New England is 1/3 done, with Vermont and New Hampshire both completed, Maine and Mass tomorrow, and Rhode Island and Connecticut rounding out the region on Wednesday.
It was my distinct honor to be offered a place to stay by Tom and Lynn Bedell, and I’m going to thank them again for their hospitality. As it says on the thank yous page – they were stellar sales people for Vermont. Both from downstate New York, the Bedells are knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics, and our conversation drifted smoothly for hours between golf, travel, food and drink, politics, Vermont, writing and current events. Progressive by the very definition of the word, the Bedells were exactly what I imagined Vermont to be like. In addition to the stimulating conversation, I was served like a prince: ribs, corn on the cob and a variety of salads, all of which were quite pleasing to my palate. A beer, a glass of wine, and a shot of liqueur on the rocks were the proverbial cherry on top. If this was Star Wars and I was a Wookiee, I would owe them a life debt. Thanks again Tom and Lynn.
Awaking to the bucolic splendor of the still Vermont morning at 4:45, I took a few hours to relax and catch up on the world’s happenings before our 7:50 tee time at Brattleboro Country Club. Open to the public, the original 9 were built in 1914, and while only 8 of these holes are still in service, and do not comprise 1-8, 2-9, 10-17 or 11-18, they are all beatifully designed holes which harken back to turn of the century American golf course design (Similar in some ways to Durand Eastman). Particularly gorgeous is what is now the 9th hole – running along the rural route which leads to the course, the mid length par 4 isn’t an overly demanding hole off the tee, but the second shot demands precision. The significantly elevated green is protected both front left and front right by bunkers, and slopes heavily from back to front. What is gorgeous about the hole, however, is the majesty of the green against the amphitheater of trees forming the background. Simply beautiful.
Tom joined me for the round, which the club pro was gracious enough to comp for me! Tom generously picked up the cart fees, and we were off. Joining us were two of Tom’s friends, Prentice (sp?) and Jim. I’m not going to get into guessing ages here, but all three of these fellas were at least twice my age. What I saw was what I hoped a young man will see in my group when I reach their age: a camaraderie born out of the struggle of the player vs. the course. Encouragement of each other was the name of the game, but there was the occasional bringing up of sore memories (One of the guys had made a 12 on a hole a few weeks ago… he played it much better today), and the occasional good-hearted ribbing. I’m hoping to have had a glimpse into my future; golf is for all ages and all types, and once you find good playing partners, they become your friends for life.
As for the round itself, it was a struggle from the very first shot. I hooked my drive into the ruffage on the left, and proceeded to make a double bogey. Hit my second shot on 2 into the woods. 2 holes in and I had lost 2 balls. Seriously struggling, and in need of some pars, I managed to put a little string together, making pars on 6, 7, and 8. Prentice and Jim were only playing 9, and Tom and I made the turn, myself having shot a 45.
The round was looking up, as my pulled tee shot on 10 ricocheted back into the fairway, setting me up perfectly for the par 5. Two shots later, my ball was embedded in the face of a bunker just below and to the right of the green, sitting under some weeds. I proceeded to make the best of the shituation, and blasted one out to 4 feet! The shot of the trip, no doubt. I made the putt, and it was all downhill from there. Back to back triples on 14 and 15 really crushed my hopes of having a somewhat decent score, but I did manage to finish strong, making a par on 18. I ended up shooting a 90, while Tom ended up shooting a sparkling 41 on the back on his way to an 87.
All in all, round 2 was a good one: the course required golfing, not just hitting the ball willy nilly. I lost 3 balls, and incurred 5 penalty strokes. That’s after losing 0 and taking 0 strokes at LeRoy yesterday. In the end, the course was just too much for me, as I simply can’t hit my shots straight enough consistently to score very well at a course as tight as Brattleboro. That being said, a shotmaker could score very well at BCC. The course is not overly long (6073 yards from the white tees where we played from, and 6533 from the tips), and doesn’t have an abundance of water or fairway bunkers. The greens were massive, full of undulation, and fast. Well, I’m not sure they were fast, but they sure as hell were faster than LeRoy CC the day before.
In addition to the course itself being a nice one, I played with interesting and friendly playing partners, and while I didn’t play as well as I would have wanted to, for the first time at the course, I think I did okay.
I’m heading out to visit briefly with my Uncle, who lives in Manchester, before driving over to Saco, ME for the night. I did also play a round in New Hampshire this afternoon, scoring a much better 82 at the much less challenging south course of Bretwood Golf Course. More on this round and other updates to follow.