How sweet are the postseason rounds of golf! They get even better when you peel off layers of outerwear, as Old Sol peeks out and sends warming rays down to earth. I had all those moments and experiences this weekend at Elma Meadows in Elma, NY. The Scrambler and I grabbed (for me) postseason round #2. For him, it’s probably #18 or so, as he sets his own work schedule. Elma installed a new watering system in 2015, and the conditioning is remarkable. It doesn’t play soft, as overwatering tends to elicit, but man, are those putting surfaces smooth. Here’s hoping the county invests the same funding in Grover Cleveland, another area gem.
My swing was in decent form for November. My late-season purchase of a new Mizuno driver paid dividends, as I found the fairway so frequently that I pinched myself. I also came equipped with a new swing aid that I’m testing, the Power Package. I learned of the Power Package a week ago, watching Tom Pernice win the first PGA Tour Champions playoff event. It restricts my wrist cock, which is a notion I’ve never considered. I like it, even though I need to get used to it. I’ve long suspected that amateurs tend to bend their wrists too much at the top, which makes us late to the hit. The held-off wrists force us to use more body. Will keep you posted!
One of the helpful aspects (for high school golfers, at least) of a late fall is a late leaf drop. That was the case this year, as the trees stayed full until mid- to late-October. As a consequence, we faced the full brunt of the leaf rule yesterday, but oddly enough, only three or so shots ended submerged in a pile of the fallen fronds. The grounds crew at Elma should be applauded for all the work they did to rid the fairways and first cuts of rough of the tree blades.
It is enlightening to learn that what is on the ground is not always what was planned. Inside the pro shop, in the basement of the Elma Meadows clubhouse, hangs this map of the original plans for the golf course. Although a majority of the holes play the same today as when the course was laid out in the mid 1950s, a handful were altered during the build phase. On the front nine, we see differences in green location (#5) and tee location (#6), along with what looks like a completely covered creek, over by #6 and #7. The ninth hole was intended to reach all the way to 250 yards, yet remain a par 3 hole. That was presumptuous, in the early days of steel shafts.
Moving to the inward half, we note the complete relocation of the 11th green. Instead of playing up toward the border of the course (on the right), the hole ends at a boring putting surface in a flat area of the course. Imagine, if only for a moment, a green benched into the hillside above the current 12th tee. I know, I know, it brings one to tears. The 12th tee was supposed to be farther up the hill, offering the intriguing chance at a nearly-driveable par four hole. It might be the toughest drive on the course now, with the trees pinching in, so here’s to dreaming about what might have been!
Each time I return to Elma, I avail myself of a great walk, wondrous tree coverage that rarely impacts the proper play of a hole, and a fair rate. The regulars are salt-of-the-earth folk, and the employees are efficient, polite and helpful. If I played it more often, as with anything, I might discover some flaws. I’m fine with not seeing them.