“When you're on a golf course, a couple of things are very interesting. No matter who you're playing with, people want each other to do well.” — Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State and avid golfer
There is a short story that every middle school student once read in literature class. It was about a stone cutter in China (the author of the tale is unknown). This man was not satisfied with his position as being the best in his craft. He wanted more. He was granted seven wishes. He wanted to be the most powerful entity in the world.
Using his wishes, he became the leader of a powerful army. Again, he was not satisfied. He chose to become a tree, the wind, the ocean, the sun and a rock. Each time, he thought he would be the strongest and most powerful force on Earth. Recognizing there were stronger forces than the ones he had chosen, he used his last to return to becoming a stone cutter.
Now, let's change the setting and story a bit. After all, this is a golf column and not a literature class.
You are about to hit a ball on the range when a golfing god appears. The god will grant you one wish. This golfing god knows that only one wish will not be enough for any golfer. But the golfer, excited about the possibilities his game might be rewarded, contemplates the single wish. Will he be the longest driver of the ball? Will he be best iron player in the game? Could he be the most accurate short game player? Can the number of putts during a round be greatly reduced?
After much thought, the golfer decides he wants to be a launcher of the ball and “wishes” to be a long driver.
Hitting drives almost 300 yards every time he tees it up, the golfer becomes known as a long hitter. But the remaining parts of his game still exist. He is still hitting his second shots short of the green. His chipping is erratic. He is “skulling” shots. Balls are rolling both long and short of the intended target. Putting is an adventure. Three-putts are the norm. Short putts become a game of chance. At times the putts go in, and at other times he won't get close to the cup.
In essence, hitting consistently long drives might have been good for his ego, but the rest of his game continues to have its ups and downs.
PGA pro Brad Faxon was one of the finest putters on tour. Asked about his putting skill, Faxon replied, “I let my mind go blank, put the putter down and make a stroke.” Most good players are consistent with their entire game. Every move is part of a routine. This routine is something they have developed through countless hours on the range and the course.
Each and every one of us has a swing, a ball flight, a routine, a putting stroke that is ours. Some fade (slice) the ball. Some draw (hook) the ball. There are players who take a practice swing or swings, before they hit the shot. On the green you have players who will look at the intended line from multiple angles. Regardless of what others do, you have your game, and that is what you want to bring to the course.
Good and consistent golf games cannot be attained through the granting of wishes. They can't be purchased with the latest and greatest equipment. A golfer needs to come to the realization that the skill which he or she possesses is what he or she has to work with.
If you are a fader of the ball (Nicklaus faded the ball), learn to hit that shot where it will not get you into difficult situations. Likewise, if you draw the ball, not hook, learn to play this shot. Take the game you have, build upon it and be smart. Don't try to be the player you aren't. Don't try to hit shots you haven't played or practiced. If you haven't hit a 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway, chances are it's not going to happen during your weekend round.
I will confess, if I get a visit from a golfing god and the opportunity to improve a part of my game to the extreme is available, I'm jumping at the chance. Until then, I’ll take the game I have.
Work at your weaknesses and just enjoy golf.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: A busy weekend didn't interfere with the competitive rounds at NCCC. The Champ of the Year was played aturday. For the men, it was Peter Hill taking the top spot. On the ladies’ side, it was Alice McElhinney winning the title. Congratulations to all the monthly winners.
Sunday saw the Fall Member/Member tournament. For the women, it was the team of Gay Folland and Pat Henry taking first gross. First net went to Anne Rourke and Alice McElhinney. First gross for the men went to Mitch Harmon and Dan Willig. First net was won by the team of Bruce Sanderson and Dan Sullivan. The Ryder Cup Event played by the pros will be mirrored by the members of NCCC. Friday evening, Sept. 28, will see the captains of the Blue and the Red Teams select names for this team competition.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The Fall 4/Ball will be held on Sunday, Sept. 23. This is a match play event for teams of two. Tee times will begin at 8 a.m.. and results will be available at Madeline’s after the round. The White Mountain Seniors take to the Jackson 18 today, the 21st.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: After five weeks of Fall Don Ho, the Jackson 6 led the field at -18. Sitting five shots back are the Divot Kings, Six Styxx and Free Spirits. Long-drive winners were Ann Bennett, Melinda Fallen, Larry Ayers and Fred Fallen. Timma got closest to the pin. A member scramble was held last Saturday. The winning team members were Terry Fitzgerald, Mike Peloquin, Viggo Kardell, Kevin and Susan Joyce. Kevin also got closest to the pin honors.
The Thursday Eagle League saw the team of Terry Fitzgerald, Nicki Lynn, Mike Peloquin, Diane and Ray Gilmore take the top spot. Jack Lee was the closest to the pin winner. The Phil Kelly Memorial Scramble will be held Sunday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m. This is a nine-hole scramble for teams up to six players. The cost is $20, and half of the money is donated to the local food pantry in Phil's name. Call the pro shop to sign-up.
Hale's Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Nine, Wine, and Dine continues every Sunday (except for Columbus Day weekend) through the fall season. For $59 per person, you get nine holes of golf with a cart as well as a full dinner and a glass of wine. Call the hotel to make a reservation (603-356-7100) and the pro shop for a tee time (603-356-2140).
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (207) 925-2462: September and October are great months to play at the Lovell 18. Two events to mark on your calendar are the Turkey Shoot and the Cross Country. Sunday, Oct. 14, the Annual Turkey Shoot will be held. This is a 10 a.m. shotgun start. This event has games of skill and “turkey” related prizes. The cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members. The 8th Annual Cross Country Scramble is scheduled for Oct. 20. This is a four-person scramble where the golfing “route” requires some team decisions. The cost for members is $25 and non-members $35. Sign up for both events at the clubhouse.
19th Hole: Putting is sometimes referred to as the “ultimate stroke.” When gripping a putter, there is no set method. Players use grips that are cross-handed, reverse overlap, one-handed, hands down the shaft and baseball. Putter lengths range from very short to chest high. As Ben Hogan said, “A tense grip will let the feel of the putter disappear.” On reading the green, he goes on to say, “If the line is difficult to pick out, it is best to sight the back of the hole.” As you can see, I'm still searching to overcome my season-long putting woes. Have a great weekend.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at email@example.com.