Heather Rocks

The Golf Widow is conducting her ritual inventory of jewelry. Instead of overseeing the routine urgent business of New Monuments G.C., I sit on the toy chest in the bedroom to watch things unfold on the Golf Widow’s dresser. Mica, the Clubhouse Cat, joins today’s gallery. Many favorite pieces of jewelry were made for the Golf Widow by Heather, her mother, so our gathering qualifies as a family reunion despite Heather’s physical absence.

After the Golf Widow closes the window (eliminating the prevailing wind, a crucial consideration), she shows me a pair of earrings and asks, “Remember these?” I try to concentrate. Was she wearing them on the day I broke 100? The Golf Widow is turned toward the mirror, putting on the earrings. For the moment, the cat only, staring with disconcerting intensity, expects an answer. Again I try to concentrate.

No. 1, par 4


An immediate encounter with the unknown is one of the glories of golf. No. 1 is a par 4 forced carry off an Amber nugget tee over a Citrine nugget to a double fairway bisected by a stream of more Amber nuggets. The fairway on the right has a better angle to the gold-rimmed green.

No. 2, par 4


Multiple tees and greens, both of hand-dyed Keshi pearls, on opposite sides of a large bunker of Sea Opal glass place all skill levels in the limelight – an experience to be enjoyed, if possible. A bit of advice that applies all over the course: Watch for unintentional ricochets. Gazing from the back tees down the fairway of linked Swarovski crystals, you face an extreme/supreme example of glare, which can throw off anybody’s game. On the bright side, Tanzanite AB, the color of the crystals, is said to have an aphrodisiac effect, which might be a game-changer here alone with the lovely Golf Widow…

No. 3, par 5


A flash lights up the room. The Golf Widow has turned on another lamp and is holding another boucle d’oreille. It is difficult for me to work under conditions resembling the dressing room at a fashion show. My golf pals would frown. There is no room for error off the Swarovsky crystal tee. Land in the crevice between two Blue Lace agates, and achieving par becomes as tricky as persuading the Golf Widow that watching the entire final round from Riviera C.C. (design by George Thomas) is not a perfect waste of a Sunday afternoon. Next stop on the uphill Sterling silver fairway, or rather the next trap to be avoided, is the larger second bunker, a complex of three agate chips. The boldest go for the green from this distance, the blood pumping as the 3-wood comes out of the bag and sends the sphere stamped with so much meaning – it encapsulates so many hopes! – over the curves and depressions of the fairway to the center of the target, NOT over the back lip of the silver swale surrounding it. If you cannot dream an eagle, you should not be out here.

No. 4. par 5


The Golf Widow expects me to know about Carnelians. Since I cannot extemporize on the subject, I pull a dictionary from the shelf and return to the toy chest. The cat tolerates my movements. According to one derivation, Carnelian comes from the Latin for flesh, in reference to its flesh color. At New Monuments, Carnelian translates as “flesh and blood of the golfer.”
 
Given the extreme changes in elevation, squeeze climbing gear into your bag and expect blind shots galore. A brisker walk than on Alister Mackenzie’s Cypress Point or Pete Dye’s Whistling Straits. Note: The latter had no hand in the hand-dyed Keshi pearls.

No. 5, par 4


Our next golfscape has an aquatic sheen, as if play is about to begin on the pebble bed of a brook – direction of play: downstream. Recollect your last round in a downpour, and play away! Weigh the options presented by a sinuous path of Freshwater and Peanut pearls.

No. 6, par 3


If the Pineapple quartz has not carried you away to dreams of a Caribbean vacation, your glimpse of the triangular target will return you to reality. Yes, that’s the green in the middle, surrounded by lime Swarovsky crystals. Heather’s inspiration must have been the original postage-stamp green, No. 8 at Royal Troon in Scotland. Miss long and your ball finds quartz behind the green. From any angle, the silk thread has affinities with Rae’s Creek on Mackenzie’s Augusta National and the garden hose on N.M.G.C.’s own Home of Golf.

No. 7, Par 4


If not earlier in the round, then definitively now we cross into golf territory reminiscent of Desmond Muirhead, who wrote of his “Prometheus” 5th Hole at Stone Harbor:
 
The green itself is a resume of the legend, with craters, more flame-like traps and an eagle embossed in white sand in the center of the green “mountains” behind. The drive must be placed close to the flames.

If I point out to the Golf Widow that it takes poise, skill and determination to hit a golf shot from a lava field, she will bring up that we have not taken that vacation to Hawaii.

Hole 8, Par 5


A playful nod to the simpler days of golf course architecture prior to its “Golden Age” in the United States (roughly 1900-30), there is no nonsense about No. 8. You have three Tiger’s Eye bunkers staring you in the face, so what are you going to do about them? What are you waiting for?

“Chatoyancy,” the Golf Widow is saying, “or chatoyance, is an optical reflectance effect. The word comes from the French œil de chat, meaning ‘cat’s eye.’ Mica, get down! The luminous streak of reflected light is always perpendicular to the direction of the fibers. The presence of iron oxides gives the stone the color of yellow-gold. Tiger’s Eye is perfect for people in need of more confidence to accomplish their goals.”

No. 9, Par 3


If her thoughts were not occupied, the Golf Widow would agree that the view from the elevated tee resembling an oak nut is exceptional. This hole, which plays in a SE direction from my vantage point, is about sailing one over a bay to a floating Raku-glaze leaf. The waters of the bay, however, give me the creeps, as they are dark with shadows cast by the metallic cliffs. The coiled, bronze water feature at the front of the putting surface, copperized “water” with a silt-and-sediment coat, is a cruel but ingenious touch by Heather. Now to traverse the veins of the leaf’s vascular system with the trusty putter…

Before we can complete the front nine, the Golf Widow’s ritual/my round ends prematurely. The Clubhouse Cat, leaping into the glitter, begins his own inventory/reunion. Exhibiting calm under pressure, the Golf Widow picks him up and hugs him, while I make a mental note to tell Heather that she ranks with Thomas, Mackenzie, Dye and Muirhead.

So, that’s about it from Heather Rocks. It’s about time to get back to work at the Front Office.