Citizen’s News sportswriter Ken Morse hit the links at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck for nine holes. This is the first of a three-part series detailing his round and experiences.
There’s a first time for everything, as they say. I had my first ever encounter with the game of golf last week for this series of columns on Naugatuck’s Hop Brook Golf Course.
In my office I have a golf trophy courtesy of winning a miniature golf event back in the day. Trust me, the only thing that miniature golf and its big brother have in common is the word golf. That is where the comparison ends.
My counterparts in the foursome where three brave men: Al Buell, his son Al Jr. and Steve DiBona. They took this newbie under their wings and endured the incomprehensible three-hour adventure through Hop Brooks’ pristine surroundings.
Despite the lack of rain overall this summer, Course Superintendent Joe Malay and his crew have done an unbelievable job in keeping the course in tip-top shape. Hop Brook Golf Pro Bob Clark has certainly done a great job promoting the course, as all the carts were in use on this busy day on the links.
As I headed out, I knew immediately it was going to be a rough go of it when the marker on the first hole stated 474 yards par 5. I do know a little bit about the game, since I write about it in the paper, but once again that is where the comparison ends.
There are enough trees lining both sides leading to the first fairway to create a problem if you don’t steer your initial shot straight. The challenge is navigating the second longest hole on the course at 474 yards from the blue tees and avoiding a small water hazard that stands in the way of an uphill climb to the green and the pin.
It literally took me five swings just to get the ball off the tee on the first hole. That’s when I decided not to keep score because I left my calculator at home.
After completely missing on the first two whacks, I finally made contact as the ball fell off the tee and rolled five feet.
It could only get better I thought to myself as we headed to the second hole, a 371-yard par 4.
The second hole is a little less of a journey than the first hole, but just as challenging. You have to maneuver over a series of rises that can slow down your approach. A stand of trees to the right of the fairway can be an obstacle as you approach the green at the far end of the property.
Things got better for me, but it was a long arduous trek I must admit. My fellow mates were doing quite well and it was obvious they have actually played this game before.
I did begin to make steady progress. By the third hole, a 355-yard par 4, I managed to get the ball in the hole in a modest 10 strokes.
The third tee is on an elevated box and the approach to the fairway is a downward grade. The tree line on the left can be menacing and a stand of trees further down the fairway juts out from the right side just before the green. If you can keep your shot down the middle of the fairway, par is quite possible.
The green has a slight rise to it on the front side. Unless you watch the grade as you hone in on your short game, a hopeful par can easily turn into a triple bogey.
I did have several decent shots on the day, but most of my time was spent swinging and missing or hitting the top of the ball and watching it roll 30 yards at a time.
Stay tuned next week as I bring you my adventure on holes 4, 5 and 6.