“Golf is hitting an object to a defined area with the least amount of effort and an alert attitude of indifference.” — Moe Norman, Canadian Golf pro and teacher
The first introduction many of us had to the Pebble Beach Golf Links was in the late 1950s, extending into the early '60s. It wasn't during the golf season (May, June, July) when our eyes saw the course that winds along Carmel Bay in California. It was February.
Snow covered our landscapes, and we were watching the Bing Crosby Pro/Am. Crosby invited his Hollywood friends and PGA pros to Pebble for a week of golf and partying, not necessarily in that order. We watched the Hollywood personalities play in this beautiful coastal setting. I can remember that when Crosby would be speaking on TV, Mom would stop whatever she was doing to listen to him talk about the tournament. It might have been the only time she ever watched golf. Beyond the golf, Pebble Beach and its scenery would capture the attention of the viewer.
Five U.S. Opens have been held at Pebble and have produced some memorable shots and outcomes. Jack Nicklaus in 1972 hit a one-iron on the 17th hole, hitting the flag stick. The year 1982 saw Tom Watson hit a sand wedge on the 17th from deep rough behind the hole. His caddy told him “to hit it close.” Watson replied, “Get it close — hell, I'm going to make it!” Which he did.
Tiger Woods in 2000 beat the field by 15 shots to win by playing one of the most perfect rounds ever produced. The USGA, which conducts the tournament, has sets up the course to make it a very exacting test of golf.
When these players took the title of U.S. Open Champion, they did so under the most trying of conditions.
When the USGA selects a venue, it has this focus: “We intend that the U.S. Open prove the most rigorous examination of golfers. A U.S Open course should test all forms of shot-making, mental tenacity and physical endurance” (2005 statement).
Pebble Beach opened 100 years ago. Before it was a golf course, the land was covered with dairy farms. They were owned by a fellow named David Jacks. A product from Jacks’ dairy was cheese. It became known as Jacks’ cheese from Monterrey (you know the rest of the story about the popular product, Monterrey Jack). The oceanfront property might have become the “left-coast version of Coney Island," quoting Crosby, if it weren't for the vision of Samuel F.B. Morse (relative of the code inventor).
Morse commissioned Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, both amateur players, to develop the property. Neville described the vision, “It was all there in front of us. It could be nothing else.” The links opened with a tournament in February with 50 players participating. The players took an oath before play which began, “We pledge ourselves by our faith in the cherry tree to turn in honest scorecards.” Great to see that a sense of humor started one of the best golf courses in the world.
One other caveat: It is a public golf course. Tee times are available but at $525 for the round, without paying your caddy, buying a souvenir and having lunch in the 19th hole, it is one of the most expensive golfing venues in the world. What a gift, thoug,h for Father’s Day!
Enjoy the golf this weekend. Hopefully, the goal set by the USGA is reached, and the best golfer is identified.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The 2019 Spring Member was played last weekend, and the conditions were great. Taking first gross for the ladies was the team of Gay Folland and Mary Deveau. First net went to Lydia Lansing and Liz Dilando. On the men's side, it was Adam Lanzilotti and Mitch Harmon getting first gross. First net went to Bill Ela and Harold Kazanjian. In Ledgeview League action, for Monday night, Week 3, saw the Golden Tees get first gross and LOL first net. Jim Fagone and Kaitlyn Quint got closest to the pin. The Thursday Ledgeview League saw the Rivers Edge team get first gross and The Insiders first net. Jon Rivers and Anita Cheney got closest to the pin. The Men's One Day Member Guest is scheduled for Friday, June 21. The Ladies’ One Day is scheduled for June 24. Sign-up sheets are on the bulletin board.
Wentworth Golf Course, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: In Red Fox League action, the Shanks-A-Lot team won the night. They were followed by the Pin Seekers and Jack's Caddies. Closest to the pin was Mike Murphy. Long putt winners were Dottie Heffernan and Dan Bickford. The Spring 4 Ball is June 30. Congratulations to Beth Ellis, who had a hole-in-one on the 16th. Beth was playing with Maryann Lowry and Kathy McIntosh. This Sunday, Dad can play for free if accompanied by a spouse or child. In Ladies’ League action, Gloria Hannon took first place. She was followed by Fran Baker and Lynne Anderson. Maryann Lowry passed this tidbit along: “If you kill a black fly, be prepared for 30 relatives to show up for the funeral.”
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Both the men's and women's league have completed two weeks of competition. Posting +3 in the quota game were Bill Earle, Bob York and Brian Gilpatrick. Bob also got closest to the pin. For the women, it was Donna Perry posting a +5 and Connie Kilgour a +3. Dottie Heffernan got closest to the pin. The pro shop hours are now 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Tee times are available by calling (603) 356-2140 or going to haleslocationgolf.com. Weekday rates are $32 for nine holes and $42 for 18. The weekend rate (Friday Sunday) is $42 for nine holes and $59 for 18. Nine, Wine, and Dine is now available on Sundays. Call the hotel at (603) 356-7100 to make a reservation.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: Don Ho League continues at the Jackson course. Tuesday night has the Bud Buggy team in first place with 18 points, followed by the Pin High team (15.5) and the Ball Draggers (12.5). Wednesday night has the Dead Last team in first (28 points), followed by the Jackson 6 (26.5) and Nine-Butchers (26.). The Thursday Eagle League saw the team of Marie and Jack Lee, Russ and Ellie Veale, and Terry Fitzgerald take top spot. Marie got closest to the pin honors.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: The Tuesday Morning Social League saw the team of Dave Mills, Alan Emery, Jerry Guyot and Glen Decarteret take first place. Closest to the pin honors went to Alan Emery and Dave Mills. The Wednesday Scotch Doubles is ready to start their season. If you would like to play some “fun golf,” call Terry Landers at (617) 306-6592 for more information. Sunday is the Jim Hadlock Tournament. This is a scramble format with some unique prizes. Not many events allow players to win some pork chops. Sign-up for the President's Cup ends June 17. This is a match play event. Sign-up is in the clubhouse. Junior golf begins in July. Check lakekezargolf.com.
Indian Mound Golf Course, Route 16B, Center Ossipee, (603) 539-7733: The Ossipee 18 is playing great, with spring weather finally providing some good conditions. Last weekend, 140 players got together to remember Peter Carlo, a longtime member at the Mound. The theme was the Captain Morgan Open, but the proceeds went to The Wounded Warriors Fund. First place went to the team of Tom Broderick, Dick Prunier, Steve Prendergast, and Pat McDermott, with the team of AJ Forte, RJ Dalton, Nick Coss and Ryan Doherty in second, followed by the team of Ted and Carol Bateman, and Linda and Sylvio Laplante. Men's League is up and playing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The ladies play Wednesdays. Beginning June 17, a new Ladies’ League will start. Saturday and Sunday, the Mound has a quota league for both men and women. Nine and Dine has begun with more than 50 players for mixed foursomes. This produces some great competition, and players enjoy a fine meal after the round. For information, call the pro shop at (603) 539-7733.
Omni Mount Washington, Route 302, Bretton Woods, (603) 278-8989: Sunday, June 23, the Annual Bretton Woods Golf Tournament will be played. This 18-hole Scramble benefits the Omni Hotels & Resorts’ “Say Goodnight to Hunger” campaign. Beginning in 2016, this event has grown into a large community fundraiser. Register as an individual or a four-person team and have a great day of golf. For more information or to register, call the clubhouse at (603) 278-4653 or go to brettonwoods.com/golfopen. Check out the Father's Day special, where dads golf and “fly” free (canopy tour).
To give golfers a perspective on how players might find Pebble Beach this weekend, here are two quotes, one from 1992 and the other from 2000, each U.S. Open play years:
“If they want greens like this, I'm going to take up topless darts, I think. It would be easier to catch them in your teeth.” — Professional golfer and Hall of Fame member Nick Faldo.
“I think the U.S. Open historically has always been very difficult. They say they're trying to identify the best player. I felt they're trying to identify the person who drives the ball the best.” — Professional golfer Tiger Woods.
Happy Father's Day to all!
Joe Soraghan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.