“I used to play golf. I wanted to be a better player, but after a while, I realized I'd always stink. That's when I really started to enjoy the game.” Don Rickles, comedian
In the 1950s, baseball was “King” in America. Every kid wanted to play and opportunities were everywhere. There seemed to be fields in every neighborhood and all it took was a bicycle, a glove, bat and ball for a game to be initiated. Kids would show up at the appointed time. Everyone could play, although there was a pecking order, and you didn't want to end up in right field.
During this time, families with children had a dark cloud that followed them: polio. This disease hit a few of the kids in the neighborhood, but, even afflicted, many got out and played ball like the rest of us. One boy in particular didn't let his leg braces stop him. You could tell he was a good athlete. He had an inner drive. One time, he hit a ball to third. His desire to reach first safely caused him to run so hard, his leg brace snapped. He made it safely, with a big smile on his face. He was Forrest Gump before Forrest Gump.
This was a scene that is etched in my memory. It also gave many of us great respect for those who dealt with and overcame a disability. These were handicaps that we could see. But, there are those handicaps that are not visible. We take it for granted that tasks as routine as reading the newspaper can be accomplished by everyone. Golf's 1969 Master's Champion, George Archer, would not be able to read this article. He would try to avoid any situation where he needed to read and write. You see, Archer was illiterate.
Archer won 13 times on the PGA tour including the one major in 1969. Archer was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. At 6'6'', basketball seemed to be the sport for Archer. During his junior year of high school, he was asked to leave the team because his time was being spent on the golf course rather than the hardcourt.
He was a disciple of the “dirt diggers” school of golf. This was a group of players who arrived on tour having honed their game at municipal courses. The conditions of the courses were less than plush and most of their shots were played from dirt rather than grass. Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson are two of the players from the “dirt diggers.”
Archer was one of the best putters on tour and at one time held the record for fewest putts during a tour event. He also was the first player to employ a female caddy at Augusta National during his 1983 Masters appearance. Not until after his death in 2005, was it publicly revealed that George couldn't read or write. He learned to write his name. And he knew a couple of basic sentences and words, but for his entire life, he was able to hide this disability.
After his passing at age 65, Archer's friends and family organized a lasting legacy: The George Archer Memorial Strokes of Genius Tournament. This local event (San Francisco) raises money for individuals to receive tutoring. As stated in the tournament material, “Every child deserves the opportunity to read.” More than $1 million has been raised to help persons overcome a handicap that Archer hid for life. For me, this is a reminder that we can't take anything for granted. We should never assume that any task we consider routine can be performed by all.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: A sure sign the season is underway; the pro shop hours are now 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Also, players will be playing their ball up only in the fairway and the bunkers. This is due to the lack of rakes to smooth out the sand after a shot. Otherwise, the ball will be played down.
Congratulations to Anne Rourke and Scott Merrill for winning the May Champ of the Month.
Three Demo Days are scheduled for June. Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a Titleist representative will be on the range. June 13, it will be the Cobra representative, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 14, the Mizuno representative will be there from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a great opportunity to try the latest 2020 equipment and to ask questions of the experts. Sunday, June 14, the Spring Member/Member will be held.
Finally, condolences go out to the Perley family on the passing of Skip. He was a longtime member of the pro shop staff. A good man.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The players in the Red Fox League opened their season by playing a scramble, in what one player described as “cool and breezy conditions.” First place went to the Oak Lee Boys, second to Kandahar, and third to Jack's Caddies. Individual honors went to Rebecca McReynolds (5'6'') and Bill Hughes (9'9'') for long putts. Chris Bates got closest to the pin (14'8'').
The early review of course conditions is the course is getting better every day. The Spring 4-Ball Tournament will be held on June 21. Tee times start at 8:06 a.m.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Hale's has a new title for its golf league, the COVID-19. This is for the membership only. On Monday, in cold and blustery weather, the ladies kicked-off their season. Congratulations to Karen Franke, for the longest putt. Donna Perry had a skin on hole No. 1. Sandy Mazer posted the top quota score for the day. The men played their quota game on Tuesday afternoon. Honors went to Dave Pierce for closest to the pin on No. 6. Mike Albarelli had the longest putt (25'9''). John Rafferty had a skin on hole No. 1. Posting the best quota score was Bill Earle.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: All nine holes are open for play at the Jackson course. The range will be open this weekend. PGA Pro, Bob McGraw will be available for lessons. Carts are available for players who prefer to ride. The Eagle is open to members and New Hampshire residents.
The Eagle is doing its part keeping staff and guests safe. You must make your tee time and payment over the phone. There will be no walk-up reservations or inquiries. Players should arrive at least 15 minutes before their tee time and can play by calling (603) 383-9090. At that time, the pro shop staff will inform the players when they can make their way to the first tee. This procedure will be in place all year.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: The Lovell 18 is playing beautifully for early season golf. Tee times are recommended by calling the pro shop. A limited number of patrons will be allowed in at one time. The LKCC is adhering to guidelines set by the state. Tee times are 12 minutes apart. Carts are sanitized after every use. Players are encouraged to stay home if they are not feeling well.
Indian Mound Golf Course, 16B, Ctr. Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: Reports have the Ossipee 18 playing in great condition. The pro shop is open for business to assist golfers with their game. T
he Mound is adhering to the guidelines established by the state and the NHGA. For specials go to the website: indianmoundgc.com.
In 1898, cottages were built on Mackinac Island by those fleeing the summer heat of Chicago. A nine-hole course was built. A Chippawa chief, Eagle Eye, watched golfers on the course. He commented in his native language, “wa-wash-kamo” or “walk a crooked path.” In 1996, Wawashkamo Golf Course was designated as a “Landmark of Golf “by Golf Digest. The chief had natural insight into the game. Stay safe and play well.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.