July 15, 2014

On Saturday, the Goodboys will head out from there headquarters at the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth for the 20-minute drive to Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in Rye, NH. While the drive may be less than a half hour, you might as well be traveling a million miles, because Wentworth By The Sea is a gem of a golf course and a truly unique and enjoyable golf experience that serves as pure escapism from the rest of the Goodboys Invitational weekend.

Whatever Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club was on Friday, Wentworth By The Sea Country Club is not. The golf course’s website has it just about right:

Carved from the gorgeous New England landscape, Wentworth By The Sea Country Club in Rye, New Hampshire features a private, 18-hole championship golf course with panoramic views of the ocean. This genuine Scottish links-style golf course presents challenges for all levels of player, while providing some of the most magnificent ocean vistas along the New Hampshire seacoast in the Portsmouth area.

The dramatic landscape of the course, with undulating fairways and demanding water hazards, makes Wentworth By The Sea Country Club an incomparable golf experience. The challenges of the course are unique to its original design and natural terrain, making it also an enjoyable choice for charity tournament play.

One would think that, being so close to the sea, that Wentworth By The Sea would feature a wide-open, breezy kind of links-style layout, but, their website’s claim aside, nothing could be further from the truth. While I wouldn’t call it heavily forested, there’s no doubt that Wentworth By The Sea requires precision driving off the tee if you don’t want to be forced into punching out onto the fairway through trees for your second shot. The par 5s in particular are a bear – narrow, winding holes that leave you with little wiggle room if your drive is wayward to any degree.

Is it expensive to play? Hell, yeah. But the driving range is awesome – balls stacked up in little mountains like they do at the Florida resort courses. And they don’t mess around as as far as dress and presentation are concerned: while I’ll be able to get away with my Hawaiian shirt not being tucked in, the rest of the Goodboys are gonna have to look smart and not play in jeans or cargo pants, or shirts hanging outside their pants.

There seems to be a lot of old money at Wentworth By The Sea – you can sense it as you walk around the clubhouse and amongst those playing alongside you that day, but that’s OK. For me, the place has a very special memory: many a night when I’ve had trouble falling asleep I think of last year’s round when a severe thunderstorm was passing just to our south and the air was filled with stillness and the sound of distant thunder, the sky a pretty but eerie salmon color. I think of the clubhouse grill where, after the severe weather horn sounded, I discovered one of the best gazpachos I’ve ever tasted served with multi-colored corn chips. I caught flack from a bunch of Goodboys for eschewing the usual hot dog and chips, but after a few taste tests our table was filled with gazpachos and a bunch of happy Goodboys.

I think the Goodboys played from the white tees last year – 6,006 yards, 68.9 rating with a 126 slope – not over the top by any means, but I found the course particularly tough to play. There are a lot of thin woods to work your way around, and two of the last three holes on the back nine are particularly tough: on 16, a forced carry over water that, if the tide is out, will leave you hitting your ball off the beach and the golf equivalent of the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan; a nondescript par 3 17 that lulls you into thinking that your work for the day is done; and finally, on 18, a par 4 featuring a fairway sloping downhill to a pond that you have to carry to an elevated green.

Playing Wentworth By The Sea on a July Saturday is also pretty cool because, inevitably, the rapscallion Goodboys, as a result of any number of opportunities for wayward shots, will get the opportunity to rub elbows with a high-class wedding reception, hitting rescue shots just yards away from pretty girls in low-cut dresses and plates of scallops wrapped in bacon and stuffed mushrooms. Talk about a clash between two diverse worlds!

Having the opportunity to play Wentworth By The Sea during a Goodboys Invitational weekend will be one of the lasting legacies of EXEC-COMM, and an experience I will treasure long after my playing days are over and the Goodboys Invitational weekends themselves pass into antiquity.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:00 | Comments Off on Goodboys Invitational Preview – Wentworth By The Sea
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