"Golf is an exercise in Scottish pointlessness for people who are no longer able to throw telephone poles at each other." — Florence King, American novelist, essayist and columnist
For three weeks, "gowff," the Scottish version of "golf," returns to its roots with the Irish, Scottish and Open Championships. The venues are on "links courses." Watching the game being played on these challenging courses, the type where the game developed, gets players excited about playing golf.
Watching the best players in the world hit shots from pot-hole bunkers, knee-deep heather and lunar-like landscapes provides great entertainment and fills us with admiration. Compound the difficult courses with weather that might find many of us sitting it out in the 19th hole, you see golf as it is supposed to be played.
While visiting friends in Ireland last fall, my wife surprised me with a birthday gift. She had booked us on a flight to Edinburgh, Scotland. From there, we were headed to St. Andrews and stayed at a bed-and-breakfast called the Morris Inn. Were we going to play golf? I didn't have any clubs. Not to worry, my tour director had taken care of everything. Arriving at St. Andrews by public transportation, we entered the town and drove past the Old Course. I felt like a child on Christmas. Never did I think I would be visiting the "Home of Golf"!
The town of St. Andrews is a combination of golfers, golf shops, golf pilgrims and students. I often see the first of the golf professionals identified as "club-makers." The shops of these early golf professionals still exist and are thriving. I asked one shop worker, "How many clubs did they need to make, if the game was played by so few?" The response I received was, "Clubs would only last 10-12 rounds before they would need to be replaced." And "Golf balls would crumble after three or four holes." We visited the Old Course Hotel that sits along the 17th hole. They have a restaurant and bar that provides a beautiful view of the course. Next-door is the "Jigger Inn." The bar area is decorated with golf memorabilia. I could have stayed there for hours.
What grabs the attention of patrons are the hats that adorn the ceiling. I asked the bartender, "How do you get your hat to hang from the rafters?" I was thinking my North Conway Country Club hat would look great up there. He replied, "You need to win a major." Every major winner, dating back to Ben Hogan, had their autographed hat in the collection. I still have my hat.
St. Andrews was everything and more than I had wished. If you need to get your golfing spirit recharged, a trip here should be on your bucket list. Maureen and I were able to get in a couple of rounds. One of these, the Castle Course, is a difficult, oceanfront links outside town. We were able to take a cart, and, after renting clubs, I think the starter and one of the assistant pros might have had some reservations about us playing on their course. We got to the first hole and all eyes were on us as we teed it up. If I were a hockey player, I would have received a two-minute penalty for slashing! I snap-hooked my drive about 150 yards into the heather. Maureen got to the tee and ripped one right down the middle. The pro turned to the starter and purposely within our range of hearing said, "She'll be fine, but I don't know about him!"
It turned out to be a great afternoon experiencing golf on a beautiful links course on the Firth of Forth.
Enjoy the upcoming golf championships from such special places during these next few weeks!
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The Monday Ledgeview League saw the Golf Team take top honors. Second place was a tie between the Bent Putters and the Dog Gone Good Gals. Closest to the pin were Doug Dugrenier and Gwen Munroe. Thursday night saw the Putt Pirates take top spot, followed by the Designated Drivers and the Ball Busters. Closest to the pin for the men was Chris Hoyt. The ladies CTP is a carryover. The Two Day Member/Guest will be held July 22-23. Sign up in the Pro Shop. The Ladies League played a blind draw event. Taking first was Tici Lutjen and Joanne Phaneuf. The annual Pro/Member tournament will be Aug. 6.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Ladies League held a "Rally For Jen's Friends Tournament" and invited the Turtles to play in this worthwhile event. Taking first for the ladies was the team of Beth Ellis, Reggie Leblanc and Virginia Fould. On the men's side, it was Dave Lowry, Earl Hopkins, Bill Flynn and Mark McPherson taking the top spot. In Red Fox action, it was the Pin Seekers taking first. They were followed by the Hale Merry's and Flyers in 7. Closest to the pin went to Steve Todd for the men. The ladies will have a carryover for CTP honors. Overall, there is a tie for first between Team Shanks-A-Lot and the Flyers in 7. The Mixed Team Tournament, a.k.a.The Divorce Open, will be played on Sunday, July 30. Congratulations to Wentworth member Stephen Puzas, who qualified for the State Amateur Tournament and as of this writing has advanced to the match-play part of the event. Great job!
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Spring Don Ho League has completed its 2017 season with two teams, GB Carrier and the Sea Dogs, tied for first. Both teams posted a -46 and a nine-hole playoff is being scheduled. Thursday Eagle League saw the team of Jim Doig, Michael Smither, JoAnne Corcoran, Nicki Lynn and Dave Matesky take first place. Closest to the pin went to Dennis Soraghan. July is "Family Golf Month" at the Eagle. Discounted rates are being offered every day after 2 p.m. when adults play with juniors. The cost is $15 for the adult and $10 for the junior when they play together. A "Free Family Clinic" is being offered this Sunday at 1 p.m. If clubs are needed, they will be provided. On Saturday, July 16, PGA Pro Bob McGraw will be offering a short swing clinic. The focus will be chipping, pitching and bunker shots. The fee is $20, and the class is limited to 6 students.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: "There's always time for 9." Hale's Pro Shop is offering 25 percent off of all Titleist and Callaway golf bags. They have added Srixon golf balls and Cleveland wedges and putters to their inventory. Week 6 of Men's League saw Dave Pierce post a +5 in the weekly quota game. Closest to the pin winner was Steve Wolner. In Ladies' League, it was June Lundin posting a +4 while Dottie Heffernan got closest to the pin honors. Nine,Wine, and Dine continues every Sunday. For $55 per person, you get nine holes of golf with a cart as well as a full dinner and glass of wine. Call the hotel to make your reservation (603-356-7100) and the Pro Shop for a tee time.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: After week six of the Men's Twilight League, Team Lord finds themselves in the lead with 445 points They are followed by Team Littlefield, 428 points, Team Alimi, 421 points, Team Trumbull, 413 points, Team Osgood, 354, 354 points and Team Shorey, 312 points. The Junior Golf program started on July 11. Aspiring players can still join and are welcome to attend any Tuesday or Wednesday for the Junior Golf Clinic. The deadline to register for the Club Championship is July 16. Lake Kezar is participating in the Four Club Round Robin which has already begun.
Mount Washington Resort Golf Club, 210 Mount Washington Hotel Rd. Bretton Woods, (603) 278-4653: Both the Mount Washington Course (18 holes, par 72, 7004 yards) and the Mount Pleasant Course (9 holes, par 35, 3,215 yards) are open and in full swing. Vince Runyon, director of golf for the Omni Mount Washington, hosted the 2017 State Amateur Qualifier in June.
In 1738, the first recorded Women's Match was held at the Bruntsfield Links course in Edinburgh, Scotland. The winner was identified as "Charming Sally," who played against another whose name was not recorded. It was mentioned that caddying for both women were their husbands. You can be sure the women playing in this week's U.S. Open in New Jersey will be remembered for their skills on the course and not their personalities. But there had to be a beginning.