I thought this golf posting might make for a nice subset of the travel experience, particularly for those travelers who might travel to New England. Or, it could be I just have an unhealthy relationship with the game of golf and felt the need to vent.
Prompted by my good friend David, inspired by Charl Schwartzel’s hole-by-hole tour of Augusta National, and adding insights attained from my own personal golf prowess, here you have it – a hole-by-hole tour of Black Swan Country Club in Georgetown, MA – or Black Swamp as I prefer to call it. Trust me – club management’s toes are curling at the very thought of me describing their course.
Before getting into the weeds (no disrespect intended), let’s spend a moment talking about the game of golf. Asking for a friend, is it true that all golf clubs are designed to hit a ball 100 yards? I have a set of about a dozen clubs (pictured below), and all send the ball about a hundred yards – albeit not the same direction.
To the uninitiated, golf clubs are designed, amongst other factors, for degree of loft, or loft angle. Loft, as the experts will tell you, is what controls distance. Generally, each increase in club (as in going from a 7 to an 8 iron by way of example) increases the loft by about 3 degrees. A 1 iron, which is extremely rare, is about equal to hitting a golf ball with a hockey stick.
The golf ball is a rubber ball coated in a plastic cover. The outside of the ball is pressed with 400 dimples, which are designed to reduce wind resistance. I believe I could argue that point.
The goal of the game is to hit this 1 ½ inch rubber ball into a 4 ¼ inch hole several hundred yards away, on 18 different holes, with as few strokes as possible. Right. What fun.
So here we go on a tour of Black Swan! For clarification purposes, on our round we will be hitting from the white tees. There are no longer men’s tees, women’s tees, and so on. They are just color coded. I felt we should be hitting from the gray tees, but that color is not an option here. And I have given every hole a name – don’t ask me why. As in life itself, logic does not have a home in golf.
No. 1, Fore! (par 4 – 340 yds)
As any golfer will tell you, the drive off the tee box on the first hole of any golf course, particularly with others watching, can be the most intimidating shot of the day. No pressure. This hole is a slight dogleg left. At some point dogs will take offense to this term, but for now, that term means the hole turns to the left. Do you take a chance and use the driver? Perhaps a wood? Or layup with a strong iron? For me, it doesn’t really matter because regardless of club selection, all my shots go about 100 yards – not saying which direction.
The thing about this golf course is there is water, swamp, or other hazards on just about every hole. Water you Say? Why yes, please – don’t mind if I do place my ball in the small pond on the left. Bring plenty of golf balls – just sayin’.
No. 2, Ruh Roh (par 5 – 417 yds)
The second hole is defined by the huge swamp/marsh in the middle of the fairway. What’s that all about? Naturally, the fairway slopes towards this natural disaster, so it does require some care to get the ball close to, but not too close to the edge of the swamp.
Part of me thinks about Stephen King’s In the Tall Grass as I approach my second shot. But that’s just me – you will not have such dark thoughts.
The skill in the second shot is to clear the swamp. Now I am not saying that I have ever hit my second shot like a line drive into the swamp. But let me just say that in fairly short time this swamp will cease to exist just due to the ever-increasing number of golf balls that exist in here.
No. 3, Morass (par 3 – 167 yds)
This is one freaking annoying hole. Remember I said all my shots go 100 yards? Well, what do you think exists on this hole at 100 yards? Swamp/marsh you say? Correct! Which means I either have to pray to Allah and swing from my ass to clear this swamp (which never happens), or perform a form of man-shame, take out my wedge and hit a layup. My justification is that, hey, everyone needs to hit a second shot. My second shot will just be a bit longer than yours.
No. 4, Quagmire (par 5 – 480 yds)
Once again, swamp/marsh plays straight down the middle of this par 5 hole. I don’t need to tell you where the swamp lies, do I? A good golfer could clear this swamp with a voracious drive. Sadly, I don’t, nor do any of my golfing buddies. So once again, it is a man-shame layup, hoping against hope that your tee shot does not go into the afore mentioned swamp.
To deflect your attention from the misery of golf, on this hole you can get a brief glimpse of horses that perform on the adjacent Boston Polo Club grounds. If you are not familiar with polo, it is like playing golf, on a horse. Yeah, no.
No. 5, Bottoms (par 4 – 355 yds)
No swamp on this hole! Unless of course, you hook the damn thing and put it into the lake and stream on the left-hand side. Oh, I can’t imagine doing that.
If you successfully clear the water hazard, there are strategically located sand bunkers that are located exactly where a perfect shot would go. Perhaps a windmill or a dinosaur would be appropriate accompaniments to this hole.
No. 6, Glade (par 3 – 140 yds)
Swamp. Yup, and I think we all know where it is located. Years forward, when archeologists dig through this area, they will know, based on the number of golf balls located here, that exactly 100 yards from this area was a tee box.
This is a relatively short par 3. Par is the term that describes how many shots should be taken on any hole by a proficient golfer. Since I am not a proficient golfer, these rules do not apply to me.
No. 7, Bog (par 4 – 336 yds)
Now the good news on this hole is the swamp doesn’t have any effect on your drive! Wail away my friend – come out of your shoes hitting your drive. Instead, the swamp impacts your second shot.
No. 8, Duck Pond (par 4 – 396 yds)
This hole has the distinction of having two water hazards; one, which you can hit from your drive (if you golf like me), and the second one comes into play if you hit a bit left on your second shot (if you golf like me). Perhaps the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) will set new standards in the future with floating golf balls and water hazards that spit your ball back over to the side of the pond.
No. 9, Finally (par 4 – 390 yds)
Number 9 is kind of like #7 in that you can hit your drive as far as you can. That is because the swamp on hole 9 doesn’t come into play until your second shot. Yeah.
Once you finish this hole, you are either feeling pretty smug about your game, or considering a stop in the pro shop to buy more balls. Personally, I go to the pro shop. You are now half way through your game. And of course, visit the food truck at the turn for a culinary delight and a beverage of choice.
No. 10, Childs Play (par 4 – 351 yds)
We have not yet talked about a slice, the term used to describe a golf shot that veers sharply to the right (if you play golf right-handed). This is an appropriate time to discuss slice because of the private homes off to the right on this hole.
In some cultures, it is considered bad form to hit a golf ball a hundred miles per hour into young children playing in their backyard. Whatever.
The comforting part of this hole is there is no water or swamp on this hole. Unless you play worse than me. Probably not.
No. 11, Marsh (par 4 – 276 yds)
This hole has all the elements you don’t want in a hole. It is a dogleg right, but if you try to carve your tee shot to conform to this dogleg, you are more than likely to hit into either the swamp or miserable looking pond on this hole.
By the way, even if you hit fairly straight, the terrain leans right and is likely to carry your ball into the swamp or pond. Don’t ask me how I know this.
No. 12, Marshland (par 3 – 138 yds)
This hole has much to hate. Tall grasses down the left, woods close on the right, and a pond sitting in front of the green. A 100-yard shot only gets you into trouble here, so you must target the green. Hand me a club – any club. I already know where my ball is going on this hole.
No. 13, Muskeg (par 5 – 475 yds)
This is a big-ass hole, where you must drive uphill and there are sand traps everywhere. BUT there is no water or swamp until your third shot, right near the green! Sweet.
No. 14, Moor (par 4 – 316 yds)
I believe this may be the only hole on the course that doesn’t have some form of natural disaster sitting in the middle of the hole. A strong hitter will get the drive up close to the green. So I have heard.
Since some of us tend to walk the course rather than ride in a golf cart, it’s kind of around hole 14 or so when the interest in golf is on the wane, and thoughts of a post-round cocktail starts to germinate. On days when I play golf, it is not unusual for me to get in around 15,000 steps or more on those days. One needs to replenish fluids.
No. 15, Mire (par 4 – 356 yds)
This is a miserable hole. Depending on where the tees are located, just clearing the swamp/marsh on your drive can be a challenge. And there is really no plan b.
The other danger on this hole, from a drive perspective, is slicing a ball right and having it enter the Forest of Mirkwood. Pretty sure Gollum or Gandalf are in there gathering lost golf balls.
No. 16, Swale (par 4 – 324 yds)
Three guesses what is in the middle of this hole. Righto!
No. 17, Sludge (par 3 – 122 yds)
Generally, by this hole, I am done. By this point in my golf game, I have taken about 500 swings of a club, so I think I can be excused. But we are not done. While this is a par three, it has swamp between the tee box and the green.
And I haven’t really discussed greens on this golf course. In general, they are in great shape. Too bad they didn’t design them flat, or with channels that would direct the ball towards the hole. No. Each green is designed to confound all golfers. So close, and yet so far.
No. 18, Sweetjesusitsalmostover (par 5 – 464 yds)
This is the first point, in the whole round, where there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is a dogleg right, but who cares – you are almost done. So, swing from your ass because this will be your last drive.
Joy of joys, you don’t encounter swamp until your third shot as you approach the green. Cute.
Now I will admit we have a post-game off-site ritual that includes folding chairs and beverages. We discuss world events, stupid stuff, and occasionally, recent bowel movements. Grown up stuff.
Think of it as our version of the debate team, absent logic, knowledge, and reasoning. I won’t go into the details, to protect the guilty. Suffice it to say we cover some obscure topics.
Get out and play golf. Misery enjoys company.