Larrabee Observes and Opines, Part 1

Catching up with an assortment of golf — and other — issues as we forge into the two most beautiful months of the golfing season, September and October.

First, a huge shout-out to the memberships and staffs of Salem and Kernwood Country Club for the magnificent fashion in which they shared hosting duties for one terrific 92nd NEPGA Championship the end of last month. Let’s even give them credit for the delicious weather we had for three straight days, not to mention the outstanding golf played by several of the top names in the field. The cream of the field crop surely rose to the top, as witnessed the four top finishers: first-time cham Ed Kirby (a former PGA Tour player and three-time U.S. Open participant), runnerup Jeff Seavey, third placer (and defender) John Hickson and No. 4 finisher Kirk Hanefeld, who at 56 is coming off a five-year journey on the Chjampions Tour and, had it not been for a balky putter, could have made the homecoming to his former club (Salem) quite a celebration.

Among the locals, it was great to see Ipswich head pro Travis Hall, a former Salem assistant, qualify for his first National Professional PGA Championship next July along with Kernwood’s Frank Dully.

Personally, I have never seen the Kernwood and Salem courses in finer condition or more playable for a major competition. Just another reminder how special these two Donald Ross courses are; always in demand as championship sites.  Next up for Kernwood is the 2014 Massachusetts Amatwur as part of its centennial season. Next up for Salem, hopefully, is the 2017 U.S. Senior Open, pending the USGA’s acceptance and then successful negotiations from the two parties. The USGA should be acting on the invite in the next couple months.

We North Shore (of Boston) golfers can’t have it any better — arguably the finest combination of public and private golf in the state, if not New England. Tedesco, Myopia, Essex, Turner Hill, Ferncroft and Ipswich are additional superb tests on the private side and the list of solid public courses, nine and eighteen, are almost endless.

Congrats to Salem Classic winners Matt O’Keefe and Indian Ridge’s John Gilmartin (132 gross for the 36 holes) and Matt Nekoroski and Troy Joncas (124) on the net side.  Ditto for 92nd Myopia Fourball winners Dan Cutler and Wil Loring. And ditto again to Jim Grant for capturing his fourth club title at Crystal Lake (formerly Crystal Springs) with 74-73-147, good for a six-shot margin over Barry Rembis (74-79) and seven over Glen Harwood (78-76)

The seventh season of the Chris Young-directed New England Golf Tour wraps up the next couple weeks with a September 18 tournament at red Tail and the Tour Championship September 25 at Marlboro. Polar Beverages has continued as the primary sponsor. Joel Bradley won the most recent event at The Ledges with a 73.

Another spectacular Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, with Rory McIlroy surviving a tense final-round duel with South African Louis Oosthuizen, while Tiger’s putter went astray the final nine or he’d have triumphed.

Amazing stat of the week: Oosthuizen was -19 after 46 holes and finished at -19 at the end of the 72-hole tourney. He played the last 26 holes in even par. No wonder he lost.

Two terrific coffee table books you must purchase for your golf library or for for your golf chums (they make ideal gifts): Emerald Gems —  The Links of Ireland, photographed by Westerly, Rhode Island-based Laurence Casey Lambrecht, and Classic American Courses, by Mike Stachura. Lambrecht’s work is stunning in every respect. The book’s 12 by 16 dimensions  are justified. The images are worth framing; 206 pages of dazzling Ireland golf, accompanied by commentary from a group of Irish chaps, including David Feherty. Go to Larry’s website. It’s the next best thing to having played there, which I haven’t yet, but will before I make my inevitable trip to the Harvard Medical School cadaver laboratory. I buy the book in groups of five. You should, too. It’s the finest book of golf photography I have ever seen.

Stachura’s book (2003), published by Golf Digest, boasts appealing photography of what he considers 50 of this country’s finest classic courses, including two in Massachusetts, our own Salem and Brookline’s The Country Club. Wannamoisett makes three, and that’s it, for New England courses. The obvious choices are included, such as Cypress Point, Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Shinnecock Hills, Pine Valley and Seminole. But there are sime surprises as well. Get it on Amazon for a bargain basement price.




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