Six Surprising Golf-related Uses for Your Camera, Phone, Rangefinder, and Bifocals

During a recent Golf Digest assignment in Florida (at Streamsong Resort—see “Buddy This!”, in the January issue), my foursome was seated so far from the TV above the bar in the grillroom that no one at our table could follow what was happening in the World Series:

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To deal with that problem, I periodically took a zoomed picture of the screen and enlarged the image until we could read the score in the lower left-hand corner:

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The same trick works at golf tournaments, if you’re standing too far from a leaderboard to see what it says. And you can use it when you yourself are playing golf and can’t quite tell where the flag is on that green way up there.

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You can also use it around the house — when (for example) you need to read the serial number on a light fixture on the ceiling but don’t feel like going all the way downstairs to get the stepladder:

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I discovered this trick on my brother’s father-in-law’s boat, in Maine, on a day several years ago when we wanted to land at a dock on a small island but couldn’t get close enough to the shore to read the phone number we were supposed to call to ask permission:

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Somewhat similarly, if you wear bifocals you can turn them upside down when you need to take a close look at something above your head. (I mentioned this trick to an electrician friend, who told me that he owns a pair of trifocals in which the top and bottom sections are both for looking at things close-up.) And then there’s this, when you’re too old to get out of bed anymore, even for golf:

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A laser rangefinder can function as a low-power telescope (mine is 6X). Quite possibly, that’s strong enough to identify the idiot driving his cart along the edge of a greenside bunker two holes away, so that you can call the golf shop and report him. A rangefinder is good for on-course bird-watching, too. A few winters ago, at Lyman Orchards, we noticed a pileated woodpecker demolishing a dead tree directly above the tee on which we were standing. We passed around my rangefinder, and watched.

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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.

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Then we drove home to watch the playoff games.

Guida's. Cash only, please.

Guida’s. Cash only, please.