Local veterans from each branch of the military, having served at various ranks, all effectively received one more promotion on Thursday. During a graduation ceremony, they were promoted from the status of avid students to full-fledged golfers.
July 5 has become the annual culmination of the PGA HOPE (“Helping Our Patriots Everywhere”) program, a six-week golf seminar in which club pros offer lessons free of charge to veterans — many of them disabled — as a way of thanking them for their service and enhancing their quality of life. The nationwide initiative is run in this area by the Metropolitan PGA, which held sessions in the Bronx, West Point and Crab Meadow Golf Course in Northport.
“It was five-star,” Anthony Gallia of East Moriches, formerly of the U.S. Navy, said of the mini-tournament and ceremony at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx. “There was a nice buffet, a lot of good speeches and kudos across the board.”
Unlike some of the other participants, Gallia, 40, is a longtime golfer, having been taught by his grandfather. But the tips from the Met Section pros helped his game and his perspective, he said.
Lloyd Schairer, 90, of Bellport said he had dabbled with the game in an after-work league during his 40 years at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Other than playing occasionally with his wife, an avid golfer, he rarely played in the past 15 years. He heard about PGA HOPE through Ginny Mullen of the Veterans Administration in Northport and caught the golf bug.
“It was the camaraderie,” Schairer, a Navy veteran, said. “We’re all veterans so we have a common theme there. Of course, I’m a generation older than most of them, but they were all great. Some were better golfers than others, some had never had a golf club in their hands at all. But we all loved the game.”
He and his wife are planning to join Bellport Country Club, and will play regularly during their usual winter trip to Fort Myers, Florida. “Golf is a great game at all ages,” he said. “It’s never too late.”
Zguris is a golf pro, and then some
Mike Zguris is adept at helping someone make a proper swing with a stick, no matter what season it is. The head pro at Swan Lake Golf Club in Manorville also coaches the women’s golf team at LIU Post and is starting up a women’s hockey team at the college. The latter job came about after more than 30 years of coaching male high school and college hockey squads.
He also has a busy golf club repair and restoration business, which he does when he is not acting (his credits include more than 300 TV shows and 200 movies and commercials). In fact, it was through a contact in an entertainment troupe that he heard this past March about the opening at Swan Lake. On the same day he was hired at the course, he got the Post hockey job.
“I’ve always been a time management freak,” he said from his pro shop Friday. “I’ve got to be on point every day.”
Zguris has worked many hockey camps over the years and has run across many of the sports big names. “Barry Trotz is one of the best people I’ve ever met,” the golf pro said of the new Islanders coach, without a trace of bias. Zguris is a lifelong Rangers fan.
LI squad wins Stoddard Trophy
Matt Lowe and Jay Sessa each earned 3 ½ points and 2018 Metropolitan Golf Association champion Jonathan Jeter earned three to help Long Island win the 93rd Stoddard Trophy three-way team match. Long Island had 20 points to New Jersey’s 19 and Westchester’s 15 in the event held last week at Arcola Country Club in Paramus, N.J. Also on the winning squad were Kevin Talty, Alex Kang, Kyle Brey, Jay Card, Darin Goldstein, Hunter Semels, Gerry Mackedon, Chris White, Matt Corrigan, David Prowler and 2018 Long Island Amateur champion Colby Anderson.