Golf Bucks County

By Bob Oliver

Middletown Country Club

Middletown is a compact 80 acres of challenging golf, with rolling hills and large specimen trees that have watched many golfers travel its fairways over time. It has retained its old time feel with tees and greens in close proximity, allowing golfers to walk the course if they choose.

The Traveling Golfer

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01 Aug
2020

More golf, more often, more places

Written by Bob Oliver

Lists.  We love our lists. 

Bucket lists on everything from travel destinations to restaurants. 

Golfers lists include playing in Scotland and/or Ireland, sampling Pebble Beach or somehow getting an invitation to Pine Valley. 

For me it has long been playing a new course.  To date I've sampled more than 925 courses, and while COVID has put a crimp on adding to the list I've tried. Drivable jaunts to play a new course has occupied recent time, and I've been able to add a few new challenges this year. 

Thinking ahead, there are great opportunities. Along the way it would be great to play some top-ranked courses.  There was a time when I'd played 25 of the top 100 modern courses in the USA, as determined by Golfweek. Looking at the recently released listings for 2020, the list has changed dramatically. 

I've only sampled 9 of the top 100, 20 of the top 200.  That's depressing!

Of course to many people - who haven't played a single one of the list - probably to big deal. But it is for this corner. While in my drive to 1,000 courses played I've sampled some real, shall we say, less than stellar courses, I've balanced those with scenic, challenging and immaculately manicured layouts that are memorable gems. 

One particular jewel, the Tom Doak designed Stonewall (Old Course) layout in Bulltown, Pa., is a classic. Carved on rolling farmland, it's a walking course - no motorized carts - and it takes one back in time. Rolling fairways, dastardly greens that sometimes mystify even the seasoned caddies that guide one, it's not only beautiful but a true experience. 

And it's back on the top-100 list! 

There are some courses one never want to play again after an initial visit. Others, like Merion, Oakmont, Stonewall and Pine Valley, never get old. Each has it's one special way, and one wants to play again and again.

For now, my goal is to intersperse those great tests with new challenges of varying degrees. Having lost 30 yards somewhere along the line, even the white tees can be hellacious. But the mind knows that playing golf, anywhere, is mind easing. 

Guess the glass is half empty or half full, but there is room for more golf. D(V*D be damned. 

 

08 Jul
2020

COVID-19: Pay attention....or...

Written by Bob Oliver

I'm not pontificating.  Just sayin.

 

We all know that the Pandemic is real, that COVID-19 is serious, and that our "Normal" is now the "New Normal".

 

Golf's new normal isn't golf as usual and like the good old days, but it is what it is in a new set of times.  

 

Golf courses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland, as well as about 30 other states, were closed for months as Governor's developed game plans on how to deal with the disease. To reopen, golf course management teams followed federal and state guidelines to have the ability to safely reopen their operations to play golf.

 

Some went to non-touch payments, requiring pre-payments for green's fees, no cash exchanged, limited food and beverage services, masks inside buildings, cleaning of golf carts after usage.  Golfers were greeted with immovable golf flags with plastic inserts in cups, single players in carts, and after the round no handshakes.  

 

We were told to social distance, to be smart, and to do everything in our power to keep players safe.  Without saying, it was also a test of sorts as to whether golf clubs could continue to remain open for pay in these trying times. 

 

Which brings us to a point that came to the forefront on my drive for playing 1,000 golf courses. I'm over 900 played, and always looking for a new challenge on the road to 1,000.

 

There I was, playing at an unnamed layout, with two guys. We were joined together at the first tee, and they seemed to be fun, normal guys.  Expected was a nice day on the golf course. Unexpected was the political dialogue surrounding the pandemic. 

 

You see, these two guys insisted on removing the flagstick when on the putting surface.

 

"I hate leaving the flagstick in," said one. 

 

"It's not golf if you leave flagstick in on putts," said the other.

 

I was outnumbered and flabbergasted and, well, concerned. 

 

You see, we know there are little things that can mushroom into problematic situations. I mentioned to the two that the course pro said not to remove flagsticks upon arriving at the course. These two said who cares, bringing the Bill of Rights into the conversation. 

 

While I'm no scholar, I don't thing the Founding Fathers had such thoughts in mind when they were putting the document together. I mentioned that not complying with the stated new mode of operating could lead to a disabling of playing privileges for others or worse.

 

They could care less, as they were in the "it doesn't pertain to me" mood. 

 

Seeing reason would lose as an argument, I went along with their protest but didn't touch the flagstick at any time. To tick them off, I'd ask them to put the flagstick back in when I was putting, which infuriated them to no end. So much so they'd put first, out of turn, in sequence before I could putt. 

 

At least I got to see how the putts were breaking, but it was unnerving hearing them, after putting out, walking to their carts while I was still working on the putting green.

 

Oh well. Small price and point to pay.  Bottom line. Be aware of the COVID guidelines because you know that, if these are "broken" government types could pull the plus and nobody will be allowed to play golf. That would be a really bad thing. 

 

Try and socially distance.  Wear masks when near others, avoiding groups. Have some fun while you make the best of a bad situation. 

 

Just sayin,