This is how people fall in love with the game.
But it’s possible to fall in love with a golf course, too. A golf course can ring through your bones, like the first glance across the bar at your future wife. Something pings through the deepest part of the soul, it overcomes you as it happens and also in the memory you hold: that’s the magic of it.
My first, and only, round at Taconic Golf Club left me with that deep ringing in my soul. I walked off the 18th hole wishing there was more golf to play because it was such a joy. Following the round on Saturday, I managed, like a lovesick puppy, to wander past the course on Sunday and Monday during our stay in Williamstown, just to catch a glimpse of it, maybe secretly hoping for a smile or an invitation to fill out a foursome (it would have taken me three minutes to run to the hotel to grab my clubs…).
I’ve played thousands of rounds of golf and experienced a wide range of courses, from the 9-hole muni to the massive muni to the semi-private to the uber-private. They all have their own charms and traits, but Taconic had something different. The draw of the course is in it’s quaint, small town comforts and beautiful design, tucked in the Berkshires. It just simply belonged there. The mountainous surroundings at Taconic were different than what I’m used to, but also strikingly familiar. That’s the lure of it for me, that’s what made me fall in love with it.
Before the round, my wife and I sat on the small patio and had lunch. A large group of middle-aged men sat nearby drinking pitchers of beer, reflecting on a round of golf while gearing up for another one the next day. The 18th green and 1st tee were both nearby, much to the dismay of Tiff, who couldn’t imagine hitting her first shot with so many people potentially watching. It’s the same fear of ridicule that forces her to avoid parallel parking on our street in Boston.
The ease of the entire operation made Taconic lovable. From making the tee time, to wandering onto the property and eating lunch without a single side-eye, to the fact that they let me play alone at 4:00pm, it was all such a delight. Just those experiences alone would have made it feel like a wonderful, fun day of flirting at the bar, but then you hit the first shot and wander onto the course. It’s like when you get her number and then she answered your call!
Taconic provided me with a lot of the simple things I love about golf. No two holes were the same and I found myself hitting all sorts of clubs into the greens. From hybrid to gap wedge, they each had a chance at granting me a birdie opportunity (few did…). I had driver in my hands a bunch, but it pushed me to try to shape shots to fit the hole’s design. The greens were just the right speed and incredibly fun to putt.
When we fall in love, there is a sense of timing, Tiff and I use the word kismet to describe our unlikely meeting. The same can be said about Taconic. The timing of my round was perfect, a late afternoon time on a sunny day while escaping the city for the first time in a long time. It’s one of my favorite times to play, but often is filled with consternation because of the impending darkness. I didn’t have that fear at Taconic because the course was quiet and a group of college kids let this old man play through on the 13th tee.
Finishing a round as the shadows lengthen has nothing to do with the golf course or the design or the food or anything else, it has to do with the ghosts that come out and join you for those last fews holes. I tend to talk to myself throughout a solo round of golf, planning a shot aloud like I’m my own caddie or remarking on shots I’ve hit or wondering about the upcoming holes. It’s a constant stream of thought to fill the void and to keep myself company. However, the closing holes always get a little quieter in my mind. The peace of the evening washes over me and I think about the people I wouldn’t mind sharing those last few holes with - some alive and some have passed.
How do I know I fell in love with Taconic that evening? I finished off the round with a deep satisfaction in my bones that I had a lovely walk around a spectacular golf course, while wishing that I could have enjoyed it with others. The course felt like it belonged in this Berkshire valley and I felt like I belonged on that golf course. It was an experience I wanted to share but at the same time keep it for myself. It’s a place I want to return to, it’s a place I want to introduce to my friends, it’s a place I’ve gone to in my mind since walking off 18 in the twilight.
That’s when you know you’ve fallen in love.