By Joe Soraghan
“A Golfer has an advantage over a fisherman: he doesn’t have to produce anything to prove his story.” — Anonymous
Clarkie was a fixture around the New York state horse racing tracks, and he always felt that Saratoga was the best of all. Even though he lived in the city, Clarkie would hop on the train at six o’clock in the morning to travel upstate every day the horses were running. In the evenings, he would take the trip back to the city and arrive home close to midnight. When he was asked by a friend why he didn’t just stay in Saratoga, he replied, “I need to spend time with the family.”
This is a story that has gone around in horse racing scenes throughout the country. But, I first heard it at a golf course in the Saratoga area, where horse racing remains the top attraction. The location of my high level conversation was the “19th Hole” with my opponent who shared an interest in the “sport of kings.”
The “19th Hole” is where golfers take their game after having completed the first 18. It is where wagers are settled, shots are relived, and discussions are centered on the quality of the shots. It is here where men and woman meet to replay the round or to engage in conversations that are of general interest. A round of golf typically moves from the course to the clubhouse or a local tavern, where, over food, drink, and friendship, it is hoped that a nice experience is expounded upon and future rounds are planned. What is it that you as a golfer are looking for in a 19th Hole?
The 19h Hole is usually located in a clubhouse where the furnishings, fare, aesthetics, and physical location are often determined by the membership and what they are willing to pay. Many golfers visit courses where their first impression is similar to a child’s reaction to a visit to Disney Land: they are awestruck. For most of us, it is our own local course that provides the enjoyment, sustenance, and friendship. Realistic golf course managers have got to know the players and the limitations of what can be provided to the clientele. One of the more unique courses I have visited was in Conemara, Ireland. This was a nine-hole local course where, upon completion of your round, you went to a small hut where you helped yourself to some libation if the bartender was unavailable. The operation was on the honor system. The bartender was also the course pro and superintendent. This was a family-owned course with a system that worked effectively for the locals and this visiting American.
Jack Nicklaus, now heavily involved in golf course design work, warns new developers that clubhouses should be designed for economic efficiency. Ostentatious buildings can become burdens to a club and its membership. He wants his clientele to be realistic about their investment and their future. I note that most of Jack's design work is now overseas, as golf course design has come to a screeching halt here in the States.
To our local golfers and the 19th Holes they favor, remember to share in the responsibility of making a round of golf enjoyable for all that play the course. Visit your 19th Hole, enjoy your friends, support the club to which you have attached your name, and promote your club. Without support of membership and visitors to our fine facilities we will find ourselves on the outside looking in. When you have completed your experience, like Clarkie, you can go home and spend time with the family.
• Indian Mound Golf Course (539-7733): The On the Links players are praying for sunshine for their rounds this week. Leading the way in their respective divisions are The Sht Birds, pro division, Conway Slicers, bogey division and The Happy Hookers in the sandbagger division. In Ladies league action Carrie Nolet, Pat Kaligian, Sandra Carr, and Jean Lawton are on top of their division. A reminder for your calendar, the Ladies Invitational will be held on September 24. In the Rivers Edge Quota League, Dave Charette and Bob Cyr took top honors at +8. Closest to the pin winners were Rickie Tibbetts and Jim Pearson. Clinics for players of all abilities are held on Mondays from 3 to 4:15 p.m. The cost is $15 per player. Nine and Dine Sundays are in full swing. This fun outing gets you 9 holes of golf, a cart, dinner, and prizes for $30 per player each Sunday afternoon. The Back 9 Falcons have been honing their golf skills at the Mound for the Special Olympics event later this month.
• Wentworth Golf Course (383-9641): This weekend the Jackson 18 will host the Member/Guest tournament and the much anticipated evening gala. In Ladies League action Lorna Kimball took the top honors. She was followed by Susan Dugdale and Sheila Hastings. Week 8 of Red Fox action saw the Over Par team take the top spot, in second place it was The Leprechaun’s and third the Pin Seekers. Individually, long drives went to Keith Bradley and Amy Russo. Closest to the pin honors went to Cam James. On Saturday, July 19, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Mental Coach Lisa Love will be presenting a seminar/clinic that focuses on the mental approach to the golf game. This will be limited to 12 people and will be a classroom style presentation along with time on the putting green. The cost is $20 per person. Sign up with Kevin.
• North Conway Country Club (356-9391): A Rules Clinic will be held this evening at NCCC with NHUSGA rules guru, John Jelley. This will be an “on course” clinic that begins at 4:30 p.m. When this useful free clinic is over, the 19th Hole will be open with “munchies” available. The Two-Day Member/Guest is scheduled for July 18 and 19. Results for the Flag Tournament are in and the three top players are Lenny White, Bruce Sanderson, and Jackie Gaudes. This weekend, members are playing for Champ of the Month honors.
• Eagle Mountain Golf Course (383-9090): Rain has interfered with Don Ho action at the Jackson 9. Completing their season at -50 was the Sherwin Williams team but the GB Carrier team at -35 and the Divot Kings at -32 still have two weeks of play to try and catch the Sherwin Williams team. The Eagle continues to offer great values for families after 3 p.m. and Family clinics will be available the next three Sundays. Call the pro shop for more information.
• Province Lake Golf Course (207-793-4040): It took the final week and a few holes to crown the champs in the Pau Hana League. The team of Don Hayward, Diana Hayward, Alden Hayward, and Dick Edwards took the top spot, just edging out the team of Diane Lofgren, Eric Lofgren, Howie Knight, and Patrick DeAngelo. Individual honors went to Chris Giminez for closest to the pin with long drives going to Howie Knight and Diana Hayward. Sign ups have begun for the Fall League. This Saturday, Bucky Lewis will bring his act to PLG. Call for reservations.
This weekend, professional women golfers will be competing in the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. Every golfer should be rooting for Julie Inkster who, with a victory in this great major, would have a career Grand Slam for Women’s majors. The Women’s majors are a bit more complex than the men. The Western Open, held from 1930-1967, was considered a major, along with the Titleholders Tourneys, 1937-42, 1946-66, and 1972. The U.S. Women’s Open, the LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco Championship, and the Women’s Open complete the list. Have a great golfing weekend and partake in 19th Hole camaraderie!