The Hamptons

Hold that Tiger…And substitute a hedge fund manager instead.

michael braverman :: on the hamptons

For weeks after The New York Post broke the story that Tiger Woods was buying a major oceanfront estate on Gin Lane in Southampton, I tried to get confirmation that it was accurate. People close to the sale, like Sotheby’s broker Beate Moore, had signed confidentiality agreements and could not comment on who was buying, and others who were a little less close denied that it was Woods. And they were correct: it was not Woods.

The most tantalizing aspect of the deal for me was not about the real estate, although a $61 million price tag is hardly something to yawn about, even in the Hamptons. (Woods is not just very rich; he is Master of the Universe rich. He earned $100 million from endorsements and winnings in 2006, and within a couple of years should become the first billionaire athlete.) No, what worried me was the question of where Woods would play golf in the Hamptons. And it really worrried me.

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was my pick for Tiger. I could imagine him teeing off on that splendid opening hole, with its full-strength, unadulterated golf views. And sipping cosmopolitans in the Stanford White designed clubhouse after evading 150 bunkers. But would he be admitted as a member?

My guess was that Woods would probably be welcomed at Shinnecock Hills-but not now. He would have to wait his turn. Even legacy applicants, children of members, for example, who want to join in their own right, have to get on the list. You’d think even the toniest golf club would have a “move heaven and earth” list, the way important restaurants in the Hamptons do. But they have rules, and if a private club is not all about rules, it is threatened with chaos, or even worse, with subtle, creeping change.

No one leapfrogs over an earlier applicant. The pace may be glacial; in fact, our glaciers may be melting faster than club life evolves, but the sacred by-laws will never, ever, be breached as long as there is a living, breathing, admissions committee looking bravely back to the glorious past and carrying its traditions, untampered with, into the future.

Shinnecock Hills would be worth waiting for, even if it is a little humbling for the world’s most famous golfer to be put on a list behind some guys who have twenty point handicaps and wear pastel plaid pants. The club opened in 1892 as a 12-hole course, with a ladies 9-hole course added shortly after that. Today’s 260 acre, 18-hole, par 70 course was designed in 1931, and has hosted the U.S. Open in 1986, 1995, and 2004, when, striking terror into the hearts of local residents, traffic contingency plans included just about everything short of bomb shelters in our basements. The players in the 2004 Open, who are not known to be crybabies, described the tough course conditions as “unfair.” Just another relaxed week on the golf circuit.

Woods could always have played as a guest at Shinnecock Hills while waiting to be admitted. Or been a guest at most other clubs. The Maidstone Club, in East Hampton, would have been a bit far from his probable Southampton home, and not quite as challenging a course. Sebonack, National Golf Links or the Atlantic might have been suitable choices among the major courses here. Atlantic is where Bill Clinton played on a 1998 Hamptons visit while still president.

Woods has won the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championships more often than I’ve won a race with my dog. He’s rich, good-looking, world famous, has a gorgeous wife, and, most annoyingly, seems to be a genuine nice guy who is well liked. I cannot compete with him on a single item on that list, so it was insane for me to worry about where he’d have played golf.

Michael Braverman is Editor at Large at Hamptons Magazine and Contributing Editor at Gotham Magazine. He has been the Wine Columnist at The East Hampton Star and he also writes for the polo newsletters, Open Season and Morning Line. We are thrilled to welcome him aboard as well! He can be reached at michael[at] or via our comments page. Braverman is deeply involved in the East End community and serves on the boards of the Hampton Classic Horse Show, the Thomas Moran Trust, the Robert Wilson Watermill Center, and the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center. He has lived most of his life in East Hampton, and was a partner in Braverman Newbold Brennan Real Estate. That business was sold to Sotheby’s International Realty ten years ago, after which he became a journalist. lifeguard stand

May 31st, 2008 Posted by | guest bloggers | no comments