Golf Gazette: Meet the two men who saved Sandy Pond

JAY DEMPSEY PHOTO | The new proprietors of Sandy Pond Golf Course in Riverhead: Ken Weinstein, left, and Chris Wahlers.

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” author Mark Twain said after learning his obituary had been published in The New York Journal in 1897. The scuttlebutt heard locally last fall at delis, supermarkets and around town was that the nine-hole golf course in Riverhead, Sandy Pond, would be closing. Greatly exaggerated rumors? Yes, thank goodness.

In January, Ken Weinstein of Long Beach and his brother-in-law, Chris Wahlers of Mattituck, came to the rescue, becoming the new proprietors of Sandy Pond Golf Course.

“I learned that the previous owners were leaving at the end of the year,” Weinstein said. “I expressed some interest in purchasing the golf course and talked to my brother-in-law to see if this was something he would be interested in. We negotiated a lease and an agreement on the equipment. On January 1st we took over.”

And take over they did. With the help of the mild winter, the new owners immediately began making improvements at the course. “We turned up all the willow trees and cleaned up the ponds,” said Weinstein. “We want to make the ponds a focal point when people walk onto the property. We overseeded and cleaned up all the grounds to make it more presentable. We installed new irrigation around the entire property and on the tee boxes and greens.”

Weinstein, a retired Wall Street executive, handles the day-to-day operations. Wahlers works in the communications industry, has a “green thumb” and helps out whenever he can. With some experience in turf management, Wahlers has set up an experiment behind the pro shop for all to see. Spread out on a long table are small pots containing different types of grasses. “We want to see which grasses grow the greenest and the quickest,” he said.

The new owners have a list of things to do at Sandy Pond. This year they will work to improve the course and the clubhouse. If things go as planned, they hope to apply for a liquor license in the fall. “We would like to build a nice patio area with tables, chairs, and umbrellas where our guests can relax before or after a round of golf,” said Weinstein.

The results of the hard work are already evident. “I played Sandy Pond with my wife, Cathie, recently,” Mike Flanagan of Aquebogue said. “We were delighted to see the changes that have really spruced it up.”

George Ender of Hampton Bays, a 15-year member of the club, said, “The course is already vastly improved.”

Weinstein said, “I don’t know what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but here we are.”

Ken and Chris, we’re glad to have you here.

Our other par-3 golf course, Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue, is in fantastic shape after repairing the vandalism on parts of the course that occurred early this spring. Aren’t we lucky to have not one, but two extraordinary par-3 golf courses where we can hone our golfing skills?

TEE TIMES Laurel Links Country Club hosted a qualifying event on June 12 for the upcoming New York State Open Championship, which will be held at Bethpage Black in July. Local participants included Scott Anderson and Darin Goldstein, both from Laurel Links, along with Ed Burfeindt from Island’s End Country Club. All three golfers played well, with Anderson shooting a 73, making him eligible for the finals at Bethpage.

Eighty-year-old Paul Dahm, a retired Catholic Priest, recorded his first career hole-in-one on the fourth hole at Sandy Pond. He has been playing Sandy Pond Golf Course since 1995.

Cherry Creek Golf Links will again hold junior golf camps this summer. Contact Vince Scheraldi at (631) 413-3760 for more information.

OUTINGS The Rett Syndrome Research Outing will be held July 16 at Calverton Golf Links. Call Steve Garms at (631) 786-2249 for information.

The inaugural Ecumenical Golf Outing, hosted by the men of First Presbyterian Church and St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic churches of Southold, will be held Aug. 13 at Island’s End Golf Course in Greenport. Men and women of all faiths are welcome. Contact John Orgass at (631) 765-2859 for details.