Shinnecock Hills pro Jack Druga joked yesterday that this week, it is as much a matter of counting the holes as the strokes. For the Long Islanders who made the trek to Summit, New Jersey for the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier yesterday, it is a frantic week.
Paul Dickinson, the Montauk Downs assistant pro, was leaving the Canoe Brook course at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday, pointing out he had a 7:48 tee time this morning for the first round of the Long Island Open. "Gotta get some sleep," he said.
The count, by the way, could total 90 holes in three days. But it's worth it. Any golfer has to take a chance at making the U.S. Open, which a group of Long Islanders tried yesterday, none of them made it. You can't turn that down. And the Long Island Open is also important for the pros and top amateurs who live and play here. They weren't going to miss that either.
So it's just a matter of getting in shape and hoping you have enough game to get through the three days.
Also, in some cases, you have to hope your back holds up. Defending two-time Long Island Open champion Mike Meehan, assistant pro at Nassau Country Club, has been getting treatment for his back for weeks. It worked, getting him through the local U.S. Open qualifier at Noyac last month. He admitted toward the end of yesterday's second round that he was sort of in survival mode. Meehan did add that his back didn't feel too bad.
Today is the qualifying round at the L.I. Open at Bethpage Red. Those who make the cut play 36 tomorrow.
Rick Hartmann, the Atlantic Golf Club pro, said yesterday that it's all worth it. He had made arrangements to stay last night in Nassau with Deepdale pro Darrell Kestner and his wife rather than making the three-hour drive home to Sag Harbor and then back to Bethpage this morning.