Between the U.S.Open at Bethpage Black and the announcement of the Open doubleheader atPinehurst No. 2 in 2014, public golf is all the rage. Zzzzz. Wake me for my teetime at Pine Valley. All this Regular Joe madness is a snooze compared with theshivers that the average daily-fee golfer feels when scoring a prized invite toan exclusive private club. Open host Pebble Beach over doors-shut CypressPoint? Fat chance.
While many golfersdream of playing Augusta National, few have driven by the club 1,000 times.I've driven past Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y., more than playingpartners have driven past Corey Pavin. I grew up about three miles fromDeepdale, but until last week I had only gazed longingly at it through thehedges.
So when a friendoffered me a spot in his group for a Monday outing—an event to raise money forDeepdale's retiring superintendent of 41 years, Jose (Luis) Ramos—I almostdropped the phone from excitement and trepidation. Deepdale is the kind ofprivate club that Dick Cheney would love. Even the club's name forebodes, withits echoes of Deep Throat, never mind its murky past as site of the 1955Calcutta Scandal handicapping hoax.
Naturally, at 5a.m. on the day of the event I awoke in my old bedroom at my parents' house,that dream factory of yore, to the sound of a near-torrential downpour. Icalled the club at 6 a.m. No answer. Rising panic. At 6:30 I got through to thepro shop. Everything was still a go; the radar showed the rain ending in halfan hour.
I drove the nineminutes to Manhasset from neighboring Great Neck, making one left turn, oneright, three more lefts and a final, almost inconceivable right turn into theclub. I could have done it blindfolded.
The rain hadstopped. The stately metal gates were flung open. A mist rose off a holdingpond as my '97 Subaru Impreza with 192,000 miles crawled up the private lane soas not to disturb the speed bumps.
What awaited wasan impressive brick clubhouse, a friendly staff and a pristine, vaguelyoutdated course that's perhaps the 15th best on Long Island. After we finished,my buddy asked if I wanted to play Fishers Island Club two days later. That, orwe could check out a practice round at Bethpage. Fishers Island makes Deepdalelook as accessible as Sam's Club. I hate to spit on public golf's moment, butFishers Island it was.
GOLF PLUS willnext appear in the July 13 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
GOLF MAGAZINE TOP 100 TEACHERS POLL
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE U.S. OPEN DOUBLEHEADER ATPINEHURST NO. 2 IN 2014?
Good Idea 82%
Bad Idea 18%
"The course will be beat up after the men, butexposure for the women may offset that."
--Brian Mogg, Mogg Performance Center
DAVID BERGMAN (DEEPDALE)
UP FRONT Deepdale sets an exclusive tone from the start.
AL TIELEMANS (PINEHURST STATUE)