Today I started on a long journey at Thorny Lea. I have wiped the slate clean and intend on playing every single golf course in Massachusetts. Thorny Lea is numero uno.
Perhaps it’s fitting my first round came in Brockton, the hometown of Rocky Marciano, the famous heavyweight champion of the world.
The round felt a bit like a boxing match. The course hit me with some body blows and right hooks early, but I landed some of my own haymakers, too.
The course, founded in 1900 is superb. It forces players to hit a variety of shots. If you’re a one trick pony off the tee, you’re going to have a lot of trouble (take it from me, a one trick pony). Trees block pathways that one shot shape might fit one hole but the very next hole forces a different shot shape. The aiming points off the tee are tricky, as doglegs are harsher than they look. Holes like 6 and 10 toss in the added challenge of a blind tee shot. Hit a draw, but not too much of a draw, and then cross your fingers and hope your ball is safe.
The greens, like a lightweight, sting you 18 times with punches you didn’t even know landed. They repel shots hit too deep. Like many courses in these parts, it doesn’t hurt to just hit to the front of the green. But the wind adds a layer of difficulty in club selection. Approaching from the rough? Forget about it, you’re losing that fight every time.
The best part about the course is that you’ll never, ever, stand on a tee box and think, “This hole is like the third hole.” Every hole is unique and asks different questions. It’s no wonder Thorny Lea is home to the deepest talent in the state. Wanna find a scratch handicap player, just skull a wedge at Thorny Lea and your bound to hit one.
The pars are a strong bunch. The 9th is a delight and probably my favorite. A diminutive hole with gusty winds and a tricky green surrounded by hungry bunkers. I was lucky to hit fourth and learn from my sparring partners. The 17th, in the dimming light of summer, is beautiful and challenging.
It was a perfect way to start this massive undertaking. Big thanks to my buddy Matt for the invite.
Date: June 16
Tee TIme: 2:20
Playing Partners: Matt, Dave, and Rob
Tees: Yellow 6,400 yards (8th hole was closed)
Game: Vegas (An awesome, but potentially expensive game for foursomes)
Score: 77 (note: 72 for 17 holes played. Gave myself a par on the 8th hole, which we didn’t play)