My Muny Life column in the January Golf Digest was about Beaver Meadow Golf Course, in Concord, New Hampshire—known to regulars as “the Beav.” The course has an unusual policy of keeping groups well away from the first tee until it’s their turn to play—because, the starter told me, “We find that people hit the ball better if no one is watching.”
The Beav’s original nine holes were laid out in 1896 by Willie Campbell, a transplanted Scotsman, who had also laid out some of the early holes at The Country Club, in Brookline, Massachusetts. He was The Country Club’s first head professional, and then he held the same job at Myopia Hunt Club and Franklin Park Golf Course, which opened in 1896 and is the second oldest public golf course in the country. (It’s now known as William J. Devine Golf Course, and was one of the subjects of an earlier Muny Life column.)
Frederick Law Olmsted’s 1891 plan for Franklin Park, five years before the creation of the golf course.
Campbell had heart problems. He died in 1900, at the age of thirty-eight, but he played golf till almost the end. According to his obituary in the Boston Evening Transcript: “Last spring, when unable to drive a ball more than seventy-five or a hundred yards, owing to his weakness, Campbell beat the best ball of two leading amateur players at [Franklin Park] simply by his marvelous accuracy in approaching and putting.” (Willie’s wife, Georgina, took over his job at Franklin when he died, thus becoming the first woman golf pro in the United States.) Campbell is memorialized at the Beav with an annual tournament in his honor:
That (Photoshopped) face isn’t Campbell’s, but I don’t know whose it is.
My principal guide to the Beav was Dave Andrews, a retired television news reporter. Dave swings righty but writes and putts lefty, and he was able to use his ambidexterity to his advantage with this tricky shot, from the collar of a bunker:
Dave is an avid supporter of women’s golf. Beaver Meadow used to host a Symetra Tour event called the Northeast Delta Dental International, and Andrews served twice as the tournament’s (volunteer) caddie master. He and several of his friends also sometimes serve as volunteer caddies at women’s mini-tour events in Florida, where they go to escape New England winters, and at the LPGA’s Q School. That’s Dave and Hannah Yun below, at the 2011 Q School, where he helped Yun earn her 2012 LPGA rookie card.
Dave is the author of a novel called Pops and Sunshine, which makes good use of some of his experiences as a caddie and as a regular at Beaver Meadow. The guys who hang around with him have been big supporters not only of women’s golf but also of the book. This is Tinker Foy, who has been a Beav member for more than fifty years:
Tinker’s son, Denny, was Dave’s partner in a tournament that was underway when I arrived. Denny has the rarest and most prized of all golf tans, the sunglasses-stem line:
Another of Dave’s regular golf buddies is Russ Matthews. Russ sold his company when he was in his forties, and now plays golf a hundred percent of the time, Dave told me. He has been to Scotland a couple of times, and when he isn’t playing golf he’s watching it on TV. He’s part of the group that goes to Florida each winter, but Russ said he wouldn’t want to live there full time, because he likes the change of seasons. “I played hockey when I was a kid,” he said. “When I started, I just had figure skates, and I taped magazines to my legs, as shin guards.” He had a heart attack not long after I visited, but he’s doing fine now. Here he is:
Every year, Beaver Meadow plays a two-weekend tournament, called the Beaver Cup, against a club in Phoenix, New York, called Beaver Meadows. There’s a golf club in Virginia that has almost the same name as my golf club, and one of these days the Sunday Morning Group is going to challenge them to something. In the meantime, I hope the guys from the Beav will drop by (after the snow has melted) for a round at our place.