“Sometimes things work out on the golf course, and sometimes they don’t. Life will go on. You try to understand what happens, but maybe today I don’t want to know. I just screwed up, so maybe I should put it behind me.” — Greg Norman, pro golfer
With our golf season hitting the halfway mark, which is usually Open weekend, a few items need to be addressed. The 2017 season has produced two first-time major winners in Masters champion Sergio Garcia and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka. I’m not sure anyone could have handicapped those two players winning majors for the first time. The “name” players: McIlroy, Johnson, Speith and Fowler have played well but have not made it to the winner’s circle. No single player has dominated and become the clear-cut favorite the way we saw Tiger Woods dissect his competition. Golf needs a player to wear a crown, a target for which other players take aim. Competitive rivalries and competitive matches will only help create a level of interest golf has not enjoyed since Tiger’s dominance.
The USGA and the R&A are the two ruling bodies of golf. Their plans for rule changes have been an agreed-upon work in progress. There will be changes in how a player takes a drop. Around the green a player will not be penalized if a ball hits the pin while on the green. Spike marks will be allowed to be repaired, and players will be allowed to take a drop from a hazard. The time for looking for a lost ball will be reduced to three minutes instead of the five minutes now allowed.
I have reservations about some of these proposed rule changes, but I’m even more concerned about how our two ruling bodies interpret the existing rules. LPGA Pro Lexi Thompson was assessed a four-stroke penalty during a recent major. Two strokes were for improperly marking her ball on the green and two more, the next day, for signing an incorrect scorecard. Two weeks ago, PGA Pro John Rahm incorrectly remarked his ball on his sixth hole. It was a very similar scenario to what Thompson had done a month prior.
When it was brought to his attention, the indiscretion was allowed to pass. Thompson lost her tournament by one stroke. Rahm won his. The same error was made by each player, but the punishment was not consistent. Whether you agree or not with the proposed changes, the two bodies that determine how the game is to be played need to be on the same page. Clearly, there was conflict in the Thompson and Rahm rulings. If the two ruling bodies can’t be consistent and have a mutual understanding, how do they expect the amateur player to follow the rules?
After reading the latest mandate from the LPGA, I felt the guiding forces of that organization would make great school administrators, teachers or school board members. The LPGA is enforcing a dress code on the women who play on this professional tour. The key being the word “professional.”
The women who play at the highest level are not high school or middle-school children. They are making a living playing golf. The players are rewarded for their level of skill by having the opportunity to reap the benefit of clothing endorsements. Unlike their male colleagues, the women don’t use their clothing as billboards to endorse products. Style and comfort are on display every time the women tee it up. For the LPGA to say that plunging necklines, short skirts, skorts or shorts will not be tolerated will remind these ladies of their school days. The LPGA goes on to dictate what players can wear during Pro/Am events and the socials that follow. Yes, these ladies are professionals and they should dress accordingly. But the need for outlining an accepted dress code and a monetary penalty ($1,000 for the first offense) is not how professionals are treated. I went back and watched some of the women play. I didn’t find anything that seemed inappropriate or offensive.
North Conway Country Club, 50 Norcross Circle, North Conway, (603) 356-9391: The July Champs of the Month have been crowned. Congratulations to Donna O’Connor and Ray Belding on their fine rounds. Aug. 6, the pro/member is scheduled. This is always a fun event for members who team up with a professional in a two best-ball match. Sign up with the pro shop. This weekend, the men’s and women’s two-day member/guest will be played with a new format. Nine hole matches will be played; 27 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. Points will be awarded after each match, with the member and guest playing a different pairing for each of the nine holes. Often heard at golf clubs are players talking about how few young players there are on the course. Well, two young players are already making some noise at NCCC. Ben Daugherty qualified for the Drive, Pitch and Putt competition at Windham CC and won his age division. He will take his game to the Renaissance CC where the winner will advance to Winged Foot. Congratulations also to 12-year-old Ethan Methot, who scored a hole-in-one on the par 3, 15th hole.
Wentworth Golf Club, Route 16, Jackson, (603) 383-9641: The 2017 member/guest was held last weekend. Taking first gross for the men was the team of Virgil Webb and Bill McBroom. First net for the men was Clark Mitchell and David Foulds. On the ladies’ side it was Cricket Catalucci and Pat Tondreau taking first gross. First net went to Lois Gardner and Carol Figurido. Week 5 of Red Fox saw the Hale Merry’s take the top spot. They were followed by Shanks-A-Lot in second and Murphy’s Law in third. The Tuesday Ladies’ League saw Jeanne Mason take first in this team event. Second went to Sandi Poor and Jenny Simone. Third went to Kathy McIntosh and Maryann Lowry. The mixed team championship is scheduled for July 30. Commonly referred to by the WGC membership as the “Divorce Open,” this annual match is a great time for all. Sign up in the pro shop.
Eagle Mountain Golf Course, Carter Notch Road, Jackson, (603) 383-9090: The Eagle had a member scramble this week. Winning the event was the team of Terry Fitzgerald, Adam Mosston, Nicki Lynn and Joan Doucette. In second place was Rich Kardell, Brian Murphy, Hidalgo Kardell and Margo Kelly. Closest to the pin honors went to Susan Joyce. In Thursday Eagle League action, the team of Steve Piotrow, Caleb Chapman, and Joan and Paul Docette took home first place honors. Steve Piotrow also got closest to the pin honors. Eagle Mountain Pro Bob McGraw, will be offering a full swing clinic covering the fundamentals needed to be successful when hitting irons and hybrids. The cost is $20 and the class is limited to six students. July is “Family Golf Month” at the Eagle. Discounted rates are being offered every day after 2 p.m., when adults play with a junior. The cost is $15 for the adult and $10 for the junior when they play together.
Hale’s Location Golf Course, West Side Road, North Conway, (603) 356-2140: Week 7 of men’s league saw Dave Pierce and John Callahan post a +5 in the weekly quota game. Ray Luchetti got closest to the pin honors. In the women’s league, it was Linda Kearney posting a +5 while Cheryl McMahon got closest to the pin. Nine, Wine and Dine continues every Sunday. For $55 per person, you get 9 holes of golf with a cart, a full dinner and a glass of wine. Call the hotel to make your reservation (356-7100) and the pro shop for a tee time. The pro shop is offering 25 percent off of all Titleist and Callaway golf bags. The shop is now carrying Srixon golf balls and Cleveland wedges and putters.
Lake Kezar Country Club, Route 5, Lovell, Maine, (603) 925-2462: The home team came out on top in the Four Club Round Robin played at LKCC with a score of 600.5. Following the home group was the team from Province Lake at 534, Ridgewood at 524.5 and Indian Mound at 501. The next match will be played at Province Lake on July 31. Junior golf is in its second week and so far has been very successful. Many of the kids who went through this program have returned as instructors and have been instrumental in helping ensure the future of golf in the area. If you want to see LKCC from a different perspective, check out their website, which includes a beautiful fly over video.
When Willie Park won the Open in 1887 and 1889, he carried with him 10 clubs. A bulger-driver, straight-faced driver, spoon, brassie, cleek, iron, mashie, iron-niblick, wooden putter and Parks Patent Putter. One putter was straight-faced for use near the hole, the other was more lofted to run putts from off the putting surface. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch the best players of today use those clubs?
Enjoy the Open and your own golf game this weekend.
Joe Soraghan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.