Portsmouth Country Club
Story and photos by Bob Dunn
GOLF CLUBS IN THE SEACOAST AREA OF NEW HAMPSHIRE:
WHILE SOME ARE PRIVATE (MEMBERS ONLY) OTHERS ARE SEMI-PRIVATE AND PUBLIC. WE WILL FEATURE SIX OVER THE NEXT SIX MONTHS, GIVING PARTICULARS OF EACH AND PHOTOS OF THE TOUGHEST, EASIEST AND MOST PICTURESQUE HOLES. FIRST UP IS:
PORTSMOUTH COUNTRY CLUB
Portsmouth Club House.
The original club was founded in 1901 and continued operating until 1954 when it was taken over by the United States Government to be the golf club for the new Pease Air Force Base. The government paid for the new, improved Portsmouth Club, which opened in 1956. One longtime member said that the two years 1955-56 was spent picking rocks off the new course as it was being readied for play. Tony Loche was the first professional and remained at the Portsmouth Club as "Pro" for 34 years, until he left in 1990 to manage the new (non-military) Pease Golf Club when the Government closed the Air Base and sold the complex to the Pease Development Authority.
Portsmouth is a semi-public course, with non-members allowed to play after paying a green fee. The green fee varies according to the time of season. Mid-summer is $85, or a reduced fee of $55 for a guest of a member.
Pro Bill Andrews commented that the toughest hole is not necessarily the number one stroke hole and that he felt that the 12th was the hardest hole.
Teeing off on the "toughest" 12th hole.
View of the 12th green.
Teeing off on the "easiest" 13th hole.
MOST SCENIC HOLE:
Teeing off on the most scenic hole.
View towards the 14th green from about 220 yards.
Member "Bunky" Newton just misses putt on 14th green, flag left in for photo.
As for the golf, the course is 6,649 yards from the White tees; 7,072 from the Blue, and 5,511 from the Red tees. The number one stroke hole is the par 5 fourth hole, but many members feel that the par 4 number 12 is the toughest (it is the number two stroke hole). Assistant Pro Scott Fabisak thinks that the 8th hole par 3--219 yards (white tees) rates right up there as very difficult, and I agree, since the green slopes down away from you. According to many long-time members, the hole was built incorrectly, and the plans read for the green to slope up. Pro Bill Andrews said that there is no record of this since the original plans have disappeared. The easiest is the 18th handicap hole which is the par 3 thirteenth hole--it is 152 yards from the white tees, and is guarded in the front and right rear by sand traps.
The most scenic hole is hard to pick at Portsmouth, due to the scenic views from much of the course. The vote from the many members I polled is that the 14th hole is the most scenic. It is par 5, 490 yards from the white tees and a dog leg left at about 220 yards to the green. The second shot for most players is over a corner of the marsh that surrounds Great Bay leaving a shot to the green of anywhere from 150 yards or less. The green is protected on both right and left by sand traps in front. Any shot off line may end up in the Great Bay as the green is surrounded on three sides by the bay.
One of the many scenic views from almost anywhere on the course.
There are 550 members in the club, and a waiting list presently of 149 applicants. On average, about 25 new members are chosen each year. The club is not currently accepting applications for membership.
Pro Bill Andrews has been the Club Professional since 2001, and he and his assistants Scott Fabisak and Mike Baker offer private lessons. The club has a practice driving area along with practice chipping and putting areas. One great practice area is the old alternate 18th green to practice chipping and sand shots. Bill also offers junior clinics during the season and a springtime week-long clinic for the junior members.
View of the clubhouse from the course.
The new clubhouse was built and opened in 1998 and provides for the needs of the members, and is available for catered functions. It seats 150 comfortably for banquets during the golf season, but during the off season can handle up to about 225.
NEXT MONTH: ABENAQUI COUNTRY CLUB
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