The Islanders Golf Outing has become a pre-season tradition of sorts and an unofficial sign that hockey season is about to return. The golf outing, which is a precursor to training camp, is the first time all summer the Islanders are all together, a commencement for new players and a chance to mingle with the Long Island community - all while raising money for a good cause.
This year marked the 12th-consecutive Islanders Golf Outing, taking place at Bethpage's Red and Blue courses, with proceeds benefitting the Islanders Children's Foundation. Players, coaches and alumni were split up with select groups of attendees to play a full round of golf before coming together for an auction and banquet in the evening.
"What makes it great is it's sort of a tradition," Thomas Hickey said. "We've done it every year and it's obviously a big fundraiser. The faces you see around at all the events throughout the season, it's the unofficial kick-off of it. It's always an exciting day and you know that hockey is right around the corner."
Returning players who have more than a few Golf Outings under their belt embrace the challenge to best one another based on their accuracy, range and skill on the course. Egos aside, the Islanders agree Cal Clutterbuck is the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to top golfer on the team. Through the years, a friendly competition has grown for bragging rights and a little rivalry between North American and European-born players has developed.
"Whenever there's a few guys playing together there's always a game on the line or wager on the line," Hickey said. "It gets pretty competitive. We all got some work to do [to catch up to Clutterbuck]. He's No. 1."
Leo Komarov agreed North American-born players hold the edge due to how frequently those players pencil in tee-times throughout the year especially during the offseason, but Komarov defended his status among the European-born players.
"I usually just go to hit the ball and don't play as much," Komarov said. "I just enjoy it that part. I really only get to play a few times a year. But I'm still probably not the worst of the Euro guys. Compared to everyone else I might be in the bottom, but I'm not the worst."
For newcomers like forward Derick Brassard and goaltender Semyon Varlamov who are entering their first seasons as Islanders, a golf outing is a familiar routine ahead of training camp, but the familiarity helps establish connections as they enter the upcoming season with their new teammates.
"Every team that I've played for, they all have their golf tournament and that means training camp is around the corner," Brassard said. "It's a pretty exciting time of year. It's the last time you can play golf for a little while, but I think everyone is pretty excited about this time about this upcoming season. Practices [for training camp] are starting Friday and Saturday. It's going to be hard, but it's one of the last times to have a little bit of fun."
Cal Clutterbuck's golf game is a little more finessed than his wrecking ball persona on the ice, but Ryan Pulock's power game plays the same on the ice and the course. Pulock notably shattered his driver into pieces as he drilled a shot from the tee box, proving he can break more than just the glass at Northwell Health Ice Center. The eminent power behind his shot had his group speechless and cautious from standing near him in the near future.
"That power," Mike Sciallo said. "He just has such tremendous power behind his shot."
Tuesday's golf outing is likely the last round of the summer for most of the Islanders, especially with training camp beginning on Friday. Now that the whole squad has arrived back on Long Island, the players are itching to get back into the swing of the hockey season.
"It's fun to come out here and play with a few new faces and what not," Mathew Barzal said. "I've been out here for a couple of weeks now. I'm getting familiar again with everything and getting back into the swing of things. It feels good to be back in New York and to get things going here."