Residents question Harbor Links’ fees, outings

Residents question Harbor Links’ fees, outings
An aerial view of Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington. (Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead)

Two North Hempstead residents voiced their concerns over the taxpayer-funded Harbor Links Golf Course’s pricing, outings and maintenance during the June 16 town board meeting.

William Hohauser said the Port Washington golf course once was a hidden gem but has since deteriorated as prices have gone up.

“Habor Links is more expensive to play for a resident than Bethpage Black, which is a U.S. Open course,” Hohauser said. “When Harbor Links was in a good condition, you could at least defend it, but now you can’t.”

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.

Hohauser, who was standing alongside friend Jack Genicoff, said the public is unable to use the championship course when private outings are scheduled.

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.

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.

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

An 18-hole round of golf for four players should take about four hours, according to the United States Golf Association.

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.

Hohauser said that town taxpayers are paying for a golf course that they have restricted access to.

“We have a situation where Harbor Links is not a public course; it is being run for the benefit of certain outings to maximize income,” Hohauser said. “The question for this board is what is the purpose of Harbor Links? Is it to serve the public or is it to serve outings and maximize revenue?”

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

Hohauser added that he previously served on the golf advisory board and that it has not had a meeting in years before requesting the Town Board to consider renegotiating its contract with the course.

“What I’d like to do is ask this board to consider reworking the contract with Harbor Links,” Hohauser said. “Right now, Harbor Links is an overpriced course that you cannot have access to.”

North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena assured Hohauser that his questions would be looked into.

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