It is not often that a celebrity appears on a weekday afternoon at Timber Point, the busy Suffolk County public course in Great River. So, a whirlwind greeted the arrival Tuesday by a shimmering star, one of the biggest names in sports:
The U.S. Open Trophy.
The two-handled sterling silver laurel’s appeal is that it contains so many other big names. James Foulis, who won the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 1896, is etched on it, as are Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, right through Brooks Koepka, who won golf’s ultimate test last year (and has one-year rights to a full-scale replica). The history was not lost on the people who stopped by a tent near the Timber Point clubhouse.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was there to meet the trophy. So were members of the Islip, East Islip, Patchogue-Medford and Bellport high school girls golf teams as they prepared for their matches. So was everyone in the Timber Point women’s group, which had just finished its scramble tournament. So were all the golfers who were starting or finishing one of the facility’s three nines.
Just about everybody inspected it, posed with it and obliged the two handlers’ requests not to touch it. From the way people reacted, it was obvious the trophy has magic and — despite various pratfalls by the U.S. Golf Association in recent years — so still does the U.S. Open itself.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I don’t think any of us will get that close to the trophy in real time,” said Karen Kauer, head of the group that calls itself “The Timber Point Ladies Nine Hole Divas.”
Ed Sallie, the director of instruction at the course, took a selfie of his reflection in the trophy. He said, “What a treat for people who didn’t know in advance that this would be here. If that thing could speak, right?”
Lynn Penna of West Babylon, a Timber Point regular and USGA member wearing an Oakmont U.S. Open cap, said, “I was working, then I just came here to hit balls. That fellow back there said, ‘Did you get your picture taken with the U.S. Open Trophy?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? It’s here? How did this place get picked for that?’”
The short answer is that the trophy is on a Lexus-sponsored tour of the metropolitan area on its way to Shinnecock Hills, where the champion will hoist it at the end of the final round June 17. Timber Point pro Andy Carracino said Suffolk parks commissioner Philip Berdolt heard about the tour, checked with Bellone and received an enthusiastic go-ahead to be a host.
Timber Point was the first Long Island stop for the 18-inch tall object that has been around since 1947. It is an exact duplicate of the original 1895 trophy, which was destroyed in a fire. At the top is a figure called Winged Victory. On the front is an engraved laurel wreath around a golf scene. All of the champions are listed below that.
“Actually, I came down to see how much space is left,” said Pete Brown, a Timber Point men’s club member who is recovering from a hip transplant but made a special trip to the course Tuesday. “It’s the U.S. Open trophy. Are you kidding me?”
The tour will go to myriad places such as a Ducks game and Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. But the reactions are likely to be the same everywhere. “Absolutely fabulous. It’s stunning,” said Jimmy McCormick, a longtime golfer from East Islip. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, just standing next to the trophy.”
Long Island & Queens stops for U.S. Open Trophy tour
May 6: PGA Tour Superstore, Westbury, TBD
May 10: Long Island Business Expo, Nassau Coliseum, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
May 11: Long Island Ducks, Bethpage Ballpark, 6:30 p.m.
May 13: Long Island Aquarium, Riverhead, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
May 14: MGA Golf Day, Bethpage State Park, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
May 16: US Open Local Qualifier, Cherry Valley Club, Garden City, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
May 24: Long Island Ducks, Bethpage Ballpark, TBD
May 25-27: Citi Field, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
June 2: Montauk Brewing Co., Montauk, Noon-8 p.m.
June 4: Ann Liguori Charity Classic, Atlantic Golf Club, Bridgehampton, TBD
June 6: Rallye Lexus, Glen Cove, 4-8 p.m.
June 8: Lexus of Smithtown, St. James, Noon-6 p.m.
June 9: Lexus of Southampton, 8 a.m.-noon
June 9: Pindar Winery, Peconic, TBD
The 45th Marty Mongoni Golf Outing, held by the Kiwanis Club of the Five Towns and the Long Island Children’s Museum, will be July 16 at Tam O’Shanter Club, Old Brookville. Call (516) 808-3105 . . . The Positive Behavior Support Community Foundation will hold its fourth annual golf outing on July 30 at Huntington Country Club. Visit pbscommunityfoundation.org.
Denise Connors, Brookville CC, third hole, 148 yards, driver
Carl Paffendorf, Brookville CC, seventh hole, 158 yards, 3-wood
Ed Muller, Eisenhower White, 17th hole, 188 yards, driver
Jack Lessing, Meadow Brook Club, sixth hole, 200 yards, 5-iron
Dan Malossi, Gull Haven GC, ninth hole, 175 yards, 4-hybrid
Paul Rifkin (of Elmont), Kings Point Executive, Delray Beach, Fla., second hole, 157 yards, 7-iron
Angela Corry, Bellport CC, 14th hole, 135 yards, 4-hybrid
Al Vazquez, Sumpwams Creek GC, ninth hole, 158 yards, 7-iron
John Mingione, Heatherwood GC, 17th hole, 145 yards, 8-iron