“Golf is not a game, it's not a sport, it's not a hobby, it's a bad habit.” — Dave Watson, North Conway Country Club golf philosopher

The 19th hole was created by golfers who wanted to extend their time at the course. The existence of this “extra hole” allowed players to discuss their rounds and enjoy the company of the other players.

To be perfectly truthful, I'm not sure how much self-reflection was conducted after my most recent round. My partner and I got “steamrolled” by two players, and there were friendly barbs passing both ways. I know I was thinking, “How did we let the match get away from of us?” It's not that we weren't trying, but the result was not the desired outcome. How, why and where do you find improvement in your game?

I'm going to take some solace in the fact that when we play golf using a handicap system, we are playing against par. Par is the predetermined number of strokes that a “scratch golfer” (0 handicap) should need to complete a round. Each hole has a number attached based upon the difficulty factor the hole presents.

To explain this concept, imagine you are playing the 10th most difficult hole on a course as outlined on your scorecard or on the hole sign. For that “scratch” player or one whose handicap is 10 or less, you should be making par. For those whose handicap is higher, a score of par or better would be a bonus.

Professional golfers have someone who collects data from his/her round of golf. Ball trajectories, swing speed, fairways hit, greens hit in regulation, bunker shots and number of putts are just a few items a pro will review after each round. But we are casual golfers who don't have the luxury (or patience) to chart every shot from every round.

However, when the round is completed, most players know what area of the game might need improvement. With this informal data, a weekend golfer can concentrate on where the problem might lie and work to strengthen that part of the game.

It was here that I made an error during last Sunday’s match.

When I arrived to the 19th hole, I didn't jot down or think about where I made mistakes. I had to tell those who were sitting close by about a faux pas by two of my playing partners.

The first guy was playing very well and on three consecutive holes was the first to finish out. This guy did everything right, except he didn't know the weight of the flag stick and he never would. One would have thought the flag stick was contaminated with a life-ending germ the way this guy avoided replacing the pin. It took a little coaxing (maybe it was a bit more direct) to point out to him that “the first one in the hole replaces the pin.”

I couldn’t get my mind off why this player wasn’t helping out. The second guy was playing well on holes where his partner was having some difficulty. This happens in a round and makes for a successful partnership. But when we got to our second shots on the par 5, 17th hole, this guy went over to the ball and said, “That's the Srixon.” Now, I'm playing that brand. I'm just about to hit, when I look closer. I turn to the other players and with a raised voice said, “That's a Titleist, your ball.” The player went on to say, “I didn't have my glasses.” He had played 16 holes without his glasses and now he can't see or spell? I did get maximum attention, but I let this ball incident bother me.

Most of us don't need the data that is provided to the pros. We know where our strengths and weaknesses lie. Where we have an advantage over the pros is when friends can play golf and “bust each other's chops” over something that occurred during the round. Then we can take the incident, analyze it in a basic form and continue to enjoy the day. That's what casual golf is all about, and it's the game most of us play.


North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The August Champ of the Month was held last weekend. For the men, it was Peter Hill claiming the coveted parking spot. On the women's side there will be a playoff between Gay Folland and Mary Deveau. This weekend, the annual Pro Day's Tournament is Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Upcoming events are the Vaughan Tournament (Sept. 9, see 19th hole), White Mountain Board of Realtors (Sept. 11, 2:30 p.m. shotgun), Champ of the Year (Sept. 15), Fall Member/Member (Sept. 16), Mixed Best Ball (Sept. 23), and Ryder Cup (Sept. 29-30).

Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The 2018 Club Championship was held at the Jackson 18 last weekend. In the Men's Championship Division, Virgil Webb took top spot. He was followed by Charlie Hanlon and Scott Cote. In the Ladies’ Championship, Ellie Thompson took first gross and Lynn Anderson first net. The Ladies Open Division saw Kathy Gilligan take first gross and Beth Ellis first net. The Men's Open Division saw Roger LeBlanc take first gross and John White first net. The Men's Gold Division had Bill McBroom take first gross and Wayne Ekholm first net. The Red Fox League played their last round of the 2018 season this past week. League results will be posted on September 10. Pro Days will be played this weekend. During the weekend, different items will be placed on sale. Today, Cleveland wedges and putters will be available at 20% off.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Thursday Eagle League saw the team of Joan and Roger Aubrey and Gretchen and Dennis Soraghan take the top spot. Closest to the pin honors went to Nicki Lynn. PGA Pro, Bob McGraw, will be offering a full swing clinic on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Bob will be covering the fundamentals of hitting the driver and fairway woods. The cost is $20 per player and the class is limited to six students. Don Ho League has begun its Fall campaign. There is still room for teams. The cost is $60 per player. If you are interested call the pro shop.

Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Nine, Wine, and Dine continues at Hale's. For $59 per player, you get nine holes of golf with a cart, a full dinner, and a glass of wine. Call the hotel to make a reservation (603-356-7100) and the pro shop (603-356-2140) for a tee time.

Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: The Kezar Trailbreakers held their tournament last Sunday. Taking first place was Marc Webster’s team. They were followed by Team Littlefield and Team Connor. The Thursday Ladies’ League will be having a luncheon at the Old Saco Inn. Sign-up in the clubhouse if you are attending. The Fryeburg Rec. Tournament is scheduled for September 8 and 9. Call Vincent Osgood at (603) 630-2558 if you would like to play. If you are planning to purchase a 2019 LKCC membership, now would be a good time. Pay your membership now and you can play the rest of this season for free. Cart rentals are not included in the membership.

19th Hole: On Thursday, Sept. 6, the Vaughan Community Center will hold their annual golf tournament at NCCC. This is a Team Scramble Event and all golfers are invited to play. The proceeds of this event help support the Vaughan Community Center programs and the Vaughan Learning Center. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. Players will tee off at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $75 per player or $300 for a team. The event will include putting and chipping contests, and mulligans will be available. The opportunity to win an automobile, on a designated par 3, will offered to players. Entry fee includes the luncheon and raffle opportunities. Players are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for the Food Pantry. If you do so, you will receive a raffle ticket for a special prize. To send payment by check, make it payable to Vaughan Community Center Golf Tournament, P.O. Box 401, North Conway, NH, 03860-0401. Please include players’ names. For more information, call Denise Leighton at (603) 356-2324 or email her at denise@vaughannh.com.

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

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