Golfing in April in the Valley 

By Kathy Bennett

Nothing motivates a golfer more to get out there and start swinging a club than the thought of playing in  an upcoming tournament. Wanting to warm up and scrape the rust off, figuratively speaking, prior to a charity tournament is a great motivational tool for early season golfers, myself included.

So twice last week I grabbed a quick 9 holes at local courses to see if I knew which end of the club to hold.

Eagle Mountain Course in Jackson, NH is what I consider my home course. It is a stunningly beautiful, relatively forgiving and rugged little 9-hole resort course next to the Eagle Mountain House hotel. What it lacks in manicured greens it makes up with mountain and river views. We arrived Friday after work and enjoyed a fun if chilly twilight round. Sweatshirts, fleece and hats were in order despite the sunshine. Snow lingered near the foundation of the hotel.

As is likely true at all local courses this year, winter’s early departure has given golfers an early treat – greens that are actually green in April. Course owners have obviously been at work and the greens were aerated (but playable) and efforts are being made to grade and otherwise repair the cart paths, which took a beating when Hurricane Irene blew threw a few years ago. Our favorite holes are the first (men’s tees give you a hero’s welcome – an elevated tee box and spectacular views); the third (avoid the pucker brush off the tee and remember to ring the bell when you start the 4th hole); and the ninth (the steep fairway reminds you that this was the original teaching slope for Carroll Reed’s ski school back in the 1930s).

While the greens were in decent shape for April, we look forward to returning later in the season for another round at our favorite little course.

Saturday, we took a tour to the southern stretch of our area to Province Lake Golf Course. This traditional course opened near the turn of the last century and its tavern and club house are classic and inviting reminders of that. The course overlooks its namesake body of water. With temps in the 60s, it was nice to take off the fleece and windbreakers and enjoy the sunshine.

Conditions at Province Lake were remarkable for April. We recounted that there are likely years that the ice isn’t out on the lake this time of year, let alone golfable.  We weren’t the only ones out for an early round – there were foursomes lined up at the first hole, so we sat back and enjoyed the sunshine and waited for our turn to tee up.

Province Lake will appeal to both the novice and experienced golfer. Some holes are nicknamed “Monster” and “Heartbreak Hill” due to their length. But there are enough forgiving par 3s to keep even beginners feeling hopeful. The course is rated tops for women and their kids day care building near the club house is a good indication why.

Province Lake (http://www.provincelakegolf.com/) is located in Parsonsfield, ME, a reasonable drive south of the North Conway area – take Route 153 south off Route 16.

Eagle Mountain House (http://www.eaglemt.com/)  is in Jackson, NH. Take Route 16A through the covered bridge and then turn right at the Wentworth Hotel.

Get out there and start swinging – whether or not you have to impress at a tournament anytime soon.

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