Game Changers

A Car Accident Changed Lee Kaiser's Life — Golf Kept It Going

By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Published on

Lee Kaiser (middle) with his family.

PGA of America Golf Professional Lee Kaiser just finished up his 10th year as the Head Professional at Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead, New York. Today, Kaiser’s stresses include getting an event out on time, ensuring a dedicated student of his is improving on the course, and simply delivering a stellar private club experience to his members every day.
A few years ago, however, Kaiser’s world was turned upside down.

December 15, 2019, was a normal Sunday in Holbrook, New York, where Kaiser and his family now live. His son, Lee Jr. had two soccer games that morning, and Lee Sr. helped his own dad with some chores around the house afterward. They had met Lee Jr.’s godmother for dinner, and the Kaiser clan was headed home.
Unfortunately, a 23-year-old driver blew a stop sign where Coastes Avenue meets Veterans Memorial Highway, plowing into the young family and causing their car to spin no less than three times. Mom Adriana, 8-year-old Alessandra, and Kaiser Sr. all sustained injuries, but 10-year-old Lee Jr. took the brunt of the blow, as the car T-boned the Kaiser family right at his door. 
Kaiser and his son Lee Jr. at Long Island National.
Kaiser and his son Lee Jr. at Long Island National.
“It all happened in the blink of an eye,” Lee Sr. remembers. “I had three broken ribs and my daughter broke her arm. My wife still has back and neck issues, but my son took the worst of it.”
Lee Jr. was in the hospital for almost a week and had a couple of surgeries on his leg. He broke his hip, femur, tibia, and fibula, and would be bed-ridden when he came home. He was essentially off his feet from December to March.
The owner of Long Island National Golf Club, a dedicated philanthropist who is very supportive of hospitals in the tri-state area was able to get Lee Jr. into Cohen’s Children's Hospital for a second opinion and was supportive as Lee needed to be away from the club now and again.
With life at home needing him more than ever, how would Kaiser handle his responsibilities at the club? After all, with three broken ribs, he himself would be pretty inactive for the foreseeable future. But as the 2020 golf season rolled around and Kaiser's son started what would be a full year of rehab, he had the full support of his ownership and members.

Kaiser got into golf with his dad at an early age and grew up caddying and working in the bagroom at Island Hills Golf Club, which was across the street from his childhood home in Sayville, New York. He played high school golf but focused more astutely on his studies at nearby Suffolk County Community College while still working in the game. 
“I have always been fortunate to work for good people and got my first head pro job when I was just 25 years old,” Kaiser explains. “It’s been a good run so far. I love the game and I love the people.”
Kaiser is one of those pros who’s never had a job outside of golf. He’s a lifer who knew he wanted to be a PGA of America Golf Professional when he was 18 years old, and has been fortunate to clock more than two decades in the Head Professional role at two different facilities on Long Island. A businessman as much as a golf professional, Kaiser owns the golf shop at Long Island National, providing top-of-the-line golf merchandise to satisfy his members’ diverse interests and needs. 

“I have always been fortunate to work for good people and got my first head pro job when I was just 25 years old,. It’s been a good run so far. I love the game and I love the people.”

Lee Kaiser, PGA
As the Long Island National Golf Club members learned of Kaiser’s tribulations, they offered their support. Some in the medical field were able to get Kaiser into other stellar New York medical institutions so he could be comforted in knowing that his son was getting the best care and attention possible.
Kaiser found comfort in the normalcy that life at the club provided. But, as COVID hit, the club’s management team and owner had to ensure they were being proactive in their duties to ensure a safe environment for their members. Being in New York, they were at ground zero of the pandemic and had to follow the required safety protocols and procedures. 
With his kids now being homeschooled and recovering from injury, a burgeoning pandemic inundating the greater New York area, and his own recovery to consider, Kaiser was dealing with a perfect storm of trouble. However, his members couldn't speak any higher of him.
Kaiser was a professional in every sense of the word and a leader during a time when ducking behind the scenes might have been more comfortable.  
Today, most of the injuries have healed, though Adriana still feels the remnants of her back and neck injuries. Lee Jr. is a high school freshman and is playing JV soccer. In addition, as he gains his full range of motion back, he’s playing golf and caddying. As is often the case with this game, it transcends generations and has proven so in the Kaiser household.
The Kaiser family.
The Kaiser family.
As golfers, we know it can be frustrating and bring people to the point of tears. It often breaks your heart on the course. However, as so many people will tell you, and this writer is one of them, golf is more often a healing, comforting companion offering a shoulder to cry on. It does bring that normalcy that we all strive for and offers that light at the end of the tunnel.
For Lee Kaiser, PGA, golf is giving him back what he put into it, his heart and soul, his happiness and sanity, his optimism and faith in humanity.