“Trying to slam out a quick entry while en route to Rutgers University Golf Course this morning. Was really hoping for a reliable Wi-Fi connection at Days Inn, but I got what I paid for and the connection was shoddy at best. So here I am slamming out sentences at red lights in Northern Jersey. Thank the maker! The Golden Arches loom on the horizon! Well fuck me. I’m sitting here in McDonald’s, and the connection speed is most accurately described as “shitty.” At least there is some connection, though. Not that it will do me any good, it’s far too slow to upload an entry. You will have read through this point in the entry far later than when it was scribed.”
As you can see, I really did try this AM to get an entry up, but was having some problems. Heinous Wi-Fi at the hotel last night, I was planning on writing as much of my entry as possible en route to a McDonald’s this morning to post something quick before my round in Jersey. The McDonald’s I went had Wi-Fi, I guess, but it was tragically slow. Please accept my sincere apologies. Two entries tonight then!
Of course it has occurred to me that I will be staying in many, many cities with which my only previous exposure will have been on a map. I’m not naive enough to fail to recognize that every city has it’s bad areas, and I’m sure I’ll end up staying in one somewhere along the way. That being said, when I dialed the Motel 6 in Warwick, Rhode Island two days ago and was greeted with a “Yeah?” rather than a “Motel 6 Warwick, how can I help you?” I knew I was looking in the wrong place. I did dial correctly, I got to listen to that little ‘do do dooo do dooooo do do dooo dooo dooo dooo doo doo do do do do do do doo doo doo doo’ jingle while on hold. Then “Yeah?” I just hung up. I called the Motel 6 in Newport, and was properly greeted. Drove down to Newport with hopes of getting there early enough to check out some of the tourist sights, but upon getting settled in to my room at 9:30, I was only starving, not motivated to be a tourist. I engaged in my first officially sanctioned fat guy act of the trip, by ordering a medium pizza, with myself as the lone intended feaster. While I didn’t eat the entire pie, I did eat over half of it, and eventually drifted off to sleep feeling as portly as I looked.
I had a big day ahead of me, and was hoping for two quick rounds in Rhode Island and Connecticut. I got exactly what I needed, as I spent about 5 hours total on the course to get the 36 holes done.
The course I chose in Rhode Island was Richmond Country Club, located in the forest of Richmond, Rhode Island. Another classic American golf course, RCC is cut right out of a pine forest. Obviously then, the course is picturesque, and tough, owing to it’s tightness. It is also about as far in the middle of nowhere as you can possibly be in Rhode Island. The state isn’t that big, but I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of scenes I was able to experience on my roughly one hour drive from Newport to the course. I drove over a massive bridge from Newport back on to the mainland, and from there weaseled my way down on from 4 lane state highway, to 2 lane state highway to unmarked mountain windy road.
Perhaps due to it’s location, the heat, that it was a Wednesday, or a combination of these and other factors, the course was dead. I showed up around 9:15, and blasted through my round, finishing at about 11:30. There were only a few other groups on the course, and they all were quite willing to let a single on a cart play through. Not that I was giving them much of a show, though.
This is the view from the 14th tee. While there is obviously a dogleg to the left on this hole, what I’m really trying to show you is how narrow the course is. This hole was one of the widest on the course, particularly out to the right. I know that sounds crazy, but that was the course. I scored an 89. While not a terrible score, it ought to have been lower if I could only hit the ball straighter, but should have been higher. I say it should have been higher because I only lost one ball, on 14. Being a pine forest, the balls, even in the woods, were easy to find, sitting there on the needles. Thankfully, the course management trims the trees, ensuring that you will find your ball far more often than not. Still though, if you can’t hit it straight, you can’t score well at RCC. Consider this:
On the holes were I hit the ball either straight, or at least somewhat straight (1, 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 15 and 17), I was +1. On the other 10 holes, I was +17. The way I counted, I had to play a staggering 12 shots from out of the trees. Yeah, that means several shots on a few holes. Dreadful.
Despite my lack of accuracy, I very much enjoyed the round. The course was pretty, well-maintained and, most importantly, cool. Back in the woods, there was abundant shade and I’m guessing it didn’t even crack 90 back in there.
My round in Connecticut later in the day was scorching, in more ways than one. I had a few courses lined up, but ended up asking the advice of a Nutmegger who pulled into the lot at RCC as I was leaving. He mentioned one of the courses I was eying up, Pequot Golf Club in Stonington, and also a nicer one further down 95 in Groton. In the mood for a more laid back round, I ended up playing Pequot GC, and I made a great choice.
It’s courses like Pequot GC which sustain public golf. Affordable, not overly difficult or long, yet also featuring a number of challenging holes, PGC is a great place for kids to learn the game, for better players to tune some things up, or for buddies to go out and enjoy a nice affordable round on the links. If I lived in SW Rhode Island or SE Connecticut, PGC would be in my heavy rotation.
Measuring 5907 yards from the blues for a par of 70, the course rating is 68.5 and the slope rating is 121. What these numbers mean, if you’re not familiar, is that the average score for a scratch golfer (A scratch golfer is someone who plays to a handicap of 0. Not quite as good as a professional, but pretty damn close) at PGC would be 68.5. The slope rating indicates how difficult the course would be for a bogey golfer, where 113 indicates average difficulty. A slope of 121 means that a bogey golfer may find PGC to be more challenging than some other courses. In far fewer words, what these numbers mean is that the better you are, the easier PGC should seem to you. I left the course invigorated, shooting a four over par 74!
My Front 9’s scorecard speaks for itself:
A particularly fun stretch was 8-9. Hole 8 is a pretty severe dogleg right, with trees preventing you from cutting off the dogleg. An uphill teeshot awaits a downhill approach, and the only way to get the ball down towards the green from the tee would be to hit a 300+ yard fade (if you’re a righty). I didn’t know any of this from the tee, so I drove up to the top of the hill to scope things out, and was spotted by the group ahead of me, which was comprised of 4 dudes a slight bit younger than I. Drove back to the tee and hit an absolutely massive drive. A big ole fade, it was a perfect shot. When I drove back out to my ball, which was a solid 50-60 yards from the green, the guys just sort of looked at me in disbelief. A pitch and 2 putts later, I was on my way to the 9th tee. The ringleader asked if I wanted to play through, and so I obliged. The 200+ yard uphill par 3 to a blind green was no doubt a viciously tough hole. I hit a high draw to 25 feet, and made the putt for bird. We all always judge the people playing around us, and the main reason I so very much enjoyed these two holes was that I’m almost certain those guys think I’m a scratch player. Wouldn’t you think the same after seeing those 2 holes? As miserable as it is to duff one in front of some random dudes, it’s more euphoric to play really well in front of people. In either event, anybody who’s played long enough has hit both shittier shots than anything you will hit on your tee shot, and better shots than you can imagine. In the end, don’t worry about people watching you. Go play. If someone ridicules you or a shot, they are the major league ass, not you.
Anyhow, the back 9 was not as spectacular, but was still pretty damn solid. Intentionally fading tee shots, hitting iron off the tee (even on a par 5!), and making 20 foot putts… it certainly seemed to me as if “I had played this game before.” Easily my best round of the trip, it should have my handicap to the low 10’s, if not into the high 9’s. I will calculate all this shortly.
The only snafu was on hole 12. After parring 10 and 11, I arrived to the 12th tee to see this lovely sight:
The thought of frolicking with joy through the sprinklers did bounce through my head. 96 degrees out. Why not?! Well, because I’d be all wet, and subsequently musty and gross, I ended up just waiting it out. Arriving at the hole just +1 for the day, it seemed like a giant middle finger from the golf gods to me. I ended up parring the hole though, and with the rattle of my putt went the ability to blame anything other than my stupid self were my round to implode. Thankfully, there was no implosion.
As I was riding up the 16th fairway, I was approached by the Superintendent, Vince, who wanted to check in with how my trip was going, how my round was, and to wish me luck. He saw the signs in my car, and had made his way out on the course to chat with me for a minute. Thought that was pretty cool of him. Golf really is a caring and connected community.
As you may have noticed, and I had certainly noticed, I have played far better in the afternoons of my two round days than in the morning. I have scores of 90, 90 and 89 in my morning rounds, and scores of 82, 85 and 74 in my afternoon rounds. While some of this is a function of the courses I am playing, the 85 came at a very difficult course, and a 74 is stellar no matter where you play. There is something here. I would have guessed that I would be scoring higher in the afternoon and lower in the morning. Maybe I just need 18 to get warmed up? Or maybe I’m fatigued and accordingly am making nicer, smoother and more controlled swings? Whatever it is, I am absolutely shocked that my afternoon scores are not only better than expected, they are way better than my morning rounds. Perhaps that goal of 90 wasn’t exactly ambitious enough. I love morning golf, but if my scores are going to be affected so dramatically, maybe I will have to edit my approach. Ehhh… I just thought about it, and decided that I’d still rather play in the morning. I ain’t no pro, the score ain’t the only thing there is.
New England, and New Jersey, are both done, and I’m now heading West! I had a lovely time on the links today at the Rutgers University Golf Course, and will have an entry addressing New York / New Jersey either this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.
As always, please consider a donation, and tell everyone you know about the trip.