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Aug 20, 2014 10:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Golf Range Adds New Yet Vintage Snack Shack

Aug 26, 2014 4:32 PM

For years, Will Hansen has dreamed about returning the Southampton Golf Range to its original state, the way he remembers it was when he was a kid working there for his parents.

When the business was still owned by his father, Bill Hansen, the elder Mr. Hansen decided to turn the County Road 39 attraction into a country club-esque facility where golfers could practice their long shots. He made everything on the course a uniform color and took out some of the whimsical main attractions for younger kids.

Earlier this summer, Will Hansen achieved his dream, reopening a long-shuttered snack bar on the property and bringing back some classic menu items. Now he says everything that was at the golf range in 1958, when he temporarily left the business, is back, from the miniature golf course to Gene’s famous sub sandwiches.

With phase one of his renovations now complete, that does not mean Mr. Hansen does not have a few more tricks up his sleeve. His intention is to make the driving range a destination spot in Southampton.

“I brought back a little bit of the past here,” Mr. Hansen said. “This is what I had in the late ’50s and early ’60s.”

According to Mr. Hansen, his parents, Bill and Gladys Hansen, purchased the Southampton Golf 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 in the ad, and that night met with the owners, Lee and Stan Rosko. They made a deal and later that night signed the paperwork, taking ownership of the business, which they later expanded to include the mini-golf center next door.

After her husband died in 2005, Ms. Hansen called upon her son and grandson, Reid, to take over the business. Since then, they have installed three batting cages, revamped the miniature golf course, put a new canopy over the driving range, installed heated tees for colder days, remodeled the pro shop, and installed a small outdoor skating rink for use in winter.

Food used to be served on the property, but approximately 25 years ago a truck veered off County Road 39 and slammed into the stand, and it never reopened.

Now there is one more thing to do at the driving range—eat. Hansen’s Snack Shack features Nathan’s hot dogs, Gene’s Famous Subs and Magic Fountain Ice Cream. The snack shack, which is behind the putting area and sandwiched between the pro shop and the mini-golf course, is even more than Mr. Hansen first dreamed. It also features a canopied eating area.

Mr. Hansen wanted everything at the snack shack to be top of the line, which is why he uses Black Angus beef from Prime Meats in Southampton Village for his hamburgers. When it came to snacks, he wanted an ice cream with a vintage feel, like the Robert’s Ice Cream that used to be served on premises and was a huge hit with customers.

Mr. Hansen also knew he wanted to bring back Gene’s Famous Subs. Although the company no longer exists, he remembered the recipes for the sandwiches from the 1960s, when he used to run the snack shack for his dad. Over the years, he has temporarily moved to Florida and back, but he still remembers the key staples for the sandwiches.

Thinking back to his childhood, he also remembered often going to Coney Island with his family and wanted to bring a bit of that experience to the East End. He’d fallen in love with Nathan’s hot dogs, so he got a franchise license for the shack, which now sells most of the items on the Nathan’s menu board, including the staples—hot dogs, waffle fries and all of the sauces.

With the new snack shack, which has a license to sell beer and wine, Mr. Hansen said business has significantly increased. He also said he is getting more young people and an evening crowd.

“This has always been a family place,” he said this week. “I have always geared the whole establishment toward families. It used to look just like this when my family bought it, and now it’s back.”

Mr. Hansen is looking forward to still more projects. His son, Reid, who runs a golf camp daily for kids, is having two golf simulators installed in a small building on the property. The simulators will allow players to “play” 18 holes on some of the world’s most famous courses, all from the comfort of Southampton in January, if they choose.

Mr. Hansen is also looking into the idea of installing a pedal cart course for kids and adults alike to race and get a workout in.

The Southampton Golf Range is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the snack shack—which can be patronized separately—is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

“It has helped a lot,” Reid Hansen said about the new snack bar and upgrades. “Everyone who comes here, almost 80 percent of the people, get something from the snack bar, plus the outside people, too. It’s great.”

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Stopped by last week. It really is great now. A real family-friendly environment and the best part-- they sell beer now!
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on Aug 20, 14 11:07 AM
This is great news! Used to stop there with my mom when I was a kid for one of "Gene's Famous" sandwiches, most of which were named after celebrities.

Gene had a place in Westhampton, too. Fun times.
By Frank Wheeler (1825), Northampton on Aug 20, 14 12:39 PM
Whoa, I probably dropped a college tuition's worth of quarters in the arcade at Gene's
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on Aug 20, 14 2:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
I remember going to Gene's in Westhampton as a kid and the celebrity named sandwiches...I remember "Arthur Treacher"..lol but not what was in it or where the stand was...can you tell me where it was? I've been scratching my head for years trying to remember...
Thanks!
Charlene Cheshire ccheshire@suffolklaw.com
By 16945 (15), Riverhead on Aug 25, 14 3:18 PM
The stand was on Montauk Highway just west of Seabreeze Avenue:)
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Sep 2, 14 7:04 PM
Although this post is from a couple years ago, I wondered if you had a menu from the past? My parents were best friends with Gene and Margaret. We used to go all the time when I was a little girl and we lived in WHB. My parents owned The Inne on Beach Lane in WHB. I would love to find a copy of Genes Sandwiches without going through the stacks and stacks of boxes in the "family archive"! Any information would be great. You mention the Arthur Treacher which I believe was one of my dads favorites!
By DianeRogers (1), on Jun 27, 16 9:21 AM
Careful - small servings of ice creal for $5. May have been the server scooping that day...ice cream was good, bit a lot of air in the scoop!
By metsfan2 (161), southampton on Aug 20, 14 12:53 PM
Can't wait to introduce my children and grandchildren to Gene's Famous Sandwiches. They were absolutely the best anywhere.
By Grandmom (8), Southampton on Aug 20, 14 1:02 PM
This is wonderful news! Some of my favorite childhood memories were lunches at Gene's. Welcome back!!!
By Uncle Fester (61), Southampton on Aug 20, 14 1:57 PM
Aw, I was hoping they'd tear it down and put up another museum that looked like Gus Fring's laundry or an art center that looked like a 1970s office park. Bummer.
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 20, 14 6:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
You don't like the new 777 hanger , I mean museum in Water Mill

How come Harold Fisher has not been there to force them to re vegetate with all indigenous flora.

ridiculous land of double standards we live in !
By 27dan (2817), Shinnecock Hills on Aug 25, 14 3:04 PM
$60. for 2 adults and 3 kids to eat. Screwed up the order, raw, not rare. Thanks, but I wont be back.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Sep 1, 14 11:56 AM
$12.00 per person is too much for you to support a local business trying to save his business? Idiot!
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Sep 1, 14 12:48 PM
Yes. That was the point of my going there. But when I asked for cheeseburgers and get hamburgers, when the ff, and onion rings are served 10 minutes before the burger, when the meat is seared, but absolutelyy RAW inside, you're right. I'm an idiot. An idiot who wont be spending my money here again. Add in another $40. for mini golf, I dropped $100. in here.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Sep 1, 14 3:01 PM