Category Archives: Northeast

Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA

oakmont country club
Mr. Space, me and my dad

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 13, 2015, 9:00, 64 F, mostly cloudy, breezy

DesignerHenry C. Fownes, 1903

Playing Partners: Richard Space, my dad

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (73.3 rating/136 slope/6,436 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (43-44); 35 putts; 8/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

I got to make a quick trip to the beautiful city of Pittsburgh for a fall round of golf at Oakmont Country Club, the #6 golf course in the country according to Golf Digest’s most recent rankings. It always seems to hover around this spot on the ultimate golf leaderboard, dancing above or below fellow Pennsylvania course Merion, which I had the good luck to be able to play earlier in the summer. So maybe I can weigh in on which should be ranked higher, and then after that I’ll figure out if Augusta is worthy of its #1 ranking… Continue reading Oakmont Country Club

Merion Golf Club (East)

Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA

merion golf club east
Me, my dad, Larry and Robin

The Stats

Tee Time: July 28, 2015, 9:36, 90 F, sunny

Designer: Hugh Wilson, 1911

Playing Partners: Robin Baggett, Larry McNabb, my dad

Tees: Middle, Par 70 (71.3 rating/144 slope/6,126 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 79 (44-35); 34 putts; 6/14 fairways; 9/18 greens

The Course

I had the extremely good fortune of getting to play Merion Golf Club’s East Course in Ardmore, Pennsylvania to get to 23 states completed. Known for its unmatched collection of great golf holes, several memorable US Opens and those wicker-basket flagsticks, I looked forward to this on my calendar for three months. Christmas came early. A couple of things about the club first. This is the first club I have been to with this much history. Built in 1896, the heritage and tradition run deep. Caddies are mandatory, there aren’t any yardage markers. No golf carts. No hats indoors. The course is always kept in championship condition. Slick greens, long rough and narrow fairways. Pace of play isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a requirement. Members who don’t complete rounds in under 4 hours get reprimanded and repeat offenders are temporarily benched. They honor the rules here. Not even a breakfast ball. I have a few friends who would struggle with that one. And really, if you’re going to knock it around at a place as esteemed and historic as this, the letter of the law is the only way to go. The club works hard to keep Merion the same as it played when it first opened, and it’s awesome to think you’re experiencing the course just as Bobby Jones did. Fortunately, they don’t go completely old-school and make you play with wooden woods and feather-stuffed balls. Continue reading Merion Golf Club (East)

The Golf Club at Equinox

The Golf Club at Equinox in Manchester Village, VT

golf club at equinox
Me

The Stats

Tee Time: July 22, 2015, 11:50, 69 F, scattered showers

Designer: Walter Travis, 1926/Rees Jones, 1991

Playing Partners: Bill and Rich (I said BILL and Rich, not these guys…)

Tees: Gold, Par 71 (70.8 rating/129 slope/6,423 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.2 index)

Stats: 86 (44-42); 28 putts; 6/15 fairways; 6/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

golf club at equinox hole 1
Just look how beautiful this scene is on the 1st tee

Finally the journey to new states resumes. It’s July 2015 and the last new state I had visited prior to today was New Hampshire in July 2014. A year later I’m about a par-4 west of Portsmouth, in the Green Mountain State, Vermont. Located in the small town of Manchester Village, The Golf Club at Equinox was an easy target for me. I spent the last couple weeks in Cooperstown visiting my parents and rubbing elbows with Hall of Famers (or in Bert Blyleven’s case, having bunny ears cast upon my head) for induction weekend. A top rated course in Vermont, Equinox is a scant 99 miles from my parents’ new cottage. Of course, if that’s 99 Arizona miles, this is about an hour. In New England, it’s 3 hours of winding upstate two-lane highways in a soft-top Jeep that is as quiet and comfortable as a John Deere tractor. Continue reading The Golf Club at Equinox

Bellevue Country Club

Bellevue Country Club in Syracuse, NY

bellevue country club
Jerry, Charlie, my dad and me

The Stats

Tee Time: July 21, 2015, 11:00, 90 F, overcast

Designer: Donald Ross, 1914

Playing Partners: Charlie Cline, Jerry Wallace, my dad

Tees: White, Par 71 (70.7 rating/132 slope/6,157 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.2 index)

Stats: 89 (42-47); 31 putts; 2/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

As much as I love playing courses designed by old school architects, I’ve amazingly only played one Donald Ross course to date: the Biltmore down in Miami, recently featured on Ballers! Luckily, I was able to get a second taste of the famed architect. Upstate in Syracuse is Bellevue Country Club, a design from 1914 that still has teeth today. All the freshest movable-weight drivers, speed-enhancing gradational core golf balls and spin-milled wedges on the market couldn’t get me around this place any better than a member playing 1930’s Spaldings and hickory-shaft persimmons. The setting is spectacular; a quiet country club atmosphere that focuses on pure golf. Continue reading Bellevue Country Club

Portsmouth Country Club

Portsmouth Country Club in Greenland, New Hampshire

portsmouth country club
Me, Matt and CJ

The Stats

Tee Time: July 30, 2014, 11:37, 72 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Robert Trent Jones Sr

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Matt

Tees: White, Par 72 (71.7rating/122 slope/6,669 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.0 index)

Stats: 84 (42-42); 34 putts; 3/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

I’m typing this on a tablet where the ‘U’ key doesn’t work, so if I write course as C-O-R-S-E, blame Logitech. Of all the letters to lose, they had to take a vowel away…

portsmouth country club greenland new hampshire hole 1
Flowers lining the 1st tee box

Portsmouth Country Club is a great place for golf. Given that it’s barely an hour outside of Boston, it might be the best public access course in the Boston area, given the slim pickings around there. Turning onto Country Club Lane, it’s clear this place takes pride in their work. The drive into the clubhouse might as well serve as the New England version of Magnolia Lane in Augusta. The sunlight filters through the leaves overhead, giving the road a golden glow that makes it feel like you’re driving into you’re own world away from everyone else. The entire course is surrounded by groves of trees or the gorgeous bay. The water is clear, calm and a perfect blue that stretches as far as the eye can see, winding through the inlets back out to the Atlantic Ocean. I’m sure even the winters here are lovely. There was never a Revolutionary War battle fought in New Hampshire, and I’m sure that it was because neither the Brits or Americans wanted to spoil the perfect landscape of The Granite State. Or maybe it was just too far north for any hostilities, who knows. I enjoyed every minute on this golf course, from the 1st hole through the 19th. Continue reading Portsmouth Country Club

Boston

boston skyline charles river
The Boston skyline from a kayak on the Charles River

So I’m trying to get a round of golf played in all 50 states of the United States of America. But it’s not exactly like I’m just touching down, hitting the first tee and then it’s wheels up again. The coolest part, and probably the real reason I’m even attempting this, is to get to see all the different flavors each state has to offer. I got a small taste of the nation when some friends and I somehow survived a 43-day, 10,000 mile road trip to every baseball stadium in 2006 (Mario Kart got us through some long drives). I’m 12 states in these first 24 months and have done plenty of awesome things away from the course. There’s been a night out on 6th Street in Austin after I, along with over 100,000 other fans decked out in burnt orange, took in a University of Texas home game. I’ve ventured into Tootsie’s in downtown Nashville, walked along the Seattle waterfront and seen all the crazies during a Halloween weekend in Las Vegas. I’ve gotten to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and catch up with people I rarely see like my grandparents in California or childhood best friend in Atlanta. With all that, I figure it might be a little different and maybe interesting to show some of these other things off. Continue reading Boston

South Shore Country Club

South Shore Country Club in Hingham, MA

south shore country club graig mantle
Me and Vik

The Stats

Tee Time: July 6, 2013, 2:33, 93 F, calm and humid

Designer: Wayne Stiles (1922)

Playing Partners: Vikram Juneja

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (70.9 rating/133 slope/6,270 yards)

Course Handicap: 13 (10.9 index)

Stats: 83 (43-39); 32 putts; 5/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

south shore country club hole 18
A panoramic view of the closing hole at South Shore

If Paul Revere had ridden 15 miles south on April 18, 1775, instead of 14 miles north to Lexington on his legendary Midnight Ride to warn that the British were coming, he would have visited South Shore Country Club in Hingham, Massachusetts. Of course, then Lexington and Concord would’ve been hung out to dry and steamrolled by the Redcoats the next day, nipping the American Revolution in the bud. And since South Shore Country Club wasn’t opened until 1922, there wouldn’t have been much to visit. Well, now that that lousy history lesson is over, I can get on to how the golf course is. The city of Boston is teeming with amazing American history on every block and so much has been expertly preserved so that even today’s visitors, nearly 10 generations down the line, can marvel at the undertaking that was the fight for American Independence. Similarly, this quiet country club south of Quincy also keeps ties to its historical roots. There are pictures and memorabilia from years ago, including stops by Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Even without the past, there is plenty to enjoy at South Shore.

Continue reading South Shore Country Club

Leatherstocking Golf Course

Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown, NY

leatherstocking hall of fame classic
Bert Blyleven, Charley, Carlton Fisk, Allan, Eddie Murray, Me, Phil Niekro, my dad and Ozzie Smith

The Stats

Tee Time: June 16, 8:00, 77 F, Breezy

Designer: Devereaux Emmet/(R)Robert E. Cupp, 1909

Playing Partners: Mike Mantle (my dad), Charlie Clouse and Allen Cogan

Tees: White, Par 72 (69.4 rating/130 slope/6,040 yards)

Course Handicap: 11 (9.3 index)

Stats: 90 (44-46); 32 putts; 7/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

If I said I had just gotten done walking the same turf as legends such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Harmon Killebrew you would probably assume I’d just taken batting practice at Fenway Park. Those Hall of Fame hitters also played golf, and they’ve all played at Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown, New York. This course sits along the land surrounding Lake Otsego in the lush forests of upstate New York. Coming in at 6,401 yards from the longest set of tees, I stepped to the first hole expecting a lazy round of long drives and short wedge shots for a low score. I was way off. All three days we played from the middle White tees and I actually drove the ball well yet still came out with scores of 90-99-90 in three rounds. Leatherstocking Golf Course is an old course and offers a challenge that is in line with tracks from those days. Small greens, strategically placed trees and uneven fairways make pars hard to accumulate. Continue reading Leatherstocking Golf Course