Golf Column - Sean Grady putting

The competition at Hale’s Location Country Club is intense as Sean Grady gets ready to putt. His playing partners, Mike McMahon, Don Valliere and Frank Filofax watch to see the result. Grady made the putt. (JOE SORAGHAN PHOTO)

“If you’re not just a little bit nervous before a match, you probably don’t have the expectations of yourself that you should have.” Hale Irwin, pro golfer

September sports weekends are traditionally reserved for football and pennant races. Although a beautiful time of year to play golf, most of your major tournaments have already crowned their winners. Not so in this strange year of 2020. The U.S. Open is being played this weekend and the Master’s will be held in November. The golfing calendar has the Open usually scheduled for Father’s Day in June.

However, this will not be the first time this prestigious event will be held after Labor Day. The very first Open, playing in 1905 at Newport Country Club, was played in October and won by Englishman, Horace Rawlins (only 11 players competed). Newport was a nine-hole course and the first event was a 36-hole tournament, played in one day. The prize money to the winner: $150 and a $50 gold medal. Today the purse for the U.S. Open is $12.5 million. With the event played in autumn-like weather, one similarity exists between the two tournaments, there will be no fans. Beyond that, it will be a different brand of golf.

Winged Foot Golf Course, in Mamaroneck, N.Y., will be hosting the Open for the sixth time. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the course is rated one of the top in the country. It was here that Bobby Jones won the 1929 Open. Billy Casper won in 1957 relying on a hot putter to get the job done. Ben Hogan said about Casper, “If he couldn’t putt, he’d be cooking hot dogs.” In 1974, Hale Irwin won with a score of seven over par over a course that was close to unplayable due to the difficulty factor.

Sandy Tatum, the USGA committee chairman, was asked, “Are you trying to embarrass the best golfers in the world?” He responded, “No, we’re trying to identify them.”

It was here in 2006 where Phil Mickelson pulled out his driver on the 18th hole while leading the tournament. He proceeded to hit one off the hospitality tent and went on to make double bogey. Phil is still searching for his U.S. Open win.

One player who probably had only kind comments about Winged Foot was pro golfer, Pung, when the Women’s Open was played at Winged Foot. The 1957 Women’s Open, saw Jackie Pung finish first. However, after signing an incorrect scorecard, she was disqualified. Her playing partner had entered a 5 when she had made 6, but the total score was correct. Pung was distraught and in tears. The fans, tournament officials, and members of Winged Foot, took up a collection for her. After “passing the hat,” Pung put more than $3,000 in her pocket. Betsy Rawls, who was declared the winner, took home $1,800.

This year’s tournament is being played at a venue that oozes history, but it is also one of the more difficult courses to host the U.S. Open. We recently saw Dustin Johnson win the FedEx tournament in Norwood by shooting 30 under par.

This past week, players who advanced to the finals were given strokes in advance to playing. Johnson, the eventual winner, started off at 12 under par. This week, players and fans can get back to watching the best players in the world face one of the most difficult tests. With fast greens, punishing rough, and a lengthened course, the best in the world will be identified. Enjoy the tournament because the next major is in November, The Masters.

Club notes

North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: NCCC hosted the pro days last weekend for four days. First gross winner for the men was Adam Lanzilotti. Second place went to Rob Brewster. Paul Harlow and Bruce Sanderson tied for third.

On the ladies side, Sharon Hill took first gross. Second went to Alice McElhinney.

On the net side, Joe Soraghan took first. He was followed by Rob Brewster and Bruce Sanderson.

Diane Worcester took low net for the ladies. Alice McElhinney and Deb Gilmore took second and third.

Week 8 of Ledgeview League saw the teams play a quota game where all four players scores were used. First gross went to Buddy’s Boys. First net to the For Your Pars Only team.

The standings have the Golden Tees in first place. They are followed by For Your Pars Only and Rivers Edge.

The Fall Member/Member will be played on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Wentworth members played in the annual pro days event over the weekend. On the ladies side, Jane Goulart won low gross three of the four days and Maryann Lowry got it on Saturday.

Low net went to Lynne Walker, Rita Descoteaux, and Maryann Lowry.

For the men, Bill Catalucci got low gross three out of the four, with Roger LeBlanc getting low gross on Saturday.

Low net winners were Paul Keane, Don Macumber, Mike Goulart and Keith Houghton.

The Red Fox League banquet will be held on Monday, Sept. 14 in the clubhouse. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m., where league winners will be announced.

Hale’s Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Week 9 of the Men’s League saw Haig Zeytoonian take the top spot in the weekly quota game. Second place was shared between Rich Mazer and Don Valliere. Fourth place was a tie between Will Despathy and Steve Phillips.

The women did not play this week due to the Labor Day holiday.

On Tuesday, 50 women from the New Hampshire Golf Association brought their games to Hale’s. First place gross, went to Lolita Williams from the Oak Golf Links. First net was Susan Witham from Loudon CC.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Sunday afternoon “Scramble” continues at the Eagle. Players wishing for some fun and competition are encouraged to put a team together and make their own tee time. Discount rates are available for those who choose to play. Adults pay $15 and juniors $10. Carts are available for those who want to ride.

The pro shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. players need to call for tee times and follow the guidelines set by the course.

Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: The Tuesday Twilight League held their end-of-season dinner after a round of golf. Team Lords won the playoffs. Team Patz was the top team with the most points. Brad Littlefield got the individual points leader.

The Tuesday morning “Social League” continues to play. This is open to members and non-members. Contact Dick Trapani to sign up for play at suzirich@roadrunner.com.

The LKCC Senior Open is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 16. The cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members. There are three divisions; 64-and-under, 65-74, and 75-and-above. This is open to both men and women and lunch is included. Call (207) 925-2462 to sign-up. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 14.

19th Hole

In 1989 four pros playing in the U.S. Open did something that the hole-in-one insurance association said had odds of 8.7 million to one. The Open was being played at Oak Hill CC in New York. Playing in Friday’s second round were pros Doug Weaver, Jerry Pate, Nick Price and Mark Wiebe, who all hit six irons on the par 3, sixth hole. All four players made holes-in-one.

Until this tournament, only 17 holes-in-one had been registered since the tournament began in 1905. That must have been a fun 19th hole after that round.

Have a great weekend.

Joe Soraghan may be reached at joesoraghan@yahoo.com. Send him your golf photos.

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