Our Town: Eisenhower Red Golf Course

Our Town: Eisenhower Red Golf Course
the shaded tree lined fairways of Eisenhower Red golf course


The golf courses at Eisenhower Park have a long and interesting history.

The 930-acre parcel of land occupies more land then all of Monaco and was originally home to five different courses including the very private Salisbury Country Club.

That little gem was designed by Devereux Emmet and founded in 1914. It actually hosted the 1926 PGA Championship which was won by Walter Hagen.

TDevereux Emmet who was also architect for Garden City Golf Club, Congressional, Wheatley Hills, Bonnie Briar, Nassau and Engineers and it has his familiar look with greens set into the land and not elevated.

During the Great Depression the club could not pay taxes and the courses were taken over by Nassau County.
This Devereux Emmet track still exists under the name of Eisenhower Red. The course has hosted the Commerce Bank Championships for the senior tour and I recall how our very own Darryl Kestner of Deepdale nearly won it a few years back.
I got to play the course last week in order to prep this column and I found that as is typical of Emmet golf courses, the greens are built onto the ground and never tricked up.

There is now plenty of tree-lined holes and when I played it in late afternoon there were only a scattering of players on the course and slow play was not an issue.

All the greens were healthy and all the traps were raked. But as everyone realizes, a happy golf experience is contingent upon more than the golf itself.

One must also factor in things like cost and ambiance which is created by the staff. Well to my surprise the cost of this historic and championship layout was only $50 which is not half bad.
By way of comparison, the cost of playing golf at a typical country club on Long Island will be about $20,000 per year.

Let’s say you play once per week over this 24-week period which means you’re paying $833 per round and that’s not counting caddy fees, bag room fees, range fees, locker room fees or lunch.

So let’s round it off at $1,000 per round. That amounts to 20 times what you are paying at Eisenhower Red. I doubt that the players on the Red appreciate the bargain they’re actually getting.
Another facet of golf is the way you’re treated by the staff. I was not expecting much from the person taking my greens fee but she was pleasant and efficient.
The following day I realized that I hadn’t met any of the pros who were in charge of the operation so I drove over to the Salisbury Golf and Learning Center to meet them.
The first man I met was Pete Norwark who is a teaching pro.

Pete looks more like a friendly male model then a teaching pro and he was kind enough to direct me to Bob Posillico who is the head pro there.

Bob was giving a lesson at the far end of the range and as I walked along I sized up the players hitting shots and noticed what looked like seriously talented college players hitting four irons out of sight.

I asked them if they were on a college team and one guy said “No, my name is Don Cervantes and I’m the assistant superintendent at Glen Oaks Club.”

You may recall that Glen Oaks hosted last year’s Northern Trust as part of the FedEx playoffs and they have bunkers that are comparable to Augusta or Royal Melbourne. I asked him if he was related to Miguel de Cervantes who wrote Don Quixote.

He said he wasn’t sure but he does look a little like him. Tall and slender.
I meandered down to where Bob Posillico was teaching and I watched his teaching style. I could see he emphasized feel more than detailed analysis and had an easy non-intimidating manner about him.

His pupil looking relaxed and happy to be there.
During the break, I asked him what the amateur’s most common flaw was and he said: “Most release the club too early from the top, cut across the shot and hit with their arms.”

I asked what the fix was and he quickly said “I get them to actually feel the club head as they swing.”
I asked him to tell me his favorite golf story and that’s when old home week began. He was assistant pro at Hempstead Golf and Country Club which is where I grew up playing so my heart warmed to him immediately.

He told me a story about him playing a U.S. Open qualifying round there and how the deadly tight 16th was lined with members cheering him on.

He decided to play the hole with a six iron and wedge. Good thinking. I have always believed that hole was located right above Dante’s Inferno and recall one day when my opponent Jack Riley missed a three-foot putt, dropped his putter on the ground, looked up to heaven and shouted, “Why, God, why are you against me!”
The hole is scary but Bob Posillico’s story was a good one. So there you have it.

Eisenhower Red has a long and impressive history, a great design by one of America’s finest architects, and a charming staff. And all that for the price of $50.

That’s what I call a bargain at twice the price.

Actually it’s a bargain at four times the price.
And when you visit you can lunch at the award-winning Palm Court at the Carltun or take a dip in the internationally recognized Nassau County Aquatic Center.

Yes we do live in a land of plenty, don’t you think?

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