- Category: Sports Columns
By Joe Soraghan
"When it comes to golf, Scottish people are famously reserved, undemonstrative, difficult to impress. Golf is like church in Scotland, church like golf." — Joe Posnanski, author of "The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus."
One of my favorite golf movies and books is "The Greatest Game Ever Played," by Mark Frost. This is the story of Massachusetts native and golf amateur Francis Ouimet and his win in the 1913 U.S. Open, at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Ouimet outplayed the best professionals of the time, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. A scene in the movie that I know to be accurate, but would dissuade me from playing, is the rain-plagued morning round. Golfers wore tweed coats and wool pants during their rounds. There were no Gortex coats, rain gloves or water-repellent material to fend off what Mother Nature provided.
Added to the clothing issue, hickory-shafted clubs with leather grips made a difficult game almost impossible for any player. By that standard, today's players have huge advantages over golfers at the turn of the 20th century.
The calendar tells us that autumn has arrived. Autumn is a beautiful time to play golf. With fewer golfers playing on courses that are in tremendous shape, take advantage. Hopefully, your own game is peaking along with the foliage. Don't let the change in seasonal temperatures and the conditions that arrive with the change stop you from playing golf.
We hear from players this time of year a lot of reasons not to get out and enjoy. "I don't play if the temperature is below 60!" "There are too many leaves on the ground!" "I don't like to dress as if I'm going skiing!" If you are smart and dress properly, and if you make some adjustments to your game, cool-weather golf can be a lot of fun. The bottom line is, you are still playing golf.
One of the guys who plays with us during the golfing season really dislikes playing in the cooler temperatures. His play is determined by the weather, and his No. 1 complaint concerns his hands. He has a difficult time, a sometimes painful condition, that makes hitting a golf ball very difficult. Nobody enjoys hitting a golf ball, or performs well, when they are battling the elements in an already difficult game.
But you can be proactive in making your late-season rounds more comfortable. If possible walk as much as you can. Get those juices going, abandon the cart whenever you can. Use a golf ball with a low compression rate. Golf balls deliver maximum performance when the temperature are in the low 80s. When the temperature drops 3 or 4 degrees (according to Callaway), you lose 3 or 4 yards. Don't leave your bag in the trunk of your car overnight. When a golf ball is cold, it will affect your play. A low-compression, softer ball will allow you to maintain the "feel" you expect from a ball. Finally, dress properly. Ouimet, Vardon, Ray and players from a different era did not have the clothing and equipment that is available to all of us who choose to continue playing. Yes, you might need to lower your on-course expectations, but you can still go out and enjoy a round of golf.
Think back to past cold-season rounds. You have played with your friends. You come into the clubhouse with a flush in your face and a nose that is running. But there is a bounce in your step that comes with the cooler weather, a football game is on the 19th hole TV, and you can rehash your round with friends. This is not a bad way to spend an autumn afternoon.
• North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: On Sunday, Sept. 24, the Mixed Scotch event will be held. This is one of the last club tournaments of the season. In Champ of the Year competition, Gay Folland won for the ladies and Dan Kelleher for the men. The Fall 4/Ball was held last weekend. Taking the top spot on the ladies' side was the team of Toni Belding and Denise Jaronski. For the men, it was Scott and Brian Terry. Congratulations to all the winners and the competitors.
• Indian Mound Golf Course, Center Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: In Rivers Edge Quota action, there was a tie between Mark Bernard and Steve Brown. Both players posted a +4. Closest-to-the-pin honors went to Larry Ewing. In Nine and Dine it was the team of Wayne Grenier, Linda Jones and Pete LaBonte taking first place. Two Kennett golfers, who play out of the Mound, will play in the State Tournament at Beaver Meadow, on Oct. 6. Josh Rivers and Riley Fletcher will travel to the Concord course and play against the best high school players in the state. Coach Julie Rivers is looking forward to next season with her young players, who gained some experience this year. The KHS Hockey Tournament will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1. The Indian Mound "Cash Scramble" is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 23. Call the pro shop to register and for information. Congratulations to Ron Force, who shot his career round last week. Also, congratulations to Burt Kelley for shooting his age-84! Great job Burt.
• Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The 2016 Turtle Invitational was held last week. Taking top honors was the team of Roger and Reggie Leblanc, George Lemieux and Ellen Eiermann with a score of 62. Second place went to Clark and Diane Mitchell, and Steve and Ann Frost, who posted a 64. The third place team of Del and Marilyn Desmaris, Danbo Doucet and Mary Collins shot a 65. In Ladies' League, a stroke play event was played using 100 percent handicap. Sheila Hastings took first place, with a 67. In second, with a 69, was Diane McDonald. There was a tie for third between Beth Ellis and Sandi Poor, who posted a 71. The Fall 4/Ball is scheduled for Oct. 2. Sign-up in the pro shop before Sept. 25. On Oct. 8 and 9, a Ryder Cup event will be held.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: After three weeks of Fall Don Ho action, the New Team is on top with a score of -22. GB Carrier is in second at -19 and the Golfaholics in third at -18. Harland Fallen got closest-to-the-pin honors while Bobbie Box, Mary Hansel, Nate Ela and Chuck Seavey won long drive honors. The Eagle held a member scramble on Saturday. Taking first place was the team of Denis Lavoie, Deanna Giroux, Bill Regan and Lori Babine. Second place went to Dan Andrews, Paul Doucette, Hidalgo Kardell and Gretchen Soraghan. Gretchen also got closest-to-the-pin honors and rolled in her putt for the birdie. In Thursday Eagle League action, the team of Russ Veale, Diane O'Neil and Jim Doig took the top spot. Second place went to Rita Stoessel, Haig Zeytoonian, Laurie and Tom Felton. Closest to the pin went to Ellie Veale. The Mixed League saw the team of Roger Blake, Sandra Taylor, Mary Walden and Ellie Veale take top honors. Closest to the pin went to Judy Regan.
Recently, on the European Tour, a player got to the green, marked his ball, and then turned and threw it to his caddy. The caddy didn't have time to react, and the ball went past him into a greenside lake. In the Rules of Golf, you must complete a hole with the same ball. The caddy frantically searched the water, found nine balls, none of which belonged to his player. The player took a two-stroke penalty and later posted that his caddy should have caught the ball. Where does it say in the caddy job description, "Good hands are a must"? Enjoy the weekend, cooler days are ahead.
By Joe Soraghan
"Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening, and it is, without a doubt, the greatest game mankind has ever invented." — Arnold Palmer
For many of us, this past weekend was a time to celebrate the work of friends and a time to remember a legend. Family, friends, colleagues and members of the North Conway Country Club gathered on Saturday evening to honor and recognize the work of Larry and Kathy Gallagher.
For 25 years this team worked to help make NCCC one of the finest golfing venues in the Granite State. More than 200 people came together to acknowledge the couple. At the end of this golfing season, Larry and Kathy are retiring from NCCC and the work of running the pro shop.
The event had been planned for months by a committee of members who made this a memorable evening for all in attendance. Dick Goss, serving as emcee, kept things moving. Speakers delved into the different aspects of Larry and Kathy's professional lives and careers. Dr. Ed Duffy reflected on working with the pair as a past president of NCCC, and spoke of their professionalism and the effect on local golf with the success of the Junior Golf program.
Ken Donabedian talked of his time as Larry's caddy, when the goal was playing golf at the highest level. Todd Gallagher, Larry's brother, took us into the family with some light and heartfelt moments that brought both laughter and tears to the audience.
Two NHPGA members, Wayne Natti and Jim Sheerin, talked about Larry's competitiveness, and how well all the pros were treated when they played their annual event at NCCC. Finally, PGA Pro Kevin Walker, who will take over at the end of the season, told the audience what he has learned during his time working in the pro shop. He touched upon the "legacy of excellence" which started with John and Pat MacDonald and continued with Larry and Kathy Gallagher.
At the conclusion of the evening, there was a feeling of "family" which blanketed those in attendance.
Everything worked out perfectly. From the opening ceremony, with bagpiper and presentation of the flag, to the decorations, the fantastic menu, the speakers, the gifts, and the genuine appreciation from the honorees, the evening was special. Larry and Kathy, I wish you good health and continued happiness. For you pro, I hope you will find the time to "hit some balls", and remember, the "swindle" awaits.
Sunday brought a beautiful day for golf, albeit a bit on the cool side. When players had completed their rounds and retreated to their homes, word started spreading about the passing of golfing legend, Arnold Palmer. The stories regarding his golf, his persona, and contributions to golf have been shared on the news. Palmer wrote the following piece about his feelings for the game when he could not play due to his bout with prostate cancer. I think this paragraph sums up his passion for golf, and some feelings many golfers share:
"There were reasons I had to get back to golf. I've always said that when you play a round with someone, you can tell just about everything you want to know about him. I now recognize that the golf course is where I learn about myself. All the qualities we define as 'character' — discipline, concentration, honesty, humor, composure — get exercised over 18 holes of golf, even if it's only a casual round. The golf course is where I feel most comfortable with people I know casually. An instant camaraderie develops when you tee it up with someone, and it doesn't matter if that person is a banker or a bricklayer."
There are numerous reasons why Arnold Palmer was referred to as "The King." That paragraph tells you much about the man, and the golfer.
This unusual weekend held events that parallel our lives. We work at a job, hopefully one we love. We earn respect and success with our time and effort. We spend time enjoying other endeavors, and with those who mean the most to each of us.
• North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The Mixed Scotch Tournament was held last Sunday. Sixteen teams competed in this annual event. Two teams tied for first with a score of 65. After a match of cards, it was the team of Gay Folland and Al Worcester taking first place. Second place went to Donna Wallace and Crawford Butler, while third place went to Nancy and Al Goyette. The Shootout will take place on Oct. 16, at 1 p.m. Ten members have qualified to play in this fun event.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Fall Don Ho continues to provide players with some competitive golf. The New Team is in the lead with a score of -31. There is a two-way tie for second between the Golfaholics and GB Carrier who are at -26. Individually, it was Keith Deluca who claimed closest to the pin, while Chris Roule, Nickie Lynn, Nate Ela and Jeff Frechette took long drive honors. The Thursday Eagle League saw Dave Powell, Gretchen and Dennis Soraghan take first place. Second place went to the team of Roger Aubrey, Jeanne and John Chanley. The closest to the pin winner was Michael Smither.
The 2016 Ryder Cup is being played this week at the Hazeltine Golf Club in Minnesota. In 1970, the U.S. Open was held at Hazeltine. The course was criticized by players for having too many blind shots. Scores that first day were abnormally high: Nicklaus shot 81, Player 80, and Palmer 79. No player was more critical of the layout than eventual runner-up, Dave Hill. His comments were legendary. When asked about his experience, he said, "They ruined a good farm." After the second round, he was asked, "How did you find the course?" He replied, "How did I find the course? I've been trying to find it since I came to Minneapolis. Just because you cut the grass and put up flags, it doesn't mean you have a golf course." When asked what it lacked, Hill replied, "What does it lack? Eighty acres of corn and a few cows." The Hazeltine Club has been revised since Hill's experience, and will give players a great test.
By Joe Soraghan
"Forget the last shot. It takes so long to accept that you can't always replicate your swing. The only thing you can control is your attitude toward the next shot." — Mark McCumber, pro golfer
The word tee is derived from the Gaelic word, tigh, which means "house." Quite possibly the use of the word came from the sport of curling, where the "tee" is the line through the center of the targets. This area is referred to as the "house." A house or home is typically where you find your comfort zone. Home should have a calming effect on a person. So, why is it when a golfer arrives to the first tee, he or she shows nerves that interfere with the golf swing? The results are "topped" shots, balls that find the out-of-bounds, or find geographic areas that have yet to be charted. The majority of golfers go to the first tee with some nervousness, and that includes some of the top professionals in the game.
Annika Sorenstam was, arguably, one of the best golfers on the LPGA tour. She won 88 events. Her game was so good she was given an exemption to play in a PGA event, the Colonial, against the men. After hitting her drive on the first tee, which she laced down the middle of the fairway, she feigned wobbly legs and breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief. When the round was over she was asked about her actions. She admitted it was one of the most nervous points in her professional career.
Andrew "Beef" Johnson, a current tour player, was interviewed after his first round in this year's PGA Championship. Johnson stated that he gets nervous on the first tee of every tournament. But unlike the weekend amateur, Johnson said, "I use that nervousness to my advantage and look forward to playing in competitive events."
Most of us play the majority of our rounds on the same course. How many times have you, or a member of your group, who has just hit a shot that the most adventurous "ball hawker" will have difficulty finding, turn and say, "I was hitting them great on the range"? Until the moment of impact, you had all the confidence in the world. But, with maybe two feet left on your downward stroke, you forgot how to hit a golf ball. This is not how you want to start your day of golf. Of course, your buddies are sympathetic to your plight. Comments such as "Do you want a breakfast ball?", "Are you really going to search for that one?", "I'll find that next spring when I'm walking the course!", or "That's my partner!" are heard all around. You are playing your course. You know where to hit the ball. You know the areas that should be avoided. Why did this shot appear on a course with which you are most comfortable? You probably were not prepared for the first tee, or you attempted to hit a shot you were not capable of doing.
It's a beautiful day for golf. You are playing with a group of guys who you know well. Having fun is the reason for this outing. But, it's a competitive group and you're in the first foursome. You are up, with 16 other players watching. Missing are Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo to announce each player and the outcome of the first shot of the day. But wait, your friends will chime in with heckling, false compliments, and commentary that Nantz and Faldo cannot use on televised golf events. How are you going to handle the added pressure of "first tee jitters?" You are going to get yourself settled, breathe easy, select a target and hit the ball down the middle of the fairway. You don't want to overswing and try to kill the ball. Doing that will get your "mini-gallery" all fired up and your day will start poorly. Relax, the tee is home. It's the start of a great day and should be embraced. Don't overthink this. Golf is fun. Putting undo pressure on yourself can only lead to some bad golf. Take your practice range swing, a smart positive attitude and a calm demeanor to the tee. You're home!
• North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391:
The annual visit of two golfing groups will occur this weekend. The world famous Garibaldi Club will grace the NCCC 18 for three days, and the Marcoux Golfers will be there for two. These guys play some great golf and enjoy the golfing venue. Members will take to the course on Sunday to play the Men's and Ladies' Fall4/Ball Tournament. Next Sunday the Mixed Scotch is scheduled. Sign up with the pro shop or check the bulletin board next to the locker rooms. The best news of the week was off the course. Roy Burns, who has worked at the club for a number of years, most recently as a ranger, is back home recovering. We all wish him well. Roy and I often talk about how to make golfers aware of their slow play. "Roy, this time it will be alright to take your time and work on getting yourself healthy!"
• Wentworth Golf Course, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641:
The Wentworth Ladies' League held a scramble event last week. First place went to the team of Rena Pomerleau, Maryann Lowry, Nancy Pittenger and Barbara Theriault. Two teams tied for second. The team of Ellen Daly, Daryl Mazzaglia and Helen Toohey tied with Maureen Fitzgerald, Nancy Lundquist, Mary Ellen Gallo and Lynne Walker. This week the Ladies' League played an individual net game. Taking first place was Debbie Chase, second went to Beth Ellis, and third to Susan Dugdale. There were three "chip-ins": to Sheila Hastings, Deb Bryant, and Maryann Lowry. The Fall 4/Ball is scheduled for Oct. 2. You have until the 25th of this month to sign up. Congratulations to Dan Willig who posted his fourth career hole-in-one last Friday. Dan "aced"the 147 yard, 5th hole, with Roy Polmquist, Dave Gorke and Don Mason witnessing the shot
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090:
After two weeks of Fall Don Ho action, the New Team is in first place at -15. Two teams, the Six Styxxx and GB Carrier, are in second at -12, with the Divot Kings one stroke back at -11. Chris Bates got closest-to-the-pin honors, while Becky Armstrong, Mary Hansel, Bobby Labbe and Steve Puzas claimed long drive honors. The Phil Kelly Food Pantry Scramble saw two teams tie for first place. The team of Rick Pillion, Dave Fall, Eric Pendleton, Pat Markey, Mark Lyons, Lucien Morin and Curtis Milton tied with Bal Nash, Luvon Nash, Rick Kardell, Viggo Kardellll, Hidalgo Kardell and Bob McGraw. Brian Smith saw his golf lessons pay off, as he secured closest-to-the-pin honors. The Thursday Eagle League saw the team of John Chanley, Jeanne Chanley, Dennis Soraghan, and Russ Veale take top honors. Russ Veale also got closest-to-the-pin. In the Mixed Tuesday action, it was the team of Mary Waldron, Terry Fitzgerald and Jeanne Pierce taking first place. Closest-to-the pin went to Sally Treadwell.
Eamonn Darcy is a professional golfer from County Wicklow, Ireland. He was the winner of 15 European events and a member of the 1987 Ryder Cup team. He was also a contemporary of Nick Faldo and Seve Ballasteros. But Darcy might be best known for a one-liner he delivered to his new caddy, Frank McBride. "Listen mate," said Darcy, "I want you to know that I have a horse at home that is better bred and has more brains than you. If you remember that, we will get along just fine." I can only hope Darcy was a good tipper. Have a great weekend of golf.