The Five-Borough Golf Marathon swept through New York this summer. Organizer Tom Messner filed this report on what the participants hope will become an annual highlight to the metro area’s golf season:
The First Annual Two-Day Five-Borough Golf Marathon, 48 hours of man versus nature on New York’s municipal courses came to an end on July 24th, 2015 at 8:22 pm, two holes short of the planned finish line at Trump Ferry Point in The Bronx.
As darkness set in, the staff was removing flags from the 17th and 18th greens. The second day’s 54-hole schedule proved too ambitious, given that the tee time in the Bronx was pushed back to 5 pm because of a private outing in the afternoon.
Courses played included Dyker Beach (Brooklyn), La Tourette (Staten Island), Randall’s Island (Manhattan), Clearview (Queens,) and Trump Ferry Point (Bronx). Clearview and Dyker for years have vied for the title of America’s most-played golf course. Clearview, especially, is noted for winter play, when the water hazards freeze and a good bounce can rescue a par.
Trump Ferry Point is the newest municipal course in the city and clearly different from any area track. It competes with Clearview and Dyker for bridge views, but is almost treeless (we counted one) whose beauty is in its hills and bunkers and interestingly-placed greens, not to mention the Manhattan skyline to the southwest and the cemetery to the North. La Tourette had the longest tips except for Ferry Point.
Bob Kuperman (James Madison ’59) represented Brooklyn; Stanley Silberstein (Columbia Grammar ’69), Manhattan; Tom Messner (St. John’s Prep ’61), Queens; and Heath Wassem current President of The Metropolitan PGA and head pro at The Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale represented all the rest of America experiencing their first time on New York City municipal golf courses.
Although they scored no eagles (they had hoped to card a Brooklyn Eagle at Dyker Beach), Kuperman had two aces and Silberstein added another hole-in-one on the mini-golf Manhattan course.
Wassem, playing from the tips on all the courses, finished the Five-Borough Marathon in three under par. The tips ranged from more than 7400 yards at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ferry Point course to roughly 280 yards at the 18-hole Championship Miniature Golf Course (South) on Randall’s Island. “I played Randall’s a little conservatively and made no holes in one there,” he said. He noted, too, that new carpeting had just been put in on the 15th hole and the roll, while truer, was also much slower.
The official ball marker of the two day Five-Borough Golf Marathon
A thunder and lightning storm that chased the players off La Tourette after the 12th hole also shortened the first day’s play that began in the morning at Dyker Beach just west of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Silberstein, who competed in high school golf in all the boroughs back in the 60s played from the tips the first four rounds with the pro, moving up only in the Bronx. On the three completed 18-hole rounds, Silberstein notched an 83 at Dyker, an 81 at Clearview, and a 44 at Randall’s Island. “I remembered the courses from school but they are in much better shape today. The Randall’s and Trump Ferry Point experiences were new ones for me, though.”
Silberstein commented, too, that when he played in school they all walked and carried their own clubs. In the Five-Borough Golf Marathon, players rode except for Manhattan where they each carried their own club and walk the entire course.
“Speed of play varied at each course,” Wassem said, “but we also started at very different times of day at each course. Dyker Beach at 8:30 was impressively a 4-hour round. Clearview at 10:45 unfortunately led to 5 hours plus. Slow play is definitely a huge obstacle to growing the game.”
Messner took a minute to order the nachos at Ferry Point. “I liked the idea of having a Mexican specialty at a Donald Trump restaurant,” he said. “Could have had more jalapeños and less guacamole. But overall pretty good and completely legal.”
He thinks the idea of the golf marathon becoming as perennial an event as the Five-Borough Marathon for runners is not absurd. “Three amateurs and a pro, with an amateur and a pro medalist and team trophies, would be fun. Channel One could cover it and really expand its sports coverage.”
Wassem suggested that the courses could rotate so that Silverlake, Van Cortlandt, and Kissena could get play next year. Or perhaps Forest Park in Woodhaven or Moshulu in Woodlawn or Split Rock just north of City Island.
Wassem added, “With Randall’s Miniature Golf as the anchor course where, perhaps, former Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani, avid golfers, would show up and hand out a Retired Mayor’s Trophy.”