Guest host: familiarity at the fairway.

AuthorEngeldrum, Dave

Poxabogue's restaurant is home to all--from farmers to film stars

Known affectionately as "The Pox" or "Poxy," Poxabogue Golf Center in Sagaponack belies its sickly nicknames with a healthy dose of fun: a challenging 9-hole golf course, a 75-station driving range, and the sparkling Fairway Restaurant, offering hearty, home-cooked meals.

A Native American word, Poxabogue means "meeting of the waters"--an apt description of the area's breathtaking geography as well as the "local watering hole" feel of Southampton Town's only public golf course, with a cafe that dishes classic Americana to an eclectic clientele.

"We get everyone," said Dan Murray, who runs the Fairway Restaurant, "from fishermen to farmers to movie stars and CEOs, from Calvin Klein to Joe the fisherman--who comes in with a group of his buddies at seven in the morning for breakfast." As if to emphasize the cafe's accommodating spirit both in word and deed, a local priest, Father Peter, walked up to say hello to the affable Murray. "This is a neighborhood place where people feel like they belong," said Father Peter.

A feeling of familiarity reigns at the Fairway, among its clientele and its staff. Mike, the chef, has been in the kitchen for nine years. Murray's wife, Janet, and his two daughters, Erin and Jill, have all worked at the restaurant. His father, 84-year-old Robert "Red" Murray, continues to help his son, often by entertaining customers with a tale. "He's an Irishman with a gift of gab," Murray said.

But despite decades as a popular community spot and a fixture on the highway, the Fairway and the golf course seemed to be nearing their demise in 2002 when the owners made plans to sell the 40-acre parcel. In a pleasing turn of events, the towns of Southampton and East Hampton bought it, placing the golf facilities in the hands of Long Island Golf Management and accepting Murray's bid to continue to run the restaurant.

"You can never duplicate this again, especially in an area like Sagaponack," Murray explained, looking south, out through one of the restaurant's many windows, to the vast farmland stretching to the sea, and then north, to the hills and cedar trees and manicured greens of the golf course and practice putting green. "The land is really too valuable for a 9-hole golf course and driving range," he added. "But the towns came in and saved the place for the community, for families."

In addition to his gratitude to local governments and many others who've helped...

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