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Biking: The show must go on

By Marty Basch

Look for a new twist or two in the 24 Hours of Great Glen next month.

Though organizers are keeping those changes close to the vest — and are likely to post those alterations on the event's new Facebook page any minute now — they are likely to be near the water.

"That is still a little bit of a secret," said Great Glen Trail social media coordinator and mountain bike guide Meg Skidmore. "We'll still have the floating bridge and over/under bridge but we're not releasing the actual twist yet."

Could the twist be a twist?

The over/under bridge has been moved slightly, but there is more to come.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 04:14

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Golf: The ‘It’ factor

By Joe Soraghan

“More matches are lost through carelessness at the beginning of the match than any other cause.” — Harry Vardon, Pro golfer.

By now, most people have heard of the wager Rory McIlroy’s dad, made when “The Open Champion” was only 15 years old. Gerry McIlroy and three of his friends bet about 400 pounds ( US dollars) that the teenager would win the British Open by the age of 25. As a result of the now 25-year-old's win, the bettors will be collecting about $340,000. What is it they saw in the young McIlroy that motivated them to make that type of wager?

Consider  you are playing the best golf of your life. You’ve been dominant in your club tournaments, winning every event that is scheduled. Then you have an epiphany. “I’m going to take my game to the next level”, you think. Well, you can forget about it, as these are great rounds are probably the best rounds you are going to have. If you were to play a course that was set up for the professionals,  you would be lucky to shoot a score in the 90s.

The courses selected for the pros are over 7,000 yards in length. Fairways are 25 to 30 yards in width,  and the rough is at least 4 inches deep. The greens are fast, hard, and contoured with more bumps and curves than a swimsuit model. On these greens, when facing a 12-inch downhill putt,  no one is going to say “That’s good,” and not require a finishing putt. Every shot counts. You would be playing in front of large galleries. The outside distractions during such a match are plentiful. What is needed to play great golf in these conditions, what is needed for success at the highest level,  is something that the “weekend” player might only think he has: mental toughness.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 03:56

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Golf: Open season: Ireland, Scotland, and now Britain

 

By Joe Soraghan

 

“You don’t have the game you played last year or last week. You only have today’s game. It may be far from your best, but that’s all you’ve got. Harden your heart and make the best of it.” — Walter Hagen, PGA Pro

 For the last three weeks, the golfing world has had their eyes glued on the Irish Open, the Scottish Open, and now, the British Open. Although the playing fields did not include all the top playing pros, the courses and conditions where the rounds are played are really the “draw.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the European Tour and listening to the commentary provided. The game has returned to its origins .The players who participate in these events have all the assets that are required to play at a very high level. But “links golf” adds one more requirement for success: imagination.

There is a television ad that pushes for golfers to book their tee times online. It features an actor who portrays Old Tom Morris. In one segment, Old Tom is standing on a vehicle. When asked what he is doing, he replies, “Playing silly bodkins.”

I will admit at first I didn’t have a clue what he was saying, primarily due to the thick Scottish accent I asked our local Scot/American Davey Armstrong if he had ever heard of “silly bodkins” and he had not. Further research showed that this was a game that was played by Old Tom Morris and his friends through the streets of St. Andrews. Not able to play the course, the kids would take the corks from wine bottles, drive nails into them, fashion clubs from wood scraps, and hit the loaded cork through the streets, much the way kids in this country would play what we called “half-ball.” You would cut a rubber ball in half and try to hit it with a broom handle. If you ever want to teach someone to hit a curve ball, this experience is a good way to start.

Old Tom Morris and his friends must have seen strange bounces with their pursuit of “silly bodkins.” It was this type of youthful experience that prepared them for the game of golf, pioneered during the 19th century, and made them the top players of their time.

Last week, in the Scottish Open, players tried to run their balls onto the green as opposed to flying the ball to the required distance of the flagstick, as they do in our country. One commentator even went so far as to question PGA Pro Rickie Fowler’s strategy, when he attempted to hit a flop wedge, from about 20 yards, onto the green. He said, “There isn’t a Scotsman in a hundred years who would hit that type of shot.” The “bump and run” was thought to be the smart play in this case. Of course, his colleague had to remark, “A flop wedge costs a hundred dollars and no Scotsmen would purchase that club!”

The game that spawned from the British Isles has hard fairways, fast greens, and deep pot bunkers. Here, in the “states,” our courses are lush and green, which benefit the longer hitters. Our roughs are irrigated, which allows them to be consistent with the lies.

Our bunkers are designed to be perfect, not only with condition, but also location. Players coming from the US to the British Isles are forced to change strategy. Imagination, along with accurate drives, will keep a player in contention at The Open Championship, one of the most coveted in all of golf. I can't help but wonder if golf is losing some excitement on this side of the Atlantic because the venues we play call for repetitious shots.

Maybe we should adopt the attitude of our fellow golfer’s from the British Isles and allow our courses to take a more “natural” appearance. This would bring a cerebral element to our game that has been missing for a while, and make a round much more interesting. Old Tom Morris would approve.

Club Notes:

• Indian Mound Golf Course (539-7733): The 2014 Member/Guest was held last weekend. Taking the low gross honors was the team of Tom Broderick, Bob Kirby, Spud Miller and Mike Franks. The low net winners were Pat Stafallo, Emily Phillips, Cheryl Kemper and Jayne Colborne. The Rivers Edge Quota winners, at +4, were Gary Williams and Billy Franks. Clinics are being held every Monday from 3-4:15 p.m. at a cost of $15 per player. Contact the pro shop for more information. Nine and Dine is held every Sunday at 3 o’clock. For $30 you get nine holes of golf, a cart, prizes, and dinner. This is a shotgun start. Save the date of Sept. 24 for the Ladies Invitational. Inter-club matches begin at the Mound on July 21.        

• Wentworth Golf Course (383-9641): The Jackson 18 held their Member/Guest on Saturday. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play. The weather was perfect and the course was in great shape for the full field of 116 players. A tip of the hat to Pro Kevin Walker and Course Superintendent Evan Connors for the fine jobs they, and their crew, have done. In the Ladies Division, first gross went to the team of Deb Ferland and Cheryl Veno, second gross went to Lynne Walker and Joyce Macknauskas. First net was won by the team of Kathy Gilligan and Karen Lyons, second net winners were Mary Ellen Gallo and Elizabeth Saber. On the Men’s side the low gross winners were Quentin Gilmore and Chip Sweeney, second place went to Ram Harvey and Eric Mueller. First net winners were Keith Houghton and Tim Broman, second place went to Ralph Fiore and Peter Deveau. Week 9 of Red Fox saw the Atti-Cats take the top spot. They were followed by the Leprechaun’s and D’s Pizza. Individually, long drive winners were Cam James and Ellen Eiermann. Closest-to-the-pin honors went to Wally Pimental and Sandi Poor. Ladies league saw Jeannie Roberts take the top spot with a three-way tie for second between Susan Dugdale, Pat Hoffman, and Maryann Lowry. Congratulations go out to Bill Volk who aced the 17th hole. This was a shotgun start and Bill’s first swing of the day was on the 17th. What a way to start a round!

• Province Lake Golf Course (207-793-4040): Sign-ups have begun for the Fall Pau Hana league. This is a six-week league that begins on Aug. 5. This fun league is a scramble format and players are encouraged to wear their Hawaiian shirts. Family golf specials are being offered throughout the summer. Two adults and up to two children can play for $25. Additional children are only $5. Call the pro shop for details.

• North Conway Country Club (383-9391): The July Champs of the Month saw Gay Folland and Scott Terry take the coveted honors. The Ladies Club Championship will be held July 26 and 27. The Men will play their championship on Aug. 1 and 2. The annual Pro/Member will be held on Sunday, Aug. 10. Check the upstairs bulletin board for upcoming golf and social events.

• Eagle Mountain Golf Course (383-9090): The Phil Kelly Memorial Bench is in place on the first tee of the Eagle. Phil was a longtime starter at the Jackson 9 who passed last year. He had the gift of gab, and his stories are remembered fondly. A tournament along with a dedication will be held at a later date.

In Don Ho action, the team from Sherwin Williams finished at -50. The GB Carrier team is at -40 and the Divot Kings are at -39. Teams have one week of play remaining. July is Family Golf Month at the Eagle. Discounted rates are being offered after 3PM every day this month. On the next two Sundays, at 1 p.m., PGA Pro Bob McGraw will be offering a free clinic for families. Call the pro shop for more details.

Congratulations to Pro Bob McGraw, who plays Wednesdays in the Northern League. This past week he set a new Northern League record for quota points. He was +50, posting a 66!

• Hale's Location (356-2140): Hale's Location Golf Course will host three nine-hole shotgun golf tournaments Aug. 28 to support the Wayne L. Sprouse Medical Expenses Fund. The fund that has been established to help Hale's Location golf pro Wayne Sprouse, who is facing some serious medical challenges. Call the pro shop at 356-2140 for further information.

19th Hole

July 17 was a great day at the Wentworth for the annual Memorial Hospital Golf Tournament, we're happy to report.

If your golfing calendar is open, you might want enter these events. The Wentworth Ladies League is holding a “Summer Beach Par-Tee,” on Wednesday, July 30. This will be an 8 o’clock shotgun and the cost is $50 per person. This will include your golf, a cart, coffee and pastry in the AM and lunch after golf. There will be prizes raffles, mulligans, and a 50/50 putting contest. Beach wear is encouraged and the 2 Best Ball format will have a twist: beach sand. For more information call the Wentworth at 383-9641 or go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The deadline for registration is July 20.  On Sunday, Aug. 10, the fifth annual Putt for Pets Tournament will be held at Indian Mound. This is a shotgun start that will start at noon with registration beginning at 11 a.m. All proceeds will support the Conway Area Humane Society. With many great prizes, and some good golf for a good cause, contact Tom Dean at 603-356-3855 or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Have a great weekend and enjoy The Open.

Golf news may be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 04:57

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Biking: Riding in the cool of a young morning

By Marty Basch

It is early Sunday morning, a time when rational people are catching up on much needed sleep.

Instead, I am on my bicycle during the best part of the cycling day, the cool of a young morning.

Better yet, I am riding on roads that service up some of the finest landscapes and terrain for road riding in the valley.

Not that I can't find fault with these meandering country lanes. I can. There are far too many miles in need of repair with jarring potholes, uneven surfaces that shake you to the core and sinister cracks just waiting to mess with your day.

However, those rolling roads lead to a place where farm and fields meet forest, where soon enough the corn will be as high as an elephant's eye and it's reach right up to a sky with jagged mountains on the horizon.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 04:41

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Essence of a champion: Lleyton Hewitt wins Newport

By Christopher Chaffee

"What we do in life echoes in eternity." — Gladiator

It was like watching a movie that opens your eyes, lifts your soul, and touches your heart. Throughout the movie you have tears of joy and you feel inspired. In the movies, we see our hero progress, strive, and endure his way through a path towards his final encounter. The ending is set as he faces his ultimate test. We then see what the hero is really made of. The test shows the essence of his character, who he is inside, and how he conducts himself on the outside in his life. We love to see the hero have an epic battle against tremendous odds and then being able to find a way through. At the end, the hero is congratulated by the ones who believed in him and his loved ones. It makes for a beautiful moment.

However, in this case this wasn't a movie, it just happened on Sunday. A real uplifting story with a hero who is a real life person. I can't help but to have tears of joy and inspiration fill my heart and soul as I have just seen Lleyton Hewitt win his second title of 2014 with a 6-3 6-7 7-6 against someone who he has had trouble with in the past.

Legends are created with something inside. A great fire which comes from within. Hewitt is a gladiator, an ultimate warrior, a living legend. He is the ultimate professional. Hewitt has just won his 30th career singles title in Newport, R.I. at the Tennis Hall of Fame. He faced Goliath — Ivo Karlovic, who he had never beaten on grass and has a 1-4 win and loss record against.

All that changed Sunday afternoon. Hewitt begin the challenge, faced it, and rose in triumph. He fell to his knees and lifted his arms toward the heavens in victory. He set out with the goal of winning this tournament and now he has conquered it. He just gave his everything out there and showed tremendous courage, fire, and heart. Karlovic can be mentally tough to play because he takes away your rhythm, your timing. He has such a big serve, if you ever lose your serve, you can lose the match.

Hewitt, remained mentally tough and focused like he has done throughout his whole career. He remained positive and just kept trying. Hewitt in this match and in his career has shown how disciplined and motivated he is. He is determined to get the absolute best out of himself each and every day in his life. That is a rare and admirable trait in a person.

Hewitt already has a Hall of Fame resume for what he has been able to do on the court. He just added to it today. He should also be remembered for who he is as a human being. He is a humble champion, a family man, who believes in his purpose and uses his iron will to fulfill it. Hewitt has displayed throughout his career as someone who has a strong moral compass that includes humility, passion, and integrity. Proud of who he is as a person and proud of his work ethic as a professional.

"And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that's larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers." — Ultimate Warrior

A Hall of Fame resume which includes over 600 wins. 30 titles, two Grand Slams, and two years being the No. 1 player in the world. Hewitt has always had tremendous courage, fire, and heart. We can look and say Hewitt is prime example of someone that always was a positive person who followed and lived with his heart on his sleeve. He is disciplined and motivated to get the absolute best out of himself each and every day in his life. He believes in his purpose and uses his iron will to live his life. He is a winner, he is a legend and Legends are forever.

"Something that ain't running and ain't backin' up and is hittin' on you and you're too damn tired to breathe... you find that situation on you, that's good, 'cause that's Baptism Under Fire! You get through that, and you find the only kind of respect that matters in this world: Self-Respect." — Rocky Balboa

The media is always quick to write him off, when he doesn't do well and of all the injuries he has had. He could walk away and no one would think less of them. There will be memories turned into stories of how this Aussie did remarkable things. We are lucky to be able to still see an athlete out there grinding his way through opponents and tournaments week in and week out.

If you watch Hewitt compete you can tell he loves tennis. He loves the battle. He isn't out there for the money, but to simply be the best version of himself. Hewitt always has had many challenges standing in front him. Whether it be his opponents or those nagging injuries one thing is for sure Hewitt will not back away from anything. He will, will his way through them. Sunday's victory against Ivo should not only signify who Lleyton Hewitt is, but it will also show his endurance as a a humble champion. His victory will be celebrated by the honor and respect he deserves — self-respect.

Christopher Chaffee is the head tennis pro at Cranmore Resort and coach of the Fryeburg Academy girls tennis team.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 02:00

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