Courses & TravelJune 25, 2008

The Spirit Of The Hamptons

If this golf outing last Monday was the "who's-who" of the Hamptons, then why was I there?

I saw that David Tyree, the hero of the Super Bowl, the special-teams specialist and backup wide receiver for the New York Giants who went over the middle during the final drive against the undefeated Patriots, pinning the football against his helmet to make one of the greatest catches in the history of the game, was the host of the event. For my Q&A every month I interview an athlete, celebrity or player about their passion for the game, travel and a handful of relevant topics. If Tyree played golf, I was going out to talk to him about it.

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The Fourth Annual Hamptons Golf Classic at Hampton Hills Golf Club was put on by Hamptons Magazine and Get There PR. It's designed to "benefit a great cause and create a competitive atmosphere with the spirit of the Hamptons."

The great cause was the Make-A-Wish Foundation. One of my favorites. What's not to like about an organization that gives a child with a life-threatening medical condition a genie in a bottle?

The format was a four-man scramble. There were 35 teams, 140 players and I was starting on the 11th hole. It was clear from the beginning this was going to be a competitive atmosphere, but I wasn't sure what they meant by "the spirit of the Hamptons."

We didn't play by all the rules, at times we weren't complete gentlemen, and we didn't always hit great shots, but this group had a blast. It never ceases to amaze me how the game of golf can be the common denominator. Regardless of the fact that we didn't know each other and came from different backgrounds, professions and generations, for a little more than six hours, with an assortment of alcohol, hot dogs and a $100-per-man side-bet between two foursomes, we had the game of golf.

To keep a close eye on our competitors, we played as an eightsome. I know that puts a ripple in the pond of the purists, and it didn't go over so well with the Hampton Hills' rangers, but my group had pull, and we played on.

As Lee Trevino once said, "Pressure is playing for 10 dollars when you don't have a dime in your pocket."

I had $140 in my wallet (thank God) and could cover the bet, so I wasn't feeling much pressure. Handicaps were not revealed, barely discussed, and we had to use only one tee shot from each guy. Other than that, it was get the ball in the hole before those four guys that we can see. As in most scrambles, you automatically assume there's a foursome of heavy sandbaggers somewhere on the course and there's no chance of actually winning the thing, so the side-bet kept my group focused. Most of the time.

It seemed like on every tee box we were greeted by a new form of alcohol, served by a young, scantily clad representative of the liquor company. The Hawaiian Tropic Zone Girls attended this function, also scantily clad, and we had an occasional visit on the course by a rogue cart full of marinated members of the gallery. Was THIS what they meant by "the spirit of the Hamptons?" Other than that, we had razor-sharp focus on the side-bet.

I'll condense the day of competitive golf down to the fact that my team won. I use "competitive" loosely here, and it's always a relative term. Each group and each player had good shots, clutch putts, lucky breaks and cold-tops that made you want to bury your head in the bottom of your bag. We had an above-average amount of smack-talk, change-shaking, chest-bumping and fist-pumping, but a portion of that has to be attributed to the "swing-oil" and an unusual number of pit stops.

My group established an early order of play. I like order, and I like to know my role on the ball club. I was batting fourth. One of the big reasons we won is the fact that, as the guy putting last, I had to putt only six times.

My cart partner, Glenn Roberts, who was a very nice guy, also happened to put on one of the great scramble putting performances in the history of the Hamptons (not sure how to fact-check that, but you'll have to trust me). Mark Selden, a lefty dressed in all black with white shoes, batted leadoff. He was the closest thing we had to a celebrity. He works for a company called CDInc. International. I have no idea what that is, or what he does, but I knew from the very beginning that I liked that he was on our team. Golf isn't necessarily his game, but that didn't stop him from giving lessons to any female in need of a swing tip. I say he was our celebrity because, by the time we were done, all the females knew who he was, knew about his swing tips and loved the fact that he wore a Hermes belt (the pronunciation of the brand, Hermes, was butchered throughout the day). Batting second on our squad was Jeff Rackover. He sells high-high-end jewelry to the likes of Oprah and Denzel Washington. I was certain he had more than $100 in his wallet, certain this match wasn't straining his nerves, and I was certain he made five or six deals worth more than what I'll make in my life, all via cell phone in the time that it took for us to finish the round.

The team putting up the good fight was made up of Glen Cho (Mr. Clutch), Topher Grubb (their ace), Andrew Goldberg (a member of management at Marquee, one of the hottest clubs in Manhattan) and Matt Shendell (owner of Dune, one of the hottest clubs in the Hamptons).

After the golf there was great food, more alcohol and more interaction with scantily clad young ladies. But what ended up being the spirit of the Hamptons were the donations to charity. In a flash, and among flashes of cameras, an audience consisting of Hamptons heavy-hitters such as Steve Tisch, owner of the New York Giants; Debra Halpert, publisher of  Hamptons Magazine; Richie Notar, owner of Nobu; and the honoree, Neal Sroka, president and COO of Douglas Elliman Worldwide Consulting, raised more than $15,000, which is enough to grant wishes for three children through Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I spoke to Tyree. It turns out he's not much of a golfer and won't work for a Q&A in Golf Digest, but I shook the hand that made that catch and congratulated this David for taking down the Goliath that was the New England Patriots. The game of golf, even though Tyree doesn't play, was still the common denominator at Hampton Hills. A great charity was the winner.

--Matty G.

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