Citizen’s News sportswriter Ken Morse hit the links at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck for nine holes. This is the third part of a three-part series detailing his round and experiences.
Nearing the end of any sporting event has a way of sparking the tempest of competition. The bottom of the ninth inning in baseball, the two-minute warning in football or the final seconds on the clock in basketball, they all conjure up thoughts of stardom or the anxiety of failure.
Approaching the seventh hole in my Hop Brook golfing adventure brought about mixed feelings: relief that the journey was concluding and a bit of pressure wanting to go out with a bang.
While most who frequent the nine-hole course have a feeling of accomplishment after a one and half or two hour journey, mine was more of a three plus hour sojourn on the links. Somehow the words par for the course get stuck in my throat.
Whoever designed Hop Brook Golf Course had the presence of mind to lay out a rather easy 169 yard par three on hole seven after navigating the 490 yard par five on hole six.
It was another picturesque scene that awaited our foursome. From the tee box you could see the 12-foot sunflowers that bordered the back of the property beyond the green with Hop Brook condominiums on the other side of the fence.
My avid golfing contingent kept warning me not to leave my putt short. Better to be long than short, they said. The green on the seventh hole runs a little quick, I might add, so don’t be too quick in your haste to try and gain back some of the many strokes lost along the way. In your haste, you might run the risk of running off the backside of the green into the brook that lies in wait at the far right end of the hole.
The eighth hole, a 402 yard par 4, is where endurance needs to kick in. Knowing you are nearing the end may have you hitting anxious shots as the flag is not even in sight. You’re left wondering if you’re hitting the ball aimlessly. On second thought, that is what I’ve have been doing all afternoon.
On the fairway, the flag comes into sight for the first time blowing gently in the wind, assuring that you are still on the course. It could be weariness at that point, but this hole seems longer than all the others, though it’s really not.
A patient approach is needed to stay out of the stand of pine trees at the back side of the green. It was my best putting of the day, knocking it in with three carefully managed taps. Unfortunately, it was the dozen shots to get me to the green that made my score on that hole null and void.
You’ve made it, even if your score doesn’t reflect your jubilant mood, as the 329 yard par 4 ninth hole signifies the end of the journey. But don’t get too carried away. The uphill approach to the final hole can be tricky if not frustrating.
The uphill terrain is filled with slopes and crevices that can adversely affect your approach to the green. Once you are on be careful because a little too much putter can ruin your final score as shots are known to slide down the embankment.
All in all, the nine holes at Hop Brook are challenging, entertaining and at times a picture of beauty with the most pristine scenery around. I will definitely be back to try my hand at big boy golf again, but I will be sure to hit the driving range before I do. I don’t want a line of golfers behind me wondering what the heck is this guy doing.
Thanks to golf pro Bob Clark for his cordial invitation and a special thanks to my golfing partners Steve DiBona, Al Buell and Al Jr. for patiently bringing along the new guy and showing him the ropes. My apologies to all the golfers who I held up on that glorious afternoon at Hop Brook.