Golf Commentary

This document contains various contributions from BSSGA members over the years. Be sure to read all the way to the end!

My Ten Stories by Paul Chiampa

There are a lot of great reasons to join the BSSGA.  First and foremost is the great people we get to meet and play golf with. A close second is the great if not legendary courses we get to play every year. I like to think of the BSSGA as “great golf with great people.” However, there is another reason why I enjoy the BSSGA, and I call it “My Ten Stories.”

We all have about ten favorite golf stories, more or less.  They might involve great shots, outstanding matches, famous people you got paired with, a top ten golf course you played, a memorable golf trip, and so on.  You have told each of the stories a hundred times, and your wife has heard each one.  The unique and wonderful aspect of the BSSGA is that you get paired with new members for every round of golf, and for every formal dinner.  These are people, who haven’t heard your ten stories, and they are your captive for either eighteen holes, or a five course meal.  And, just as good, you haven’t heard their stories either. What could be better? You might forget who you played or ate with and repeat yourself, but, they have probably forgotten your stories anyway. That’s the great thing about senior golf and the BSSGA. 

Why Can't Green Speeds Remain Constant?

Dave Busenburg has made a contribution to our understanding of the game we enjoy so much:  This is an article shared with our Greens Committee at Hyannisport by Tom Colombo (our Greens Superintendent).  I thought it was most interesting and more should be made aware of all variances that make up how fast (or not) our greens are.  

Bill Dore thought you should know about these recent rule changes....


Rule 9.k.34(a): If a tree is between the ball and the hole, and the tree is deemed to be younger than the player, then the ball can be moved without penalty. This is so because this is simply a question of timing; when the player was younger, the tree was not there so the player is being penalized because of his age.

Rule 1.a.5 - A ball sliced or hooked into the Rough shall be lifted and placed on the Fairway at a point equal to the distance it carried or rolled into the Rough with no penalty. The senior player should not be penalized for tall grass which ground keepers failed to mow.

Rule 2.d.6 (B) - A ball hitting a tree shall be deemed NOT to have hit the tree. This is simply bad luck and luck has no place in a scientific game. The senior player must estimate the distance the ball would have traveled if it had not hit the tree, and play the ball from there.

Rule 3.B.3(G) - There shall be no such thing as a lost ball. The missing ball is on or near the course and will eventually be found and pocketed by someone else, thereby making it a stolen ball. The senior player is not to compound the felony by charging himself with a penalty.

Rule 4.c.7(h) - If a putt passes over a hole without dropping, it is deemed to have dropped. The Law of Gravity supersedes the Rules of Golf.

Rule 5. - Putts that stop close enough to the cup that they could be blown in, may be blown in. This does not apply to balls more than three inches from the Hole. No one wants to make a mockery of the game.

Rule 6.a.9(k) - There is no penalty for so-called “out of bounds.” If penny-pinching golf course owners bought sufficient land, this would not occur. The senior player deserves an apology, not a penalty.

Rule 7.G.15(z) - There is no penalty for a ball in a water hazard, as golf balls should float. Senior players should not be penalized for any shortcomings of the manufacturers.

Rule 8.k.9(S) - Advertisements claim that golf scores can be improved by purchasing new golf equipment. Since this is financially impractical for many senior players, one-half stroke per hole may be subtracted for using old equipment.

Please advise all your senior friends of these important rule changes and keep multiple copies in your golf bag. Those not following the rules need to be provided a copy.

Golf is.... above all.... a game of integrity.

Your Membership chair called our attention to an article in North Shore Golf magazine recently. The author is Bob Green, long time professional at Tedesco.

The attention getter in this article is a table that shows what length course you should be playing, at least according to the PGA and the USGA in 2011 when they introduced a new initiative, Tee it Forward.

Driver Distance & Recommended 18 Hole Yardage

  • 275 (6,700 - 6,900)
  • 250 (6,200 - 6,400)
  • 225 (5,800 - 6,000)
  • 200 (5,200 - 5,400)
  • 175 (4,400 - 4,600)
  • 150 (3,500 - 3,700)
  • 125 (2,800 - 3,000)
  • 100 (2,100 - 2,300)

The theory was that if golfers adopted these yardage guidelines, they’d be hitting more approach shots with 6 and 7 irons instead of fairway woods, hybrids or long irons (assuming someone still hits long irons). The golf experience would be maximized, scores would be lower, making the game more fun and, hopefully, people would want to play more often. Another positive result: Playing from the appropriate yardage would mean quicker rounds. In theory, Tee it Forward should’ve worked. But theory doesn’t always translate into reality……..

Read the full article online at here.

My First Round of Golf by Paul Chiampa

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I was always looking for something to do during the summer. I was too young to work, and too old to have baby sitters. Caddying was still a few years away. My parents did not have a summer place on Cape Cod or on Lake Sunapee where killing time took care of itself. I played baseball every day, but the Little League season only lasted fifteen games, and was over in June. I typically left the house after breakfast, and made sure I was home for supper. If I wasn’t home by 6:00PM, I missed dinner, which never happened.

My mother had an old set of Louise Suggs specials made by MacGregor in the basement. I had no idea who Louise Suggs was, and that she was one of the greatest female golfers of all time. In case you are interested, Louise Suggs, after a successful amateur career, turned professional in 1948 and went on to win 58 professional tournaments, including 11 majors. The set consisted of two woods (literally), oddnumbered irons, and a putter. The wooden club heads were attached to the shaft with nylon string, which was always unraveling. It became another great use for electrical tape, which was duct tape of its day. The primary use for electrical tape in those days was for wrapping old, beat up baseballs that were literally coming apart at the seams. Golf gloves were unheard of. Grips were slick. No one had golf shoes. A baseball cap did double duty as a golf hat. Whole tees were precious. No one ever leaves behind a whole tee on a muni. Playing with a new golf ball was years away. In the future, we we would take a dip in the pond fronting the 18th hole, and come out with dozens of water-logged golf balls. My friend, Jackie, had a similar set so we decided we needed to go golfing.

The only municipal golf course within walking distance was Mt. Hood, which was about a mile away. The private club, Bellevue, was within a good driver from where we lived, but we did not belong. We put the bags on our shoulders, and made the long trek to the course. Mount Hood is an 18 hole golf club and park located in Melrose, Massachusetts. It was built in the 1930s on donated land as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. It is a golf course that would make the famous Ponkapoag aka “Ponky” in Canton, MA look like Augusta National. The tee boxes were made of horse hair mats. There was no irrigation so balls went forever. In summer, mosquitos were like locusts. Goats would have a hard time navigating the hilly terrain. On a clear day, you could see Boston.

The head pro was Roland “Rollie” Hancock. To us, he was just a nice, old man running a tired pro shop at a beat up golf course. His personal story, however, represents everything that is cruel about golf. Roland Hancock, age 21, would have won the 1928 US Open championship at Olympia Fields outside of Chicago by two strokes had he parred the final two holes, but he double-bogeyed 17 and bogeyed 18 to fall a shot out of the playoff. Bobby Jones won the playoff. We all know who Bobby Jones is. Rollie Hancock went on to live a quiet life in obscurity. “If only” are words that haunt every golfer at some level, but this had to be the worst.

Jackie and I had a wonderful time for our first ever round of golf. It was sheer joy just swinging, and walking, and laughing. He shot about 140, and I probably beat him by at least 20 strokes, but the scores really did not matter. It was pitch black by the time we were done. As we headed home, I noticed that there were no cars left in the parking lot except for one with its lights on and the motor running. The car looked familiar. It was my father. In our excitement to go golfing for the first time, we forgot to tell anyone where we were going and when we would be back. Houston we have a problem. I got the “get in the car and don’t say a thing” speech. I knew what was coming when we got home.

My father was a psychiatric social worker. He had worked in a variety of tough places including Bridgewater State Prison. He didn’t believe in corporal punishment. All he had to do was threaten to get the belt, and that was enough to get my attention. With three sons, he was threatening a lot. The only time he ever hit me was years earlier when I made a game of touching the backs of cars as they passed us in the street in front of our house. He had warned me. However, I made the fatal mistake of doing it one day in front my grandfather. His father said, “You did good.” I never did it again.

The second time and last time I got hit was when we got home from my first round of golf. He screamed and hit me on the porch while I played defense as best I could. I tried to play rope-a-dope before Muhammad Ali made it a thing. I guess he was mad that no one knew where we were. Go figure. I took it like a man. A lesser person would have forsaken golf forever. I went back to the course the very next day, after announcing where I was going, and I have been playing golf ever since. And I still come sometimes after dark.

An excerpt from Range Bucket List by James Dodson, contributed by Bob Griffin.

This was written by John Derr, CBS sportscaster.

My muscles are flabby, I can't hit a drive.
My mind often doubts if I am really alive.
My chipping is lousy, I never could putt.
I guess I'll stay home and just sit on my butt.
My iron play is awful; my woods are as bad.
I'm describing my game as a shade short of sad.
So the outlook today is for grief and for sorrow.
Say! Who can we get for a fourth for tomorrow?

The following was written by a "former" golfer who no longer can play, but who has reflected on his years in golf and would like the rest of us to think about how we approach the game. Powerful stuff.

Dear Younger Me:

I can't play golf anymore. I tried to swing the club the other day, but my body wouldn't cooperate. The best I can do now is sometimes taking walks on the course, but my eyes aren't as good as they used to be so I don't see much. I have a lot of time to sit and think now, and I often think about the game.

It was my favorite game. I played most of my adult life, with thousands of rounds, thousands of hours practicing. As I look back, I guess I had a pretty good time at it. But now that I can't do it anymore, I wish I had done it differently.

It's funny, but with all the time I spent playing golf, I never thought I was a real golfer. I never felt good enough to really belong out there. It doesn't make much sense, since I scored better than average and a lot of people envied my game, but I always felt that if I was just a little better or a little more consistent, then I'd feel really good. I'd be satisfied with my game. But I never was. It was always "One of these days I'll get it" or "One day I'll get there" and now here I am. I can't play anymore, and I never got there.

I met a whole lot of different people out on the course. That was one of the best things about the game. But aside from my regular partners and a few others, I don't feel like I got to know many of those people very well. I know they didn't really get to know me. At times they probably didn't want to. I was pretty occupied with my own game most of the time and didn't have much time for anyone else, especially if I wasn't playing well.

So why am I writing you this letter anyway, just to complain? Not really. Like I said, my golfing experience wasn't that bad, but it could have been so much better, and I see that so clearly now. I want to tell you, so you can learn from it. I don't want you getting to my age and feeling the same regrets I'm feeling now.

I wish, I wish. Sad words, I suppose, but necessary. I wish I could have played the game with more joy, more freedom. I was always so concerned with "doing it right" that I never seemed to be able to enjoy just doing it at all. I was so hard on myself, never satisfied, always expecting more. Who was I trying to please -certainly not myself, because I never did. If there were people whose opinions were important enough to justify all that self-criticism, I never met them.

I wish I could have been a better playing partner. I wasn't a bad person to be with, really, but I wish I had been friendlier and gotten to know people better. I wish I could have laughed and joked more and given people more encouragement. I probably would have gotten more from them, and I would have loved that. There were a few bad apples over the years, but most of the people I played with were friendly, polite, and sincere. They really just wanted to make friends and have a good time. I wish I could have made more friends and had a better time.

I'm inside a lot now and I miss the beauty of the outdoors. For years when I was golfing I walked through some of the most beautiful places on earth, and yet I don't feel I really saw them. Beautiful landscapes, trees, flowers, animals, the sky, and the ocean - how could I have missed so much? What was I thinking of that was so important - my grip, my back swing, my stance? Sure, I needed to think about those sometimes, but so often as to be oblivious to so much beauty? And all the green - the wonderful, deep, lush color of green! My eyes are starting to fail. I wish I had used them better so I would have more vivid memories now.

So what is it that I'm trying to say? I played the type of game that I thought I should play, to please the type of people that I thought I should please. But it didn't work. My game was mine to play, but I gave it away. It's a wonderful game. Please, don't lose yours. Play a game that you want to play. Play a game that gives you joy and satisfaction and makes you a better person to your family and friends. Play with enthusiasm, play with freedom. Appreciate the beauty of nature and the people around you. Realize how lucky you are to be able to do it. All too soon your time will be up, and you won't be able to play anymore. Play a game that enriches your life.

Best wishes . . . don't waste a minute of golf . . . someday it will be gone!