Alex Nosevich, a reader, is a member of a club-with-a-club at Shining Rock Golf Club, in Northbridge, Massachusetts. "Our group calls itself the Winter Tour," he told me recently, "because we play through the winter. However, as soon as our home course closes for the year we call ourselves the Arctic Tour. Probably more complicated than it needs to be." Here's what Shining Rock's fifth hole -- a long par 3, called Quarry -- looks like when it isn't covered with snow:
It's called Quarry because that granite outcropping near the green really is the remains of a quarry. According to the club's website, "The abundance of granite in these hillsides made ready access to materials needed to construct the nearby Blackstone Canal or for foundations for the massive mills which blossomed along the river in the 1800â²s."
Back in October, at around the time the Sunday Morning Group was celebrating the Crystal Anniversary of our annual autumn golf trip to Atlantic City, the Winter Tour took a similar trip to Bethpage Black, Bethpage Green, and Yale. Excerpts from Nosevich's report:
Twelve guys, two days, 72 holes. Beer, whiskey, bourbon, cigars. We arrived at the Bethpage parking lot in a fleet of cars around 10:30 Monday night, and secured the first spots in the lot -- critical in getting the opening three tee times on the Black. Bethpage Lesson No. 1: Domino's delivers to the Bethpage parking lot.
Paul, our President of Domestic Events [far left in the photo above], told us ghost stories all night about how difficult the Black would play. Bethpage Lesson No. 2: If you're over six feet tall, do not volunteer to sleep across the back bench of a minivan. And remember to bring a pillow.
Bethpage Black is long, but I found it to be very playable. Three guys broke 80, and I was very happy with my 82. Of course, we played from the whites, the rough wasn't that deep, and conditions were ideal. I played in shorts and short sleeves. Awesome. [That's Nosevich in the yellow shirt in the back row in the photo above.]
After a quick lunch, we played the Green. We finished in darkness, headed for a local place to eat, then drove to a hotel in Connecticut. I have never, ever been happier to see a full-length mattress. The next day, we played 36 holes at Yale. I think the consensus favorite hole was the ninth, the famous par 3 whose green is bisected by a tributary of the Grand Canyon. Here's Darren on that green. He's the one who got us on the course:
The hole we liked the least was the eighteenth, a par 5 that forced many of us to lay up off the tee with a 3-wood, then hit a blind second shot seemingly straight up in the air. But that's a minor complaint. We got to play two of the best courses in the country, and my team won the first day's matches.
This week, the Arctic Tour is headed to Rhode Island. Report to follow if they survive.