Groton's Green Jewel: A Classic New England Golf Course
The Groton-Dunstable Regional HS, Littleton and Ayer/Lunenburg golf teams regularly practice and play their matches in the fall and spring at Groton. However, the following observations are from the viewpoint of several senior golfers, who appreciate the scenery, the hike and the quiet as much as the golf. We are providing the following description with the hope that you may be tempted to indulge yourself in a round or more at GP&CC.
In the March 16 issue of the Herald, we had putted out on the second hole and turned westward to view Lawrence Academy, the white steeple of the First Parish Church, the Wapack Range of mountains that extends from Mt. Wachusett northward to Mt. Monadnock on the horizon, framing Mt. Watatic at 1,800 feet in the center. Almost made you forget your score. On to the third and fourth holes .
Hole # 3
Three is a 350 yard, par 4 and the number one handicap hole (most difficult) on the course. All who shoot par here need not apologize!
From the tee box, the view is downhill extending approximately 50-75 yards to a valley floor that spans another 50 yards before continuing up another hill. It is this vale that is the most serene setting on the golf course. The area is sheltered from the wind by tall trees abutting both sides of a wide fairway. Frequently, low-flying small birds will accompany you, as they snatch various insects disturbed by the foot traffic and golf carts. It is not the longest hole on the course but a challenge, demanding a solid drive, and an accurate, well-struck second shot to the green.
For us Geritol types who will be hitting our second shot from a position on the upslope of a fairway that also slopes downward from left to right, it is testing to say the least!
Once you get your ball to the top of the hill (we never mention over-the-hill in the senior league), you are on a plateau estimated to be 60-80 yards long. Assuming that you have not delivered your second shot into the woods or the swimming pool, your approach will make-or-break this hole. But if your ball cannot be found, "Remember," said bowling professional Don Carter, "one of the advantages bowling has over golf is that you seldom lose a bowling ball."
If your ball is in play, there are two choices. After taking into consideration the steepness of the slope, the terrain, the wetness and length of the grass, the mowed condition, a delicate chip to a fairway that slopes sharply downhill some 30 yards to the green is in order. Luck also plays a big part. You simply watch the ball traverse the downhill and pray it ends on the green somewhere within shouting distance of the hole. The second option is to hit a high short iron, carry the green and hope the ball holds on the putting surface that is cheetah fast!
During the summer on this third green, one hears the sounds of excitement from those using the Groton pool, which is only a wedge shot away protected by a 20 foot high screen. The exuberance from the young people at the pool reminds all that this golf thing is only a game.
Hole # 4
The fourth hole sounds like a piece of cake. It is only 144 yards from tee to green and again in a southerly direction. Unlike the first three holes, you can see the green from the tee. It is the first of two back to back par threes. However, it is what lies between the tee and putting surface that makes this hole "interesting."
A shot from the elevated tee must clear Whitman Road, a small pond and steep hill. Three sand hazards guard the green, two in front and one, pin high to the left. Golf professional Jim Dent once said after hitting an errant shot, "I can airmail the golf ball, but sometimes I don't put the right address on it."
Once on the green, putting is also a challenge, since almost nowhere is there a straight or level line to the hole. A ridge cuts through the green from back left to front right. It clearly defines the putting options and the desired line. Despite being the shortest hole on the golf course, number four may indeed be the most frustrating of the nine holes, typically encouraging "interesting dialogue" among the golfers. A chance for par with a well struck iron.