A return to the old home course brings back memories

When we picked up our three play-for-just-the-cart-fee coupons at the Syracuse Golf Show back in March, KP, Tater and I decided to save Seven Oaks for last.

We all held the 18 designed by prominent architect Robert Trent Jones in high esteem. Tater had followed many rounds of The Post-Standard Amateur there when he covered golf as his beat for the big daily. KP and I had played there together back when I had been a member in …

… the 1990s, I told the guy behind the desk as I handed over my coupon and $25 as I signed in Thursday morning an hour in advance of our 10:30 a.m. tee time.

Fifteen years back, in my past life, when I lived just down the road in Morrisville, I had a family membership with my daughter Elisabeth’s mother Diane for the better part of that decade.

I hadn’t played here since the divorce, since I’d moved back to Syracuse. Oh, how I’ve built the beauty of his place as time has marched on.

As I putted on the two practice greens awaiting the arrival of KP and Tater, then pulled out my iPhone 6 for some scenic shots, I decided I had not overplayed the aesthetics of this piece of our Earth.

I was stretching and swinging my driver with the head cover still on for extra weight when KP arrived with Tater just behind him. They were happy to see me already there, reversing our 2015 pattern of me-last. I explained how I’d breakfasted with my terrific daughter Elisabeth in town beforehand.

I told them of how I’d told the counter guy about my previous relationship with the course, and Tater wanted to know more about how often I had taken advantage of that opportunity.

I talked of my affiliation with a group called The Clowns, and how we had a standing 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday tee time for two, three, a quartet of foursomes. We’d see who showed up, split into A-B-C-D flights, and have captains draft squads. I was a D-lister. These guys were good. But in a best-ball format and all birdies paying bonus, my up-and-down play usually made me a coveted last-flighter.

Yeah, good times were had my me.

Oh, back in the day.

Oh, back in the day.

The crack of the tee shots from the group at the first tee across the road shoot me back to the present, and we scooted our carts over for our turn, right on time.

KP at the first tee.

KP at the first tee.

Tater putts on the first green.

Tater putts on the first green.

The golf course itself lived up to those expectation, too. If anything, the grounds were in better shape than those days. KP, Tater and I appreciated the lushness and the plushness, from the tee boxes to the fairways to the greens.

No wonder this Colgate University-owned course can now cost you a hundred bucks a pop — if you’ve booked a room at the Colgate Inn, or know a member who will invite you to join him or her.

The rough was thick and gnarly, but not too high. The creek wandered through the middle and alongside a half-dozen fairways. Some trees had been cleared from several locations. Still, this is the toughest course in Central New York we will play, I have no doubt.

The large greens ran true, the putts moving lightning fast but holding their line. My gripe was that the practice greens were quite dissimilar in condition to the real greens on the course. The slower pace out there made my time practicing of less value, I volunteered early on during the round, and Tater agreed.

I just miss on No. 14.

I just miss on No. 14.

A general feeling filled me about every hole.

Of course I rolled my second shot into the creek on No. 1. But I dropped out and nailed my recovery to the middle of the green to at least give myself a chance for a bogey.

Sometimes a specific memory jolted me.

The time my friend Richard Brown prematurely shouted “It’s in the jar!” as he watched the second green from the adjacent third tee and then excitedly told me how my 7-iron shot had just missed the hole after its first bounce and then again after it took hold and spun back. Then, from a twisty foot-and-a-half out, how I had babied the tap-in and saw it curl out of the cup. Only a par. Sigh.

Click on a photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo for an enlarged slide show.

Of course, it’s never all about me.

We talked about Letterman’s final week, and all agreed on the special place of that final show. However, neither KP nor Tater sould second my feeling that Jerry Seinfeld had overstepped his boundardy by improvising a second sentence to his nunber in the very last Top 10.

I volunteered how my dear wife Karen and I were winding down our binge-watch on Madmen because I knew they both were fans and had watched the finale. I told how I’d escaped any news of that last show so far, even avoiding Austin’s take on it on his Modern Philosphers blog by skipping right to the comment section and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb and plugging my ears. KP said he’d done some brush-upping of his own before that last show, and had delighted in refreshing his memory with moments of seasons past. Tater laughed and agreed and I even pitched in because Karen and I are up to season six.

Madmen binging might be a post of its own when Karen and I are done. And it sure fits in with this return to Seven Oaks.

When it was all over, I had my one required par for the occasion. I’d rolled in a longish putt from off the green on the ninth hole that had left me very pleased. The skins divvy was pretty even. Eight for KP, six for Tater, four for me. KP was the medalist, breaking 100. Nicely done, sir.

A good time was had.

A good time was had.

We were quite pleased that we’d gotten every cent’s worth out of our premium ticket for that golf show, three-for-three on the coupon courses. We talked about where we’d like to play for our next outing. We’ll see. So much good still awaits. It’s only May.

Do you tend to recall things as better and better or worse and worse as you look back? What’s the last thing you’ve built up in your mind that has met expectations? What’s your go-to beautiful spot?

39 thoughts on “A return to the old home course brings back memories

  1. Enjoyable reading of your world of golf, only have one other friend on here who enjoys golf, but you give it a real descriptive life, reminds me of my Dads days playing golf, the first set of clubs he bought me were made of bamboo, recall one snapping after a great swing, alas that was the limit of my adventure into the world of golf.


    • I think it is great that you have that memory of shared time of golf with your dad, even with the snapped bamboo club, Ian. My dad did not play the game, but he was very proud when he saved enough money to buy me my first set of used clubs when I was 12 years old so I could play at the local course for free on the open for kids Mondays and caddy there and make some money on weekends! And so the love affair began. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ironic that these memory’s somehow shape our lives later on, in my case it didn’t lure me into the Golfing world, in your case, your Dads efforts set you on the path of the eternal search for the Holy Grail, not sure if it’s a Hole in one or an excellent handicap.


  2. So glad to see you out there and enjoying the nearly summer weather. Some of those clouds looked ominous but you found a sunny overall day to enjoy golfing with your buddies. Hope to see more of your photos and enjoy the long season that is barely starting, Mark! Smiles!


  3. Not answering any of your questions but I am about halfway through my binge watch of Mad Men and so far have managed to avoid any news of the finale. I understand it was a doozey and I’m trying to pick up clues as I watch the episodes.


  4. Glad you guys had such a wonderful time Mark!
    Things tend to be better in my mind than in reality when I go back. But I think it’s because it’s a feeling I remember, how good I felt when in a particular place and that always makes the memory of the physical space better than it actually is. Ok, I’m rambling, hope that makes sense. ❤
    Diana xo


  5. It sounds like a great day–sharing good times with friends and conjuring up moments from the past, too. The golf course looks lovely. I don’t play or watch golf. I know nothing about it. My husband has been the golf coach at his high school for many years–just about to finish his final coaching year there.


    • How have you avoided it with your husband coaching it many years, Merril? I’d think you’d watch it out of curiosity every now and again. Pass along my congratulations to your husband for his coaching career, please! That’s a great thing, sharing your love and knowledge of the sport with young people.


      • I have absolutely no interest in sports, Mark. 🙂 He has enjoyed coaching. He’s retiring, so giving it up, but he’s going to be working at a golf course part-time, so I imagine he will still play occasionally. I will pass along your kind words. Thanks!


  6. Sounds like a wonderful day Mark. Your pics are beautiful. My memories tend to be different now that I am older = as if I have grown and my past is smaller somehow. I ‘ve gone back to visit old homesteads and such and everything looks smaller. Other than that the memories are still just as bright and real as they ever were. 😀


  7. How nice you were able to return for another chance to play there. I’m always surprised by the changes when I return to my hometown in North Dakota. And yet there are some things that stay the same: my favorite tree-lined street, the city park, the university campus (though inside the buildings look different). It’s often a bittersweet feeling.

    Thanks for the Twitter share, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s intriguing to note the sameness and differences, as you say, Carrie. I drive past the house we lived in for 11 years and observe, those bushes still need trimming … they added a shed back in the corner …

      I’m glad to share on Twitter, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The things I liked best about golf: the beauty of the courses – and having a drink at the Club House after the game. Notice that my playing didn’t make the list. I’m in awe of golfers. It looks so easy. It’s so damned hard!


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