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Richardson Invitational changing venue because of superstorm Sandy

At his home in Bayville, Glenn Richardson has a trunk filled with articles written by his grandfather, the legendary golf writer William D. Richardson. One of his favorites was published a week before William's death in 1947. It is headlined, "For the Good of the Game," and it exhorts people to celebrate tournaments, especially amateur tournaments.

So the grandson knows how fitting it is that "Richardson" has become synonymous with amateur golf around here. The prestigious Richardson Memorial Invitational has marked the beginning of the competitive golf season since its inception in 1948 and will do so again this year, starting a week from Thursday.

The late writer for The New York Times and Golf Illustrated also would have been proud to know that local people are making sure the invitational is on schedule, despite obstacles. In golf parlance, it is as if the tournament has scrambled from the rough and a bunker to save par.

Officials of the Long Island Golf Association were informed last month by the Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor that its course, which has hosted every Richardson since the beginning, still is recovering from superstorm Sandy and is not tournament-ready.

With little time and few options, the association was pulled out of a tight spot when Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor agreed to host it for this year. That came largely at the urging of Ed Gibstein, a club member, LIGA executive committeeman and defending Richardson champion.

"Those guys at Engineers are heroes," said Stephen Smith, executive director of the LIGA. "People step up and do what they can when they're asked. Ed is the kind of person who makes things happen."

It didn't take Gibstein long to get approval from his fellow members, who are mindful that holding an event on short notice entails sacrifices from everybody. "Engineers has always been accommodating," he said.

The club's tournament history goes back to the 1919 PGA Championship and 1920 U.S. Amateur. Gibstein sees it as a credit to the course that it still is championship caliber. He laughs when he hears people say he will have an advantage on his home course, noting that he didn't make the cut when the Long Island Amateur was at Engineers last year.

A four-time Richardson champion, Gibstein, 54, believes spring just wouldn't be the same without this one event. "We all put the clubs away at some point. I played a little over the winter, but very little. So it's exciting to know you're going to kick off the season," he said.

And golf would not be the same without the memory of William D. Richardson. "I have a tremendous sense of pride for how he affected the game,'' said Glenn, who was born more than 15 years after his grandfather died. The younger Richardson has learned that his ancestor is credited with gaining national mainstream attention for the sport (he covered the Masters before it was called the Masters).

In 1946, William Richardson helped establish the Golf Writers Association of America, an organization that still presents one of its most coveted awards in his name (recipients have included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Bob Hope).

Glenn's memorabilia includes a photo of his grandmother Genevieve presenting the trophy to the first Richardson winner. He presented the trophy to Gibstein last year and plans to be at Engineers next weekend.

He said, "I want to get my children to understand the importance of my grandfather's legacy."

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