Citizen’s News sportswriter Ken Morse hit the links at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck for nine holes. This is the second part of a three-part series detailing his round and experiences.
I often wondered why golfers would line up and whack bucket after bucket of golf balls at a driving range. After playing my very first round of real golf at Hop Brook Golf Course recently, I will never have to ask myself that question again. Note to self: practice makes perfect, especially in the game of golf.
Golf truly is a game like no other. It can be frustrating, maddening and even down right defeating. Then when you least expect it there is that one shot that leaves you in awe. That shot that hooks you and has you coming back for more trying so desperately to duplicate that perfection.
I found that shot on the 325-yard par 4 fourth hole of Hop Brook that had me feeling like I got this game down.
Oh how the heart grieves what the mind can’t comprehend.
Three shots later I was contemplating sending the driver I was holding through the base of my skull. Like I told you this game can be maddening.
As I stood in the tee box on the fourth hole I could feel the sweat rolling down my forehead and I was griping my club like it was a lifeline on a sinking ship. There in front of me I stared off into the distance at the most intimidating, if not menacing, hole on the golf course.
The blind hill appeared to rise up towards the clouds in the sky with no end in sight. How was I ever going to clear that hill? After a series of low line drives on the first three holes I knew I needed to get some height to my shot. But how?
I reared back the club and took a mighty swing and to my amazement the little white ball lifted up off the tee box and rose into the sky approaching the crest of the hill and suddenly it was gone.
The guys I was with roared with approval. I did it, I cleared the hill and it was all downhill from there.
Indeed it was.
I had managed to stay away from the tree line to the right at the top of the hill and keep it out of the Highland Avenue traffic to the left, but several well-placed roughs stood in the way of the green.
I managed to get on the green in six modest shots, but it was the four-putt that sunk my enthusiasm. Need to work on my short game. Definitely need to work on something, I thought to myself.
From there the course takes a sharp right hand turn leading to the most panoramic view of the course from the tee box of the fifth hole. Set up high on a hill overlooking the first fairway your tee shot appears to be going right off a cliff. The flag, 153 yards away on the green of the par 3, looks close enough that you can reach out and touch it.
Nestled just on the other side of the asphalt pathway with a stand of pine trees bordering the back side of the green, an eager golfer trying to make up some valuable strokes is warned not to stray too far off course.
Steve DiBona launched a near perfect approach getting it on the green with his tee shot. Al Buell and his son Al Jr. laid up on the hill in the deep rough. Now it came my turn, and I watched in horror as my tee shot rolled down the embankment about 100 yards from the green.
So much for that side of the course and it was onto to hole six across the road out in front of the pro shop. I felt relieved to have made it this far and felt a new beginning awaited me. So much for optimism, it can disappear in a fleeting moment.
The sixth hole was the longest challenge of the day at 490 yards and a par 5. The tricky part is getting your tee shot over the brook standing in your way of the fairway.
The bank on the other side has consumed many low line drive shots, so you will need to get some height while being wary of the low tree line that can inadvertently alter your shot. A stand of trees creates kind of a dog leg right as it continues to push its way onto the fairway steering you toward the green that is partially hidden by a high sand trap.
I actually hit my best shot of the day sending a high towering drive over the sand trap landing ten feet from the pin. That got another rise out of my counterparts and there was hope in Mudville that this newbie had something in his game worth exploring.
Stay tuned next week as I explore the final three holes of this maddening round of golf on one of the most pristine nine-hole courses in the state.