“Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game's two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.” — Jack Nicklaus, pro golfer.

You arrive at the golf course. Your routine is pretty much the same: Put on the golf shoes, get your bag to the first tee, put on the sunscreen, check in with the pro shop and hook up with the group you are playing with.

Yes, I know some need to hit a few at the range. Others seek sustenance in the 19th hole. Others have to roll a few putts to see how the greens are running.

With few exceptions, this is the routine of most golfers. Many have been going through this routine for most of their golfing lives.

But, with this repetitious behavior, has the game become less exciting or inviting to you, the player? Does it feel the only reason you are on the course is to be outside? Is it the opportunity to be with friends?

Ben Hogan preached that “the greatest pleasure in golf is improving.”

So, what is it we seek when playing golf?

The goal of every player is based the individual. It can be the socialization of friends or it could be the games that are played during a round. Competition is a big draw where players are testing themselves against others and the course.

But we can't and shouldn't lose sight that golf is a game of recreation. We love to show our physical and mental skills. Consistency is also a part of the game, the most elusive part. Golfers will do almost anything to improve their consistency. We all know players who will purchase training aids, clubs that guarantee perfect shots or videos that claim to take 10 strokes off your score. Why does this pursuit of playing the perfect round take on a life of its own?

When you hit a shot on “the sweet spot” of the club, it gives one a feeling of exhilaration and success. Your playing partners are impressed. They ask you, “How did you do that?” Your response, “I have no idea.”

Instead of enjoying and embracing the shot, you start thinking, “How did I do that?” “Why can't I hit a shot like that all the time?”

Hitting a great shot, albeit not with the frequency you want, can be a goal for many. The goal of each golfer can and should be what the individual is seeking. Maybe it's enjoying the scenery that surrounds a course. Here in the Mount Washington Valley, we certainly have some of the most beautiful views anywhere. I once had a guest at North Conway Country Club comment, “The golf course designer did a nice job placing the mountains around the course.”

The amenities that a course offers is a draw for some players. A heavy “country club” atmosphere where the cost of a round is prohibitive is not required. A place where you can enjoy a good burger and a cold beer can make a golfer’s day.

A golfer needs a clubhouse that allows relaxation, enjoyment of the company of others and an opportunity to “replay” your round. For example, try sitting on the porch rockers at Lake Kezar Country Club. Or after a round at Wentworth Golf Course, go over to Madeline’s and watch players come up the 18th hole.

This can be the best part of a round of golf for some players, but it is only part of the experience. Do you want to work on parts of your game and play a course that will be fun and challenging? Try playing the Eagle Mountain Golf Course or Linderhof Country Club. These two mountain gems will test parts of your game you probably don't work on enough.

If you want to try and hit the sweet spot of your club, look no further than the first tee at Hale's Golf Course. When you hit a shot correctly, the “ting” sound echoes off the ledges that border the course.

Any challenge a golfer wants, or a setting that enhances a round, can be found here in the valley.

Players are seeking the best playable conditions that courses can offer. That doesn't mean every course needs to have the conditions of a Pebble Beach or one of the high end private clubs. They want to test their skills and be challenged on a course.

Fairways need to have divots filled. Players seek a rough that is fair, giving golfers a chance to extricate themselves from wayward shots. Players want bunkers that are raked and have few impediments. They want greens where ball marks have been repaired.

Golfers are quick to understand that not everything is fair in the game of golf. Often “the rub of the green” will force all of us to try a shot that will test our skill and imagination. This can make for a great round and the improvement you are seeking.

Club Notes:

North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: With many members posting competitive rounds last weekend, Donna O'Connor and Al Worcester took June Champs of the Month honors. NCCC Pro Kevin Walker greeted close to 50 junior players for this summer's six-week program. It was great to see so many youngsters with golf bags over their shoulders. Sign-up for the Three Day Member/Guest has begun. July 19-21 are the dates for this popular tournament. A Friday shotgun start will kick off this Match Play event. Guests must have a GHIN Handicap to play. For more information call the pro shop. Congratulations to Dan “Bustah” Kelleher for his hole in one on the fourth hole.

Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: Week 7 of Red Fox League saw the Stan & Dan's team take the top spot. Ladies First took second and Jack's Caddies the third spot. Dan Bickford and Maureen Wilson won the long putt contest while Leslie Cummings and Mike Murphy got closest to the pin honors. The Spring Four-ball was played on Sunday. Low net honors, for the men, went to Paul Dugdale and Hugh Braithwaite. On the women’s side, it was Rita Descoteaux and Gloria Hannon taking low net honors. The gross and overall champions were Virgil Webb and Bill McBroom for the men and Robin Garside and Mary Murphy for the women.

Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: With the Fourth of July holiday, league play is taking the week off. The pro shop hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Tee times are available by calling the pro shop or online at haleslocationgolf.com and clicking on Book a Tee Time. When booking online payment is for green fees only. Cart fees can be added at the course. Rates for Hale's are as follows: Monday-Thursday nine holes for $45 and 18 holes for $72. Friday-Sunday; nine holes for $55 and 18 holes for $79. The Nine, Wine, and Dine special is in play on Sundays. Call the hotel at (603) 356-7100 for a reservation.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: A heated race is shaping up in Wednesday Don Ho action. The Jackson Six are leading with 49 points, but the Dead Last team is on their heels with 48 points. There was a great turnout for the Jack Butler Memorial Tournament. Accolades go out to the Eagle Staff for the great food. There will be a Member scramble this Sunday, July 7. Call the pro shop to sign up. The Eagle is still running their “Practice Range Special.” For $12 you receive a bucket of balls and a beer. A great way to work on your entire game.

Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: Taking first place in the Tuesday Morning Social League was the team of Moe Foulds, Bob Bean and Pat Johnston. President's Cup matches are being played. Moving on for the ladies in this Match Play format are Pam Watson, Nancy Calvert, Jane Angus and Tina Littlefield. Advancing for the men will be Larry Sanborn, Alex Kelley, Nat Mason, Lewis Bartlett and Joe Fitzpatrick. The Member/Guest will be played July 14. Sign up in the clubhouse. The Junior Golf Program will start Tuesday, July 9. For more information call the pro shop.

19th Hole: In the next three weeks the Irish, Scottish and British Opens will be played. This is a great opportunity for the golf viewers to watch some of the best players in the world tackle courses we rarely see. One term the European announcers will be using in describing some par 3's is “Redan.” This is a hole that is about a 190 yards long. The green runs at a 45-degree angle or slope, right to left.

The first hole to be called a Redan was in North Berwick, Scotland. It was named after a fortress during the Crimean War, when Britain and France were at war with Russia. A British officer who had returned from the war said the hole reminded him of “a fortress we took from the Russians.” The dictionary says a “Redan” is a “fort that has two faces forming towards the enemy.” Enjoy watching others try to capture the fortress, or maybe go out and seek your own private “victory.” Happy Fourth of July!

Joe Soraghan may be reached at joesoraghan@yahoo.com.

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