You think: Old-time movie star.
Your partner thinks: golf.
You think: Archie and Edith on “All in the Family.”
Your partner thinks: golf.
You think: romance, walks, spa.
Your partner thinks: golf.
Can this relationship
be saved? More importantly, can this weekend getaway be saved? Can you avoid becoming a golf widow? THE ANSWER IS:
Golf! (I mean, yes!)
As it turns out, New Hampshire is home to plenty of Getaway and Play resorts and hotels that cater both to the experienced golfer and one who doesn’t know a driver from a putter. And according to everybody in the world who plays golf, the sole reason you, personally, don’t love golf already is because you don’t play. That can be easily overcome.
PGA Certified Golf Pro Bob McGraw specializes in working with newbies at the Eagle Mountain House in Jackson (800-966-5779, www.eaglemt.com). The 96-room historic hotel — first converted from farmhouse to guesthouse for 12 in 1879 — features a 9-hole, par 32 golf course that allows golfers to saunter along the Wildcat River and offers mountain views at every hole.
“The course here at Eagle Mountain is the best of both worlds — it is very challenging for the experienced player but friendly to beginners,” says McGraw, who served as head golf pro at the Wentworth Golf Club and the Club of New Seabury on Cape Cod before coming to Jackson.
The Eagle Mountain course is a bit shorter than might be found in a more modern one, and there are fewer of those difficult-for-the-sake-of-being-difficult hazards and bunkers that tend to generate strings of salty language in most folks.
“The newer courses are made more difficult for the really serious player and that can be intimidating when you’re just starting to learn,” says McGraw. “Here, you’re not going to have to search endlessly for a lost ball. Plus, it’s a beautiful setting — you look up wherever you are, and there’s Carter Notch. What a spot.”
Eagle Mountain also offers a driving range, carts (gas or human-powered) and elevated tees.
And once you and your partner have finished a round or two? How about a cocktail on the 280-foot wraparound veranda? Or the legendary Sunday champagne brunch, featuring eggs, roast beef, shrimp and live jazz?
Or, you might just head back out to the links. Because by now, you may just be hooked.
Farther north The Balsams (800-255-0600, www.thebalsams.com), a historic resort deep in the Great North Woods, offers two golf courses — one challenging, one not so much — for your playing pleasure. For beginners and high handicappers, there is a 9-hole executive course right next to the hotel. For the more experienced golfer, there is an 18-hole course, designed by legendary golf architect Donald Ross back in 1912, that runs up the side of Keyser Mountain. At the top on the 18th fairway is the Panorama Golf Club with views that take your breath away. General Manager David Lindelow says, “From the porch, you can see Canada to your left, Maine to your right and Vermont over your shoulder.” Great for a romantic, end-of-day dinner.
For the non-golfer, there is a myriad of fun things to do — kayaking, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, whitewater rafting, the list goes on. You can then treat your sore muscles to a massage.
Farther south, The Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods (800-314-1752, www.mtwashington.com) has the 9-hole Mount Pleasant Course. First opened in 1895 and specifically aimed at those looking for romance as well as sport, it was redesigned and restored in 1989 and now is a challenging 35-par course that wends along the Ammonoosuc River.
For slightly less romance and slightly more sport, there’s the official Mount Washington 18-hole course, designed in 1915 by renowned Scottish architect Donald Ross. New England’s stunning mountain ranges are on view from throughout the course, which has been visited by everyone from Babe Ruth to Thomas Edison.
The Mount offers lessons to seasoned players and those picking up a club for the first time. Their nine-hole course in front of the hotel is easier for novices.
Travel to the Lakes Region and you’ll find the Inns at Mill Falls (800-622-6455, www.millfalls.com) that has a two-night “Puttin’ Around N.H.” package that offers a choice of three nearby golf courses: the 18-hole Waukewan, the executive 9-hole at Oak Hill and the 18-hole at the Laconia Country Club.
There’s also a choice of four charming inns: Mill Falls, Bay Point, Chase House and Church Landing. At Church Landing, there is a world-class, full-service day spa that offers steam rooms, body treatments, massages and facials using the Sonya Dakar skin care products (the kind Britney Spears and other celebrities like).
Ready for a little shopping? No problem — there are lots of shops and restaurants at the Mill Falls Marketplace and Meredith’s Main Street is not far from there.
Over in the Monadnock Region, The Shattuck (603-532-4300, www.sterlinggolf.com) advertises itself as “golf as it was meant to be,” and you and your golf-loving spouse may not disagree. The 18-hole, par-71 course in Jaffrey is designed to share its natural setting with wildlife — you shouldn’t be surprised if you spot a blue heron or a mink — and multiple sets of tees on each hole make for a slightly easier time of it for ladies, seniors, kids and newbies. Meanwhile, significant sloping and devilishly designed holes — #14 is nicknamed “Alcatraz” because of a rock-walled island surrounded by marsh grass and water you really want to avoid — makes it appealing to the seasoned player.
Several bed and breakfasts and inns in the area offer Stay and Play packages with The Shattuck, including The Woodbound Inn in Rindge, the Inn at Jaffrey Center and the Grandview Inn in Jaffrey.
Tee Time and Tea Time
OK, you’re willing to give golf a try, but only if golf time is balanced out with, well, a few non-golf offerings.
The Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa in Whitefield (800-438-3017, www.mountainviewgrand.com) may just be your cup of tee.
Sure, there’s golf. And plenty of it. The Mountain View’s current 9-hole course was designed in 1900 by Ralph Barton, who was a respected links architect as well as professor of mathematics at Dartmouth College. Each hole is double-teed so it plays like an 18-hole course, with degree of difficulty to suit the serious player but accessibility to suit the newcomer. The course was renovated in 1999.
With views of 57 mountain peaks (somebody counted), the course at Mountain View is breathtaking and challenging, with impeccable maintenance. But it’s also due to change — plans are approved for a 7,800 yard, 18-hole PGA-regulation course.
But wait: there’s more. The folks at Mountain View don’t want to see anybody spend a weekend as a golf widow. So while they offer golf, they offer a lot of other activities and pamperings, too.
“Overall, we’re going for something of a campus setting — as you wander around you can experience different amenities, activities,” says Clemmer. “There’s enough here for everyone to experience.”
Like what? Archery. Hot air balloon rides. Rock climbing. Equestrian sports. Go-karts. A super-high-tech workout room that designs a program for you based on your personal body mass.
“You get a great workout geared for you without some big ex-Marine guy yelling at you,” promises Clemmer.
And then, there’s the spa. Twelve rooms, 60 different treatments offered — including, by the way, dual treatments for you and your special someone — including body wraps, Vichy showers and the 2532-water-jet chromotub. And, of course, massage, guaranteed to work out all the kinks after a day on the links.
If that isn’t enough, you can always wrap up a hard day of couples chipping and driving with a visit to the Ofuru Hot Tub in the Tower. As you can guess, the Tower is the high-up and very-private hot tub at the Mountain View, where you and your special guest can unwind and discuss, you know, golf theory, over strawberries and champagne.
See The Ball, Hit The Ball,
Love The Ball
OK, you don’t hate golf. You don’t mind the idea of the Golf Weekend at all. But you don’t know the first thing about clubs or hazards and you’re intimidated. What to do?
Relax, say the experts.
One solution may be to take a lesson or two before you go. And also: don’t expect to learn the basics from your loved one.
“When you’re learning, you’ve got to be ready to laugh at yourself, and accept a little criticism,” says Eric Minzner, teaching pro at Johnny 9 Irons in Hooksett (603-626-1655, www.johnny9irons.com). “And you know, when you’re being taught by your husband — it never works out that well.”
Minzner says that 99 percent of Golf 101 is basic information — everything from course etiquette to body mechanics to getting the mind right. Yes, getting the mind right. “It’s easy to get too technical, to get very hung up on technique. I try to get people to focus on the target and the hazards, and getting around them,” he says.
Ted Foster, who has run Foster’s Golf Camps for kids for 14 years, agrees. “You want to get an appreciation for the spirit of the game, the pace of play,” says Foster. “And what you’ll find for the most part is that golfers are supportive of newcomers. They’re willing to give a hand or answer a question.”
Minzner says there are Type A and Type B personalities playing — Type As being those who set out to conquer golf (something no one ever does, he notes) — but he prefers to coach people into being Type B players. “This is a game that’s great because unlike most, you can conceivably play for the rest of your life. It’s athletic but not so much that you have to give it up as you age out,” says Minzner, who runs a Ladies League at Johnny 9 Irons. “So what I say to people is there’s no need to worry. Just relax, do the best you can and enjoy the afternoon. It’s beautiful outside!” NH
This article appears in the May 2006 issue of New Hampshire Magazine