Professional golf tournaments would return to Eisenhower Park under an ambitious proposal from the new operators of the park’s Carltun restaurant and catering hall in East Meadow, officials said.
EGB Hospitality LLC signed a lease with Nassau County last year to rent the 35,000-square-foot facility for at least 15 years and has begun making $5.5 million in improvements. The renovations are “necessary to bring national golf events,” such as a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament, to the three 18-hole golf courses in the county-owned park, company executives said.
EGB Hospitality has applied to the county’s Industrial Development Agency for a sales-tax exemption of up to $345,000 on the purchase of construction materials, equipment and furnishings. The IDA board is expected to hear a presentation from the company next week.
EGB Hospitality partner Elias Trahanas said Thursday the eatery and events hall has been renamed The Grand Lannin to honor businessman Joseph J. Lannin, who created the park, formerly known as Salisbury Golf Club, in 1917.
“We’re changing the former Carltun into a tourist destination that’s going to pull people from all five boroughs [of New York City] and from New Jersey,” Trahanas said in an interview. “By revamping this iconic facility in this iconic park, we’re going to attract more than just golf tournaments. We’re going to attract many events, from corporate [functions] to charity [galas],” he said.
Trahanas said he and his partners will work with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to bring a professional golf tournament to Eisenhower Park.
In the application for tax breaks, Trahanas said the revamped restaurant and banquet hall will reopen on May 1 “at the request of Nassau County in hopes of hosting a LPGA golf tournament.”
A county spokesman wasn’t immediately available to comment on Thursday.
Another public golf course, Bethpage Black at Bethpage State Park, has hosted men’s major championships, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, along with other PGA Tour events. The private Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton has hosted the men’s U.S. Open several times. The international Ryder Cup tournament will be played on the Bethpage Black course in 2025.
Eisenhower Park last hosted a PGA tournament on its Red Course in 2008. The event, then sponsored by Commerce Bank, was part of the PGA Champions Tour for golfers over age 50. The annual tournament began in 1987 at a private golf club in Jericho before transferring to the public course.
The Red Course “is a good enough course to hold a tournament,” said Gene Bernstein, who together with his brother and father started the Northville Long Island Classic, the local leg of the PGA Champions Tour from 1988 through 2008.
He continued, “The Red Course has some pedigree because the PGA Championship was played there in 1926” and won by golf legend Walter Hagen.
But Bernstein and others said the biggest hurdle to bringing professional golf back to Eisenhower Park is finding a business with deep pockets to serve as the tournament sponsor. Bernstein’s company — petroleum supplier Northville Industries in Melville — was the chief sponsor through 1998 of the last annual tournament to be played on Long Island.
“I believe Long Island can do it because it has done it,” Bernstein said.
To make Eisenhower more appealing to professional and amateur golfers, EGB Hospitality plans to offer a full-service restaurant, outdoor patio with food and drinks, and concessions on the golf course – all named for Devereux Emmet, designer of the Red Course. There also will be a cigar lounge.
The venue will have about 70 employees, with an annual payroll of up to $3 million, according to the IDA application.
EGB Hospitality is a partnership between brothers Bobby and Elias Trahanas, who own the Golden Reef Diner in Rockville Centre and concessions at Jones Beach and Robert Moses state parks; brothers Dennis and Nick Moshopoulos, owners of the Laterna Restaurant in Bayside, Queens, and their brother-in-law Jerry Pagoulatos, who owns the Sunrise diner in Wantagh.
IDA chairman Richard Kessel said the agency is “very excited to learn more about this project, which could attract major events to Nassau County.”