Harbor Links outings not par for the course: residents

Harbor Links outings not par for the course: residents
An aerial view of Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

A second resident has expressed concerns with the taxpayer-funded Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington for being closed to the public on most weekdays from May through September. 

Jack Genicoff told the board on Thursday the course, which is owned by the Town of North Hempstead, will be partially closed to the public on 66 of the 109 weekdays from May 1 to Sept. 30 – 61% of the time.

Genicoff said he and a group of friends like to play on Wednesdays,  which is only fully open on six of the 26 Wednesdays from May through October. 

“Maybe it is time to change the name of the golf course to ‘Harbor Links: yes, we are open to the public but only less than half the time,” Genicoff said Thursday night.

Built in 1998, Harbor Links is owned by the Town of North Hempstead and operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management.

It features an 18-hole championship course, 9-hole executive course that is not closed off to the public during private events, a driving range, pro shop, athletic fields and a full-service banquet hall and restaurant.

Jack Genicoff speaks to the town board Thursday night. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

James Viras, general manager at Harbor Links, confirmed the championship course is closed when outings are going on and reopened to the public following the event the same day.

In the town’s $156.6 million budget for 2022, expenses for Harbor Links amounted to $6,416,575.

Genicoff was present at the June meeting when William Hohauser, a Port Washington resident and Nassau County District Court judge originally brought up issues with the course, but he was not allowed to speak since Hohauser used the allotted three minutes allowed per public comment. 

Hohauser had also complained that Habor Links was more expensive to play for a resident than Bethpage Black, which is a U.S. Open course.”

When Harbor Links was in a good condition, you could at least defend it, but now you can’t” he said.

For North Hempstead residents, a round of golf on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays on Harbor Links’ championship course costs $100 from open to 8 a.m., $95 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and $90 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with prices dropping to $75 and lower throughout the end of the day.

At Bethpage State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale, the Black Course costs $85 for a round of golf for state residents.

Since 2000, Bethpage State Park’s Black Course has hosted three men’s major golf championships, including the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009 and the PGA Championship in 2019.

Viras said the final prices for outings are determined by the number of people attending and the food and beverage package chosen. Outings also vary in start times ranging from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Harbor Hills offers an extensive menu of packages that includes a “full beverage cart” for $18 per person and “dinner enhancements” such as a sushi platter for 40 people at $185 and a cold seafood platter at $15 per person.

In the month of June, Harbor Links had private outings on June 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22, 27 and 29.

In July, Harbor Links has private outings scheduled for July 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 22, 25 and 28.

Viras said for August there are scheduled outings for Aug. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23 and 29, which are subject to change.

Genicoff questioned whether or not the golf course bargained hard to have the power to schedule as many outings as they want or if the town just ceded it to them while asking who enjoys the increased revenue. 

“If Harbor Links management benefits financially from all these outings then shame on the town for allowing this excess,” Genicoff said. “If the town benefits this revenue at the expense of residents, taxpayers and players then shame on them.”

Supervisor Jennifer DeSena thanked both Hohauser and Genicoff for bringing up their concerns and they will be considered when the town’s current contract with the golf course expires this December. 

Since at least 2013, the town has had a management agreement with the golf course, according to a financial and operational review released in 2016. 

The 2016 report said participation and revenues for the sport were down throughout the country. Between 2003 to 2018, the sport saw a decline of over 6.8 million players and over 1,200 course closures, according to financial data and software company FactSet.

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