“Golf is the only sport I know where a player pays for every mistake. You can whiff a serve in tennis, miss a strike in baseball or throw an incomplete pass in football and a player still has a chance to square himself. In golf, every swing counts against you.” — Lloyd Mangrum, pro golfer
I received a text last week from former North Conway Country Club member and valley resident Gerry Chase. The text read, “Dustin Johnson just improved his lie. He should be penalized.”
Gerry was watching the Traveler's tournament and he knew I would be watching. Well, I was watching, but I didn't see Johnson do anything wrong. In the situation to which Gerry was referring, Johnson took his shoes and socks off, rolled up his pants and went into a pond to hit his ball. We have all seen players try to pull off this shot. Never have I heard of it being a penalty situation, until now.
I called Gerry and asked him, “Where was the violation?” He immediately said, “Craig Stadler was penalized for kneeling on a towel while trying to hit a shot from under a tree.” I said, “The penalty was for building or improving his stance.”
“Johnson improved his stance by taking off his footwear,” Gerry replied.
We debated this for a while without coming to any resolution. When our conversation ended, I gave the scenario some thought and felt Gerry had made a good argument. More so, it was nice to catch up with an old friend. Golf always provides some common ground.
Golf's foundation is based on players following the rules. It would only make sense if you are going to play golf, that you should know the rules. The PGA and LPGA golfers are the best in the world. They too are subject to the same rules we are. You would think they would know where to take a drop, what are the options from hazards, and other situations every player faces. Sometimes the rules create scenarios that are, well, bizarre. Yes, these predicaments also provide great conversation.
British Open champion Kel Nagle was playing in the 1969 Alcan Open, an international event. Nagle shot a 35 on the front side. However, he entered his 35 on the card where he should have put his ninth hole score. Shooting 35 on the back, his total should have read 70. But when he turned in his card the error was discovered. Tournament officials gave him a 35 as a score on the ninth hole. His score for the round, 105. We were always encouraged by our teachers to check our work. Too bad Kel didn't take a second look.
In 1927, Tommy Armour, the “Silver Scot,” was playing in the Shawnee Open. Armour hit 10 consecutive drives out of bounds while trying to hit a draw. His score on the hole was 23. The highest one-hole score on the PGA. Peter Allis described Armour as “pig-headed.” Do you think this might have given the writers for the movie “Tin Cup” an idea?
Finally, 1927 US Open Champion Cyril Walker was playing in the Los Angeles Open. Walker was a notoriously slow player. His turtle-like approach did not change in LA. Walker was warned by tournament officials about his slow play. They assessed him a two-stroke penalty but that didn't change Walker's game. Tournament officials were so upset they disqualified the US Open Champion.
However, Walker refused to leave the course. Officials got two police officers to escort him off the grounds. I wonder how our local police would handle a call that a golfer was holding up play at our course? I can hear the dispatcher, “One Adam-12: We have a report of a hold-up at the country club. Find the man using a range finder from 15 feet in front of the eighth green.”
The game of golf is defined by ability and the experiences on the course. We embrace these interactions with our playing partners. The stories of memorable on-course experiences are a part of golf. Golfers share, embellish and often enjoy the pain a shot or round can produce at the expense of another.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: Congratulations to Bruce Sanderson for winning June Champ of the Month. Bruce won in an 18-hole playoff against Dan Sullivan.
Some dates to have for the rest of the July calendar: The 40th Memorial Hospital Tournament is scheduled for July 16th. This is a tee-time event rather than the traditional shotgun start.
The Men's Invitational will be played on July 23. Sign-up in the pro shop.
The July Champ of the Month is scheduled for July 24, 25 and 26.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Fourth of July proved to be memorable for attorney Don Ekberg. Don made a hole-in-one on the par 3, fifth hole. When the round ended, Don was heard to say, on the patio at Madeline's, “What a day to get a hole-in-one, this place is packed! Everyone, whether I know you or not, have a drink on me!” It's great to see the tradition kept alive.
In week 5 of the Red Fox League, Jack's Caddies took the top spot in a bramble event. With the win, they moved into the point lead. They are followed by Shanks-A-Lot and the Oak Lee Boys. Individual honors go to Chris Bates who got closest to the pin at 19’7.’’ The longest putt went to Amy Russo (8'6'') and Scott Cote (4'1'').
The Wednesday Ladies League played a Mixed-9 and 18-team scramble. After a match of cards, the team of LouAnne Cellana, Mary Murphy, Mary Ellen Gallo and Cricket Catalucci took first place. Second went to Robin Garside, Regie LeBlanc, Kathy Gilligan and Donna Schuler. Mary Murphy had the only chip-in.
The mixed team tournament is scheduled for July 26. Sign-up in the pro shop.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: The COVID-19 Golf League concluded this week. There were many positive comments from the players. It was thoroughly enjoyed during a time of stress and uncertainty.
New leagues will be starting soon. These men's and ladies' leagues will be open to the public. For more information, call the pro shop at (603) 356-2140.
The ladies had a great day for their final round of play. The COVID-19 team winners were Carole Pierce, Cheryl O'Neil, Rebecca McReynolds and Donna Perry. Sandra Glenn had closest to the pin and Mary Fitzpatrick had the longest putt. Donna Perry took first place for the season at +11. Jill Luchetti earned the most points with 72.
The men finished their season with Jim Raymond getting closest to the pin and Bob York got the longest putt honors.
The COVID-19 team winners were Rich Check, Bob York, Joe Rubino and David Wright. Posting an 11-under par, Steve Wilson had the best quota score of the afternoon. Mike McMahon took first place honors for the season at +13. Bill Earle earned most points with 52.
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 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 want 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 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.
If you ask your playing competitor for advice, you are subject to penalties. In stroke play, if you ask and give advice, you both get a two-stroke penalty. In match play, asking for advice leads to loss of hole. If asked and you give advice, your opponent loses the hole. However, under the Decisions and Rules of Golf, giving a player information about distance is not considered “advice.”
The best advice I ever received, “Play your own game.” Have a great weekend.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at email@example.com. Send him your golf photos.