Poxabogue Golf Center Gets a Facelift and New Management

"A hidden gem"
Steve Feder, who will run the nine-hole golf course, plans upgrades that go beyond cosmetic improvements. Taylor K. Vecsey

The Poxabogue Golf Center will officially open under new management later this month, led by a golf pro with a solid reputation on the East End. The hope is it will begin a new era for the town-owned facility.

“We think it’s sort of a hidden gem out here,” said Steve Feder, who will run the nine-hole public course, which is owned by the Town of Southampton. Feder is the head golf professional at the county-owned Indian Island Country Club in Riverhead, which runs like “a well-oiled machine,” according to Kristen M. Doulos, the assistant park director for Southampton Town, who oversaw the deal reached late last year to have Feder take over. 

Feder is in the midst of “revitalizing” the center, replacing equipment and sprucing up the 39-acre property, which is north of Montauk Highway in the Village of Sagaponack. First built in the 1960s, it needed “a lot of love and care,” he said. “We want to make Poxabogue as good a facility as it can be. There’s so much potential here.”

The golf pro shop is being renovated — it had been somewhat neglected, he said. Coats of paint, new mats and dividers in the driving range, new ball dispenser machines are being added; the parking lot is being repaved, as is the walkway to the practice range, and there are other changes in the works. 

The upgrades go beyond cosmetic improvements. Feder is reconfiguring the driving range and parking area, adding safety striping and fencing. “With a lot of kids running around, we went to make sure everybody stays safe,” he said. 

Speaking of kids, the popular junior program is going to be expanded and modeled after his program at Indian Island. “We welcome children, because that’s the future of our game. If we don’t focus on them, the game of golf will go by the wayside,” he said. The program will start with an abbreviated week over the Fourth of July and then be held every Monday to Friday through Labor Day. 

“So we don’t have to turn children away,” the student-teacher ratio will be improved. “We have a huge driving range, a big facility, so we’re increasing our staff.”

Feder was named among U.S. Kids Golf’s top 50 instructors. He said he has given thousands of private lessons and hundreds of clinics over his 30-year career. A Brooklyn native, he first became a head golf professional at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County. In 2000, he left to take the top position at Indian Island, which has been recognized for its junior golf camps. He will stay on as an administrator at Indian Island, but his focus, he said, will be on Poxabogue. He and Laura Vecchio, one of his business partners, will oversee the day-to-day operations.

The Town of Southampton purchased the Poxabogue Golf Center through the community preservation fund in a joint effort with the Town of East Hampton in 2004. East Hampton sold its stake in the center to Southampton in 2013. Over the past 15 to 20 years, several managers have come and gone. 

“We plan on staying. That’s why we’re putting a lot of money into it,” Feder said.

His company, Pin High Golf Management, L.L.C., came to an agreement with Southampton after the town put out a request for proposals for a license agreement for the operation and maintenance of Poxabogue back in November. A month before, the facility had shuttered earlier than usual when the manager was arrested on criminal charges. A committee set up to review the proposals recommended his to the town board from among seven received. 

The eight-year agreement is for Pin High to pay the town $100,000 for the first three years with an increase each subsequent year. Also, the management company agreed to a $164,5000 contribution toward capital improvements and a profit share.

The Fairway restaurant, also located on the property, is run under a separate license agreement. Dan Murray is the longtime tenant.

Feder hopes not only to give the center a facelift, but to also bring “a new attitude.” Poxabogue has catered in the past, he said, to the busy summer season clientele. “The people who support us during the shoulder season . . . they’ve been sort of left by the wayside. We have to focus on them, as well. Not only the busy time when we have summer residents, but the full-time residents.” 

He hopes to open by mid-March, weather permitting, though some work may still need to be completed. “I think when people pull in here in June and July, they’re going to say, ‘Wow. What a change.’ ”