“A bad putter is like a bad apple. First, it turns your chipping game sour. Then it begins to eat into your irons and finally, cleans the head off your driver.” Sam Snead, professional golfer
Red flags should be waving from golf courses, golfers and the highest bastions of golf's ruling bodies. This past weekend, professional golfer, Bryson DeChambeau, hit a drive that measured about 422 yards. Think about that.
DeChambeau would have hit his drive over the first hole at North Conway Country Club. That hole had been voted the “best starting hole” in the state when the top 18 in the state were selected a few years back. The big hitter did not make the cut at the tournament, making a 10 on a hole, but he's changing how golf is practiced. Golfers of all abilities are going to try to duplicate his long drive.
In 1998, baseball players Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa put on displays of power. They were hitting home runs at a rate never before seen in the game. They captured the interest of fans across the country. The fine nuances of the game took a backseat. Today, neither player has reached Cooperstown. Baseball, like golf, is a lot more than hitting the long ball. You need the complete game.
“He has a million-dollar swing but has a 10-cent putter.” These are the words Jack Nicklaus used to describe fellow pro, George Knudson. Players marveled at Knudson's flawless golf swing. He was often compared to Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, two legends whose swings golfers have tried to emulate. Hogan and Snead are “larger than life” figures in golf, but who is George Knudson?
George Knudson was a golf pro from Canada. He lived in the Toronto area, played on the PGA tour, and won eight times. In 1969, he finished second to George Archer at the Masters. He was called “the Maestro” by his peers because of his unique ability to control his golf ball. He modeled his game after Hogan. Other pros would joke that he “looked more like Hogan than Hogan.”
When Hogan and Knudson would play together, they played a game called “shots.” They would tell those around them where the ball was going to land. But, like Hogan, George Knudson had no time for the putting game. “When I walk around the green waiting my turn to putt, I feel lost. When I stand over the ball, I have to decide what kind of stroke I'm going to make. I look down at the ball and sometimes I don't even see it. I see cigarette butts or the shades of green on the grass, but not the ball.”
When Knudson tied for second at the Masters, he did not have a putt longer than five feet until he got to the 16th hole. That is a testament to the accuracy of his shot-making. Putting was just a necessary evil.
Every pro, amateur or weekend hacker knows that to achieve any measure of success, a complete game is needed. How often have we heard, “I'm hitting the ball well, but I can't chip or putt.” When one part of the game is going well, another part suffers.
Knudson was different. He is up there with the best ball strikers ever in the game of golf. He didn't like the nomadic life of a touring pro. He had a young family. So quite possibly, he really didn't want to be out on the tour. If he had worked on his putting game, who knows the success he could have achieved. Knudson believed that “You don't play golf to relax. You relax to play golf.” George Knudson is a reminder that a complete game is what golfers should strive to achieve. Successful players will have all the components. Golf cannot lose sight that there is more to golf than hitting eye-opening drives. The game will thrive if all facets of the game can be demonstrated by the top players in golf. After all, “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.”
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: After a delayed start, the Ledgeview League is off and running. This year teams make their own tee times, Monday through Thursday, and submit their scores after the round. Week 1, saw the Rivers Edge team take first gross and The Insiders, first net. They were followed by Buddy's Boys, second, and For Your Pars Only, third.
This weekend, the July Champ of the Month will be played, Friday through Sunday. The New Hampshire, pro/member is scheduled for Aug. 2.
A one-day member/guest is scheduled for Sunday, Aug.16.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Red Fox League played a best-ball format this week. There was a two-way tie for the top spot. Rising from the ashes, to get a piece of first place, was the Kandahar team tied with Shanks-A-Lot. They were followed by Pin Seekers and Jack's Caddies.
After seven weeks of play, Jack's Caddies are in first place. They are followed by Shanks-A-Lot, Pin High and Pin Seekers. Individual winners were Paul Chippendale, closest to the pin (10'3''). Longest putt winners were Ellen Eiermann (5'9'') and Dick Brunelle, sinking a bomb from 26’2.’’
The Wednesday Ladies' League played a “Putts Only” event this week. Taking the top spot was Rita Descoteaux. She was followed by Sally Fiore, Susan Dugdale and MaryAnn Fitzgerald. Players who had “chip in's” were LouAnne Cellana, Mary Murphy and Descoteaux.
The Mixed Team Championship will be played this weekend.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: The men's and ladies' leagues have begun their second series of play. In the weekly quota game, it was Jan Jahnetos posting a +5 to take the top spot. Second place saw a four-way tie between Bill Earle, Frank Harper, Jerry Henry and Rick Mazer. All four players posted a +2. Jerry Henry also got closest to the pin.
The pro shop is now fully stocked and ready to provide golfers with everything they might need for their round.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: In the Eagle Sunday Afternoon Scramble, the team of Rick, Sheila, Matt and Kate King took first place. This competition is open to all players. To enter, put your foursome together. Call the pro shop for a tee time to play the afternoon on Sunday. Players will get discounted greens fees, $15 for an adult and $10 for a junior. This competition will be played throughout the summer.
Congratulations to Wilder Byrne, for his hole-in-one on the first hole, a 270-yard shot. Playing with Garrett Kearns and Marco Ross-Parent the shot was also witnessed by Pro Bob McGraw.
Bob described the shot with the following commentary. “I had just left the green and was headed to the second tee when I heard the distinct sound of a well-struck drive. I looked back and saw the ball hit the green, take a couple of hops and simultaneously hit the noodle and the flagstick. I believe if there was no noodle, the ball would have been in the hole. Under our COVID-19 rules, any ball that touches the Styrofoam is considered holed.” Great shot.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: The junior golf program finished up last week. It was encouraging to see the young players being introduced to golf. They are the future of the sport.
The men's club championship was played last weekend. The winners for each flight were; Patrick Dunfey, A Flight, Russell Doe, B Flight, and Chris Hallberg, C Flight. The ladies will be playing their championship round this week.
The member/member is scheduled for Aug. 9. If you are interested, sign-up in the clubhouse.
The player/caddie relationship can be a team effort or it can be one where there is very little talk during a round. A caddie needs to gain the confidence of his player in order to become part of the team. You don't want a caddie who, when asked to read a putt, says “It's a foot outside the cup, on second thought, maybe it's a cup outside.” It would be tough for the best of putters to make that putt.
Have a great weekend.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send him your golf photos.