Winter Golf and a Previously Unknown Type of Cheeseburger

These cars belong to my friends and me. There were no other cars in the parking lot at Tunxis when we got there on Sunday morning.

These cars belong to my friends and me. There were no other cars in the parking lot when we arrived on Sunday morning.

We got what seemed like a foot of rain on Saturday. That was good in one way, because it washed away most of the snow, but it was bad in another, because (apparently) it persuaded the people who make the decisions at Tunxis Plantation Country Club not to open the following morning, even though Hacker (real name) had called the evening before and left a message that we would be there at 9:30, ready to go. I sensed trouble as I approached the clubhouse: of the ten or so greens I could see from the road, only one had a flag, and the parking lot was empty except for cars that belonged to people I knew. Hacker started calling around the state, but the places he tried either weren’t open or weren’t answering the phone. (Suggestion to golf courses that don’t shut down for the entire winter: update your website and outgoing voice-mail message every night with information about the following day.) Finally, he found an open course, and it was just thirty-five minutes farther away. So we caravaned:

P1110660And then we spent a very enjoyable day at Lyman Orchards, which, like Tunxis, has forty-five holes. One of Lyman’s eighteens was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and the other was designed by Gary Player. The fifth nine—called the Apple Nine—is new, and is (I would guess) for kids and beginners. There’s also a golf school and a driving range.

Lyman Orchards is also an orchard, and there's a big store in which you can buy apples and apple-themed stuff.

Lyman Orchards is an orchard. There are apple trees in the middle of the course, and there’s a big store, called the Apple Barrel, in which you can buy apple-based and apple-themed products. Maybe your wife would like to tag along some Sunday, and spend a few hours shopping for apple butter while you and your friends are playing golf.

We first played Lyman several years ago, and at that time they kept both eighteens open all winter. Now they shut down the Jones course—which is too bad, because the Player course is definitely second best. It’s also a pain to walk, because you always seem to be climbing to the top of a huge hill in order to hit your ball to the bottom of it, and then walking miles to the next tee. Still, golf.

The conditions weren't what you would call perfect, but the course was open. In fact, it was pretty busy.

The conditions were not what you would call perfect, but the course was open. In fact, it was almost somewhat busy.

On most of the holes, the flags wouldn’t go back in the cups straight, and on some of the holes they wouldn’t go back at all. The reason was that the little holes at the bottoms of the cups were all either partly or entirely full of sand. I tried to clean one out with a tee and a green-repair tool, but that was a fool’s errand. The greens themselves were squishy on top, and some of them had bare patches, but we kept being surprised at how un-slow they were.

Afterward, we decided to eat lunch at a place we hadn’t tried before, the Rover’s Lodge, on Beseck Lake. The house specialty (according to a big sign facing the road) is “steamed cheeseburgers”:

P1110675A new form of cheeseburger? How could we not? I learned later that the steamed cheeseburger is “a food so truly regional that it is found in only about a dozen restaurants within a 25-mile radius of Middletown, in central Connecticut,” and that it “was invented in the 1920s, when steamed food was thought to be healthier than fried.” (You can read more about steamed cheeseburgers here.)

Steamed cheeseburger.

This is a steamed cheeseburger, from a restaurant called Ted’s.

It turned out that the Rover’s Lodge serves food of any kind only “in season,” and that the season isn’t winter. There were about a dozen guys in the bar when we went in, and they were interested, up to a point, in the fact that we had just played golf. Later, I found two reviews of the Rover’s Lodge on TripAdvisor—one that said it was “very good,” and one that said it was “a dump.” It’s possible that we’ll never know who is right, because we continued up the road to New Guida’s Restaurant, where we’ve eaten before. Let me say this for Guida’s: their cheeseburgers, however they make them, are very good. Ditto their fries and milkshakes.

P1110677

Then we drove home to watch the playoff games.

Guida's. Cash only, please.

Guida’s. Cash only, please.

9 thoughts on “Winter Golf and a Previously Unknown Type of Cheeseburger

  1. I recall the “Man v Food” episode set in Hartford contained a segment on steamed cheeseburgers. From the looks of the cheese it appears there’s a good reason steamed burgers never caught on.

  2. You should have gone to Ted’s in Meriden. About a 10 minute drive from Guida’s. It’s the real deal.
    Growing up in Meriden, I have played Lyman Orchards many times. The Jones Course is the original and is quite a treat to play.
    Nice to see courses staying open in the winter. It is equivalent to courses staying open in the summer here in the Coachella Valley

    • That photo is from Ted’s, and I’m determined to eat there sometime. Discovering a new kind of cheeseburger is like discovering a previously unsuspected species of orchid or great ape. And I’m with you on the Jones course. They kept it open for a winter or two when they first decided to go year-round, but maybe the greens got too beaten-up, or something. My friends and I should go back and play it in-season sometime, although we’re always saying things like that and never doing them. I have an especially vivid memory of using my range finder to watch a pileated woodpecker taking apart a tree directly over our heads.

  3. Shocking quality of parking I must say, and taking pictures whilst driving is a very poor example from a golfer of your calibre. Glad you got a game in the end though.

  4. Great story, I was there also that day. Where were you today? My foursome was the only one that went out all day today, there was still snow on the greens, which resulted in wobbly snowballs as the putts slowed. My buddy T-bone cleaned a few flagstick holes out today, still more to go. And I think I’ve mastered the “chip off ice” shot, good subject for a feature article in the next GD. I’ll second the recommendation for Teds,juiciest cheeseburger you’ll ever have, extra napkins needed.

    • Hacker and I are in Atlanta visiting OUR friend T-Bone (which is what we call Tony). Further evidence in support of my theory that male golfers are 100 percent interchangeable. We need to discuss this over golf.

  5. After having the privilege to play with my brother Jack, and our nephew Brian(GCSA) at Desert Horizons CC, Indian Wells CA (my workplace for the last 21 years), I was corrected & remembered that Lyman Orchads was originally named
    Lyman Mesdows.

    I had the fortune of being in CT in Sept and went straight there.
    Great Staff/Great Golf
    Lyman Meadows is a CT treasure

    Finish Your next trip up w/a 15 minute drive to Ted’s off Broad St
    You won’t be disappointed

    Golf Shop Paul

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