Tar Heel Golf Notes: May 2019

Henry A. Lister
Carolinas Golf Association Rater

A friend asked me the other day, “What pleasure does a 35-handicap player find in golf?” The question stumped me at first but eventually I responded to my 16-handicap friend, “Probably the same things you find in it.”

Golfers are the most hopeful people I know. We are always looking for that secret, the perfect swing thought, or just the ability to put the face of the club on the back of the ball. It’s not unlike dating; just because I had a few bad dates didn’t mean I gave up on the prospect of finding a woman who could enjoy being with me as much as I enjoyed being with her.

Recently I’ve been through a troubling period of poor golf but I’m still hopeful that my “game” will return and my patience will be rewarded.

I am considered a low handicapper at a 10. Those with higher handicaps have been known to admire some of my better shots and low scores, just as I admire the game demonstrated by a scratch amateur. Regardless of our score we find excitement and pleasure in whatever the results were from a day’s round. It could be a piercing 3-iron, or admiring the hawks in the air, or the intense green in the foliage and grass. My playing companions are a great source of interest and entertainment if they are even mildly social adept, and I relish the moments when I can applaud a shot well played, sharing in their satisfaction. Truth­ful­ly, the golf Goddess doesn’t reward us arbitrarily and when she does, we should celebrate it fully.

The Shamrock Golf Course, Burlington,  closed and the property sold, but adjacent residents were furious and took action by suing the city of Burlington last fall for inappropriately rezoning the property and then ultimately annexing the property into the town limits.

Anytime a course goes out of business or is sold, someone’s ox is gored. We are all loyal to a course or two. Losing our favorite track can be palpable, painful and permanent. It is so much more the case when your house sits along part of the course. Just as happened to the residents at Crooked Creek in Fuquay-Varina the loss of a beloved golf course incited otherwise mild-mannered citizens to action. Honestly, nothing looks worse than a course abandoned to Mother Nature and her proliferation of weeds! Except maybe three stories of townhouses and condos. No doubt the suit will fail, and another golf course will be developed into housing, all the more reason to cherish and support the golf courses to which we still have access.

Speaking of loyalty, like a Phoenix from the ashes, Quail Ridge GC in Sanford has risen from destitution. New owners took control in 2017 of the 1961 Ellis Maples course that was host to many big-time tourneys and have revived it from being sheep pasture. The previous owners, as emotional attached as they were to Quail Ridge, tried to instill new life through sweat equity, but it wasn’t enough. The recent capital infusion has re­turned Quail Ridge to a former state of glory. Prices have risen but not unreasonably so.

Golf instructor Fran James plans to return to work at Hillandale GC in Durham this summer. She’s been recovering from multiple in­juries suffered in a September 2018 hit-and-run accident in her golf cart on Hillan­dale Road. No arrest was made.

So let me be clear. Tiger Woods has made an historic comeback, perhaps one of the greatest in sports history. However, I still claim that Ben Hogan’s return from a near fatal car wreck in 1949 and winning the US Open in the following year qualifies as the greatest sports comeback ever. (He also won 5 other majors over the next 3 years when 40+ years old). This may only slightly diminish Tiger’s remarkable return but only because he had far better medical expertise and drugs available to help him. Having undergone multiple surgeries and return to a Masters’ win, Tiger Woods has paved an historic path. He is truly a dominant force in professional golf and apparently is not ready to rest on his laurels.

Hobbit Golfer 2019 index: 27 rounds. Aver­age score 85.3. CGA handicap = 10.0. The game has its sensuous pleasures, when you make the perfect swing and execute the shot precisely as you planned it. ~ Peter Alliss