When the LPGA’s Sybase Match Play begins in New Jersey Thursday, Cristy Jurgens will be very interested and she will be watching. She just won’t be anywhere near the place, even though she is an LPGA pro. Nor will she ever play on tour.
“I’m a pretty good golfer, but I’ll never get any better,” she said. “I don’t have the time.”
She is too busy with her job as head pro at Spring Lake Golf Club in Middle Island, where she tends the register, sends golfers onto the course and does a lot of other chores, along with giving lessons. “That’s the way they’ve always done it here,” she said the other day, early in her fourth year as director of golf.
That way seems to work. Spring Lake has been named Long Island Course of the Year by the Long Island Golf Course Association, an honor citing efficiency, aesthetics and overall contributions to golf. Dick Rocchio, the association’s executive director, said that Jurgens’ presence “adds to the professionalism and personality” of Spring Lake.
The former Cristy Grzymala — she was married this month to Tyler Jurgens, a member of superintendent Don Amsler’s greens crew and a third-generation worker at the club that was established by his grandfather and now run by his father, Rick — has been involved with golf most of her life. The Coram native played alongside her dad at Holbrook Country Club, played for the boys team at nearby Longwood High School and was Most Valuable Player for the women’s team at Hofstra in 2000.
Despite that background, she did come to this job by accident. “My plan,” she said, “was to open up a day care center and work with kids. I’ve always loved kids.”
But she worked summers at Long Island National and the Links at Shirley, and liked it. She moved on to Spring Lake, became an assistant pro, and when the top job opened, she applied. By then, she was certified by the LPGA, the women’s association that still includes tour pros and club pros under one umbrella — unlike the PGA Tour and PGA of America, which split many years ago.
Her LPGA membership was an accident, too. She had planned on joining the PGA of America, which has women members, but didn’t make the cut in the qualifying tournament. She did learn that her 81 was good enough to allow her into the LPGA’s apprentice program. Soon, she was attending courses in Daytona Beach and Phoenix, taking written tests and undergoing a practical exam in which she was graded on how well she gave lessons. She passed.
“It’s a process. It’s almost like going back to school,” she said. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of work. But I am very happy. I fell into a great place here, a great position. I don’t know too many people who can say that about their jobs.”
Spring Lake does not have long lines for tee times the way it once did. That is a way of life for golf in the 2000s. Still, the course is busy. And after 44 years, it still doesn’t look worn. Rick Jurgens still rides a mower, even though he is the manager and not the teen who helped build the 27 holes.
Rick knows that golfers used to find Spring Lake’s greens soft and slow, and proudly says they are fast and firm now.
The pro, meanwhile, is proud of programs such as the Face Your First Tee Fears seminar and the colorful Starting New At Golf sessions for young children (yes, she gets to work with kids after all).
Nonetheless, she knows what really draws golfers. “This is,” Cristy Jurgens said, “a great course.”