Kristen Lodge: Why the Golfers are so happy at Pole Creek
Golf courses will soon be opening around the county.
Pole Creek Golf Club, for example, opens Saturday May 15 – at which time the laughter and stories begin.
I think that golfers are the happiest people in the world, especially when they’re on vacation experiencing mountain golf, where the saying goes: “The ball goes farther because of the thin air.”
Pole Creek Stats: 27 holes on three distinct courses, The Ranch, The Meadow, and The Ridge; a landscape filled with Spruce and Lodging Pole Pines, meadows, sagebrush; and Pole Creek flowing through the greens.
From going behind the scenes to find out why the golfers are so happy here, I find that there are two kinds of golfers.
There is the local golfer much like my friend Denise. She is happiest on the days when she gets to golf after work. Hours before the end of her work day, she starts getting antsy and happy. She puts on her golf visor and practices her swing in the office (sans club). At 4 p.m., she runs out the door with the biggest smile on her face. The next day she tells the stories about her afternoon and shows us her swing – over and over.
The second kind of golfer is the vacationing golfer who arrives at the check-in office with polo shirt and khakis and the biggest smile. They don’t care about directions to their lodging, they want directions to the golf course, practically bounding out of the office eager to get on the course.
This week I drove around Pole Creek Golf Club with Golf Pro Jim Thompson (JT). He tells me golfers don’t really talk about golf, unless they are trash talking. They catch up, tell stories, and reminisce about past golf vacations. What makes them so happy? I think it may be the view, maybe the company, the food and drink to look forward to at the end, or maybe all of this combined. JT explains why they are so happy: “It’s the camaraderie, and it’s the game. Scenery is important, as well as the way the holes are set up, including elevated tees. It’s about the serenity of being out there and the challenge against the golf course. And, it’s about all the little games that go on as you play.”
JT and I couldn’t help but talk about weather and good ole Mother Nature. JT says, “It’s you against Mother Nature especially in a mountain setting. It’s you against the wind, environment, grass, wildlife, and the holes.” Moose will occasionally come down to drink at Pole Creek that flows down from Gaylord Reservoir by the YMCA. They will feed on the willows, which can slow play – another part of storytelling: Man versus Nature.
As the teaching pro at Pole Creek, JT fits clubs, demos, directs tournaments, and gives lessons. His first-timer lessons include the basics such as grip, stance, ball positioning, and swing. I ask him why first-timers should take a lesson since people think they can learn from their friends (like me) or learn from a video (like me), or from their spouses: “You should take a lesson if you’ve reached a plateau and are not improving,” he said.
Just before leaving, I get to hear a story about Larry Burks, General Manager at Pole Creek. JT says Larry hit a high draw over two rows of houses. Larry denies it. I listen to the ensuing banter. The smiles prove that golfing with friends are some of the best mountain experiences you can have.
There is a mention of balls in ditches and the word “sandbagger.”
For beginner golfers, Larry says, “beginners can go out with a group and still have fun and not be intimidated because they are playing with friends.”
You get out on the course, catch up with friends, and years later tell the story how you won $5 from the birdie on Ridge 9.
View Pole Creek Golf Club’s webcam for live conditions: http://www.polecreekgolf.com
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West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.