Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Round #30: Rhode Island - Newport National Golf Club (Orchard Course)

First impressions at the Newport National Golf Club were not very good. Apparently the club ran into financial problems which resulted in a curtailment of plans to build a clubhouse; the pro shop and snack bar were in temporary buildings. The parking lot was gravel which extended onto the course where all of the cart paths were also unpaved. When I asked to be directed to their practice range I ran into one more reminder of their financial problems.
The BYOB practice range at Newport National (bring your own balls) 

Luckily, it appeared the course had been completed before the financial problems arose. Aside from clumps of grass clippings, the course was in great shape for play.

Round: #30
Location: Middletown, RI
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #7
Date: 22 Jun, tee off at 9:30 AM
Conditions: sunny, 4 MPH wind, 82 degrees
Yardage: 6,553
Lost balls: 3
Score: 89 on a par 72
The starter paired me up with four other people, three of whom were playing and one who was riding along on the cart. Chris Kennedy was a member of the golf club and had played the course on numerous occasions. She was a good person to have in the group whenever we encountered hidden obstacles during the round. Chris is the Chair of the Math Department at Bryant University. She was the former coach of the women’s golf team for 16-years until the program was dropped with her encouragement. The University was preparing to increase funding for the women’s golf team, but Chris thought the money could be better used elsewhere. She was speaking from her experience in dealing with girls who complained when out of town matches took them away from their boy friends. What was more amazing was that the girls would return to school for the Fall semester without having touched their clubs all summer, claiming they just not have the time. I did not understand why they wanted to join the golf team in the first place!
Riding with Chris was Beverly Chell, a retired executive from a New York City media firm named Primedia. Beverly has been retired  for 6-years from a business that revolved around trade & consumer magazines. She spends summers in Rhode Island and the winter season at their home in Palm Springs, California. Beverly & her husband have visited all of the Presidential museums as they have traveled cross-country between their two homes.
The 3rd player on our group was Lee, a recently retired executive from Nonni’s Food Company. His wife Karen accompanied him on the golf cart. Both of them were familiar with Iowa; Lee was a former resident of Chicago and Karen lived in Fairfield, Iowa when she was married to her first husband. They currently reside in Belmont, Massuchusetts - the home town of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mitt’s children now live in his former home within a few blocks of where Lee & Karen live. When I asked Lee if he supported  Mitt he told me he was an Independent. Karen works as a psychiatric therapist. She was expecting to hear next month if she will be traveling to Germany under a 3-month contract working with USA military personnel and their families. Karen has been to Germany before but did not leave with a favorable impression; I tried to change that by sharing some of my favorite memories of visits to Germany.
Karen, Chris, Beverly & Lee

The golf swing I had been enjoying for the past 2-days was gone. I had troubled scoring well; my iron shots were missing the greens and I had troubled finding any consistency putting. Hole #9 was a good example; after landing my tee shot 130-yards from the green my short game came up quite short. I ended up with a double bogey.
 168-yard par 3 hole #3

348-yard par 4 hole #9

This was the first time I have encountered a rectangular green on a golf course. It was an unusual aspect of the course that just seemed weird. Rectangular, round or oval, it did not seem to make any difference to my game on the back nine. I lost 3-balls in hazard areas with shots that flew straight - but at the wrong angle. Some of my best shots of the day occurred on holes requiring a tee shot to be hit at the correct angle over a hazard into a narrow fairway, the wrong angle would result in either the ball dropping in the hazard or rolling through the fairway into the rough. The long rough was not a good place to hit out of.
 444-yard par 5 hole #7

 396-yard par 4 hole #15

 439-yard par 4 hole #17

381-yard par 4 hole #18

Karen mentioned that Chris’s husband was also a golf coach at Bryant University. He was not just an ordinary coach. Since Arthur "Archie" Boulet began the men’s golf program at Bryant in 1964, his numbers have been remarkable and his records speak for themselves. His teams included 23 Division II All-Americans, seven New England Players of the Year, 10 national top-20 Division II finishes, 11 New England Division II titles, 31 NCAA tournament appearances, one ECAC all-divisions title, four New England all-divisions titles and 24 players who have become head or assistant pros at golf courses across the nation. He retired at the end of the 2011 season after a remarkable 47-years as the only coach in Bryant golf history. I could have used some of Archie’s coaching during my round at Newport National.
 148-yard par 3 hole #13

523-yard par 5 hole #14

After playing golf we drove north into Bristol where we stopped for lunch at Quitos Restaurant on the water front. Fresh sea food could be bought over the counter in their fish market or served up in the restaurant. 
 Quitos Restaurant

Fresh crabs in Quitos fish market
The town was already preparing for the 4th of July celebration in a big way.  Their annual celebration began in 1785 when Rev. Henry Wright, a Veteran of the Revolutionary War, conducted the first Patriotic Exercises. These Exercises are observed each year on the morning of July 4th. It is not known exactly when the parade started but it is thought that it evolved from the procession of community members walking to Patriotic Exercises. 
The festivities officially start on June 14, Flag Day, beginning a period of outdoor concerts, soap-box races and a firefighters muster at Independence Park. The celebration climaxes on July 4 with the oldest annual parade in the United States, an event that draws over 200,000 people from around the world. These elaborate celebrations give Bristol (population: 22,954) the nickname, "America's most patriotic town".
Red, white & blue striping clearly indicates the parade route

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