Just as quickly and silently as it closed, Wading River’s Great Rock Golf Course reopened last week, bringing with it some new – albeit still undisclosed – owners.
While a lot’s changed since the course and accompanying restaurant, Blackwells, went dark on Jan. 1, regulars at the course will be pleased to find many things have been kept the same. First and foremost, the public course will retain its name, despite speculation and reports it would be changed.
Second, regulars at Great Rock will find a lot of familiar faces when they return to the Wading River greens. Brian Curtin, Great Rock’s general manager since 2008, said he, along with Superintendent Dan Wolf and many other staffers, were brought back by the course’s new owners to ensure there would be no loss in continuity when the course reopened on June 2.
“We were able to bring back everyone who was able to return,” Curtin said.
Finally, the course itself remains largely unchanged, with just a few areas cleaned up for the start of the summer season.
Curtin lauded the course’s new owners as true golf lovers, who really appreciate what Great Rock has built since it opened 13 years ago. Those owners are remaining silent as of now, after agreeing to buy the sprawling property and restaurant from Great Rock Golf 2006, LLC, which shut down at the end of 2013 due to reported monetary problems. The new owners will be revealed once they close on the property, but, in the meantime, are being allowed to operate the golf course under a user agreement.
Great Rock may be open, but Blackwells still remains closed. The shuttered restaurant, which reimagined itself as more of a pub in 2013, is currently undergoing renovations and should be reopened under a different name in the early fall, Curtin said. Once completed, the former Blackwells will toe the line between being a pub and the standard American restaurant it was originally.
Rather than wait to open both the golf course and the accompanying restaurant, it was determined it would be best to have golfers using the facilities as soon as possible, infusing some revenue into the reopened club. A soft launch was conducted on June 2 without much fanfare as the course was awaiting the arrival of 72 new Yamaha, gas-powered golf carts. With the carts now on-hand, Great Rock’s staff is gearing up for what is expected to be the first busy weekend of the year.
“The soft reopening allowed us all to kind of ease back into it,” Curtin said.
Great Rock Golf Club had gained a bit of a stigma in recent years for its tall rough heights that slowed down play. Not intentional, Curtin noted that his crew simply did not have the equipment to trim back the lengthy blades of grass – a situation that has since been rectified by the course’s new owners.
“Their only focus is on the golf course itself and making it the best public course east of Route 110,” Curtin said.
The course, known for its fast greens, now has roughs that play almost equally as fast. That should bring playtime down to a more manageable four hours and 20 minutes, according to Curtin.
Aside from a quicker playtime thanks to better-kept roughs, don’t expect too many changes to how the course plays – at least not yet.
Curtin said he and the new owners are in the early stages of discussing a potential redesign of the course with some of the nation’s top golf course architects that would elongate it from its current 6,200 yards to 7,000 yards.
“It’s a big job and we’re not even sure it’s possible, but we’re looking into it,” Curtin said.
If it does happen, Curtin noted it would necessitate the closing of the course for an extended period of time, likely from Oct. 1 until the beginning of August in 2015. But once it opened, it would look and play completely different.
In the meantime, however, the folks at Great Rock say they’re finally open for business again and looking forward to their first rush of the year this weekend.
Those looking to play Great Rock Golf Club should expect to pay anywhere from $39 to $69 depending on the date and time of their round.
Please call the Pro Shop at 631-886-2700 to book your tee time or click here to make your tee time online.