Tara Watt

Tara Watt, who grew up on the links of North Conway Country Club, returned this week to play in the New England Women’s Amateur Golf Championship at NCCC. She was the clear fan favorite as a host of community members, including Bob Mickle, came out to cheer her on. She finished fifth overall. (COURTESY PHOTO)

“When you lip out several putts in a row, you should never think that means you're putting well. When you're putting well, the only question is what part of the hole it's going to fall in, not if it's going in.” — PGA Pro Jack Nicklaus

Driving through North Conway Village with my 4-year-old granddaughter, we passed the playground in the park. She was looking out the window and said, “We can't go to the playground.” Then, she added, “Because of the germ.” To my surprise, she followed with an understanding of what is happening in her world. She said, “It isn't the right thing to do.”

I was in Florida when the “germ” changed the way we did things. Restaurants, bars, pools and beaches closed. Golf courses tried to change the way they operated, but eventually they had to shut down, too. Players were not doing the right thing.

One day, we were playing golf the way we had been playing forever. The next day we were riding in carts alone. The pro shop and starter told us not to touch the pin. A soft rubber disc was in the bottom of the cup. This allowed players to retrieve their ball without taking the pin out.

Rakes, ball washers, benches, scorecards and pencils disappeared. After our round, the 19th hole was not open. It wasn't the end of the world, but it certainly was different. Then came the news, golf courses were shut down. No golf, no beach, no bar, no restaurants. It was time to get out of Florida.

We got back to New Hampshire around the first of April and quarantined for at least three weeks. Again, not the end of the world. I got a lot accomplished around the house, read a couple of books and waited for the weather to improve and local courses to re-open.

When the local courses did open in mid-May, they had incorporated the restrictions described. Golf in 2020 was going be different. However, not all of the new requirements were going to be bad. In fact, I'm hoping some become permanent.

Tee times were 8 or 9 minutes apart before the germ. Now they are 10 to 12 minutes apart. This should prevent some of the backups players encounter during their rounds. Players have the option of riding in a cart alone. This helps speed up play. I miss having the insert at the bottom of the cup. It gave those of us with cranky backs a break in getting the ball out of the hole (the cup seems to get deeper every year). The device also protected the cup from those that would use their club to pull the ball from the cup.

With social distancing in place, the 19th hole is now open for players to replay their round. As one guy said to me, “It's great to sit at the bar. It's been three months since I was able to sit and have a beer. That's a new record. The old one was three days.”

From what I have observed, golf courses and players have been very respectful of the restrictions. They continue to heed the new rules that are in place. We are going to see players who will not abide by the new norm. If those behaviors do not change, we will be back in a very precarious place for the game of golf.

The golf community needs to continue with procedures that allow us to continue playing golf. We need to defeat the “germ” that has changed how we live. The new procedures are not the end of the world, and frankly, not even an inconvenience.

Club Notes

North Conway Country Club, 50 Nor cross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The June Champ of the Month event was played last weekend. For the women, it was Mary Deveau, who won the coveted parking spot. On the men's side, Bruce Sanderson and Dan Sullivan will have an 18-hole playoff.

The Junior Program started Thursday. PGA Pro Kevin Walker has welcomed more than 45 juniors in this summer's program.

The New England Women's Amateur Tournament was held this week. Two players from Thorny Lea GC took the top two spots. Megan Buck posted a three-day total of 214. Shannon Johnson scored 215. Tara Watt from North Conway, now playing out of Derryfield CC, finished tied for 5th. A big congratulations to Nancy Stewart for her hard work in getting the event at NCCC, and for putting on a first-class tournament.

Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The damp weather slowed things down at the Jackson 18. Week 5 of the Red Fox League was canceled. Next week, players will have a Bramble for their Monday night get together.

The Wentworth Member/Guest is canceled for this season due to the coronavirus. The next scheduled member event is the mixed tournament or “The Divorce Open.” This is scheduled for July 26.

Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Hale's Location opened to public play last weekend. The tee sheet reflected how golfers appreciate the “best-kept secret,” as the players filled the tee times. Golfers commented on the great conditions. Even through the rain, a steady stream of players were on the West Side Road course. To make a tee time go online at haleslocationgolf.com or call the golf shop at (603) 356-2140.

League play was canceled this week due to weather. The COVID-19 leagues are scheduled to wrap up next week.

Standings in the Ladies' League are very close. Several women are in a position to take the seasonal prize.

For the Men, Mike McMahon goes into the final week atop the standings. There are several guys who are in striking distance.

Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Eagle is offering discounted fees for those who put a foursome together and play in the Sunday Afternoon Scramble. The greens fees will be $15 for adults and $10 for juniors. For those who would like to take a cart, it is an additional $10 per person. Players are asked to make their tee times and can play any time after noon. The times can be made by phone. The Eagle plans to offer this friendly competition throughout the summer.

PGA Pro Bob McGraw is available for lessons. Call Bob at the pro shop to schedule a lesson.

The Eagle range is open for players who would like to work on their game.

Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: LKCC reports that they saw membership numbers increase in May and June. The Fourth of July Holiday looks strong. Golf is a great way to have fun while social distancing.

Team standings, in Week 4 of the Twilight League have Patz with 292 points, followed by Littlefield with 284 points, Lord and Trumbull, 281 points, Alimi with 260 points and Records with 235.

Individual point leaders are Brad Littlefield and Dana Gerrish.

Junior Golf begins on July 7. If interested, you can sign-up that day.

The Member/Guest is scheduled for July 12. This is a two-person team event. Players will play a 6-6-6 format. The cost is $35 per person. Lunch will be catered by 302 West. This should be a fun event for golfers of all abilities.

19th Hole

A water hazard has been the undoing of every golfer. Henry Beard, an American humorist, said, “When your shot has to carry over water, you can either take one more club or two more balls.” Bobby Jones commented, “The difference between a sand trap and water is the difference between a car crash and a plane crash.” Finally, golf architect, Alister Mackenzie says, “As a Scotsman, I am opposed to water in its undiluted state.”

Joe Soraghan may be reached at joesoraghan@yahoo.com. Send him your golf photos.

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