10/22/12 8:00am

BOB DESTEFANO PHOTO | Shelter Island golft team players, rrom left, Spencer Gibbs, Riley Willumsen, Matt BeltCappellino, Hunter Starzee, Myles Clark and Matt Dunning (missing Nathan Mundy).

The Shelter Island High School varsity golf team has finished another winning season. After defeating both McGann/Mercy and Hampton Bays in away matches last week, the Indians concluded the fall season with a winning record of seven wins and five losses.

Losing their number-one player Jake Card to High Point University this year was a concern for the Indians but not enough to stop them from continuing their consistent play.

All of the 2012 players score just about the same but it was Hunter Starzee who took over Jake’s number-one spot this season. Starzee had the low average for the year but the rest of the boys were all within a few shots of their leader. Myles Clark, Matthew Dunning, Spencer Gibbs, Riley Willumsen, Matt BeltCappellino and Nathan Mundy all have such reliable scoring that any player can start in almost any position.

The two biggest disappointments for the Indians this year came in losses to Mattituck by four shots and to Eastport by two.

This was my first year as a coach. When I initially watched these guys hit on the driving range, I wondered if they could ever lose a match. They were hitting drivers close to 300 yards and most times straight. Chipping and putting was better than I expected. But to my surprise, their scores didn’t show their abilities when they went out on the course. There is a saying that the longest walk in golf is the one from the driving range to the first tee. Just as in all sports, you need to play in order to score well. For such little actual time on a golf course, these boys are excellent players; it would be a coach’s dream to work with them for a couple of years and enjoy seeing their improvement.

The team will be losing two seniors next year, Hunter Starzee and Myles Clark, but it should be in good shape for the 2013 season. After that, we start to get concerned. In this small school, we need some 7th and 8th graders to step up, get involved and hold onto this winning record.

The team matches are over for the season but on Tuesday, October 23, the Indians will be traveling to the Cherry Creek Golf Club in Riverhead to qualify for the new format of the county tournament, which will be played in the spring. This new format eliminates half the players that compete, making it even tougher to play in the county tournament.

We wish them the best!

10/22/12 7:00am

RICK SOUTHWICK PHOTO | Garth Griffin, Bob Feinstein and David Doyle on an annual group golf trip to Myrtle Beach. They are the only participants who have been on every trip since the tradition started.

Sports, sports and more sports is what a group of Islanders have been doing for one week every year for the past 25 years.

When it gets chilly up north, 16 to 20 guys have been getting together for a journey to the golf capital of the world, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The coastal resort town boasts more than 125 golf courses and this band of Islanders somehow found the best for them to play.

This week was the chosen one for the trip this year and it’s the first trip I have missed in 25 years. That leaves just three men (Garth Griffin, David Doyle and Bob Feinstein) who have attended every year.

Since I started writing this column each week, I have tried hard to explain why we play sports and what their benefits are. My reason for writing about this trip is simply to explain how golf can lead to a bond of lifelong friendship. No matter what business you are in, how well you play the game, how much money you are worth or what age you are, just doesn’t matter when you are competing in a sport.

In this Shelter Island-Myrtle Beach group are doctors, lawyers, financiers, police officers, entrepreneurs, blue collar workers, journalists, printers, restaurateurs and even golf pros. Their ages range from 21 all the way to 73, with exceptional players such as Rick Southwick, Gary Blados, Bob Feinstein, John Wallace, Jay Card, Ian Savage and David Doyle. Andy Wilcox and Jay Sessa, great Shelter Island golfers both, were also a part of the group in the beginning.

On the other end, players such as Newton Lamson, Starr Boggs and Garth Griffin have 18 handicaps and the rest of the players are somewhere in the middle. Our group also enjoys the diversity of multimillionaires competing alongside everyday Joes just earning a living. This is the type of companionship that comes out of the sporting world and you see it every time they meet, on or off the golf course.

At least for one week, they get to take a trip back in time when they are carefree kids once more. Nicknames have taken over for real names and they all know who you’re talking about when you say Puto, Dawg, Dirt, Diz, Doogie, Savior, Gink, G-Man, Son, Woo, Prizzle, JC , Junior, Newty and Bobby. While in Myrtle Beach, these guys are playing golf every daylight hour and darkness is usually filled with ping pong, pool, mini-golf or bowling. Every evening, you are told how you stand in the daily, weekly and lifetime standings in putts, birdies and scoring against the rest of the gang.

Another group of younger Islanders including Ken Lewis, Matt Mobius, Cori Cass, Lance Willumsen and Ian Weslek started doing the same thing about 10 years ago and are experiencing the same values of friendship and enjoyment. Since the groups both go down around the same time of year, they are now discussing a Ryder Cup match format.

So find yourself a few people, men or women, and get started in a sport if you haven’t already. You will find that it leads to companionship, health, fun and a better life. You don’t have to make it such a marathon as these guys do but I will guarantee that this sporting experience will rank as one of your favorite things.

It has definitely been one of mine and I have already signed up for the trip with my friends next year.

08/25/12 7:00pm

JUDY CARD PHOTO | Jay Card bombs one off the first tee.

For the past few weeks, I seem to be watching sports full time, both in person and on TV. With the addition of the London Olympics to the regular lineup of televised sports, as well as local events, I had more to watch than hours in a day. This is when I decided that I really love sports.

My wife thought I finally had flipped when I brought home the bean bag toss game. You know, the one that is popular at tailgate parties, where you throw bean bags on a piece of wood with a hole in the middle. I don’t know if that is considered a sport but it sure gave me a couple of hours of fun.

As much as I love all sports, people who know me best realize that my true love is hitting that little white ball around the countryside. I fell in love with golf at the age of 13, when my family stopped giving me money and I had to caddy to make a buck. Sixty years later, I am reminded that I haven’t lost this deep love for the sport and how lucky I was to be able to make a living out of it all these years.

My love of the game was reinforced this past weekend when I crossed off time and traveled all the way to Gardiner’s Bay with nothing on my mind but championship golf matches. Watching local golf matches might sound boring to many, I know, but for someone who loves the game the beauty is in the thrill of competition. In a golf match, who you are, how much money you have or what you do in other parts of your life don’t matter. It is simply a matter of two people competing to see who is the best on that day.

Every golfer likes to watch long hitters and last Saturday I was in the mood to watch players bomb drives down the fairway. Wow, did I get what I came for! In the semi-final match of the club championship I got to watch four of the longest hitters in the club, 17-year-old Thomas Cassidy, 18-year-old Jake Card, 21-year-old Russell Holmes and 50-year-old Jay Card. Before you ask, yes the 50-year-old was just as long as the young bucks. My reward was watching 300 plus-yard drives on every hole.

One of my favorite things about golf is that it doesn’t need referees or umpires because you are trusted to call penalties on yourself. This brings me to one of my highlights of the weekend, which exemplifies what golf is all about. On Saturday, Jay Card was one up on Thomas Cassidy on the 15th hole. Things didn’t look good for Cassidy as he hit his second shot to the right of the par-5 15th green. He checked his ball (Titleist 3), which was nestled in a poor lie, and hit the shot out to within a couple of feet for the birdie.

But when Cassidy walked up to clean his ball, he discovered that this Titleist 3 did not have his own identification mark. Without hesitation, he called a penalty on himself for hitting a wrong ball. He lost the hole and went 2 down with only 3 holes to play. Seventeen years old and he already gets it.

Thomas won two of the last 3 holes and took the match to the third extra hole where he tried to end the match by driving the green. He missed this time and lost the match but in the future it will work and he will enjoy the thrill of it all.

So give me a beautiful golf course, friendly clubhouse and a group of golfers who understand the game and love to compete. This is truly my heaven on earth.

08/24/12 10:00pm

COURTESY ELIZABETH MELICHAR | Competitors in the Shelter Island Country Club Junior Golf Open on Thursday, August 16.

BY ELIZABETH MELICHAR

Youth from both Shelter Island and Gardiner’s Bay Country Clubs participated in the annual Junior Golf Open tournament on Wednesday, August 15 at the Shelter Island Country Club. The restaurant, Fresh, sponsored the barbecue luncheon with an awards ceremony following the event. Scott Lechmanski, resident professional at SICC, organized and ran the event.

James Murphy captured high honors in the 13-to-15-year-old class with a 43. Jason Minikel and Daniel Shea applied pressure throughout the game, only two and three strokes behind, respectively. Jason won the most improved award, shaving 15 strokes off last year’s tournament scores. James picked up the Longest Drive award while Nate Dombrowski claimed the Closest to the Pin trophy on the fifth hole just 6 feet from the hole.

Former champion Nathaniel Winters held off fierce competitor Nick Young by two strokes to capture first-place honors in the 11-to-12-year-old group, with Matthew Feinstein close on their heels. Longest Drive was awarded to Nick while Will Celiberti captured Closest to the Pin. Although Nick improved his game by seven strokes over last year, it was Nathaniel Winters who took honors for Most Improved, dropping 10 strokes off last year’s score. Maybe it’s that lucky blue and white striped shirt. Watch out for these guys next year.

The 7-to-10-year-old group was filled with excitement as Brian Feinstein edged out Liam Adipietro to capture another title. Our former champion also captured Longest Drive honors and shaved seven strokes off last year’s game. Jack Ryan improved an awesome 12 strokes but, in the end, Liam took home the medal, improving a whopping 15 strokes. Kudos boys!

Corbin Coles was champion of the 7-to-8 year-old boys group. Tournament newcomer Henry Moderelli claimed Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin honors.

There was no lack of excitement in the girls’ 10-to-12 class as Bianca Evangelista captured the title in her first tournament, edging out Nathaniel’s sister, Kayla Winters. Bianca was awarded Longest Drive honors. The 7-to-9-year-old group had Marnie Colby written all over it as she took home first place, Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin honors. Kayla achieved bragging rights of her own, shaving 17 strokes off last year’s game. Congratulations girls!

Generous donations by the following sponsors ensured each youth a great prize: Bliss’ Department Store, Bob’s Fish Market, The Dory, O’s Place, Sweet Tomato’s, Fresh, Jack’s Marine, Shelter Island Country Club, the Fire Department and the Tuck Shop.

Very special thanks to the 10K Community Fund for its continued generosity and support of this event, without which it could not have taken place. 10K Board members Cliff Clark and Mary Ellen Adipietro were on hand to congratulate each competitor with a commemorative Amanda Clark T-shirt. Scott Lechmanski presented Cliff with a framed photo of the event signed by each competitor.

The community wasn’t short on support for this event as SICC Vice President Ron Lucas, Bill Seeberg, Peg Brennan, Wayne Bourne and Tom Young volunteered to chaperone the competitors through the course.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Junior Golf Program and Tournament. This is an annual event and a part of Shelter Island you won’t want to miss.

08/18/12 4:00pm

BOB DESTEFANO PHOTO | Jake Card hitting a chip shot.

Montauk Downs Golf Club is considered one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire Metropolitan Section but Shelter Island’s Jake Card fired a one-over-par 73 Monday to take first-place honors.

In a field of the best players under 18 years of age in the metropolitan region competing, Card’s 73 was good enough to win by 4 shots over his nearest competitor and 6 shots over the third-place finisher.

Because Card was leaving Shelter Island for High Point University on Thursday morning, the Met PGA tournament was to be his fifth and final event as a high school competitor. He made something happen in the nick of time, even with 3 bogeys in a row; he went on to play the other 15 holes in 2 under par.

Card commented that during the tournament he had felt he was hitting the ball well and that something good was coming.

His finishes in the PGA’s five Met events included 10th at North Fork Country Club, 8th at Port Jefferson Club and 2nd at both Island’s End and the Piping Rock Club.

It seems a first-place finish was about due.

Asked what had been his highlight shot of the day, he immediately said, “Do you know the 3700-yard 3rd hole? Well, I drove my tee shot 10 yards from the green and made birdie.”

A summer of hard work on his game paid off, making for a perfect college send off.