Back in the game

Jets flying overhead is one of the unique features of the Pease Golf Course.

Jets flying overhead is one of the unique features of the Pease Golf Course in Portsmouth.

For most people I know, golf is little more than the game the characters play in the movie Caddyshack. I grew up in a family that played golf, and therefor were constantly attempting to instill an appreciation for the game. My dad played and my grandfather was a pro golf instructor. I watched plenty of tournaments and drove the cart for my dad a few times, but never really took much interest in the game until I moved home from college.

My first job after I moved back to New Hampshire after college, or really the job I took while looking for a “real” job, was as a bartender in a golfer hangout. I worked the Sunday afternoon shift, which in the warmer months meant golfers started trickling in from the links around noon and continued in at a steady stream until dusk. One of the most common questions these patrons would ask me is, “Do you play?” After a while, I got tired of saying no and figured I’d give it a shot. It had to be kind of fun if all these people were doing it, right?

My dad gave me a rusted up old set of clubs he no longer used and took me out to the driving range. I got the grip, I got the stance, but I didn’t get much beyond that. I only went out to play a few times and found that constantly sending my ball off into the woods and water was almost as frustrating as taking 6 attempts to land a put. The struggle of trying to remember 15 different things to hit the ball correctly left me questioning why I played at all and prompted me to throw the clubs in the basement forever.

This summer, I dug the clubs out again. Golf, I’m willing to give you another try.

Two weeks ago I started taking golf lessons at Pease Golf Course. My friend Tanna and I signed up for the Tuesday evening Women’s Clinic, a one-hour group lesson taught by PGA Professionals Tim Riese and Ford Sullivan. These two are great at explaining strategy and breaking down the trouble spots in your swing. Thus far, I’ve learned the basics of both my short and long game and am slowly learning how to use my driver, which has always been to me the toughest part of the game.

With my new golf skills, I hope to head out on the course at least once this summer. If golf is your thing, New Hampshire is a great spot not only for golf, but relatively affordable golf. If you want to play 9-holes, a number of Portsmouth-area courses charge under $25. At Breakfast Hill Golf Club in Greenland, you can play 18-holes for $23 if you show up after 5 p.m. At Nippo Lake Golf Club in Barrington, which is a beautiful and well-designed course for beginners, 9-holes is $20, and $30 with a cart.

I have lots of friends who think golf is stuffy. They can’t get past the dress code or the expense or the difficulty, with which I can totally relate. I decided to take up golf again because I was looking for a new challenge. It’s a game that requires focus, both physically and mentally, which can be therapeutic. Hitting out a bucket of balls after a stressful day at work is a pretty quick way for me to leave all that behind.

Golf is also a great way to spend some time outside with friends. I have a small group of girlfriends who golf, so being able to spend a few hours somewhere beautiful getting caught up on our lives seems so much better to me than just exchanging emails.

The best thing about golf, though, is that no matter what the course or how poorly you play, you will always find yourself amongst friends, picturesque surroundings and, if you want, a nice cold beer at the end.

5 Responses to “Back in the game”

  1. Allyson RyderJune 24, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Golf – it’s like that U2 song we’ve all come to know and love (With or Without You).

    It’s fun, addicting, frustrating, annoying, gratifying, depressing…it’s all the things that make people say “why am I doing this” and then you hit a shot…sink a putt….and come back for more. But..it isn’t always the game that brings you back…but the sense of community that makes it all worth it in the end.

    As an avid golfer and someone who has lived in various parts of the state, I can say that this sense of community doesn’t change no matter where you go.

    If you’re just starting out and living on the Seacoast, I’d say go get a lesson at Sagamore Golf Center with Laura Shanahan-Rowe (my first instructor). If you’re in the Manchester area, check out Legends Driving Range…and in Concord, Beaver Meadow has some wonderful clinics.

    Looking for a great deal? Well most courses offer twilight rates (some after 3…some after 5:00 p.m.) that is pretty much all you can play for a very low price. Sagamore in N. Hampton has a Ladies Day ($25 for 18…holy great deal!) or College Day on Wedesnday’s for the same price. There are small courses like Den Brae and Mojalaki in the Lakes Region which offer no pressure play at a great price (aka…get out here and learn this great game!).

    So much to say about golf. It has truly created friendships that will last a lifetime and provided me with career opportunities that I never thought possible.

    And, yes, NH is a GREAT place to play!!

  2. Beth LaMontagne HallJune 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Great comment. Since posting I’ve heards from so many golfers.The community is great and supportive, I agree. And I will certainly check out those spots you mentioned.

  3. Richard LuffJune 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    They say the world is so much more connected these days…but are we really? Golf provides one of the best ways to truly connect with friends, family, and business associates. Nothing can replace face to face in person contact and golf provides that in a fun, beautiful, and accessible setting!

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