Bob's blog: leaves, slow drivers, and missed putts!

As some of you may had noticed…I was out of the office for a few days this week to head north on an annual golf trip. For the last 4 years I have zipped to New Hampshire and Vermont for some fall golf with a small group of guys, playing some wonderful golf course, eating great food and “peeking” at the leaves, whose color is near peak.

As any annual trip, there are certain traditions that have been developed….certain courses, same restaurants, and even a great lunch at “the turn” at one of my favorite golf courses anywhere. Here is the scoop on this trip: 4 guys, 2 days, 4 rounds of 18 holes, 2 states, 2 dinners, 1 delicious piece of apple pie, and countless laughs.

Monday evening we all meet up in Enfield and drop a few vehicles and pile into a minivan with clubs, luggage and four humans. We drive to Keene, NH and grab dinner at a Margaritas on Main St. Keene is a funky New England town. Old Victorian homes, eclectic shops, tree lines streets and a true college town feel. Dinner was eaten with one eye on the Yankee/Indians ALDS game, one eye on the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Cowboys, and my meal on my lap since I wasn’t watching where my food was going. 🙂 Unlike some “all guys” trips, its early to bed for these 4….alarm set for 4:15 am so we can travel to Manchester, VT for a early tee time at the gorgeous Equinox Resort “Gleneagles course. Have you ever driven between these to places?? The saying “you can’t get there from here!” must have originated in the area. When we plugged in “Keene, NH to Manchester, VT” into an online direction service, the server fried and a voice, with a heavy Maine accent, said, “You really can’t get there from here!!” There is a large river (the Connecticut!) that is in the way! There are only so many crossings and they never seem to be where I need one!

We were up and on the go nice and early…a quick stop at the DD near Walpole, NH and the great thing was that the weather was looking good. There was concern that we might have to don all weather gear when golfing, and that’s never fun. We arrived in Manchester Village, VT, after a few wrong turns and u-turns to correct them. The early dawn was breathtaking, but the drivers were exasperating! Nobody, and I mean nobody is ever in a hurry in Vermont. I guess that is probably a healthier way of living….but if you are on schedule, these people are in the way! We were pressing a bit time wise because we were playing a second round in the afternoon about45 minutes away in Ludlow, VT at Okemo Valley Country Club. We arrived at the Equinox course before the Pro Shop opened…that’s early! We were the first group on the course and since the computers in the shop were taking so long to “boot up” we were told to head to the first tee. After a few putts on the practice green we waited for a maintenance guy to blow the leaves off the tee box. That was a great indication of how the course was maintained…near perfection!

The image is from the 18th green looking back down the fairway…look at the view! The views were beautiful, the golf? Not so much! The course was wide open to the eye, yet tight as far as the size of the fairways and greens….speaking of the greens, they were damp early in the round, then the sun came out and did they get fast! The speed was unreal…so quick that if you were “above the hole” you were in trouble….trying to stop your putt or chip shot near the hole was quite hard. We all loved the challenge and all enjoyed the morning round of golf at this startling beautiful spot on Earth. I hope to return someday.
After a quick pit stop we jumped in the car and headed to Ludlow. The drive was very pretty….along rt. 11 and then north on rt. 100. This is where we encountered many cars going 5-10 m.p.h. UNDER the speed limit looking at the muted colors of fall. Plates from Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, and even Connecticut were seen and safely passed as we hurried to Okemo Valley. The ride up rt. 100 was marked by quaint towns like Weston and Londonderry with “country stores” and farm stands. Its amazing to think that people make living running these stores and get to live in this area year around. We wondered if there was a fast Internet connection or even cable TV in these little towns, or were they on dial up and rabbit ears!

If you are a golfer, you must pony up and play Okemo Valley Golf Club. It is as challenging as it is beautiful. All the holes are wonderfully different, and while it is a modern golf course , it is not modern golf on HGH, meaning it is very playable, yet so many shots make you really concentrate and focus on hitting the ball to a spot, not just crushing it and chasing it, like you can do at some courses. Personally, I didn’t play bad, but my scores were impacted by a few “blow up” holes where you just make too many mistakes. My scores were 93 and 91 which is what a 14 HCP player should shoot at these courses. I was hoping to play better at a familiar course on Wednesday at Bretwood CC in Keene, NH. More on that later…. The weather held off beautifully as we had bright sun in the morning and thickening clouds for the afternoon round. The first rain drops fell on the 17th tee box and the ‘brullas” went up on the 18th tee, not too bad at all.

Dinner was at a family joint in Ludlow called DJ’s on the main drag (rt. 103) and my steak tips and cold beer was perfect and much deserved. We were all tired and hungry as dinner passed uneventfully. The ride back to Keene? Well, I slept most of it so I really can’t write much about it!

We were up and Adam and popping Alieve by 5:30 am the next day. We always have breakfast at a great local diner named “Lindy’s” in Keene. Its the perfect spot for scrambled eggs, toasted blueberry muffins, hot coffee and eavesdropping on the local chatter. It is Presidential primary season in New Hampshire and they really take it very seriously, being the “first in the nation” primary state and all. Why do they get to be first? Full disclosure: I did live in NH for 6 years from 1989 to 1995 and even met my wife while I lived in Manchester, NH! Most pols do make Lindy’s a stop for a photo op and to meet with the lo
cals….great place, I highly recommend this little joint.

Bretwood is a family run, 36 hole golf facility that runs through Ashoelet River Valley. It is just north of the City of Keene and has the makings of a pure, old style, no frills golf experience. I have always loved this place and I usually play better golf there because I know the courses and feel comfortable there. The “North” and “South” courses are both solid tests of golf with many unique holes, some long and open, many other shorter and tighter. The golf got better for all 4 of us and the matches were close. I’m happy to report that after a quick practice session early in the am, I played much better…..91 on the North course, but then I came alive with a solid 80 on the South course. If not for a triple bogey on the par 3, third hole, I could have had a career round.
Gotta run, I’ll try to type more on Monday.


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