We got a chance to catch up with Chris Wahlers owner of Sandy Pond. Ever wonder what it’s like to work at, or even run, a golf course. Read on…
LIGN: How did you come to own Sandy Pond?
CW: I worked for the previous management for a few years prior to taking over and they knew that my partner and I were interested, so when they made the decision to leave we were given the opportunity to start discussions with the landowner.
LIGN: I understand you’ve done a lot of work. What’s been your focus?
CW: The most important thing are the greens. When we took over on Jan. 1st 2012 most of the greens had around a 50% loss of turf so we really didn’t have a choice as to where the focus needed to be. We cut them bigger, back to their original size, gave them a very aggressive aeration, and seeded them back to life throughout the 2012 season.
Then last fall we attacked our next biggest problem , the tee boxes. Poor management, maintenance and design left concrete hard dirt where the tee’s should be. We took the four worst boxes and either re-constructed or renovated them with sod while seeding the rest of them.
LIGN: What’s next, in terms of, renovation/construction?
CW: Well we overseeded the fairways throughout the fall of last year and we are just finishing the clubhouse renovation. The new bathrooms are done so now that the weather has broke we are going to address the bunkers and add a patio to the back of the clubhouse.
LIGN: What was the biggest surprise once you took over?
CW: The biggest surprise has been the amount of help and support we have been getting from the golf community, especially the vendors and employees of other courses around our area. We are new to this and without the help of these guys we would be in trouble.
LIGN: Did Super Storm Sandy effect the course?
CW: Sandy did make a mess of the place and took a couple of trees down, we are still not completely recovered from the damage but most of it is taken care of. Comparatively speaking, we did better than most courses in our area I would say.
LIGN: Do you offer any special programs, camps, leagues, etc?
CW: We did not want to come in and raise prices with the course looking the way it did so the price for an adult has been the same for years – $11 weekdays and $13 on the weekends.
We did start our “Sandy Pond Six Pack” card which is basically a purchase of 6 rounds for the price of 5. We are also starting our new Lady’s League on weds mornings that will run throughout the summer. Early indications look like it is going to be very fun and successful.
LIGN: What’s your favorite hole? Make sure to give some specifics.
CW: That is a tough question because I don’t look at it from just a players perspective and I know what we have planned for some of the holes in the future but if I had to pick one, the 4th hole would be my favorite… Although it is only a wedge, the elevated tee box (about 30 feet) and pond to the right of the green make this short 95 yard shot a fun and challenging hole.
LIGN: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
CW: First we would like to thank everyone who has helped us for their support and kind words. We have had quite a few people tell us they had just played at another local course and that our greens are as good or better. That means a lot to us.
Secondly, we would like to welcome all LongIslandGolfNews.com readers to come out and take a look around at what’s been going on here. We know a large amount of people could not tolerate the past conditions of the course and left Sandy Pond for elsewhere.
Lastly I don’t think you can now find a better value and quicker round of golf on Long Island. For between $10-$13 dollars, and about an hour of your time, you can really get some great short game practice in.
We are a perfect place for beginners and have been adding some features to make it more challenging for the more experienced players who like to work on their short game. Leave the drivers in the car and practice those short irons at Sandy Pond Golf Course!