Southampton Driving Range Improving To Open Ice Rink This Thanksgiving

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Since taking over his parents’ business in 2005, Southampton Golf Range owner Will Hansen, 71, says several moments stand out to him as having been special.

Most recently, he recalls standing at the driving range and watching as his 27-year-old son, Reid, lined up his shot and hit a ball over the fence delineating the boundaries of the County Road 39 business and into the trees—a drive of well over 300 yards, to tie, if not beat, his own personal record.

“I was very proud,” Will Hansen beamed while sitting in his office this week, with the official “business greeter,” a 9-year-old golden Labrador named Bo, sitting at his feet. “It was a nice moment.”

Over the last eight years, the senior and junior Mr. Hansens have made several improvements to the business, which they said had fallen into disarray. Now they plan more—the most notable of which will be a new ice skating rink, to open Thanksgiving weekend. The new rink is part of the family’s efforts to make the driving range a year-round family destination.

“We will have a big grand opening,” Mr. Hansen said. “It will be a good thing to have in Southampton.”

According to Mr. Hansen, his parents, Bill and Gladys Hansen, purchased the Southampton driving range in 1957. Originally from Huntington, the couple had always wanted to own either a driving range or an ice skating rink, and scouted several locations in the Northeast. One night, while reading The Wall Street Journal, Bill Hansen saw a small ad announcing that the driving range, which he had gone to as a teenager, was for sale.

The husband and wife immediately called the number on the ad, and that night met with owners Leo and Stan Rosko. They made a deal and later that night signed the paperwork, taking ownership of the business, which they expanded to include the mini-golf center next door.

When her husband died in 2005, Ms. Hansen called upon her son and grandson to take over the business. Since then, the father-son team have installed three batting cages, revamped the mini-golf, put up a new canopy over the driving range, installed heated tees for colder days, and remodeled the pro shop.

With the installation of the heated tees, this is the first year they will stay open year-round. The Hansens are also installing a new snack shack, which will include the return of Robert’s Ice Cream—a local favorite from when Will Hansen was younger, which closed after a truck crashed into the stand.

But the attraction that is getting the most buzz is the installation of the new $250,000 ice skating rink. The rink, which will be 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, will be located just west of the driving range. It was inspired by Gladys Hansen, who was an avid figure skater when growing up in Huntington, and whose first dream was to own a rink.

Complete with a generator and a cooling system to keep the ice fresh, the Hansens say it will be a nice addition to the community. They plan to keep it open from Thanksgiving weekend through March.

“It will be perfect,” said Betsy Berry, a skating teacher who will take her talents to the rink to give lessons. “I think it is in a great spot, and I think it is really exciting. There are a thousand possibilities—it is like a gift to Southampton.”

Currently, the family plans to charge $15 for adults and $12 for children to use the rink. Lights are being installed over the ice, making night skating possible, and skates will be available to rent. To kick off the first year, the business will offer free hot chocolate to skaters.

With all the changes to the facility itself, the club also will expand its services. In the spring, the range will launch the Tim McCoy Golf Academy. An employee at the range since 2005, Mr. McCoy has been a member of the Professional Golfers Association of America since 1967. According to the driving range’s website, he has won 15 Mid Atlantic PGA events and is considered one of the top instructors on the East End, incorporating video, illustrations, and notes into his lessons.

This week, the Hansen men said they are both excited for the future.

“We are very excited,” the senior Mr. Hansen said. “And so are the customers.”

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