“Golf puts a man's character on the anvil and his richest qualities- patience, poise, restraint- to the anvil.” — Pro golfer Billy Casper
My suggestion for any golfer: Get out on the course early in the morning. Be one of the first groups to walk the fairways. If it's too early for your playing partners, consider going out by yourself or a player whose shared goal is to take in the calm, tranquil beauty of the golf course.
Think about the time you were skiing. You found yourself alone on a trail that had 6-8 inches of new snow and it was untracked. The feeling of skiing that untracked powder has an almost religious quality. Being the first player(s) out on the course can provide that same experience.
I have had that opportunity to be the first on the course, and it does provide a great feeling, even if your game might be a bit sleepy.
Now I'm one of the first on the course, one day a week, as a ranger — or in present parlance, a golf ambassador.
Rangers, marshals or ambassadors have a common goal: to try and assist players during their round. The duties might include helping players who have never played the course find the next tee or hole; moving players along or, in some instances, slowing them down; returning clubs that have been left behind — accidentally, I hope; assisting in the hunt for a lost ball; and providing cold towels to players.
The look on the face of some players when they are approached by the ranger is priceless. Thinking they are going to be admonished for their play, they are taken aback when the towel is offered. It also gives me an opportunity to speak with them in a positive manner. Being out on the course, you are “the eyes and ears” of the club.
With a copy of the day’s tee times, I begin my shift by heading out on the “back nine.” This gives me an opportunity to see the course and how it is set up for the day. Occasionally, I will see a couple of groups who teed off at the break of dawn. They usually walk. They are good players, and they move along. I acknowledge them but leave them alone. I'm envious of their dedication and how they approach the game.
While riding along, I can see players moving along the front nine. Many are members who have the same time and play with the same group almost daily. Sprinkled in among these folks are the “greens fee” players. For some, this is the first time they have played the course. You can tell quickly if you are going to need to keep watch on a particular group or leave them alone.
Probably one of the primary duties for a ranger is to keep play moving and keep peace on the course. The biggest problem with golf, and for the course rangers, is slow play. When you put single-digit handicappers on the course with players that will be lucky to break 150, you might have a problem.
But this is about my observations. There are players who won't break 100 who are quicker than the better player. Slow golf play can be reduced if golfers play “ready” golf.
I watch players who are never prepared or ready to hit their shot. Some will sit in the cart and wait to be driven to where their ball lies. They will get out, some using a range finder, select a club, take two or three practice swings, and then hit a shot.
Others go to the green without ever looking at the putt that awaits. Only when it is their turn, do they begin the process of studying the putt. Some golfers think because they are closer to the green, they need to wait until it is their turn. The R&A, the USGA and the local 101 Ambassadors Union not only say, “If you are ready, hit the ball!” but you are encouraged to do so.
There is no penalty for hitting a ball if you lie closer to the green. Slow play is a problem for the sport and could lead to the downfall of golf.
Rangers, ambassadors and marshals are on the course to help golfers. Oftentimes it is a thankless job. The only time most golfers want to talk with you is to air a complaint or point out the flaws of other players. Ambassadors are trying to provide the best possible experience for all the players by using their mediation skills. Members and non-members, single-digit players and those who carry a high handicap should be treated properly. They, in turn, should treat those who are trying to assist them the way they want to be treated. Do yourself a favor: Try to experience the beauty of the golf course before the on-course distractions interrupt your round.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The 2019 NCCC Club Championship was held last weekend. In the Championship Flight, it was Mitch Harmon for the men and Gay Folland for the women. The A Division saw Kevin Drew and Donna O'Connor take the top spot. In B and C Division for the men, it was Mike Murphy taking the B and Al Goyette taking the C. Congratulations to all! Week 5 of Ledgeview League saw the Rivers’ Edge team get top gross and The Insiders top net. Bill Jones got closest to the pin for the men. The ladies will have a carry-over. This weekend, the Senior Championship will be held on Saturday and the Pro/Member on Sunday.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Red Fox League plays a one-club scramble this week. Taking first place was the Khandar's team. Second place went to Shanks-A-Lot. There was a tie for third between Jack's Caddies and Ladies First. Individual honors went to Lori Cote and Chris Donnelly for longest putt. Closest to the pin was Jeremiah Donaldson.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Hale's hosted the 26th annual Kiwanis Children Are Priority One Golf Tournament last Friday. Players raised $13,000 for the children of the Mt. Washington Valley. With a match of cards, the team of Dick Goss, Dick Plusch, Mark Labrie, and Tim George took the top honors. Second place went to Rich Check, Ray Lucchetti, Bill Earle, and Dave Pierce. Long drive winner was Jim Frenette. Closest to the pin winners were Virgil Webb and Nicki Lynn. In league play, Deb Chase posted a +5 in the weekly quota. On the men's side, it was Jerry Henry coming in with a +5. He was closely followed by Dick Check and Steve Wilson. Joe Rubino got closest to the pin. Nine, Wine, and Dine is played every Sunday. Call the hotel (603) 356-7100 to make a reservation.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: In Thursday Night Eagle League action, the team of Dave Powell, and Janice and Dan Andrews took the top spot. Closest to the pin winner was Eileen Redmond. The “Balls and Beer” promo continues. For $12 you get a large bucket of range balls and a beer when you finish.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: Playing a new format, the Member/Member was held last weekend. Taking first gross was the team of Brad Littlefield and John Chandler. They were followed by Skip Smith and Bob Prescott, getting second gross. Bob Amodeo and Bob Street got third gross. First net went to Dave Sgroi and John Ferry. Gus Fillerbrown and Steve Estes got second net while third net went to Russell Doe and Todd Cunningham. For the ladies, it was Tina Littlefield and Pattie Street getting first gross. First net went to Amy Walker and Jane Hadlock. After three rounds in the 4 Club round-robin the team from Province Lake is in first with 1,713 points. They are followed by Ridgewood, 1,676 points, Lake Kezar, 1657 points, and Indian Mound, 1,434 points.
At this point in the season, clubs are involved in tournaments. Some are match-play and others stroke-play events. A reminder to those playing a match-play round. If you give the wrong information to an opponent about the number of strokes you have taken on the hole, you lose the hole. This is not so in stroke play. If you're lying four and your opponent tells you he just holed-out for four, you pick up your ball mark. You go to shake his hand and are informed he made five, you incur a one-stroke penalty. In stroke-play your score is all you should be concerned about. Enjoy the weekend.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at email@example.com.