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.