Charlie Bolling does not mind one heck of a commute. The former Fresh Meadow head pro still lives on Long Island, but he has conditional status on the European Senior Tour and will travel to whatever tournaments he can enter.
He finished tied for 10th at the qualifying tournament in Portugal in January. "I went over there with the intention of getting fully exempt and taking my family over and showing them a little bit of the world," he said, adding that his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter are definitely planning to go over for the British Senior Open.
Bolling, once a PGA Tour player who participated in four U.S. Opens and won the 1983 South African Open, had a shot of being a full-time golfer overseas this year. In the first of four qualifying rounds, he shot a course record 64. But he followed with rounds of 74, 73, 74, which put him essentially on a waiting list for most tournaments. He is planning to go over for an event soon, even though he is only a second alternate. "I had been fourth alternate," he said.
The 54-year-old played well in the Long Island PGA this week, winning his first two matches. He said he also is working on trying to get a golf-related U.S. patent. But he hopes to be playing in many tournaments overseas. "It would really help my position if I could win one," he said.
Gibstein wins Richardson Memorial
Ed Gibstein of Engineers Country Club, the reigning 2011 Long Island Golf Association Mid-Amateur Champion, started this season strongly, winning the Richardson Memorial Invitational Saturday at the Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor. He defeated Hal Berman of Middle Bay, 2 up, for his fourth Richardson title and his first since 1999. Tom Trakoval of Port Jefferson Country Club won the Senior Masters Division of the LIGA event, which dates back to 1948.
Open qualifier at Wheatley Hills
The Long Island local qualifier for the U.S. Open is tomorrow at Wheatley Hills in East Williston. In the field are local pros who have played in the U.S. Open: Sean Farren, P.J. Cowan, Mark Mielke and Mike Gilmore. Also entered is amateur Ken Bakst, owner of Friars Head, who has played in the Masters . . . Islanders goalie coach Mike Dunham is also among the 9,006 entries. He will be in a local qualifier in Plymouth, Mass. Other notables who have signed up at various sites are tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl, former Mariners pitcher Erik Hanson and Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee . . . The number of entries is big, but not a record. The most ever was 9,086 for the 2009 Open at Bethpage.
Neat idea, noticed at the Long Island PGA: Willow Creek in Mount Sinai has a drive-through halfway house . . . A former Nationwide Tour caddie and longtime looper at Bethpage who goes by the Twitter handle Johnny G, tweeted that the Red Course's fairways and greens are the best he has ever seen for this early in the season . . . The Met PGA announced a partnership with Starting New at Golf (SNAG), a program for beginners that allows the game to be learned in non-traditional venues such as a soccer field, a gym or the beach.