Wind, Rain, Golf and Friendship

Written By: Jerry Giammatteo

“I don’t know, I said. “The forecast doesn’t look too promising.”
It looked worse than that. We were starting our annual boy’s weekend at our buddy Jim’s place in Montauk that first Friday of October but the weather seemed more like Thanksgiving.
“Well come out,” Jim said. “If we don’t play golf we’ll play some poker.”
My friend Ed, who can find a golf course in the Arctic Circle, had booked us at Island End Golf Course in Greenport at noon. Not sure if Ed had consulted a map of Eastern Long Island, but Greenport is a haul from Montauk. Two ferry rides shorten the trip, but a ferry ride on a windy, cold, rainy fifty degree day didn’t sound enjoyable.
When I arrived in Montauk early Friday morning it was cool and overcast but not raining. Ed and another friend, Bob were already there with Jim, mulling our options.
Jim is my best friend; we were best man at each other’s weddings and the kids call my wife and me aunt and uncle, as do our kids with Jim and his wife Vicky. I made ice cream cones with him when we worked at Carvel in Bayside as teenagers in the mid 1970’s. Ed and Bob are buddies since we attended St. John’s University. In my second class there, Ed sat behind me and his future wife Clare sat in front of me. Bob and I sat through many St. John’s basketball games, good and bad.
We took a poll. “I say go. It’s cold but no rain so far.”
They also favored going. We had planned this all year. A little cold weather wasn’t going to deter us. Maybe it would hold off.
It did. For five minutes. No sooner had we gotten into Bob’s car for the odyssey to Greenport and made it to Sunrise Highway, it started drizzling. Did we reconsider? Nope. It would take more than a drizzle to stop us. As we proceeded north toward Sag Harbor, however, it started coming down harder. Nobody said a word about returning to Montauk, however.
We reached the South Ferry, the first crossing over the Peconic River. The ferries are very small and we stood outside our cars. It wasn’t bad; a misty rain, but as we got closer to Shelter Island the wind picked up. But it wasn’t until we got to the North Ferry that would take us to Greenport did doubts creep in.
It became windier and the rain became steadier. For reasons I can’t explain, we again stood outside the car, holding on so as not to fall on our butts (or in the drink). By the time we got to the North Fork, we were a little wobbly from the buoyant ride.
“Maybe we should bag it,” Bob said. But we were only 10 minutes from Island End. We pressed on and the course materialized on our right. At 11:30, we were in plenty of time for our noon tee off.
We got our bags and went into the starters hut. “Noon tee off,” Jim said.
The starter looked at us like we were joking or crazy. He led us to a computer screen.
“Just though you might want to see this,” he said.
It was a Doppler radar screen showing nothing but rain for miles around. He didn’t say anything to dissuade us, though it was the first time I had ever been shown weather radar at a golf course. But we had come all this way.
“No need to wait till noon. You can go out right now.” Then he added with a hint of a smirk, “There’s no one else playing.”
So we got our golf carts and ventured into the rain and gloom for 18 holes. We slogged through rain, wind and fog. The course advertises great views of the Sound, but most of the time it was a challenge to see more than about 100 yards ahead of us, much less the water. On one green, a strong gust of wind came up and blew my ball away as I was getting ready to putt, something that had never happened to me before.
On one tee, a guy came out of his house on the other side of the fence to watch us hit, a look of disbelief on his face. “Probably going to go in to tell his wife that there are four idiots playing golf,” Jim commented.
Seeing nary a soul, we finished eighteen holes in well under four hours. As we got back to the clubhouse, tired, wet, wind burned and starved, the starter came over smiling.
”Got to give you fellas credit. I figured you’d be back after about forty-five minutes. No one was out there. Just you guys.”
I smiled. “This is our all boys weekend. We plan it all year. We were here so we played. It was fun.”
After lunch, we made the long trek back to Jim’s, tired, drenched but happy. We played again at Montauk Downs the next day, joined by Tim and Joe, two other St. John’s graduates. The weather wasn’t as severe; still cool and overcast, but as least relatively dry.
We also played poker, hiked by the Montauk Lighthouse, had some beer, stuffed our faces and watched the Jets lose on Sunday. We had lots of laughs.
Sometimes, I think of that round of golf at Island End. Were we crazy to play? Perhaps. If I was scheduled to play as a single with three strangers, I would have canceled. But with three guys I’ve been through so much with together, it was just another day in a long continuing friendship. It wasn’t just the golf, it was the companionship and the lovely backdrop of Eastern Long Island in early fall that was a winning combination.
And it beats a little bad weather every time. I’m looking forward to this year’s outing.