Sometimes it feels like a whole new course

This used to be the hub of activity that greeted golfers at Northern Pines.

This used to be the hub of activity that greeted golfers at Northern Pines.

For some dozen years now, my Tuesday nights in the warm months have been reserved for nine holes of golf with good friends.

Weather was beautiful at Northern Pines for week two of our informal little formal golf league.

In the beginning, four foursomes of workers at The Post-Standard newspaper hustled to arrive for tee times that started at 5 p.m. to get nine holes of golf in before the sun set.

Now two foursomes of golfers are involved. One golfer still works at the media group that came from the big daily. The rest of us are used-to’s, a mom and a friend.

Now golfers are directed into the new clubhouse at Northern Pines. It's a startling difference.

Now golfers are directed into the new clubhouse at Northern Pines. It’s a startling difference.

The grounds have changed as well.

The little, homey quarters where golfers from two leagues — both nines uses at once, you see — used to cram inside afterward to drink a beer or eat a burger have been shuttered this season. Instead, everybody is welcomed to spacious new quarters, where a machine spits out free popcorn, and everybody can still partake in their favorites. This also is now a year-round operation. Come winter, four computer golf stations are set up inside the building, and leagues play.

The 10th hole at Northern Pines, tight and a scary start.

The 10th hole at Northern Pines, tight and a scary start.

The course itself seems to have improved greatly with new oversight this season, too.

The greens are running very true, and faster than ever. The fairways are thick, and the rough is pretty rough. I wish that reminders were given to regular players to fix their ballmarks on the greens, though. Already in week two, untended ball-holes were disgracing the smooth surfaces. All it takes is a little tool, a bend, a twist into the turf, and tap of the putter, to get nature fixing the problem herself.

We started at the 10th hole last night. It’s a short par-four, but the fairway is extremely narrow. I think it’s a frightening start to the round, with trees beckoning your ball to the left and the right.

Morelli tees off on No. 16. with Bird and DJ looking on.

Morelli tees off on No. 16. with Bird and DJ looking on.

The first two weeks, I’ve played with Bird, DJ and Morelli. It’s a co-ed league, and we’re bound to mix and match in other weeks. All four of us walk with a push cart, and the other four golfers prefer to ride in a cart, so this is how it’s shaken out so far. Scores are written down after each hole … if volunteered by the golfer. No records are kept.

Morelli is a steady player. She is consistently long and straight with her drives. She’s working to better her iron play. I’ve always enjoyed playing in the same foursome as Morelli. This is the first season that her father-in-law, Dave, has decided to skip the league, because of an increasingly ailing knee. We will miss Dave. He is a good man and a fun golf partner.

I putt for birdie on No. 15 at Northern Pines. Nope. Short. (Photo by Bird)

I putt for birdie on No. 15 at Northern Pines. Nope. Short. (Photo by Bird)

In seasons past, Commish had a connection to somebody who worked in the beverage business. He would donate prizes to the league, which would be distributed in a blind drawing. I came away with some pretty cool glasses. That hasn’t happened in a few seasons, though.

This is either DJ or Bird, teeing off in the fading twilight.

This is Bird teeing off in the fading twilight on 17.

This is Bird teeing off in the twilight on hole 17.

This is DJ also teeing off in the twilight on hole 17.

DJ and Bird are both very good players, and loads of fun to play golf with. DJ, in fact, is the best golfer in the league, although he will never boast or gloat about it. Once in a while, Bird will give him a run for best round. He will boast about those those days just a little bit, deservedly so. On opening week, Bird brought his Bluetooth speaker, attached it to his cart and hooked it to his phone, and played his music as we golfed. It was the first time I ever I notched pars to a soundtrack. Last night, he forgot the speaker.

Looking back at the 1i8th fairway from behind the green at Northern Pines in Cicero, N.Y.

Looking back at the 1i8th fairway from behind the green at Northern Pines in Cicero, N.Y.

Our little league stretches through August. It is a comforting feeling to know that no matter what, I will get nine holes of golf in every week of the summer. Unless it rains too hard, and the course or the Commish cancel. Then a week is added to the end, and we get some fall golf, too. We can’t go too far into September, though, or it will get too dark to finish nine holes.

28 thoughts on “Sometimes it feels like a whole new course

  1. Wow! the transformation is amazing! I really think you found a Golfer’s Heaven here! I enjoyed seeing your posture and way you present in golfing, Mark! I like your stylish hat and madras shorts. Looking Good! Smiles, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

    • You win the prize for first comment on my shorts, Robin. You even taught me that they are madras shorts. I have just been calling them my wild brown plaid golfing shorts! This hat I purchased on the ship when Karen and I went from Baltimore to Bermuda. Thanks for the compliments. I tried to match the hat with the shorts this week on purpose.

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  2. This post made me feel happy. Sounds like a great group of friends. The course looks great and I love the club house.

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  3. A great place, Mark! Fancy digs. I prefer to play golf with really good players, it takes the pressure off. I can enjoy myself and not stress about my game, ya know. Then, I risk the chance of sneaking up behind them for the win… I think that’s a pretty good plan, don’t you? Nothing worse than a short put…darn.
    Tuesday night gold night…that’s awesome.

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  4. this sounds like such a nice part of your week. i like the companionship, the mix of people, the course and the relaxed atmosphere of it all, in a pretty setting just to complete the picture. are you happy with the changes or are you pining for the old style?

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  5. Well, the second building is obviously much more attractive, but why would they switch from beer and burgers to popcorn? Or do they still have the beer and burgers in addition to the popcorn? Why can’t you just start earlier in the day once September comes? Or better yet, paint the gold balls with phosphorescent paint, and put a glow stick on the hole and play in the dark, kind of like cosmic bowling!!! That might be fun! 🙂

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  6. It’s a beautiful course Mark. I wouldn’t mind taking a walk around it, but don’t want to have to stop and swing at a little ball on the way. I can’t even hit a volley ball, so it would be useless to try for a golf ball. Bad case of “crooked eye” according to my photog. professor.

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  7. Mark it’s nice to have people you can do stuff with on a regular basis. No matter what happens during the week, you can always tell yourself, ‘well Tuesday’s coming, I got that to look forward to.’
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoyed this post, Mark, even though the only golfing I’ve ever done is of the Miniature kind. Also, perhaps because of the blog post I just wrote, I noticed there were a lot of numbers in this. Thanks for taking us along for the 9 holes.

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    • You are welcome, Ann. Golf is a numbers game. Yardage. Par. Club to use. But when it’s with friends for fun, the numbers can be rounded off. I am over to your place right now.

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