shinnecock Hills
if you win auction
So would you like to play Shinnecock Hills? The opportunity is there, along with a chance to play at Sebonack Golf Club, Shinnecock's Southampton neighbor, or The Bridge in Bridgehampton. It is all part of a fundraiser being conducted by the Southampton Lions Club. The deadline is Friday to bid on a chance to bring a foursome to any of the three exclusive clubs. The site is biddingforgood.com. Type in Southampton Lions and see what the current bid is for each course. Proceeds will support the Vet-Dogs K9 Corps, which helps wounded veterans.
Women's PGA a hit
Crowds were larger and livelier than expected for the KPMG Women's PGA at Westchester Country Club last week. PGA and LPGA officials had said they want Westchester to be part of a rotation, but word on the course was that they might return sooner than later.
The Delsing connection
Former PGA Tour player Jay Delsing, debuting this week with the rest of the Fox golf crew on the U.S. Open, is the son of former major leaguer Jim Delsing. The latter played briefly for the Yankees but is best known for having been the St. Louis Browns pinch runner replacing 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel, who drew a walk in owner Bill Veeck's famous 1951 publicity stunt.