Start in the shadows of the front porch, the 1st tee. Finish at the vintage milk box on the 18th green. From start to finish, Home of Golf presents the challenge of nostalgia.
A house that stands in my heart
My cathedral of silence
Every morning recaptured in dream
Every evening abandoned
A house covered with dawn
Open to the winds of my youth.
To stay in control of nostalgia, your best strategy, like on any golf course, is to weigh the risks and rewards.
Watch out for memories of the girl next door (or boy) with whom/for whom you suffered an early indignity. Don’t hit the freshly washed automobile glistening in the sun. Step carefully around abandoned toys and sports equipment. Prepare for an unmown lawn and garbage not brought to the curb, despite the best efforts of the superintendents of Home to get the most out of their grounds crew.
At twilight near the end of a fulfilling round, your mother calls to you from the clubhouse, beckoning you to come inside for a bath.
1. Sprinkler, par 3
Rise and shine on the porch of the clubhouse.
The fairway is left of the front walk of irregularly shaped and colored flat stones meandering into the distance like the idealized stream in your favorite Disney classic. The unforgiving myrtle bunker extending on your left to behind the green is out of bounds, unless you are dragooned into yard work by a course superintendent, a fate to be avoided, yet part of life here on the family-run Home course. Avoid the old-fashioned sprinkler (no state-of-the-art turf maintenance here!), which staff is always forgetting to put back in the garage. Relief from casual water or the hose snaking around the place may be taken with a drop, without penalty, within one club-length and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief.
2. Luminaria, par 4
After crossing the walk/idealized stream (decorated with luminaria during Christmas season nights, an impressive sight from fireside in the clubhouse), prepare yourself for a difficult drive back toward the side door of the clubhouse to the green below the pine tree. The difficulty of your tee shot is increased by distractions from the nearby sidewalk. People may make pointed remarks during your practice swings. A teen on a skateboard may disrupt your ritual or generate enough turbulence to impact club head speed or the trajectory of your ball. A group of children may arrive with chalk to start a game of hopscotch. At your destination, your troubles aren’t over, because the pine tree protecting the hole is not your friend, unless shade is more important to you than a low score.
If grass clippings clutter fairways or walks are not trimmed to perfection because the grounds crew has thrown a tantrum or staged a sit-down strike after vowing to run away from Home, see the starter about withholding allowance.
3. Bellows, par 4
To birdie No. 3, your first shot has to be a canny one to reach the elevated green on the other side of the sidewalk. Between the telephone pole marking the property line and the sapling thriving despite the attentions of dogs and inattentions of the grounds crew, there is no margin for error. A hedge borders the right side of fairway; the search for an errant ball here can arouse the suspicions of “The Bellows,” the hole’s namesake, the neighbor who takes an inordinate interest in his scrawny hedge. To his credit, the horn used by him at dusk to call his children home lends a hunt club atmosphere to the proceedings. The green is canted right to left, so is the street: too much club and your ball rolls downhill to the ends of the earth until it creates havoc at the intersection of Gilkeson and Washington Road/Route 19.
4. Street Smart, par 3
No. 4, the shortest challenge on the course, can quickly become the longest. Right of the fairway, moving vehicles and pick-up football games are out of bounds, but they have been known to come into play, especially on third down. If you aren’t alert, expect to be flattened. May smelling salts land you in the happy place where your ball is on the small, fast green. The faraway intersection that may have victimized you on the last hole is a threat here too.
5. Roller, par 3
The only paved hole on the course lies between the Home clubhouse and the neighboring course. The player who aims to shape a low-percentage laser through this window-lined corridor and instead slices or hooks should have a plausible story for the supers of both courses. Before you do the honors, look for pedestrians (without slowing play) and parked cars. The boys playing roller hockey on the green below can usually be persuaded to let you play through. Two large trees behind the putting surface catch most shots with too much stick. The frustrations of a paved green have driven golfers to slapping balls at garage windows. It calms them, but replacement windows don’t grow on trees. Shattering glass also puts others off their game.
6. Cliffhanger, par 3
We are now behind the clubhouse. Holes 6 through 17 are distributed over two levels. No. 6 tee is located on the “Upper Back.” Use the steps to reach the green on the “Lower Back” because you won’t get far by rolling down through pricker bushes.
7. Camp, par 5
Tee it up beside Home’s stone fireplace, a feature kept in the golf course architect’s playbook to warm and soften every adult who has sung around a campfire while toasting marshmallows. Purists would argue that it is too early in the round for toasted marshmallows, however it is not prohibited by local rules. The fairway awaiting your first shot is generous if the grounds crew has raked the leaves and no baseball, wiffleball, soccer, football or kick-the-can is in progress.
If unsuccessful, consult the applicable U.S.G.A. rule(s). There is also risk of interference with close plays at home plate. Lastly, you can expect trees, blameless suppliers of the leaf blanket threatening to ruin your round, to sink still more in your estimation: They block your approach to the green, which is of the “postage-stamp” variety and sits in the most remote corner of the “Lower Back,” forgotten by everybody but golfers.
8. Foul Line, par 5
A heroic drive takes out of play the foot traffic generated by first base of the baseball diamond, a root extending from a tree on the right. In the depths of the bushes encroaching upon the large tree guarding the green you may be the lucky one who finds a collector’s item lost in antiquity, such as an unopened pack of bubble gum.
9. Pine View, par 4
Golfers on this punishing dogleg may have the neighborhood dogs to contend with. If you don’t have your wits about you, “you ought to have your head examined,” as one superintendent puts it. Survive the dogleg and the dogs, and you’re almost home, unless the local bully is waiting on the green ready to pick a fight. After you hole out, throw some logs on the fire before you turn home, and lick your wounds in the secluded canopy of pine tree and bushes.
10. Outfield, par 3
Off the tee you must carry left field to reach the large green in center field. If you find a mitt or candy in the fairway, which won’t be mistaken for Yankee Stadium’s outfield, deposit it with the starter after your round.
11. Infield, par 3
Your principal obstacles on No. 11 are a pitcher’s mound and a camping tent. Warn pitcher and camper(s), if present, before you tee off. If the pitcher is not throwing heat, teammates may assist you in getting him or her to move aside. Visitors to Home complain about the tents, wondering why they are not declared movable obstructions (see U.S.G.A. Rule 24-1), however the local Rules Committee has declared the tents to be an integral part of the course. Because diplomacy is the key to success on 11, your role as an ambassador of golf does not end on the double green shared with No. 9. Share a toasted marshmallow with your adversaries at the fireplace, which you are about to leave behind for good.
12. Joe, par 3
Named for Joe, the original greenkeeper, the hole plays up a set of stairs to a slightly undulating green on the “Upper Back.” The penalty for sailing your ball into the neighboring course is the same as on No. 3 (see “The Bellows”). Even today the grounds crew speaks of Joe in reverential tones. Sadly, the crew has not continued his legacy; they don’t weed or rake leaves with the same spirit. Tax records do not bear out the existence of Joe, which suggests he is the stuff of legend. The truth is, Joe was paid in cash under the table.
13. Edge, par 4
Try to ignore ridicule emanating from the clubhouse. Instead, as the next victim of “Unlucky 13,” breath in the smell of freshly mown grass before you – wait, that IS a lawnmower smack dab in the middle of the fairway! Well, either defy it with a solid drive, or move it (unlike on 11, the Rules Committee defers here to Rule 24-1), then concentrate on the rake left carelessly on the green. Note: If you rake some leaves, you may win some friends around here.
14. Double Edge, par 3
The name of the hole reminds us not to hit left or long, both gaffes plunging us out of bounds into the “Lower Back” or into the neighboring course, respectively. The trees that were your friends on 5 turn on you here; they smack down lofted approaches. The term “Double Edge” brings us again to the flip side of Home, the change of seasons. Can you warm to a course under a blanket of snow? The superintendents must think so since they stay the winter and keep the place open. (Florida never appealed to them.) We leave you to envision a full round of slush, snowflakes and ice. The bank of shoveled snow bordering the driveway/No. 5 green has been compared to the hockey pads of a supine goalie. Go for goal with your short game and look for a lucky bounce. Final warning: If the tents from 11 have been pitched here, ask the occupants to decamp to neighboring green space.
15. Black Cat, par 5
Before you do anything, make sure the campers on 14 have not settled here while you were holing out there. Oh, and beware of Home’s black cat. Despite having to cross dangerous open ground in order to meow for scraps in the Grille, she has avoided golfing injuries all these years, and she always will – she is a black cat! In the wide fairway, there is room for two sports enjoyed by the black cat: badminton and croquet. If you still feel lucky, tee your ball.
16. Patio, par 3
Your drive must carry a mosaic of stones like the one separating 1 and 2 to reach the square green at the back door of the clubhouse. If you fall short, you have to contend with a stony lie or a grasping weed. Take a breather on the patio furniture if you are on your last legs. In the square shape of the putting green, history buffs will recognize a nod by the course architect to pre-Golden Age configurations – if the concrete, rusty drain and smaller dimensions are overlooked.
17. Rock Garden, par 3
An elevated green within the rock garden beckons. High handicappers may wish to call it a day now (the tv room of the clubhouse is through the door on your left) because poor ball striking here places you squarely in more weeds. Should you happen upon a trowel, you are free to dig in while your playing partners line up their shots. Don’t twist an ankle or scuff your beloved golf shoes!
18. Milk Box, par 3
The finishing hole is a blind shot up more stairs. The pine tree familiar to you from No. 2 guards the approach here as well. It is also a pleasantly shady place to contemplate the putting green’s treacherous doormat, milk box and garbage can. The black cat of No. 15 can usually be counted on to appear out of nowhere and dart between legs and among putters to the comforts of the Home Grille.
The door to the Grille is beside the milk box.
1. Downtown (1964), Petula Clark
2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967), The Beatles
3. Up, Up and Away (1967), The Fifth Dimension
4. Wichita Lineman (1968), Glen Campbell
5. Stone Soup Picnic (1968), The Fifth Dimension
6. My Cherie Amour (1969), Stevie Wonder
7. Hot Love in the Summertime (1969), Sly and the Family Stone
8. Stand! (1969), Sly and the Family Stone
9. Everyday People (1969), Sly and the Family Stone
10. Galveston (1969), Glen Campbell
11. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (1969), The Fifth Dimension
12. ABC (1970), Jackson 5
13. I’ll Be There (1970), Jackson 5
14. I Want You Back (1970), Jackson 5
15. One Less Bell to Answer (1970), The Fifth Dimension
16. Never Can Say Goodbye (1971), Jackson 5
17. Smoke on the Water (1972), Deep Purple
18. Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing (1974), Stevie Wonder
19. Love’s in Need of Love Today (1976), Stevie Wonder