Published Date Written by Joe Soraghan“When Jack Nicklaus plays well, he wins. When he plays badly, he finishes second. When he plays terribly, he finishes third.” — PGA Player Johnny Miller
Long before there was the movie “Caddyshack,” most private golf courses allowed young boys to work toting clubs for the members. The caddies were not allowed much access to the club, but an area out of sight of the membership was provided where the young boys would wait to be selected to work a round of golf. It was here that about 20 or 30 youngsters, ages ranging from about 10 to 16, would form friendships, receive lifelong lessons, and come to understand how to deal with others.
Card playing was a constant pastime. Problems you might have with another were taken care of in simple fashion, and you learned to converse (no texting or tweeting). Talk usually centered on girls, individual baseball results, (everyone played baseball), and sports in general. Baseball was “king,” but, inevitably conversation would touch upon golf. The dominant theme was discussing who was the best professional golfer on tour. It was here that the consensus of 20 or 30 adolescents would give their nod of approval to Arnold Palmer.
Palmer had brought golf into a new era in the early '60s. Male members at the course dressed like Palmer and sang his praises. Our fathers, most of whom did not play the game, began to follow the exploits of this man from Pennsylvania through the medium of television. Palmer had brought golf to a new level of popularity, one it would ride to present day. Arnold Palmer was the greatest golfer ever. Nobody would knock him from this throne.
I was waiting for a bag to carry when I first heard the name Jack Nicklaus mentioned in a conversation about “best golfer ever.”
“Weedsie” Linnehan was spouting off about this fat guy from Ohio who was hitting golf balls further than any other player and he was beginning to win golf tournaments. Everyone piped in with their opinion of Nicklaus and it was not complimentary, even though many of us had no idea of who he was. Palmer was our guy, he was our fathers’ guy, and members of the club emulated him, so no one else could take his place.
This low opinion of Jack Nicklaus was not exclusive to our small world of caddies, but was felt and seen throughout the country. It was not unusual for fans to boo Nicklaus and heckle him. In fact, in one contest, members of the gallery were waving a sign while standing behind a bunker exhorting Nicklaus to “hit it here.” Nicklaus was not only competing against our favorite, but he was beginning to get the better of Palmer.
Nicklaus overcame an image that was unwarranted. When it was stated his play was slow, he picked up the pace. He battled his weight problem and dumpy appearance. Sportswriter Jim Murray once described him as “not so much an athlete as a pile of laundry.” Jack Nicklaus went on to become the greatest golfer of all.
If you were to examine the playing careers of the two superstars, Nicklaus would win “hands down.” This weekend, Jack Nicklaus is hosting the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He continues to raise millions of dollars for charity. His relationship with Palmer is one of friendship and respect. He goes out of his way to speak with golf fans around the world. The great Bobby Jones said of Nicklaus, “He plays a game with which I am not familiar.” As for those caddy discussions over fifty years ago, I guess we paid attention to the frontrunner and didn’t see the horse coming from behind.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course (383-9111): We finally had some good weather for the Don Ho League this week. The Dream Team and Six Stixxx tied for the best team score this week at -6. After three weeks, Six Stixxx is in first place at -17 with Aces Wild in second at -15 and the Jackson Six in third at -14. Bill Smith won the closest to the pin honors with a shot just a little over a foot away. The Long Drive winners were Kathy Speight, Vicky Ela, Adam Lanzilotti, and Joe Bailey. The month of June is Women's Golf Month at The Eagle. Ladies are invited to play at a reduced rate of $10 midweek and $15 on the weekends. Pro Bob McGraw will be offering free clinics to women and girls looking to learn the basic fundamentals on Sundays. Bob is also offering daily Get Golf Ready Clinics (Tues. thru Sat.) for the next couple of months. The goal is that in five lessons you will be ready to get out and start playing the game and having fun. The Get Golf Ready program is flexible and affordable ($75 for five classes). We will provide equipment for those who don't have it as well as the balls and tees. All you need to do is show up with a desire to have fun and we will help you get started. For more information, go to eaglemt.com or call the Pro Shop at 383-9090.
We had a Member Scramble on Saturday and the winners were Paul Doucette, Sally Treadwell, Wil Hall and Nancy Morrison. They edged out the team of Don Hall, Leo Champoux, Barb Flaherty and Jeanne Pierce by one shot. Wil Hall won the closest to the pin honors
• Wentworth Golf Course (383-9641): Rain has dampened the start of the Ladies League with rain the past 5 Tuesdays. In this weeks Red Fox action the Tuckerman’s Tavern team took the top spot. Team members are Pete Gagne, Erik Chandler, Tom McDonough, Jan Filip, and Todd Neil. The Jen’s Friends Annual Scramble will be held on June 15.
• North Conway Country Club (356-9391): The 2012 Memorial was held this past weekend. Winning low gross honors go out to Tom Merrill and Gay Folland. Low net honors go to Gus Ouellette and Lydia Lansing. Congratulations go out to Gay Folland for Champ of the Month honors and to Brian DeMoura for a hole-in-one on the 4th hole. On Friday, June 15, pro Larry Gallagher will have a Demo Day featuring Taylor Made and Cleveland. The one day member guest for the men will be held June 22 and for the women June 25. Finally, some members want to know how a certain person can lose his golf shoes between the 18th green and the 19th hole?
Merlino's Tourney: The 35th annual Merlino's Invitational Golf Tournament returns to the North Conway CC June 2 and 3, with a limited number of spots available as of press time. Expected to join the field is former Maine Mariner, Boston Bruin and Islander Graeme Townshend, who played for the Mariners when Travis Roy was the stickboy for the Mariners. Travis — the B.U. player who was paralyzed by a check into the boards and who is now a motivational speaker/author — will be on hand Saturday morning. His foundation gave over $300,000 last year for the disabled ad medical research on spinal injuries. Call 356-6006 for further information.
• Hale’s Location Golf Course (356-2140): In Ladies League action the Longest Putt winner is Joan Dalton. Playing Lessons/Clinics will be held on Wed at 2:30-3:30; contact Pro Shop $15pp
Sign up for JrGolf the summer session is a 3 week program-various dates are available.
On The Links Travel League played at the Waumbec results-Sht Birds fired up a 31 and the Mulligans 32 in Pro Divisions In the Sandbagger Division Marty's Mauraders at 34 and Roughians pulled of a 36.The Tuesday Hale's Group has had a rough time with the weather-Make ups are still going on. Results will be posted next week.
• Indian Mound Golf Course (539-7733): The Bartlett Rec. held the annual tournament at the Mound last Friday. Shot of the day goes to Charlie Zaccaria for a hole in one on the 4th hole. Some of the winners are men’s 1st gross, Neal Chase, Kevin Howard, Lewis Bartlett, and Mark Labrie. Ladies 1st gross goes to Kathy Sweeney, Nancy Morris, Joanne Gandolfo, and Ellen Eierman. In the mixed division it was the team of Julie Rivers, Evelyn Rivers, Don Chase, and Taylor Cyr. Congratulations to Daryl Mazzaglia for her closest to the pin winnings.
• Province Lake Golf Course (207-793-4040): Province Lake Golf and Head Professional Patrick DeAngelo will be holding the Junior Golf Academy this summer for kids ages 6 – 16. Birdie Academy Age 6 – 10 Monday’s from 10 – 11:30 a.m., June 25 –July 30; $75 (includes Golf Academy, Closing Tournament and barbecue) Eagle Academy Age 11 – 16 Monday’s from 4 – 6:30 p.m., June 25 – Aug. 13 $100 (includes Golf Academy, Closing Tournament and Barbecue). We will begin with the basics of etiquette and rules for all ages and progress through the PGA Sports Academy Program based on age. Both sessions cover age appropriate content in the following: Sportsmanship, Etiquette and Rules,Fitness and Nutrition,, Golf Skill Development, Golf and “Near Golf Experiences” Clubs are provided for those who do not have them All kids will play on the course by the end of the sessions. Call or sign up in the Pro Shop
Have you ever swung and missed the ball? The expression used when this happens is “whiff”; did you know where the term to “whiff” a ball originated? It was in 1876 when Lord Gormley Whiffle missed a shot at St. Andrews during a competitive match. When describing the incident spectators remarked to one another, “Did you see that Whiffle?” It was later shortened to “whiff.” Have a great weekend of golf!