Wednesday marked a great start to the 2011-12 hockey season. With training camp set to start on Friday, current New York Islanders players and alumni got out to play one final round of golf on one of the last sunny and 80 degree days before the leaves start to turn and the brisk chill of fall sets in.
“We had a great event today at Bethpage,” said Ann Rina, the Islanders Manager of Community Relations. “The weather couldn’t have been any better. It was a little warm, but the sun was shining. Everyone looked like they were having a great time playing."
The Islanders fourth annual charity golf outing, which benefits the Islanders Children’s Foundation, was a great success according to Rina, who said, “I think this is going to be the most successful golf outing we’ve held.”
|Islanders defenseman Mark Eaton gets some advice from his caddy during the Islanders Charity Golf Outing on the Red Course at Bethpage State Park on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011. Click to view gallery. |
Taking place on the Red Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, each foursome was grouped with an Islanders player or alumni before they set out to play 18 holes. Along the course, each group took part in a series of games with various prizes, including the chance to win a new Dodge Charger if they were lucky enough to shoot a hole-in-one.
While no one won the car, Mark Eaton
’s team of five may have had an unfair advantage. One of their members was P.J. Cowan, a two-time winner of the New York State Open. By the end of the day, Eaton’s team finished 10 under 70.
“Today was wonderful,” Cowan said. “Mark Eaton
was our Islander. He’s a great guy, couldn’t be nicer. I’m looking forward to next year.”
When asked how he learned of the charity outing, Cowan and his cart-mate, Chris Thompson, explained that they were friends of long-time Islanders fan and sponsor Erik Habberstad, who owns Habberstad BMW and Bayshore BMW.
“Erik Habberstad called us up,” said Thompson. “He’s sponsored the Islanders for the past five to 10 years. He came to us and said ‘Hey, you guys are good at golf, it should be a fun day, have some drinks, dinner, laugh a bit,’ and it’s all been true.” Matt Martin
’s group, like many other teams on the course, may not have won any prizes for their outstanding play, but that didn’t seem to matter.
|Doug Weight, an Islanders alumnus and Senior Advisor to the General Manager & Assistant Coach, golfs during the Islanders Charity Golf Outing on the Red Course at Bethpage State Park on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011. |
“It’s more about the kids,” Martin said. “Obviously, the events we have going on with the hole-in-ones, everyone has been donating some money. So it’s all about having some fun. It’s not too competitive out here. Helping out the kids is all that really matters at the end of the day.”
Having a charity event in the setting of a golf game seems to work in everyone’s favor. It’s a game many of the Islanders players and alumni enjoy to play in their off season, but it’s also a game that allows for a lot of social interaction so the fans and sponsors who come out to play, get a lot of time to get to know the team.
“Golf is a great social game,” said Islanders alumnus and Senior Advisor to the General Manager & Assistant Coach Doug Weight. “You get three-and-a-half to five hours with somebody. My group of guys play together every Saturday. It’s a locker room atmosphere and something I’m used to. I’m excited about being out here.”
There’s truly no better way to kick off the 2011-12 season.
“The Islanders Children’s Foundation works to help sick and underprivileged kids here on Long Island,” said Rina. “It just means a lot that everyone came out here today to participate and raise money for a great cause.”