Season opening at the Noyac Golf Club is always something for members to applaud, but this year is extra special because the Sag Harbor club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.
And the Sag Harbor club does indeed have a special history to toast. In 1963, when the other Hamptons private clubs were saying no to Jewish, African-American and other minority golfers, Noyac was saying yes.
“Our roots were as a reaction to other clubs not being as inclusionary as they should be—that’s something we’re proud of,” said Club President Steve Maietta, adding that “the other clubs, since then, have become more inclusive.”
To get into Noyac, Maietta said, you are judged on “whether you are passionate
Maietta also pointed out that Noyac is unique because it’s the only East End course that is tree-lined. Other local courses are links-style. “The club was built in a wooded area, and the designers didn’t try to make it look like anything that it wasn’t. So it’s a parkland course, which presents a different set of challenges to players. It tends to be tighter, not exposed to the wind so much.” Because of all the trees, he said, “It is especially beautiful in spring and fall.”
Founders of the 144-acre, 18-hole, par 72 course included Harry Diner, a dentist who had a vacation house in Noyac and played golf at three courses as a guest of his friend Dewey Frankenbach. When his friend got sick and couldn’t play anymore, Diner, who was Jewish, was turned down by all three of the clubs he had enjoyed. Diner wouldn’t let the rejections come between him and his game. He set about buying property by Peconic Bay, pulled together friends and investors, and on August 30, 1963 the Noyac Land Corporation was formed.
Diner was lucky enough to have had a supportive wife, Miriam, and the perfect brother-in-law—one who was good friends with golf course architect William Mitchell. When Diner contacted Mitchell, the two men met at the property just off Noyac Road. Mitchell, dazzled by the woodsy site, was so convinced that the slightly hilly land would make a terrific golf course that he offered to work for free until the project got going. Thus was born the course that ultimately comprised 6,925 yards, the member-owned, member-run, nonprofit and non-discriminating golf club that Diner
As a private club, membership is not cheap these days. But in the beginning, it didn’t take a whole lot of anything, including money, to get into Noyac. In fact, some early members recall responding to an ad in Dan’s Papers, which offered a free round of golf. When they finished the course, the pro at the time would ask, “Would you like to join?”
Members are quick to tell you they still don’t want to be seen as a chichi country club, but rather one with a relaxed friendliness. Membership has expanded over the half-century to 285 regulars and 115 family members, and includes a few celebrities. Young people get their chance to pick up golf skills at Noyac by caddying, and to hone their skills like such as the Pierson High School golf team, one of the best squads on Long Island.
Maietta said that Noyac remains unpretentious and welcoming, eliminating much of the stress that goes with membership in some other clubs. “This is the sort of place where you can just show up and get a game. At other clubs, you have to get a foursome ahead of time. You meet a lot of people this way.”
One of the people you might meet is an original member from the club’s first days, George Boziwick, still going strong, playing on the course that Diner called “my baby.”
The club has planned several golf and festive social events, culminating in a 50th anniversary gala in the clubhouse. For more information visit Noyacgolfclub.com.