Around the Top 100 World – Day 71 to Day 80 / New York to Ohio

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Day 71  Drive Springfield/Scarsdale, NY                             Play Quaker Ridge

Drive Scarsdale/Newton, MA

The early morning was spent packing the car for the next 17 days. At 10:30 am I left Springfield and drove 63 miles north and east to Scarsdale, NY, and the Quaker Ridge Club. My host was Jeff Lewis, with whom I had had extensive correspondence but whom I had not met. Because Quaker was hosting the Walker Cup in early August 1997, Jeff checked with the club, and it seemed my play there could take place at the end of the trip when I was at Winged Foot next door. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case;  Jeff called me in early March 1997 with the bad news that I needed to reschedule because of guest-play restrictions due to the Walker Cup. Luckily, I was able to reshuffle Yale and Fishers Island to slot Quaker earlier than originally planned.

The last practice ball I hit was at Olympic (Day 26), and I certainly did not hit any at Quaker (rated 47, designed by Tillinghast 1926)(played October 1982) because they do not have a range. They do have caddies, and this would be my first caddie since Japan. So at 1 pm I was on the first tee with Jeff, Bob Sloan, and Rick Vershure, head professional for the past 11 years. The weather was perfect — bright sun, no clouds, no wind, low humidity, and 80 degrees. The round commenced on a positive note when I ran in a curling putt on the undulating first green for a birdie. Rick was very knowledgeable about the architectural history of the course as well as about the philosophies of Tillinghast. He also played in the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in 1980 and was briefly on the leader board until Nicklaus and Weiskopf began to post their first round 63’s.

After refreshments, it was less than a three-hour drive covering 178 miles to the Holiday Inn in Newton, MA, which is just west of Boston. A mediocre meal was had in the motel dining room.

Quaker Ridge Golf Club, courtesy of Quaker Ridge

Day 72  Play The Country Club (Open)

At 11:30 am I drove the short distance from the motel to Brookline. The original schedule called for play at The Country Club (Open Course rated 35, designed by Campbell 1925 and remodeled by Flynn and then Rees Jones)(first played September 1970 and last played August 1986/total 6 rounds) the following day, but Ladies Day in the morning and a club event in the afternoon required a reshuffling. That day the course was closed for maintenance until 1 pm, so at 1:30 I was on the first tee with host John Sears along with Dusty Burke (1959) and Carroll Lowenstein (1961). These three men were in the class of 1952 at Harvard College, and I was in the class of 1962. John was a long-time friend of Francis Quimet and their desks were next to each other for many years at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The weather looked like a major issue, and at one point it seemed as if the round would not be completed. On the first tee with caddies it was 85 degrees, partly sunny, and humid, with a 10- mph wind. The forecast called for three bands of severe thundershowers to roll through the area during the rest of the day. As the first five holes went by the skies became progressively darker, and the first band of lightning and thundershowers hit as we raced to finish the sixth hole. We went back to the men’s locker room for a one-hour delay.

The skies eventually cleared, and we walked several hundred yards to the seventh tee. As we were about to hit off someone from the pro shop came out to tell us the course was closed for the rest of the day. With the sun now shining this closing seemed strange. We walked back to the men’s locker room, and John spent the next half hour trying to convince the person in charge to let us attempt to finish the round. Finally John was successful, and we again walked out to the seventh tee. The weather for the rest of the round was delightful, and we enjoyed the last few holes in early-evening shadows.

After golf we drove into downtown Boston, where John entertained us for dinner at the famous Locke-Ober’s restaurant. He had made heroic efforts first to arrange the golf and then to make sure the mission was accomplished. Now we were having a sumptuous dinner in one of the great restaurants of the world.

Dusty and I then drove to his home in Sherborn, and I was in bed by 12:30 am.

Day 73  Drive Boston/Montreal, Canada

I was on the road by 7 am for a 352-mile drive through New Hampshire and Vermont, over the Canadian border (now using Canadian dollars), past the outskirts of Montreal, to the western suburb of Ile Bizard and the Royal Montreal Golf Club. I checked into my room and rested a while before dinner. My host for this segment of the trip was Herb McNally. Several years before I had been introduced to Herb by Gerry Heffernan. Because Herb is not a member of Royal Montreal his friend Buster Jones volunteered to be our host. Herb and Buster are members of Mount Bruno in Montreal as well as Muirfield and the R&A. At 6:30 pm I met Herb, Buster, and the club captain David Garner for cocktails and a very good dinner at the club.

Day 74  Play Royal Montreal (Blue)                                                Drive Montreal/Toronto

At 6:30 am I met Herb and Buster in the parking lot next to the pro shop. Herb had an ample supply of donuts from Tim Horton’s (Canada’s equivalent of Dunkin Donuts, named for one of the best hockey players I ever saw perform). Believe it or not, munching on the Horton donuts in the damp parking lot in cool air, shooting the breeze with two other ardent golfers, and waiting for the pro shop to open proved one of the more indelible memories of the trip.

Royal Montreal Golf Club

The three of us were dew-sweepers at 7 am because the course had been subjected to heavy rain during the entire night. We teed off with clubs on trolleys with 60 degrees, an overcast sky with rain threatening, and a light breeze. At this early hour we had the course to ourselves although players were lurking behind. Royal Montreal (Blue Course rated 92, designed by Dick Wilson 1959)(played August 1986) was holding the Canadian Open in less than one month’s time so the rough was a challenge.

We finished at 10:30 am, and I was on the Imperial Highway for 340 miles to the western suburbs of Toronto. The destination was the Best Western Sunset in Mississauga. A below- average evening meal was served in the motel dining room.

Day 75  Play National Golf Club of  Canada                        Drive Toronto/Rochester, NY

At 7:30 am I drove a few miles north to the town of Woodbridge and The National Golf Club of Canada (rated 89, designed by G. and T. Fazio 1976)(played August 1987). There I was greeted by host Lorne Rubenstein (1993) and his friend Howie Ganz. Lorne is considered the best golf writer in Canada, does weekly columns for Canada’s national newspaper “The Globe and Mail” out of Toronto, writes books (latest on Nick Price), is a TV broadcaster, and kids this author about my snail’s-pace typing ability.

With caddies we were off the first tee at 8:45 am in bright sun, no clouds, light breeze, and 70 degrees. There were many players on the course, but we still were able to play at a fast pace. As at Quaker Ridge, my round there commenced with a birdie. The ending was not as pretty for the course is very hilly and difficult. On the sharply elevated eighteenth tee my legs were totally dead, and I could not carry my tee shot over the pond angled on the right edge of the fairway and beautifully outlined by tall bullrushes.

At lunch in the active clubhouse we were joined by club executive director Marinus Gerritsen. Throughout the day Lorne related the history of the club and its founder Gil Blechman. After lunch Gil was available, so we spent some interesting time with him. Then I was back on the road for 185 miles over the Canadian border at Niagara Falls (this was my last currency shift,  now using U.S. dollars), past Buffalo, NY (where I was born), and east to Rochester, NY.

The Depot Motor Inn was just southeast of Rochester in the village of Pittsford. An average dinner was available at  the Ciaoi Restaurant.

Day 76  Play Oak Hill (East)                                     Drive Rochester/Akron, OH

Arranging to play Oak Hill (East Course rated 31, designed by Ross 1926 and remodeled by R.T. Jones and then G. and T. Fazio)(played June 1980) was a challenge because I had no direct contact. My original connection said he would get back to me in May or June, but I needed to firm up the date long before then. So I asked John Walbridge (1983), who runs the Host Committee at Baltusrol, if he had a contact. John put me in touch with Richard Kaul, who kindly made the arrangements. This was not easy because the club was having a three-day member-guest event with a shotgun start on the West Course, and so there were guest-play restrictions on the East Course.  In the end Richard could not make it, so he enlisted Griff Owen.

At 9 am Griff and I were on the first tee along with Greg Lane and caddies. It was 75 degrees with bright sun, no clouds, and a light breeze. Even though there were other players on the course we breezed around in less than four hours. Then I met head professional Craig Harmon and club historian Don Kladstrup.

At 1:30 pm it was back in the car for a 320-mile drive to Akron, Ohio. At the New York/Pennsylvania border there was road construction, and traffic was backed up 10 miles going in the opposite direction. Again I was lucky; the traffic on my side of the road moved swiftly. I arrived at the Firestone Country Club clubhouse and was greeted by host Bob Lauer (1990), Joe Ray, III (1990), T.J. Riley, and John Lahey. Joe was responsible for arranging play in Akron and Cleveland as well as at  Scioto in Columbus. We enjoyed a good meal at the club and then retired to our rooms in the large clubhouse.

Day 77   Play Firestone (South)                                            Drive Akron/Cleveland

Play Canterbury                                                      Drive Cleveland/Pittsburgh, PA

At 7:45 am we had the first tee time on the South Course (rated 96, designed by R.T. Jones 1960 and remodeled by Nicklaus)(played September 1979 and again June 1990/total 2 rounds). Even at this early hour there was much activity around the pro shop because three courses, along with motorized carts, are served out of this central location. There was bright sun with no clouds, low humidity, and no wind. My clubs were on a cart and I walked.

Iconic Firestone water tower

After the round TJ led me 40 miles north to Cleveland and the Canterbury Golf Club (rated 84, designed by Strong 1922)(first played July 1977 and again June 1990/total two rounds). There we were met by one of TJ’s law partners, Dave Weiner. Dave could not play, so he enlisted Richard Griffin and Tom Graham. At 2 pm with caddies our foursome had totally sunny skies, 85 degrees, humidity, and a light breeze. Although Canterbury is a fairly busy private club we moved along at a reasonable speed and finished the round at 6 pm.

TJ then led me to the Ohio Turnpike, and 120 miles later I was in Pittsburgh, PA, and the condo of wife Hetsy.

Day 78  Play Oakmont

At 8:30 am I drove a short way out of Pittsburgh to the town of Oakmont and the Oakmont Golf Club (rated 17, designed H. and W. Fownes 1903)(first played June 1964, then became a member in 1971 and 1972 so played over 100 times). There I met host Jim Malone (1967) along with playing companions  John Birmingham (1970), and Banks Smith. Jimmy successfully ran the 1992 Women’s Open and the 1994 Men’s Open at Oakmont and recently became a member of the R&A.

With caddies we were on the first tee at 9:30 am in weather of 80 degrees, partly sunny, with high humidity and no wind. Jimmy and I have been partners several times over the years, most notably winning the Fox Chapel three-day member-guest tournament in the early 1970’s. On Day 78 we remained undefeated. The always ultra-fast Oakmont greens were even a little speedier because the finals of the club championship were being held that day.

After the round I said hello to head professional Bob Ford. Then  I had lunch with one of my all- time favorites, Fred Brand, Jr. (1967). Fred has been an icon in the world of golf and in 1997 received the very high-prestige Bob Jones Award, the U.S. Golf Association’s highest honor for distinguished sportsmanship. The report of his acceptance speech was truly heartwarming. Today Fred gave me an autographed copy of the book being used to commemorate the award. It is about the forty-second U.S. Amateur held at Oakmont in 1938, in which Fred participated. I am honored to have known Fred for 30 years.

An excellent dinner and a pleasant time was had at the Pittsburgh Club with Hetsy, Cuppy and Gordon Kraft (1965), and Bob Runnette (1967).

Day 79  Drive Pittsburgh/Hot Springs, VA

I left Pittsburgh at 7 am and took the back roads through Western Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, 250 miles later arriving at The Homestead resort hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia. Although the directions were somewhat complicated, they took me on the quickest route with the added benefit of pretty scenery. The customized directions were supplied by Alden and Randy Shriver (1966). In the late 1960’s Randy killed me in the 36-hole finals of the club championship at Fox Chapel in Pittsburgh. We had not seen each other since Bob Runnette brought a group of Fox Chapel golfers to Baltusrol about ten years ago. The Shrivers now live year around in Hot Springs.

The Homestead is located in the peaceful Warm Springs Valley of the Allegheny Mountains, and there has been an hotel on the site since 1766. In 1993 The Homestead and Club Corporation formed a joint-venture company for the management and ownership of the world-famous resort. In 1998 Club Corp. will become the sole owner.

After cocktails at the Shrivers’ home we enjoyed an excellent dinner in the comfortable surroundings of The Waterwheel in Warm Springs. The Sam Snead Tavern also serves a very good meal but was closed that night.

Day 80  Play The Cascades                                      Drive Hot Springs/Cincinnati, Ohio

I was up at 6 am, and Randy appeared just before 7 am at the hotel’s front entrance bearing warm muffins from Alden. We then drove a short distance to the course. Before contacting Randy I had made arrangements to play there through the extremely cooperative head professional Barry Carpenter. Barry was going to play with us that morning, but his wife produced a child the day before. Therefore Randy and I were first off as a twosome at 7:30 am. For many years the course was called the Upper Cascades to differentiate it from one of the hotel’s other courses called the Lower Cascade. Recently it was decided to call the best course simply The Cascades (rated 76, designed by Flynn 1923)(played November 1975).

We had the course to ourselves, which was nice because The Cascades receives fairly heavy play from resort guests. Randy drove the cart with my bag and I was on foot. At first out there was some light morning fog, and the temperature was a cool mountain-air 60 degrees. The sun was bright, and there were no clouds and no wind. The fog quickly disappeared, and the temperature rose to a  humid 90 degrees on this mid-July day. Even though the best time to play here is late October, with the sparkling fall foliage in full force on the nearby steep mountains, that day was an superb alternative. I hesitate to say this because the greens on almost all the course played on the trip were excellent. However, on the basis of  the number of putts holed that day, the greens at The Cascades tied with Royal Liverpool and Oakmont as the best-conditioned surfaces on the trip.

After a relaxing lunch with Randy in the peaceful and scenic upstairs outdoor clubhouse restaurant we ran into Pat Robertson in the pro shop. Randy has played golf with Pat, and so I had the pleasure of being introduced to the famous TV preacher. Then at 12:30 pm it was back in the car for a drive out of Virginia through West Virginia and Kentucky and then back to Ohio. The seven-hour trip covered 427 miles, and I was very happy to arrive at the Harley Hotel (really a motel) just east of Cincinnati in Kenwood. An average meal was served in the motel’s restaurant.

TO BE CONTINUED
 

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+