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.