Featured

Mt. Snow Resort & Golf

By Jim Hammond Oct. 13, 2021

September and October offer prime time fall foliage viewing, at Mount Snow, a four season resort located in southern Vermont..

DOVER, Vermont – Mount Snow is certainly the proper name for a ski resort in the Green Mountains of Southern Vermont, about two-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston.

Mount Snow has been open for skiers since 1954, when Walt Schoenknecht purchased a 500-acre farm at the base of a mountain in West Dover, Vermont. The farmer had the last name of Snow, and that is what Walt named his new little bit of paradise that he created in the majestic Green Mountains of Vermont.

Today the resort has been transformed into a year-round vacation destination for not only skiers, but golfers, hikers, and everybody else who loves the charm and natural beauty of the Green Mountains.

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Mount Snow Golf Course has matured into one of Vermont’s premier mountain courses, rated in the top five in the state by Golf Digest, while rated in the top 10 resort courses in the country by SKI Magazine.

The 195-room Grand Summit Hotel looks like a unified collections of ski chalets and is the same red color, found on many Vermont barns. The grand lobby is spacious, and a stone fireplace towers above the second floor of the hotel. The rooms are large, and many overlook the mountains. If you are visiting during the ski season, a lift is only a two-minute walk from the entrance to your hotel. But there are activities to enjoy at the resort regardless of the season.

The 18-hole, Geoffrey Cornish design golf course is a five-minute ride from the Grand Summit HotelMount Snow Golf Club has a practice range, and friendly staff that will welcome you. Mt. Snow is a mountain course in the true sense of the word. Elevated tees, and elevated greens permeate the course, and you will have a number of uneven lies in the fairways. There are several blind shots but that is expected in a mountain course as the fairways meander through the hills and valleys.

Mount Snow Golf Club is a very manageable 5,259 yards from the red tees. If you are a long-ball hitter, the back tees are a formidable challenge at 6,943 yards, including a 624-yard par 5. Be sure to pause on the elevated tees and marvel at the mountains that surround you. If you’re lucky enough to be golfing in Autumn, well, the vista is truly magnificent.

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Mount Snow, a four-season resort in southern Vermont, features skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and an 18-hole Geoffrey Cornish-design golf course.

After a round of golf, a hike through the woods, or after a day of skiing and jumping the moguls, you need to relax those tired muscles. The Grand Summit has a spa, health club, steam room, and heated outdoor pool and hot tubs that are open year-round. There is nothing like sitting in a heated outdoor pool as you watch the skiers glide down the mountainside.

If you’re in the mood for cocktails, be sure to stop in at Harriman‘s, the restaurant and lounge located in the first floor lobby. The contemporary designed restaurant serves food from Boyden Farms, a 54-acre farm in Cambridge Vermont. The menu at Harriman’s is extensive and the food is delicious, and I highly recommend the “Mountain Burger.” It is comprised of farm ground beef, Vermont cheddar, Green Mountain smokehouse bacon, lettuce red onion and tomato.

Bike and ski shops are open for hotel guests. If you need a quick snack on the go, the hotel has a deli and convenience store on the property. What makes Mount Snow superior is the service of the staff. When I was ready to open the door to my room, a gentleman in a service uniform introduced himself. “Welcome, my name is Andy” he said as he showed me his I.D. “I was just checking your room to be sure that everything was set for your arrival.” He opened the door, showed me not only the amenities of the room, but how all services had been properly sterilized. Right down to the plastic bags over the remotes.

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That evening my wife left something in our car that was parked in a valet car lot next to the hotel. As she walked to the car two valet workers, who were shuttling cars from the lot to the hotel stopped. They showed my wife their I.D. s and said they would be pleased to give her a ride back to the hotel.

If it’s the little things that create fond memories and make a hotel shine, then Mount Snow is offers an impeccable guest experience. Andy, the valet drivers and all the members of the staff make the Mt. Snow resort a must-visit. The golf was wonderful, and I will definitely be back when the snow falls on Mt. Snow. After all there are 86 trails spread out over 600 acres of land. And when the day is done, heated hot tubs and a pool are waiting.

https://www.mountsnow.com/

Precision Impact Golf Training Aide

By Jim Hammond

03/12/2022

Precision Impact golf training aide promises players to hit amazing, powerful shots by compressing the ball at impact to develop better feel and learn to repeat the sensation of crisp ball striking.

BOSTON – Ever watch closely a professional golfer take a swing? You’ll see a full body turn away from the ball and a complete follow-through with the hands cocked at the top then they release at the moment of impact which maximizes clubhead speed.

So when a great player like Jordon Spieth is hitting an iron you can hear a distinctive click, the pure sound of a perfectly hit golf ball that will soar into the sky. No flipping of the hands trying to power the ball airborne. How does the amateur replicate those elements in the golf swing?

Well, the people who invented the Precision Impact training aide are here to help you build a great swing.

The Precision Impact golf training aid looks like an arm guard borrowed from a medieval knight’s suit of armor. The aid is about 11 inches long and is constructed of a lightweight automotive grade nylon. It fits over the forearm and hand, and held in place by a Velcro arm strap, and two finger slots. It is very light weight and extremely durable. How does it work? The secret is in the click.

Once you have the aid secured to your arm and hand. Lift the tab at the top, and then start the backswing. You will hear a click as you set your hands at the top of your backswing. Your wrist is now locked into the perfect position. Be sure to take a full body turn away from the target. Now when you start the downswing your wrists are in the perfect position to produce maximum power when making contact with the ball. You will avoid the dreaded flipping of the wrists which is a major power leak when trying to acquire distance on your golf shots.

The clicking may be a little unusual, but it is perfect feedback to assure you are in a good position at the top of your backswing. A variety of straps enable you to hit everything from a driver to your putter. Your Precision Impact Training Tool comes with a neon colored carry bag, and it easily fits into you golf bag so you can take it to the practice range , or use it to warm-up before you tee off on the course.

The Precision Impact comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, and shipping in the USA is free. When you receive yours, look on the company website for swing drills with the legendary Peter Kostis.

www.precisionimpactgolf.com

Jim Hammond has been a freelance writer since 2000. You may reach him at golfer1051@yahoo.com.

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Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club

By Jim Hammond

Ocean Edge Resort is situated on more than 400 acres of beautiful landscape overlooking Cape Cod bay, and a national historic landmark considered one of Cape Cod’s premier resort destinations.

BREWSTER, Mass – Is there a better time of year than Autumn on old Cape Cod?

The crowds are smaller, the air is crisp, there’s plenty of space to walk on the pristine beaches and prices are attractive.

If you travel with golf clubs, then you’ll want to visit Ocean Edge Resort. Situated on more than 400 acres of beautiful landscape, Ocean Edge Resort is a national historic landmark and Cape Cod’s premier resort destination. Amenities include luxurious accommodations, a private Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole championship golf course, private beach and a whole lot more.

Brewster, located in the center of Cape Cod, allows for easy access to all the attractions of the Cape. As you enter the grounds of Ocean Edge Resort you see flowers everywhere. Follow the main road to the stately, elegant mansion, built in the 19th century, that would fit perfectly with the iconic homes of Newport, Rhode Island.

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Ocean Edge features a par 72, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus design championship golf course.

Ocean Edge Resort offers tennis and pickleball courts, several pools, kayaking, bike rentals and a private beach. Guests have playing privileges at the only Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course from 44 public and private courses on Cape Cod.

Ocean Edge, like most Nicklaus-designed courses, will provide a challenge to golfers of all skill levels, so give yourself time to warm up before teeing off. The practice area is adjacent to the first tee, and includes a practice bunker, large putting green and spacious driving range. Since there are some enormous bunkers here, be sure to hit a few extra shots out of the sand.

Ocean Edge measures 7,011 yards from the tips and a little more than 6,000 yards from the white tees. If that is a bit long for your game, the forward tees are a manageable 4,886 yards.

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Ocean Edge Resort features a private beach on Cape Cod bay.

The first hole is a 365-yard, par 4 offering one of many generous fairways. There are two greenside bunkers, so this hole is a good opportunity to start your round with a par. You’ll soon realize that many greens are sloped, with mounds in the center adding to the challenge. And they are very fast.

Hole No. 3 is a 163-yard par-3 with a massive bunker guarding the green. Oversized bunkers appear on many of the holes, and the fairways have a lot of nooks and valleys which adds to the challenge. The layout is fair, and you can swing away off the tee boxes in the hope of having shorter approach shots to the green.

One memorable, monster hole is No. 17 that plays 600 yards from the tips. The No. 2 handicap has a tight fairway and the green has a severe slope from back to front. Other holes, like No. 4, a par 4 of only 288 yards, is fun for the big hitters who try to drive the green and try for eagle. The Nicklaus-design team has created a course that golfers of all skill levels will enjoy and the condition is outstanding and equal to any private course.

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Ocean Edge Resort has earned many travel destination honors from respected publications.

Ocean Edge has many interesting sights and paths to walk including an elegant mansion on a hill. The staff is accommodating, and the resort offers a variety of lodging that is only two-minute walk to the private beach. In front of the mansion is a huge lawn where you can sit and enjoy a beverage at happy hour, or wait and watch the sun set in the west.

If you like the royal spa treatment, then you’ll feast on Ocean Edge Spa facility to guarantee you’ll unwind. Ocean Edge Resort has a respected reputation having earned many travel destination awards from Boston Magazine, New England Travel Guide and Travel and Leisure magazine.

Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Club is a special place to visit!

https://www.oceanedge.com/

You can contact Jim Hammond at golfer1051@yahoo.com

Hazelton Golf Course

By Jim Hammond

Hazelton Golf Course, a 6,701-yard par 71 golf course previously known as Sun Valley Country Club, was designed in 1956 by Geoffrey Cornish.

Rehoboth, Mass – Did you know there are approximately 9,562 golf courses and country clubs in the United States, but only one is named after a white pigeon?

The city of Phoenix, located in the valley of the sun, is named after the mythological bird that rose from the flames and was born again. Well Hazel was a white pigeon that used to tail along after Joe Moniz, the owner of Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth, Mass. And Moniz has brought Sun Valley golf course back to life and has done it in grand style.

Sun Valley, an 18-hole course in Rehoboth was opened back in 1959 and was designed by the legendry Geoffrey Cornish. It was a flat, and challenging course with almost every fairway framed by weeping willow trees. Joe Moniz lived near the course and he and his golfing pals would play Sun Valley every week.

Unfortunately, over the years, the course was not well maintained, “When you went into the pro shop you had to hold your nose” said one employee at Hazelton. Hurricane winds toppled many of the trees and the course was overgrown with weeds. But salvation was just down the road.

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Hazelton Golf Club is situated across 264-acres, and the newly renovated course challenges each player with a variety of hazards and bunkers

In 2012, Joe Moniz became the owner of another course that was also designed by Cornish. Crestview was an upscale course that was only a Bryson DeChambeau drive down the road from the now defunct Sun Valley.

“I have such fond memories of Sun Valley that I wanted to make the investment necessary to provide a great course for the area public-golfer that I myself enjoyed for so many years,” he said in a recent interview. “I think it has been well-received so far.”

Moniz consulted with an architect who had worked with the Geoffrey Cornish design firm. Moniz became the owner in 2015 and, so far has invested a lot of money to bring the course back to life. The old Sun Valley course now has 35 new tee boxes, greens that were rebuilt and seeded with a new type of bent grass seed, and an updated irrigation system. The new grass seed works very well. Putt a ball on the greens at Hazelton and the ball will roll like it’s on a billiard table.

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Hazelton Golf Club, located in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, is about a 15-minute drive from Providence.

The course, like many championship courses has five sets of tees to accommodate golfers of all levels. But Hazelton has taken an extra step and set up an orange set of tees that is appropriate for novice and junior golfers. There are four tees that are short par 4’s, with the balance of the holes being par 3’s. If you are up for the challenge, the gold tees play close to 6,800 yards.

Moniz continues to make improvements at Hazelton Golf Club. A beautiful new clubhouse built of light-colored stone opened recently, and they are offering live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. A practice range, which will be created parallel to the parking lot, is also in the planning stage.

Hazelton is just off route 44, only about a 15 minute drive from Providence.

Oh yes, the white pigeon. A few years back a white racing pigeon started hanging around Crestwood. As Joe checked out things at the clubhouse the pigeon would follow him around the grounds. When Joe re-opened Sun Valley he decided to name the course Hazelton in the friendly bird’s honor. I don t know where Hazel is now, but if she is flying over Hazelton these days, she is sure to coo her approval.

www.HazeltonGolfClub.com

Stowe Country Club

Stowe Country Club

By Jim Hammond 

Stowe Country Club

STOWE, Vermont – Are you old enough to remember iconic Julie Andrews singing an invigorating version of “The hills are alive with the sound of music?”

The popular film told the story of Maria and the Von Trapp family that were forced to leave the beautiful mountains of Austria when Hitler came to power. They settled in Stowe, Vermont because the mountains that surrounded the town made them feel like they were home again.

Stowe Country Club is located just a few miles from the Von Trapp Family Inn. In fact, when you stand on the elevated first tee and admire the mountain range that borders the course, you can see why Stowe was the perfect home for this famous singing family.

Stowe Country Club, about a 3-hour drive from Boston, features rolling hills that make for a challenging course. Hole No. 1 is a 495-yard par 5 with an elevated green. Like most mountain courses you want to hit your approach shots below the hole. The greens are good- sized and well executed bump-and-run shots will set you up for a birdie opportunity.

There are not many hazards in the fairway so you can tee it up with the driver and let your ball sail through the fresh mountain air. The course is popular with local residents and golfers on vacation and is well maintained. Stowe plays 6,220-yards from the tips and the four sets of tees make it playable for golfers of all skill levels.

Stowe Country Club located in the heart of the Stowe Village

Make sure you arrive early because Stowe has a large practice area adjacent to the first tee. The putting green is in front of the beautiful clubhouse, so roll a few and soak in the scenery that makes Vermont special. You can almost hear Julie Andrews serenading the mountains.

After golf, visit the deck that overlooks the Par 3 tenth hole. It’s picture-postcard-perfect place to toast this wonderful course, and watch the sun slowly disappear over the mountains.

If you’re in town for a few days, ask about Stowe’s famous golf school. The school has earned a wonderful reputation for helping golfers sharpen their game. There are dozens of traditional Inn’s that offer a warm Vermont welcome, I had the good fortune to get a room at the Stone Hill Inn. This Inn was awarded “The Best of the Best” award by Trip Advisor in 2020. The Stone Hill has also been the recipient of the trip Advisor “Certificate of Excellence” every year since 2011, and was also named “The Best Romantic Getaway” by Yankee magazine.

My room was quite large with a fireplace that was visible in both the bedroom and bathroom. Step out the backdoor and you are welcomed by a garden and waterfall. In the evening you can slip into your room’s over-sized Jacuzzi and enjoy the flickering flames of the stone fireplace.

Start your day with a three-course gourmet breakfast in the dining room, and if it is a good day take your cup of Green Mountain coffee and enjoy the garden. The property is surrounded by nine-acres of woods so you feel like you are in your own little bit of paradise.

Of course, fall foliage season is prime time to visit with breathtaking colors that will rejuvenate your mind and soul. Not only are the hills alive with the sound of music, the entire landscape is alive with beautiful colors as Nature begins to prepare for another harsh winter.

Be sure to visit the village of Stowe, which is only a 10-minute ride from the country club. The village looks like it came out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and its Independent shops offer a variety of goods and homemade items which are perfect mementos of your visit to the Green Mountain State.

Call Stone Hill Inn at (802) 253-6282 and Stowe Country Club’s direct number is 802 253-4893.

https://www.stowevtgolf.com/

Cape Cod Golf- Six Great Escapes

Cape Cod Golf – Six Great Escapes

By Jim Hammond 05/18/2021

Highland Links Golf Course, North Truro, established in 1892 is heralded as Cape Cod’s oldest golf course.

SANDWICH, Mass – About 15 million people live in New England, and travel industry experts predicts half of them will take a vacation this summer. And, more importantly, the majority of vacationers will travel by car within a 100-mile radius of their home.

This is good news for business’ on Cape Cod, and, particularly for the 25 public golf courses, spread out over the approximately 65-mile peninsula. Best advice is to book your tee times sooner, rather than later.

Here are six top choices on Cape Cod that are waiting for you to tee it up. In Truro, which is on the eastern tip of Cape Cod, lies the aptly named Highland Links Golf Course, established in 1892. A lighthouse frames the fairways, and the ocean views make you feel like you have arrived in Scotland.

Highland Links Golf Course

The greens are smallish, and fairways are tight on this track that plays 2,753 from the back tees. The ocean winds and gnarly rough makes Highland a challenging course. The green fees for nine holes are $35.00 and tee times can be booked on line.

https://www.highlandlinkscapecod.com/

Continue west on Route 6 past the Cape Cod National Seashore and you’ll find one of the country’s top municipal courses – The Captains Courses in Brewster. Two 18-hole championship courses are waiting for you.

The Port Course is the challenging, playing 6,675-yards from the tips. The Starboard course stretches out to 6,776-yards from the back tees with tight fairways. The course conditions are like a private country club, with five sets of tees so players of all levels will enjoy their visit to Captains.

Captains Golf Course in Brewster

Two championship golf courses at one location in Brewster featuring the par-72 Port Course and the par-72 Starboard Course deliver 36 holes of enjoyment during your visit to Cape Cod.

https://www.captainsgolfcourse.com/

Just south of Brewster you’ll find another outstanding municipal course – Cranberry Valley – located in the quaint town of Harwich. This is a classic Cornish/Robinson 18-hole design featuring one of the most pristine golf properties in New England.

Another feature is Cranberry Valley provides one of the best practices ranges you’ll find anywhere. So, get there early so you can fine tune your game before you tee it up.

The course starts with a short par-4 dogleg, and ends with a double-dogleg par-5. The clubhouse offers plenty of good food and beverages that you can enjoy on the deck that overlooks No. 10 tee.

Cranberry Valley Golf Course

Cranberry valley Golf Course, owned and operated by the Town of Harwich, offers 18-hole of championship golf with a wide variety of well designed holes to challenge players of every ability, always receives high praise from locals and traveling golfers.

https://www.cranberryvalley.golf/

If you’re bit limited on time and need to sharpen your short game (who doesn’t) be sure to visit Blue Rock Golf Course in Yarmouth.

This 18-hole par 3 is the recipient of many accolades, including Golf Magazine which a few years ago called it one of the top par-3 courses in the country. The yardage ranges from the opening 100-yard first hole, to the 255-yard 5th.

Blue Rock, unlike most par-3 courses, has an extensive practice range with ample opportunity to book lessons through the pro shop. The course is beautifully landscaped, with many holes bordered with flowers. Tee times can be made up to 30 days in advance.

Blue Rock Golf Course

Blue Rock Golf Course, centrally located on Cape Cod in in Yarmouth, offers several Golf & Getaway packages including accommodations at Blue Rock Golf Resort.

https://bluerockgolfcourse.com/

Continuing west on Route 6 about 10 miles to visit historic Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod, and home of the world-famous Sandwich Glass factory and the old grist mill.
Also, one of Cape Cod’s best beaches – Sandy Neck – is located on the north bay side of Sandwich.

Holly Ridge Golf Course is also in Sandwich off Route 151 near Mashpee. This 18-hole par-3 course was designed by Geoffrey Cornish, and its fairways are framed by pine trees. Holly Ridge has a practice range and a golf school that was named one of the top-100 golf learning centers in the country.

Holly Ridge Golf course

Holly Ridge Golf Course is a classic New England, Par 54 golf course, designed by Geoffrey Cornish, nestled among the hollies and pines of historic Sandwich, (MA) and is listed by Golf Digest as one of the “Best Places to Play Golf.”

https://www.hollyridgegolf.com/

There is total 44 public and private golf courses on Cape Cod so call early or go online to book your tee time, and many facilities offer twilight rates. Enjoy some of the best seafood, and pristine beaches on the East coast.

Cable Car to the Land of the Stars

By Jim Hammond

A Cable Car to the Land of the Stars

Published in New England Golf Monthly Magazine- Oct. 2005

The concierge at the Omni Hotel in San Francisco told me that a 3 day pass on the city transit system, including subways and the ever-popular cable cars, was only $20.00.  When I told him that I enjoyed walking he reminded me that the city by the bay has 147 hills. Sold!

I arrived in San Francisco in mid-September ready to tour the hills, vineyards and golf courses of Northern California.

I spent a lot of time researching hotels, looking for a convenient location and a good size room. The rooms at the Omni average 350 square feet, with high ceilings and big closets.

It is located in the financial district that is busy during the day but quiets down after 5:00 P.M. If you wish to visit the Fisherman Wharf area, or catch a ferry to Alcatraz, you can catch a cable car that runs by the front door of the Omni Hotel.

 But what makes the Omni special is the staff. When I asked about a good Chinese restaurant they mentioned a small place called the House of Nanking. There were about 15 tables and you were bumping elbows with your neighbor, but it was the best Asian food I have ever had in my life. And the total bill for dinner for me and my wife was $31.00.

Whenever I returned to the hotel, staff members welcomed me back asking me about my day, and inquiring if we needed any help concerning our evening plans.

For my first day on the links I visited the course at the Presidio, a national park located next to the Golden Gate Bridge. This land was originally an Army base established in 1846. In recent years the post was closed and now the land is a refuge for the people of San Francisco who can enjoy the 25 acres of hiking trails through forests of eucalyptus, pine and cypress trees. You can stroll on Crissy Beach or climb the stairs that lead to the Golden Gate Bridge for a view you will never forget.

Located in the heart of the Presidio is an 18 hole championship golf course. This public course has hills and tight fairways that meander through eucalyptus trees. Since it is the second oldest golf course west of the Mississippi River, Presidio may remind you of a traditional New England course. Except here you get a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and if the morning fog has burned off you can catch some magnificent views of the city. It is only 6400 yards from the back tees but plays long if you don’t keep it in the short grass.

Greens fees vary from $112.00-$145.00 depending on the time and day of the week, but there are number of specials offered for twilight play.

After 4 days of exploring the many neighborhoods of San Francisco I headed north to the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa. I found Napa a little crowded and spent the majority of the time in Sonoma, which has dozens of wineries offering a broad variety of grapes and a more serene environment. Two of my favorites were the Francis Ford Coppola and the Jacuzzi Vineyards.

The Jacuzzi family left Italy in 1907 and settled in Northern California. They manufactured and sold water pumps to the farmers in the area. This eventually led to the development of the bubbling hot tub that has become known as the Jacuzzi; the perfect tool to relieve the aching backs of golfers everywhere. 

The mustard-colored brick walls and red tile roofs are a re-creation of the Jacuzzi family home back in Italy. Be sure to climb the bell tower which gives a magnificent view of the vineyards and the surrounding hills. The reception area has two sections where you can enjoy some free samples. The room on the left offers a variety of wines, and the room to the right has a working olive oil press and an extraordinary selection of olive oil to be sampled.

Sonoma Golf Club

I had two very different golf experiences in the Sonoma Valley. First I played at round at the Sonoma Golf Club which is located at the Fairmont Mission and Spa. Sonoma was designed by Sam Whiting, who also designed the famed Olympic Club.

It is also the home of the 2010 Champion’s Tour Charles Schwab Cup Championship. It has a good variety of holes that wander through the mountains and has views of the neighboring vineyards. There aren’t many trees but most holes have large bunkers that follow the roving terrain. It plays about 7100 yards from the back tees and there are a variety of special deals that include golf, lodging and spa treatments. Golfing in the shadows of the mountains, delicious wine and a good massage to loosen up the muscles. What a complete day.

I took a side trip to a town called Guerneville, about 40 miles north of Sonoma, and found a wonderful bed and breakfast called Applewood Inn. My room had a private courtyard complete with a fountain, and it included a superb breakfast in their restaurant.

In this town was a 9 hole golf course called Northwood. It was a delightful track that was carved out of a forest of towering redwood trees and only 2800 yards from the back tees. But the best thing was that the course was designed by Alister McKenzie. That’s right the same guy who designed Augusta for Bobby Jones.  I never drove a ball down a fairway lined with redwoods before, but it was a lot of fun and with green fees of $22.00 for nine holes it was truly a bargain.

After a quick trip to Bodega Bay, the town where Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” was filmed, I drove back over the Golden Gate Bridge, and headed for Monterey.

 I decided to stay at the Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove. It is a wonderful Victorian B and B and is located directly across the street from Monterey Bay.

I found Monterey to be a very scenic town, but many of the stores sold cheap t-shirts and tacky souvenirs. But for a writer, visiting the area where John Steinbeck penned some of his most famous works made it worth the trip.

Pebble Beach Hole #7

Carmel, on the other hand, was a village of high-end shops and specialty stores with world famous restaurants like The Mission Ranch, which is owned and operated by Clint Eastwood. A meal here is sure to make your day! Clint often stops by to play the piano in the restaurant and the food is delicious. You can also park your car in the center of Carmel and walk on the beach directly below the 8th, 9th, and 10th fairways of Pebble. 

I had a 7:00 A.M tee time at the Mecca of all golf courses Pebble Beach, but I couldn’t wait. I paid a visit the night before and watched the last drops of sunlight cast long shadows over the 18th fairway. Order a drink from the tavern and sit on the balcony that overlooks the 18th green and reminisce about the legends who made golfing history at this spot.

The practice green at Pebble is surrounded by several shops offering golfing attire with the famous lone Cyprus logo, ranging in price from $40.00 to $250.00. Plus balls, tees, books, even a set of Bobby Jones hickory shafted clubs. I decided to spend my money on a caddie instead. Because the greens fees are so high ($495.00 cart included)

Pebble Beach practice green at dawn

Most golfers decide against hiring a caddie.  I think it is worth the extra $70.00. My caddie spent 19 years at Pebble Beach so his knowledge certainly added to the enjoyment of the round. He asked me what my average drive was and watched what clubs I used on the par 4 opening hole. The next 17 holes he would hand me a club and say “Hit your tee shot to that side of the fairway.” “Aim your putt 6 inches to the left and don’t give away the hole.” He never quoted me yardage and I never looked at what club he was handing me. And at the end of the day, this fourteen handicap golfer shot an 89.

Pebble Beach

Along the way he would tell me stories about playing in winter conditions at Pebble. At the 106 yard par 3  7th hole, he said “The winds were blowing at 55 miles per hour and Tom Kite needed a four iron to reach the green,” Or “ see that house there? That’s where Bing used to live.” And then there’s the course itself. It seems bigger than it looks on TV. The fairways are wide, but the bunkers are deep and the greens are very small.  You tee off and then pause to look at the seals and whales playing in the waves. The par 4  389 yard 8th hole is one of the most memorable. You hit the tee shot up a hill and your second shot is over a cliff and down to a narrow green. Jack Nicklaus called it the best par 4 in the world.When you reach the 18th tee, a perfect place for a few photos, aim for the trees in the middle of the fairway. Then keep it right because the ocean and a 155 yard bunker guard the left side of the fairway. There are always a few guests from the lodge who wander down to look at the 18th green, so be sure to concentrate on the last shot and give the gallery a thrill.

It was my first trip to Northern California and I can’t wait to go back. The people were friendly, the scenery spectacular and the wine delicious. And the golf, well the name Pebble Beach says it all.

Jim Hammond has been a golf and travel writer for 21 years. You can contact him at golfer1051@yahoo.com

David Finn is golf’s biggest fan

David Finn is golf’s biggest fan

by Jim Hammond

David Finn, a young man with a neuro-muscular condition, shown here in an old photo with Phil Mickelson and his caddy, Jim “Bones” MacKay, is sometimes referred to as golf’s biggest fanatic.

BOSTON – Phil Mickelson chipped within a foot of the cup on the 18th hole and had a tap in to win the 2005 PGA championship at Baltusrol. At the trophy presentation was Phil‘s family, the world media, and of course David Finn. Who is David Finn? He is and always will be the greatest golf fan in the world.

David Finn lives with his family in Ramsey, New Jersey. He is also a young man inflicted with a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy that confines his twisted body to a wheelchair. But when you see him smile and swing his arms in joy, his enthusiasm is contagious. His love for golf has resulted with David forming friendships with PGA pros that started when David met Phil Mickelson at the 2005 PGA.

David needs around the clock care, but his dad loaded up a special van and took David to Baltusrol, a course in Springfield, New Jersey that was hosting the PGA tournament. It was David’s first pro golf tournament and his dad, John, pushed his son all over the course looking for prime viewing spots for his son.

During a practice round Phil Mickelson’s caddie, Jim ‘Bones” Mackay, saw David in his wheelchair and waved Mickelson over to say hi. Phil posed for a few pictures and gave David an autographed glove and as Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca, “this was the start of a beautiful friendship.”

DavidFinn
David Finn has muscular dystrophy, a passion for golf, and a special place in his heart for champion golfers Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and many more, is shown here September 1, 2018 at TPC Boston.

It was a good week for David, but it was even better for Phil, who finessed a delicate shot out of the rough and sank the putt, to beat Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn in a rare Monday morning playoff. It was the second major win for Mickelson and his caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay. Phil saw David in his wheelchair parked in back of the green. Mickelson decided to make the week complete by inviting David over to the trophy presentation. “It was” said Phil, “a moment of pure joy.”

I first met David and his family when they were set up behind the par-3 16th hole at the Boston TPC club. His dad John and mom Vanessa were two of the nicest people I ever met. The love and care they had for their son was something that all parents should strive to emulate. Initially I thought the poor kid has such a difficult life, but David does not deal in pity. His passion for golf helps him get through each day.

I remember one Labor Day weekend when the Deutsche Bank Championship was here, John Finn told me they had to rush his son to Children’s Hospital because he was having trouble breathing. “We almost lost him,” said John. “David was in the hospital for five months and they had to do a tracheostomy and now needs this respirator.” But David still showed joy as every player walked by and gave him a fist-bump.

Jim “Bones” Mackay has formed a very strong bond with the Finn family including providing tickets for the entire family for the 2013 Masters. The generosity shown to the Finn family has turned into some amazing encounters for David. He has met Michael “Air” Jordan and President George Bush.

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Tiger Woods presented David Finn with a golf ball enscripted with “TIGER” at the 2018 Deutsche Bank Championship

One of my favorite days on the golf course was Sept 1, 2018 at the Boston TPC club in Norton Mass. It was the Dell Technologies Championship, and the Finn gang was once again set up behind the par 3 16th hole. Tiger Woods hit a good shot on the green but missed his birdie putt. On the way to the next tee, Woods fist-bumped David and dropped a ball in his lap. David shook his body back and forth and waved his arms about in a moment, that Phil Mickelson would describe as “a moment of pure joy.”

Over the years David Finn has acquired souvenirs from many PGA players and his room back in New Jersey looks like a mini Hall of Fame.

It has been a joy knowing the entire Finn family. Their dedication to their son reminds me of Dick Hoyt who pushed his son in a wheelchair in a number of Boston Marathons. Hoyt’s son was a quadriplegic and also suffered from cerebral palsy. It would be a better world if more parents were as devoted to their children as Dick Hoyt and John and Vanessa Finn are.

Golf forms bonds, friendships and life lessons like no other sport!

 –

Killington Getaway

 By Jim Hammond

Killington Golf Course open to the public from May 29 through October11.

KILLINGTON, Vermont – Have you been thinking about booking a “stay-and-play” golf vacation that might be a two-hour drive, offering good rates and wonderful golf courses?

Then read on, since the village of Killington, located in central Vermont at the southern tip of Green Mountain National Forest, with all its amenities could be what you’re looking for.

Vermont is known for moose, maple syrup and mountains that in the Fall showcase some of the best foliage in the world. But Vermont does not get credit for the championship golf courses that are available to tourists looking for country charm and covered bridges.

Avid skiers come to Killington where seven mountains connect to offer 213 trails. And, across the street is the Geoffrey Cornish designed Killington Golf Course.

Killington, Vermont is best known for skiing vacations but from May – October two golf courses – Killington Golf Course and Green Mountain National – are becoming favorite drive-to destinations for New England golfers.

The cart attendant was putting my bag on the cart and saw me looking at the mountain. He said, “You know the base is so deep on the mountain that you can ski in the morning and cross the street and play 18 holes in the afternoon. And, I am talking in the month of May.” Now that is a workout.

Killington Golf Course may only play 6,168 yards from the tips, but tight fairways, blind shots and major elevation changes make for a formidable challenge. Hole No. 1 is 368 yards from the tips and is straight downhill to a small green. The fairway is tight and the rough is thick, so I would suggest a 3 or 4 metal for your opening shot to keep the ball in the short grass.

Hole No. 2 is 510 yards from the blue tees, and the green is protected by a stream that is surrounded by boulders. Lay up on your second shot and flip a wedge onto the green which can set you up for a birdie.

The 286-yard par-4 ninth is an example of the dramatic elevation on this mountain course. You can tee off with a long iron to the fairway, but the approach shot is to a green that is perched high on a hill and barely visible from the fairway.

The scenery here is impressive, almost picture postcard perfect, and the staff are attentive. I look forward to coming back in September to enjoy the cool weather and the foliage that will cover the mountains.

Green Mountain National Golf Course

While visiting Killington on one of its many “stay-and-play” packages, expect to tee it up at Green Mountain National Golf Course. It is a public golf course but is as pristine and well-conditioned as any private golf course you will play.

Green Mountain National is an incredibly challenging track playing 6,589 yards from the tips. Towering pine trees frame many fairways, and you need to plan your tee shots carefully if you have any hope of scoring well. Located just a few minutes away from Killington Ski Resort in the heart of Vermont, Green Mountain National is New England golf at its very best, and has been voted “Vermont’s #1 Public Course” by Golf Digest & Golf Week magazine.

The greens are quick, and like many mountain courses you have to be comfortable with sidehill lies on the fairway and expect elevated greens. After a few holes you will see why Green Mountain National is rated one of the top public courses in Vermont.

Hole No. 3 is a par-4 that plays 400 yards, and has a pond guarding the green. The par 5 sixth hole has a split fairway. If you hit a monster drive to the right side of the fairway it is possible to reach the green in two shots.

The course is fun and challenging, so get there early and warm up at their driving range. You’ll find grass tees and an enormous practice putting green to fine tune your game.

Vermont is a beautiful state and Killington is home to friendly people, and two of the most scenic courses you can play.

www.killington.com/golf

www.gmngc.com

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Maine Coast is Magical

Maine Coast is Magical

By Jim Hammond

The rugged and rocky coast of Maine has 3, 478 miles of coastline.  And as you travel along the coastal inlets you can stay in homes that once belonged to captain s of whaling ships. Picnic by a harbor and watch the ships sail into port. And just as spectacular as the vistas and delicious seafood, you can experience some of the finest golf courses in New England.

Samoset Resort and Golf

A great place to start your golfing adventure is Samoset Golf Resort in Rockport Maine. Samoset is a resort where lodging is spread out among the beautifully landscaped grounds, and guests are surrounded by Penobscot Bay. Sailboats cruise through the water and lobster boats speed through the water hauling the traps filled with lobsters that will be your post-round meal. Guests stroll on a long jetty that surrounds you with waves crashing against the rocks. It is truly a quintessential Maine experience.

Many of the holes hug the coast and dare you to try and cut the corners and score a birdie. But the well-designed course will let you bail out and follow the fairways to the generous greens. There are many opportunities to pause after finishing a hole and breathe in the fresh sea air. When you reach the par-5 4th hole you see the first of many ocean views. Samoset truly deserve the title of “Pebble Beach of the East.”

Samoset

When you arrive at the course, a cheerful bag attendant will take your bag and confirm your tee time. Check out the well- supplied pro shop. If you want to fine-tune your putting touch, roll a few putts on   the 11, 000 square foot putting green and then loosen up at the 220-yard driving range equipped with 4 target greens.

 After golf drive up to the town of Camden, a town that surrounds the inner harbor and is filled with dozens of independently owned shops offering a variety of goods. Walk down to the harbor and enjoy a meal at one of the dock-side restaurants and watch the ships glide into their berths.  Check into one of the historical inns that are only a five-minute walk from the town.

I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Camden Maine Stay Inn, just a five-minute walk from the center of town. The inn was built in 1802 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has won a number of awards including the Trip Advisor Travelers Choice award and a recognition of excellence award for their beautiful property.

Camden Maine Stay Inn

Owners Peter and Janis Kesser have put countless hours into making this a premier property.  A spacious sunroom is the perfect setting for a multi-course breakfast, as you overlook the expansive garden that the Kesser’s have cultivated. The rooms are large, and the interiors incorporate the historical charm of the period.  To simplify: In 21 years I have stayed at inns across North America, and Camden Maine Stay Inn is easily one of the best properties I have ever visited in all of my travels.

Camden Maine is about a 4 hour drive from Boston, but great golf, a beautiful seacoast, beautiful restored inns and lobster await you. A trip up the coast in the Fall is wonderful and the crowds are diminished a bit. Enjoy.