Ty Webb, 30, teed off at the Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack, on Long Island.
By ROBIN FINN (From July 28, 2011 NYT)
THE beige bunker that houses the Poxabogue Golf Center and its fragrant Fairway Restaurant sits unpretentiously on the shoulder of Montauk Highway in billionaire-studded Sagaponack, as if protected by squatters’ rights. The driving range popped up on the horizon in 1957, one step ahead of the zoning czars. A 1961 variance grandfathered the beginner-tolerant nine-hole, par-3 public golf course into the picture.
Be it ever so humble, Poxabogue, known to regulars as the Pox, is home to 10,000 rounds of golf and 30,000 driving range hackers per season, and the Fairway’s griddle sizzles 80 pounds of bacon daily. Even the parking lot smells delicious.
On a hazy Monday, Tom Qualter, his 25-year relationship with Poxabogue still going strong, dropped off his grandsons, Tristan and Teague, at its junior golf camp, then sneaked in nine holes.
“Two birdies and two pars, not bad for a guy with a bad back,” he crowed. Joan Strauss played golf with her husband, Peter, on Sunday, then returned on Monday to book a lesson and spend some solo time on the range.
“This is a very welcoming course,” Ms. Strauss said. “It’s essential to the community — first of all because it’s preserving the land. And it offers a great deal to people who don’t belong to the clubs, either because they don’t want to or can’t afford to.”
For anyone seeking a public golf course in Southampton, Poxabogue is the only option. When the previous owners moved to subdivide it after plans to add lights and miniature golf were opposed by Sagaponack luminaries like the cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder and the actor Roy Scheider, Poxabogue habitués mutinied against their elected officials.
In 2004, the towns of Southampton and East Hampton bowed to pressure and bought the property for $6.5 million. Improvements were made, and the fan base expanded.
The Pox is a relic. “You can sit and close your eyes and you could be back in the ’50s, enjoying life in the Hamptons before it became rich and famous,” said Carlo Grossman, an East Ender for 46 years.
And it’s a reality check. “There is no snobbery here,” Mr. Grossman said. “Thank god with a small g there’s still one of these places left.”
Mr. Grossman’s lunch companion was Rav Friedel, a Montauk environmental advocate. At a nearby table, Bernie Goldhirsch chatted over blueberry pancakes with Leif Hope, maestro of the annual Artists and Writers softball smackdown.
“This is the Algonquin of the Hamptons,” Mr. Friedel observed wryly. “Plus, I make golf bets with Dan Murray that I keep losing.”
Mr. Murray became a local culinary hero in 1988 for turning a frumpy luncheonette into the high-spirited Fairway, where everything is made to order: When Sutherland McColley, a lunch counter regular, elegantly requests “my Dijon mustard” with his burger, poof, it materializes.
“I want everybody to feel welcome here, from the guy who cuts the grass to the guy who builds battleships,” Mr. Murray said. The prices are hospitable: gargantuan burgers are $11.50, and a weekday round of golf is $18 for residents, $32 for outsiders.
The restaurant reopened on July 4 after extensive renovations that left it looking almost exactly the same. Frank Pacelli, a contractor who has eaten his fried eggs here for 20 years, said: “The universe is in balance again. This place is like a little anchor.”
David H. Brown, a retired welder and a member of the East Hampton Village Board, sat in denim overalls at his reserved stool, a perk linked to his eating breakfast and lunch here nearly every weekday. He rarely plays golf; he’s here to eat and “shoot the gossip.” And if big shots like Alan Alda or Alec Baldwin want to stop by, let them. “We don’t discriminate,” Mr. Brown said.