By Marty Basch
In a sense, Tim Westwig has come home again.
The native Mainer grew up in Portland frequenting the valley to hike and fly-fish.
Entering the working world, in the mid-1990s he was the Boston-based executive director for the Eastern New England Council of Hostelling International and oversaw a half dozen properties including the former Albert B. Lester Memorial Hostel on Washington Street in Conway.
In March, Westwig, who spent the past couple years as general manager of a New York boutique hotel, bought the property now called the White Mountains Hostel and fills his time painting, sanding, landscaping and welcoming an array of budget travelers including climbers, hikers and cyclists.
"When this came available, I had a vision in my head of what this could be," he said. "I wanted to be out of New York City and get back to nature and my Native American roots."
By Joe Soraghan
“I suppose I’m happy when I know I’ve given a horse a good ride, no matter where it finishes. I like playing golf in the summer; I’m happy when I hit a good shot. But overall I can’t believe you can be happy when you’re not winning, I honestly can’t accept that.” — English Jockey, Tony McCoy
I had all intentions of going to the range and hitting some balls to work on my new grip, and to do some thinking. While putting on my shoes and getting my clubs, Sully came into the locker room and said, “I’m going out to play. We have three. Do you want to join us?”
I didn’t hesitate to reply in the affirmative, as the only one that would miss me would be the dog. What would be unusual about this round was we were starting at 4:15 in the afternoon. I am a person of routine. My tee times are early in the mornings. Rarely am I on the course late in the afternoon. I now know I've been missing some of the nicest times to be on a golf course!
Golf course superintendents have had a difficult time this season trying to give players optimum conditions after a very long, hard winter. Their efforts are visible now: greens are starting to play better and the fairways are lush and green. The course conditions have improved tenfold from the season start. These great conditions were evident as we played our late afternoon round. I half expected we would be held up by players who take advantage of the afternoon greens fees, but this was not the case. Unfortunately, the course was close to empty. Golfers don’t know what they are missing!
I have found when playing late in the day, on your home course, you are playing shots that you normally don’t see. The course plays differently. Sunlight, shadows, wind, and even the texture of the greens have changed from morning presentation to evening closing. The quiet on the course gives one an almost spiritual feeling, and the joy of playing is an experience that is best described as “youthful”, where the golfer goes out and just “free swings” around the course. But, there is also a downside to the game that clearly becomes evident late in the day. It's hard to understand how some players can be so selfish when on the course.
“The Rules of Golf” begin not with rules, but with a section on etiquette. The first of such was published in 1899 to allow players to get around the course without offending others. Two of the etiquette items, and there are only ten, pertain to how a golfer should help keep the course in a manner to which he or she would like to find it themselves. Rules 9 and 10 read: “Turf cut or displaced by a stroke should be at once replaced.” and, “Players should fill up all hole made by him in a bunker or on a putting surface.” In other words, fix your divots, rake the bunkers, and, above all, fix your ball marks so that others might enjoy the same playing surface that you would want and hopefully, have experienced.
My playing partners the other evening were enjoying the round as much as I, but we couldn’t understand how so many ball marks went unrepaired, how many divots unfilled, and why footprints were not raked after a shot. Sully and I are old caddies who learned at a young age that a golf course needed to be properly cared for by all players. These habits would carry over to how we conduct ourselves on the course later in life.
Our two playing companions have been in the golf business in different capacities and are both accomplished players. One is a “rules guru” who takes great pride in his game and how it should be played by all who venture onto the course. The other was a PGA Pro at a course outside of the Mount Washington area, at a “golf resort.” He commented about how players at his course fail to repair damage to fairways and greens and wondered aloud if this is a trend we will continue to see in the golfing industry.
He went on to talk about his temptation to construct a sign which would read, “If you would like to reduce your waistline, bend over and fix your ball mark!” We talked about the different methods to encourage players to fix any damage they might make to a course through normal play, and realized that it might be an uphill fight. But, all of us should continue to demonstrate course etiquette that models good habits which would leave the area in a condition better than we found it.
• Indian Mound Golf Course (539-7733): Vegas is coming to the Ossipee 18 on Sept. 24 when the Ladies of the Mound host their Invitational Tournament. In the Rivers Edge quota league, Mark Bernard was this week’s winner with a plus 6. Closest to the pin honors went to Joe St. Lawrence and Rick Tibbetts. In Inter-Club play, Indian Mound holds a 19-point lead over Kezar Lake, Bridgton Highlands, and Province Lake. The popular 9 and Dine is open to all on Sundays beginning at 3 p.m. This is a shotgun start and for $30 per player you get golf, cart, prizes, and dinner. Arthur Bouffard is sponsoring a junior team for The Wayne Sprouse Benefit Tournament. Team members are Josh Rivers, Zack Phaneuf, Kyle Buffelli, and Ryan Gregory. Call the pro shop for details.
• North Conway Country Club (356-9391): The 2014 Ladies Club Championship was held this past weekend and despite finishing their round on Sunday with rain drops descending upon them, there were some very competitive rounds. Finishing in the top spot, taking first gross was Donna Wallace. First net prize went to Liz Dilando. During the tournament a couple of notable scores were posted: Gay Folland shot a round of 81, the low round of the tournament and Sue Nelson posted her career low. Congratulations to all the players. This weekend, the men will vie for their championship in the two day event. Check the sign up sheet on the bulletin board upstairs for the Pro/Member which will be held on Aug. 10. The weekend of Aug. 8, 9, and 10 will also be the last for members to try and garner Champ of the Month honors.
• Wentworth Golf Course (383-9641): In Ladies League action for July 22, Jenny Simone took first net on the front 9 and Jane Goulart took best net on the back. Best net total winner for all 18 was Kathy Gilligan. Second net winners for the front were Pauline Whalley and Lynne Walker. Second net for the back was Maryann Lowry. Second best net total were Sheila Hastings and Jean Mason. This weekend the Wentworth will host the Mixed Team Championship or as it is more commonly referred “The Divorce Open.” This is a Chapman Scotch Format, one male and one female per team. Sign up in the pro shop.
• Province Lake Golf Course (207-793-4040): The Sunday Quota Game saw Bob Murphy( plus 4), and Mark Reardon ( plus 9), take first place in the team competition. Second place went to the team of Mike Singleton (plus 2) and Ed Harvey( plus 6). Individually, it was a great day for Reardon, as he not only took the individual top prize but had the only “skin” to “live” with a birdie on No. 14. The Four Club Match was scheduled to be played at Lake Kezar but was rained out. Play will resume next Monday.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course (383-9090): The Eagle is hosting a Thursday Quota League for members and their guests. The par 32, nine-hole mountain course is a great place to work on your shots as many players experience. This week Jim Doig, Bill Peck, Betty Smither, and Peggy Davis played the course in two-under. Individually, it was Russ Veale who grabbed closest to the pin honors.
• Hale’s Location Golf Course (356-2140): Hale’s, along with the owners’ association and Jonathan Rivers of Indian Mound Golf Course have been working hard in preparing for the Fundraiser Tournament and Dinner to benefit Hale’s Location pro, Wayne Sprouse. There will be three shotgun starts during the day of Aug. 28 for this nine-hole event. The cost is $60 per player and includes golf, one Mulligan, one continental breakfast, one barbecue lunch, one raffle ticket, a goodie bag, and lots of fun for a great cause. For more information or to sign up for the golf tournament, dinner, or sponsorship call the pro shop at 356-2140 or call Carol Sullivan at 356-7100 Ext. 412. Donations are also welcome, and can be made to: Wayne L. Sprouse Medical Expense Fund, c/o The White Mountain Hotel and Resort, P.O. Box 1828, North Conway 03860.
High school golfers should be flocking to their local courses as the season is right around the corner. Kennett High School players will only have seven days of practice before they host their first match at North Conway Country Club.
As in any athletic program, team members need to come to that first day prepared to play. Golfers should have been playing throughout the summer to prepare for the season ahead. Golf is a sport where individual dedication and responsibility is paramount to how players perform during the season. Responsibility for preparation lies with the player.
I know the local high school coach is anxiously waiting to get the golfers out on the courses and see what game they are bringing into the 2014 season.
By Marty Basch
Look for a new twist or two in the 24 Hours of Great Glen next month.
Though organizers are keeping those changes close to the vest — and are likely to post those alterations on the event's new Facebook page any minute now — they are likely to be near the water.
"That is still a little bit of a secret," said Great Glen Trail social media coordinator and mountain bike guide Meg Skidmore. "We'll still have the floating bridge and over/under bridge but we're not releasing the actual twist yet."
Could the twist be a twist?
The over/under bridge has been moved slightly, but there is more to come.
By Joe Soraghan
“More matches are lost through carelessness at the beginning of the match than any other cause.” — Harry Vardon, Pro golfer.
By now, most people have heard of the wager Rory McIlroy’s dad, made when “The Open Champion” was only 15 years old. Gerry McIlroy and three of his friends bet about 400 pounds ( US dollars) that the teenager would win the British Open by the age of 25. As a result of the now 25-year-old's win, the bettors will be collecting about $340,000. What is it they saw in the young McIlroy that motivated them to make that type of wager?
Consider you are playing the best golf of your life. You’ve been dominant in your club tournaments, winning every event that is scheduled. Then you have an epiphany. “I’m going to take my game to the next level”, you think. Well, you can forget about it, as these are great rounds are probably the best rounds you are going to have. If you were to play a course that was set up for the professionals, you would be lucky to shoot a score in the 90s.
The courses selected for the pros are over 7,000 yards in length. Fairways are 25 to 30 yards in width, and the rough is at least 4 inches deep. The greens are fast, hard, and contoured with more bumps and curves than a swimsuit model. On these greens, when facing a 12-inch downhill putt, no one is going to say “That’s good,” and not require a finishing putt. Every shot counts. You would be playing in front of large galleries. The outside distractions during such a match are plentiful. What is needed to play great golf in these conditions, what is needed for success at the highest level, is something that the “weekend” player might only think he has: mental toughness.
By Joe Soraghan
“You don’t have the game you played last year or last week. You only have today’s game. It may be far from your best, but that’s all you’ve got. Harden your heart and make the best of it.” — Walter Hagen, PGA Pro
For the last three weeks, the golfing world has had their eyes glued on the Irish Open, the Scottish Open, and now, the British Open. Although the playing fields did not include all the top playing pros, the courses and conditions where the rounds are played are really the “draw.”
I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the European Tour and listening to the commentary provided. The game has returned to its origins .The players who participate in these events have all the assets that are required to play at a very high level. But “links golf” adds one more requirement for success: imagination.
There is a television ad that pushes for golfers to book their tee times online. It features an actor who portrays Old Tom Morris. In one segment, Old Tom is standing on a vehicle. When asked what he is doing, he replies, “Playing silly bodkins.”
I will admit at first I didn’t have a clue what he was saying, primarily due to the thick Scottish accent I asked our local Scot/American Davey Armstrong if he had ever heard of “silly bodkins” and he had not. Further research showed that this was a game that was played by Old Tom Morris and his friends through the streets of St. Andrews. Not able to play the course, the kids would take the corks from wine bottles, drive nails into them, fashion clubs from wood scraps, and hit the loaded cork through the streets, much the way kids in this country would play what we called “half-ball.” You would cut a rubber ball in half and try to hit it with a broom handle. If you ever want to teach someone to hit a curve ball, this experience is a good way to start.
Old Tom Morris and his friends must have seen strange bounces with their pursuit of “silly bodkins.” It was this type of youthful experience that prepared them for the game of golf, pioneered during the 19th century, and made them the top players of their time.
Last week, in the Scottish Open, players tried to run their balls onto the green as opposed to flying the ball to the required distance of the flagstick, as they do in our country. One commentator even went so far as to question PGA Pro Rickie Fowler’s strategy, when he attempted to hit a flop wedge, from about 20 yards, onto the green. He said, “There isn’t a Scotsman in a hundred years who would hit that type of shot.” The “bump and run” was thought to be the smart play in this case. Of course, his colleague had to remark, “A flop wedge costs a hundred dollars and no Scotsmen would purchase that club!”
The game that spawned from the British Isles has hard fairways, fast greens, and deep pot bunkers. Here, in the “states,” our courses are lush and green, which benefit the longer hitters. Our roughs are irrigated, which allows them to be consistent with the lies.
Our bunkers are designed to be perfect, not only with condition, but also location. Players coming from the US to the British Isles are forced to change strategy. Imagination, along with accurate drives, will keep a player in contention at The Open Championship, one of the most coveted in all of golf. I can't help but wonder if golf is losing some excitement on this side of the Atlantic because the venues we play call for repetitious shots.
Maybe we should adopt the attitude of our fellow golfer’s from the British Isles and allow our courses to take a more “natural” appearance. This would bring a cerebral element to our game that has been missing for a while, and make a round much more interesting. Old Tom Morris would approve.
• Indian Mound Golf Course (539-7733): The 2014 Member/Guest was held last weekend. Taking the low gross honors was the team of Tom Broderick, Bob Kirby, Spud Miller and Mike Franks. The low net winners were Pat Stafallo, Emily Phillips, Cheryl Kemper and Jayne Colborne. The Rivers Edge Quota winners, at +4, were Gary Williams and Billy Franks. Clinics are being held every Monday from 3-4:15 p.m. at a cost of $15 per player. Contact the pro shop for more information. Nine and Dine is held every Sunday at 3 o’clock. For $30 you get nine holes of golf, a cart, prizes, and dinner. This is a shotgun start. Save the date of Sept. 24 for the Ladies Invitational. Inter-club matches begin at the Mound on July 21.
• Wentworth Golf Course (383-9641): The Jackson 18 held their Member/Guest on Saturday. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play. The weather was perfect and the course was in great shape for the full field of 116 players. A tip of the hat to Pro Kevin Walker and Course Superintendent Evan Connors for the fine jobs they, and their crew, have done. In the Ladies Division, first gross went to the team of Deb Ferland and Cheryl Veno, second gross went to Lynne Walker and Joyce Macknauskas. First net was won by the team of Kathy Gilligan and Karen Lyons, second net winners were Mary Ellen Gallo and Elizabeth Saber. On the Men’s side the low gross winners were Quentin Gilmore and Chip Sweeney, second place went to Ram Harvey and Eric Mueller. First net winners were Keith Houghton and Tim Broman, second place went to Ralph Fiore and Peter Deveau. Week 9 of Red Fox saw the Atti-Cats take the top spot. They were followed by the Leprechaun’s and D’s Pizza. Individually, long drive winners were Cam James and Ellen Eiermann. Closest-to-the-pin honors went to Wally Pimental and Sandi Poor. Ladies league saw Jeannie Roberts take the top spot with a three-way tie for second between Susan Dugdale, Pat Hoffman, and Maryann Lowry. Congratulations go out to Bill Volk who aced the 17th hole. This was a shotgun start and Bill’s first swing of the day was on the 17th. What a way to start a round!
• Province Lake Golf Course (207-793-4040): Sign-ups have begun for the Fall Pau Hana league. This is a six-week league that begins on Aug. 5. This fun league is a scramble format and players are encouraged to wear their Hawaiian shirts. Family golf specials are being offered throughout the summer. Two adults and up to two children can play for $25. Additional children are only $5. Call the pro shop for details.
• North Conway Country Club (383-9391): The July Champs of the Month saw Gay Folland and Scott Terry take the coveted honors. The Ladies Club Championship will be held July 26 and 27. The Men will play their championship on Aug. 1 and 2. The annual Pro/Member will be held on Sunday, Aug. 10. Check the upstairs bulletin board for upcoming golf and social events.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course (383-9090): The Phil Kelly Memorial Bench is in place on the first tee of the Eagle. Phil was a longtime starter at the Jackson 9 who passed last year. He had the gift of gab, and his stories are remembered fondly. A tournament along with a dedication will be held at a later date.
In Don Ho action, the team from Sherwin Williams finished at -50. The GB Carrier team is at -40 and the Divot Kings are at -39. Teams have one week of play remaining. July is Family Golf Month at the Eagle. Discounted rates are being offered after 3PM every day this month. On the next two Sundays, at 1 p.m., PGA Pro Bob McGraw will be offering a free clinic for families. Call the pro shop for more details.
Congratulations to Pro Bob McGraw, who plays Wednesdays in the Northern League. This past week he set a new Northern League record for quota points. He was +50, posting a 66!
• Hale's Location (356-2140): Hale's Location Golf Course will host three nine-hole shotgun golf tournaments Aug. 28 to support the Wayne L. Sprouse Medical Expenses Fund. The fund that has been established to help Hale's Location golf pro Wayne Sprouse, who is facing some serious medical challenges. Call the pro shop at 356-2140 for further information.
July 17 was a great day at the Wentworth for the annual Memorial Hospital Golf Tournament, we're happy to report.