How To Play Great Private Golf Clubs Without A Membership

The global coronavirus pandemic has driven a lot of people out of their offices – and onto the golf course.

With millions of Americans stuck at home, the great outdoors have beckoned and participation numbers have spiked for all sorts of activities, including hiking, biking and golf. Equipment sales have soared to record levels (July was the biggest sales month since the industry started tracking these stats 23 years ago) and Golf Digest recently reported that “Golf is surging through the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is a perfect outdoor social distancing recreational activity, and the retail results confirm what a lot of retailers and PGA professionals have been feeling.”

This is much needed good news for the golf industry, after many years of decreased participation and a shrinking number of courses and clubs in what had become a badly overbuilt sport. In recent years, the traditional country club model has aged poorly for a variety of reasons, including changes in the ways families spend their leisure time, increased pressure from high-quality public and resort courses, and simply too much supply. As a result, many private clubs have quietly – or not so quietly – begun accepting limited outside or public play. This is not mainly a pandemic-induced phenomena, but COVID has definitely contributed by shutting the flow of weddings and corporate outings, high margin revenues many private clubs rely on.

But whatever the reason, this increased access and new options are especially noteworthy right now as many “retired” players have taken up the game again and current golfers have increased their play.

There is no higher profile new example in the nation than Firestone County Club in Akron, Ohio, one of America’s most vaunted private club facilities and a three-time Major championship venue. Originally built by the Firestone family for employees of their Firestone Tire and Rubber company, it is more than 90 years old, has hosted the PGA Championship, the World Golf Championships, and currently hosts the annual Bridgestone Senior Championship. It was the first venue ever to host three televised golf events in a single year and has members around the world. The club, which is no longer affiliated with the famous tire company, has three eighteen-hole courses including designs by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and Tom Fazio. The most famous is the South course, the PGA Championship site, though the North has also hosted tournaments. In the dramatic 1975 PGA Championship, Jack Nicklaus came from behind to win his 14th Major here, while Tiger Woods also secured a big victory on the South course, taking home the 2000 World Golf Championship.

Like many classic clubs of its era, Firestone has on site lodging for out of town members and their guests, including 30 rooms in its enormous locker room, spanning two levels with two full-service bars. There are also four-bedroom cottages across the golf courses. For decades these have been as private as the golf, but this year the club decided to open them on a limited basis to the general public for stay and play packages. The decision was made before the pandemic, which delayed the opening until the end of June. “We have something really special to share, great product for both golf and lodging, and we have the availability,” Jay Walkinshaw, Firestone’s General Manager, told me. “We have 65 years of PGA Tour experience, we have 54 holes of really good golf, and we have 87 guestrooms on the property. Instead of a resort with a private club component, we do the opposite – a private club with a small resort component within it.”

Firestone also has a longstanding acclaimed caddie program, and the stay and play packages include forecaddies on the South course. Rates begin at $595 per person for one night and one round on the South Course. There are also two- and three-night packages, the best of which is the Eagle, with three nights lodging and four rounds, two on the South and two on your choice of the others, plus daily replay options, for $1,840.

Similar private club playing opportunities can increasingly be found all over the country, with or without lodging. Where I live in Northern New England there are not a lot of good daily fee courses to choose from, but there are a few excellent private clubs, including New Hampshire’s standout Montcalm Golf Club, one of the highest rated courses in the Granite State. For years Montcalm struggled to retain enough members under its original owner, but the club recently changed hands and the new owners have been welcoming both members and outside guests. I had never gotten to play Montcalm when it was totally private even though it had the reputation as the best course in my region, and attracts players from as far away as Boston, just over a 90-minute drive.

I finally played Montcalm earlier this summer and loved it. Unlike many courses, it has zero real estate development and never will, as it is surrounded by state protected nature reserve, and wildlife, from deer to turkeys to bears, are regularly cited on the beautiful and pristine course. It sits high up on a mountain ridge with fantastic panoramic views and offers a real sense of place and taste of the Green and White Mountains, both visible. Now that the nearby Hanover Country Club, Dartmouth College’s course, has permanently closed, Montcalm is easily the best choice for alumni, parents, professors and visitors to the Hanover area, and sitting very close to the Vermont border, it is also accessible from popular tourist spots like Woodstock, Quechee and White River Junction. For those who crave ultra-luxury, Montcalm is the top choice within easy driving distance of New England’s finest resort – and one of the nation’s best – the over the top Forbes 5-Star Twin Farms. Montcalm just added a state-of-the-art short game practice area and new driving range, and regularly hosts Golf Schools.

“One silver lining of the pandemic is the surge of interest in golf and in markets like ours,” Montcalm’s director of golf Steve Rogers told me. “Both local golfers and visitors have gotten the opportunity to play top private courses of high quality that they otherwise could not. Opening up to the public has been so popular that Montcalm added stay and play packages with local lodging partners and we have also seen a number of day trippers make their way to us.”

Turning 100 years old next season, Martindale Country Club is one of the top private clubs in Maine, but it is also allowing outside play, starting at just $42 for walking eighteen on weekdays.  While Montcalm and Martindale openly allow visitors to book tee times (while blocking the most coveted for members), some private courses have opened access more quietly. Like Firestone, Blue Hill County Club in Canton, Massachusetts is a Major venue and has hosted both PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events since it opened 95 years ago. Blue Hill rolled out a “Member for a Day” program allowing visitor to tee it up on a summer Monday, traditionally the slowest day at private clubs. Many are closed to members on Monday and use the day for high-profit corporate outings – which have all but disappeared since the pandemic, leaving an empty tee sheet.

“Almost every private club is offering discount golf on Monday since the outing schedule is down, but I’m sure if you check around you will find them all trying to generate new revenue,” Lynn Luczkowski, a golf industry marketing professional told me.

There are nearly 4,500 private golf clubs in the United States, and while the really famous ones like Cypress Point and Pine Valley won’t be boosting revenues through public greens fees any time soon, the vast majority cannot be so picky. The best way to find private clubs offering public access near you is to simply call the pro shop and ask. You might be pleasantly surprised.


Hall of Fame instructor Butch Harmon says this is the secret to golf

Butch Harmon is one of the most revered golf coaches on the planet — ever, really. The World Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame member is an inspiration for golf instructors everywhere, and has helped thousands of golfers over the course of his storied career. When he talks, we listen.

This week, the legendary golf coach appeared on GOLF contributor Mark Immelman’s podcast, and dropped a series of fascinating, hilarious and utterly brilliant pearls of wisdom he’s learned through the years. There’s so many of them, and the only way to do it justice is to listen to the podcast in its entirety. Trust us, it’s well worth you time:


My favorite pearl came when Butch, in passing, revealed what he says is the “secret to golf.” He literally used those words, so, naturally, my ears perked up.

What’s the secret, according to Butch Harmon? It’s “repetition”:

“Anybody who loves golf should go to St. Augustine to the World Golf Hall of Fame, because there’s hundreds of strange-looking swings in there, and they all work. Because the secret to golf is repetition.

He continued by pointing to Jim Furyk as an example; someone whose swing isn’t something you’d teach to anybody, but it’s one that he has the ability to repeat on command:

Look at Jim Furyk, he’s just about to turn 50, he still competes on the PGA Tour with a swing that … if his father had changed that swing to make it look perfect, we’d have never heard of Jim Furyk. [The legends of golf] had a lot of strange characteristics in their swing. The common thread was getting the club square at impact and being able to repeat it time and time again.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That “repeatability” isn’t much of a secret, because people want to know how to be repeatable. That’s the tricky part, but Butch goes on to say that your best chance is not to try and imitate another golfer’s swing, but to perfect the tools at your disposal. Work with a good coach who keeps things simple, and remember that the common thread is getting the clubface back to square at impact.

“I don’t care how you do it,” Butch says, “just do it.”


September 1, 2020

5th hole / 161 Yards / Par-3
Architect: Phillip Wogan and George Sargent (2004)

Architecture - Montcalm Golf Club, New Hampshire

Imitation is often cited as the sincerest form of flattery and for those able to venture to Montcalm Golf Club they will encounter a layout that provides a range of holes and terrain changes. Montcalm came into existence through the efforts of its original owner — Andy Sigler. An avid golfer, Sigler is also a member of Augusta National Golf Club and he wanted to see the architectural design duo of Wogan and Sargent recreate one of the most famous holes in all of golf — the renowned par-3 12th.

Unlike the Georgia-based club that annually hosts the famed Masters tournament, Montcalm is situated between the Green Mountains National Forest and the White Mountain National Forest in the Upper Valley section of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region. At an elevation above 1,000 feet, Montcalm has panoramic mountain views of Killington, Vermont’s Green Mountain and Mt. Ascutney.

Architecture - Montcalm Golf Club, New Hampshire

The par-3 5th commences from an elevated tee. The 4,691 square feet green is located just over a fronting creek with a solitary bunker between the creek and the putting surface. The green is diagonally situated and requires a deft touch. The target is deep at 41 yards but it also necks down considerably in the middle section to a landing area no wider than 12 yards.

Wind patterns can be vexing with ever shifting outcomes. Pin placements can be quite varied and each presents a whole range of shot making commitments. A frontal pin mandates the wherewithal to land one’s approach deep enough into the green to avoid a pesky false front that can quickly pull one’s ball off the green.

Golfers overly aggressive with their tee shot face a daunting challenge when overshooting the target. A severe hillside awaits and there are deep swales that can impose daunting recovery situations.

Architecture - Montcalm Golf Club, New Hampshire

“The 5th is short in length but requires course management and shot making skills because it has absolutely everything,” said Steve Rogers, Director of Golf at Montcalm Golf Club. “The undulations in the green and the fact that the landing area is built diagonally leaves no safe spot or bail out. It’s well-bunkered in the front and there’s a collection area in the rear. You need trajectory and a soft landing with zero spin to hit one’s ball at the flag.”

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Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy detail lack of energy without fans in attendance at PGA Tour events

Two Of The Best The Game Has To Offer Elaborated On How The Fan-Less Tournaments Amid COVD-19 Are Affecting Them

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have played four of their last eight rounds together in the same group, and over that stretch of time, they are only a combined 3 under par. Woods and McIlroy were in the same group for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship where even-par was a so-so score, and they were unable to shoot much better than that. Then, at The Northern Trust last week, where Dustin Johnson reached 30 under, they played both weekend rounds together and shot just a combined 2 under.

D.J. clipped Rory by 28 at TPC Boston and got Tiger by 24 — a tough scene for two golfers who have a combined 100 PGA Tour wins. There are a million reasons for their mediocre (especially by Tiger and Rory standards) play, but one interesting reason is one I would not have thought of coming into the PGA Tour’s restart in early June.

I was of the opinion that a fan-less restart would be a great benefit to somebody like Tiger — and, to a lesser extent, Rory — because of the circus of spectators he endures on a weekly basis. Two years ago, Rory said the number of folks that follow Tiger around cost him two shots a tournament. It stands to reason that with fans erased because of COVID-19 protocol that Tiger (and those playing with him) would gain those two strokes back.

That’s not how it’s played out, though.

“This is going to sound really bad, but I feel like the last few weeks, I’ve just been going through the motions,” said McIlroy. “I want to get an intensity and some sort of fire, but I just haven’t been able to. And look, that’s partly to do with the atmosphere and partly to do with how I’m playing. I’m not inspiring myself, and I’m trying to get inspiration from outside sources to get something going.”

It’s certainly two-fold with McIlroy. I watched their Saturday round pretty closely, and it was completely listless — just nothing going on. No show to put on because there was nobody to witness it. But Rory’s statistics have also been uninspiring since the restart, especially given how well he was playing when everything shut down in March. It’s both internal and external.

Woods, on the other hand, wasn’t playing at all in March. He’d been out for a while because of some injuries and was skipping a Players Championship that was canceled after Round 1. His play has been all right since he started back up at the Memorial Tournament six weeks ago, but not anywhere near what we’re accustomed to. Some of that must be attributed to an environment he’s completely unaccustomed to dealing with.

“It is different [without fans],” said Woods after shooting his best round of the year, a 66 on Sunday at TPC Boston. “It is very different. You just don’t know where the ball lands sometimes. You’re expecting the roars and you don’t hear anything. … Obviously the energy is not anywhere near the same. There isn’t the same amount of anxiety and pressure and people yelling at you and trying to grab your shirt, a hat off you. This is a very different world we live in.

“You hit good shots and you get on nice little runs. We don’t have the same energy, the same fan energy,” he added. “It is different. Normally you may have like a Thursday or Friday morning round when there’s no one out here, by the time you get around the turn, people start coming around. But it’s been like that from the word go, and yeah, it is very different.”

It hasn’t been different for everyone. Way back when fans were allowed to come to events, guys like Harris English and Scottie Scheffler were not exactly huge draws from these galleries. Still, guys like Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were, and they have all won since the restart. It’s something Tiger and Rory and other stars and superstars will have to adapt to, even if it has disproportionately affected them. There are innumerable ways COVID-19 has affected the sports world, and this is certainly one of the smaller ones. However, when Tiger Woods is involved, nothing is ever small, nothing is ever too detailed. 

As professional golf marches on into the rest of 2020 and beyond that, with no sign of fans returning anywhere on the horizon, this is something to consider as Tiger goes for major No. 16 and PGA Tour win No. 83 and Rory tries to get his fifth major — which he’s been stuck on for six years — and 19th PGA Tour win. Fan-less events are a bummer for myriad reasons, but they might be the biggest bummer for two of the best to ever play the game.


Justin Thomas facing FedEx Cup playoffs, U.S. Open gauntlet

The finish line is not where it normally is on the PGA Tour as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin Thursday at TPC-Boston, site of the Northern Trust.

The three-tournament playoff run continues next week at the BMW Championship and then the following week at the Tour Championship, where the top 30 in FedEx points will vie for a $15 million payout at the season-ending PGA Tour event.

Usually, that brings a sigh of relief and a bit of rest for the game’s top players. Instead, the U.S. Open looms two weeks later as part of the revamped schedule put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The biggest difference is that usually right after the Tour Championship, at least for me, I’m looking for a release, whether it’s a vacation or just put the clubs in my garage for whatever,” said Justin Thomas, who leads the FedEx Cup playoffs heading into the first event. “I need to have some fun. I need to just relax. That’s not the case this year. That release will come Monday after the U.S. Open this year.”

With the U.S. Open looming, Thomas got in a practice round at Winged Foot, site of the tournament, Sept. 17-20. He played alongside Tiger Woods at the venue that last hosted the tournament in 2006, when Geoff Ogilvy was the winner.

It has been home to five previous U.S. Opens and a PGA Championship.

“It was really hard,” Thomas said of the 7,477-yard, par-70 course. “I absolutely loved it. It’s one of my favorite, if not my favorite courses I’ve ever played. It’s just right in front of you. Not tricked up. Nothing’s hidden. You stand on the tee and you’re about 490 yards away and you have a really narrow fairway and a pretty severe green. There’s a lot of holes like that.

“So it is probably the most U.S. Open venue that I’ve seen. It checks all the boxes. It’s long. Narrow fairways. Going to be long rough and severe greens.”

It makes for a busy stretch for Thomas and many of the top players. The winner of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational three weeks ago, Thomas is in the midst of a stretch of six tournaments in eight weeks that includes the U.S. Open.

Thomas said he would not visit Winged Foot again before the U.S. Open. He feels he overdid it preparing for the PGA Championship at Harding Park the week after winning the WGC event.

“To be perfectly honest, I was tired on Wednesday and Thursday, because I had never seen the course,” he said. “I usually would never play on a Monday, especially after playing a tournament, let alone winning it. I had to go out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to play a practice round just because I need to learn the course and get to know it.

“I was not going to make that mistake again for the U.S. Open and I was very fortunate with us playing up here in the north to just go check it out for two rounds. That way when I go there whenever I decide to, I’m not completely starting from scratch.”

Thomas, 27, is ranked second in the world after tying for 37th at the PGA. He leads the FedEx Cup playoffs by 556 points over PGA winner Collin Morikawa, although the points in the first two playoff events are tripled, with the winner receiving 1,500.

The top 70 players in points following the Northern Trust advance to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields (Ill.) next week, with the top 30 from there heading to Atlanta for the Tour Championship.

Thomas also said Tuesday that Jim “Bones” Mackay, Phil Mickelson’s longtime caddie who now works for NBC Sports, would caddie for him through the playoffs.

Mackay is replacing Jimmie Johnson, who became ill during the third round of the Memorial Tournament last month. Mackay caddied for Thomas at both the WGC and PGA.


‘It’s so different when nobody is out there’: Why this Masters will be unlike any other

Among the many things Tiger Woods will remember about his 2019 Masters victory is the noise ringing in his ears, the constant chanting of his name as he marched toward history, and the seemingly unending sounds of joy as he putted out for his 15th major championship victory.

Imagine all of that being accomplished in virtual silence.

It is depressing to think about, but that is the reality this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Masters on Wednesday announced it would be playing its rescheduled 2020 tournament without spectators or guests when the tournament takes place Nov. 12-15.

A Masters without “patrons,” as they are called, is better than no Masters at all. Let’s be clear about that.

But it’s still lousy. Augusta National is a special place in the game, one of the most coveted tickets in sports, and where spectators can have an immense impact on the outcome.

“It was special to have that kind of support, that kind of backing,” Woods said last fall. “I was going up against the best players in the world. I was trying to come from behind for the first time [to win a major]. And that support was so important.”

Woods clearly understands the current circumstances. He said as much last week at the PGA Championship, where there were no spectators. Golf has done tremendously well in this climate for more than two months, playing each week behind closed doors.

And having the television product for an unprecedented November at Augusta National will still be a highly anticipated and hugely interesting sporting event, with anticipation centering around the look of the place in the fall, how it will play and all manner of golf-related aspects to a year that is off the rails.

But no fans? The Lords of Augusta National must be furious that it has come to this, four months after they announced the rescheduled Masters dates for November and three months before it is to be played.

Surely they believed we’d be in a position by now to have moved beyond many of the restrictions associated with the pandemic. They bought themselves the most time. And to no one’s surprise, they have the ability to buy themselves nearly anything they want as it relates to putting on a safe event.

Rapid testing? Social distancing? Wearing masks? Sanitary protocols? This is a place that doesn’t like having a piece of grass out of place, that loans the city of Augusta, Georgia, millions of dollars to get started on a road project and that has been buying up land around the club for years, spending hundreds of millions to do so.

You think they couldn’t have bought 100,000 COVID-19 tests if they were so inclined? Or figured out a way to space those allowed in around the hallowed grounds, masks required?

The fact they are shutting those ideas down now suggests the difficulty of pulling it off and the ominous reports they are getting from medical and government officials in dealing with the pandemic. As powerful as the folks are at Augusta National, they’ve never been able to control the weather, when the azaleas bloom. Apparently, they can’t squash a pandemic, either.

All of which makes you harken back to the April day in 2019 when Woods did the unthinkable.

Zach Johnson, who held off Woods to win the 2007 Masters, was there last year, with several other past champions, wearing his green jacket to form part of a long congratulatory line.

“When it comes to Tiger Woods, when it comes to his mark in the game, you’re going to think about the many times that you see a fist pump, that you see some sort of emotional reaction, and that is the beauty of Tiger Woods too,” Johnson said Wednesday “I mean, it’s real, it’s genuine, and that’s how he competes. So my guess is it’s fueled on by the fans because he is the draw each and every week, rightfully so.

“I love it. I mean, I love watching it. I remember being down there towards the scoring area [at last year’s Masters] and seeing that swarm and then a tunnel forming that essentially like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

And Johnson said there’s no doubt that kind of atmosphere helped fuel his victory 13 years ago.

“I felt like I was being pushed with high energy by the fans,” Johnson said. “Granted, I had the greatest player of the modern era two groups behind me pushing me, as well, but I felt it on 13, 14, all the way down the stretch. That putt on 16 I made, you can’t really replicate that, and you can’t put — it’s hard to measure.”

Another thing difficult to measure? The financial impact this will have on the Masters. Of course, the place is well-positioned to endure, and having a fall Masters still assures sizable income from the television rights fee.

But the club is offering full refunds to anyone who has practice round or tournament badges. It also will defer them to 2021, if desired, which means a huge revenue hit next year. It will offer those who had tickets or badges for this year a special “exclusive” opportunity to buy merchandise online, a potential windfall but one that can’t make up for all the hardship of this year.

Few would be crying for Augusta National, of course. The club will do just fine. And those who will watch at home will still have the benefit of a surreal fall Masters.

But no spectators?

“I really can’t fathom it,” Johnson said.

Because tee times were early last year due to a forecast of poor weather, Woods actually left Augusta National holding the clubhouse trophy and wearing the green jacket in the Sunday night gloaming. The sun was just setting, and with his kids, Sam and Charlie, he had a chance to take it all in.

“You see the beauty of it,” Woods said. “The rolling hills. The perfect grass. It was immaculate. It’s so different when nobody is out there. That’s when they started to understand how beautiful the place is.”

It was also serenely quiet. Peaceful. Eerie.

Welcome to the Masters, 2020 version.


You love the game of golf and look forward to sharing it with your children. But what’s the best way to introduce them to the game and cultivate their interest? Here are some tips from Steve Rogers, PGA, Director of Golf at Montcalm Golf Club.

Don’t Start Until Your Child is Ready

According to the National Golf Foundation Report on Junior Golfers, kids who start young are much more likely to play golf as adults. However, it’s important to remember that although you may be ready to introduce your children to the game, they may not be ready. Rogers suggests parents encourage their four- and five-year-olds (or younger if they are interested) to hit a few balls around the yard or take them to a miniature golf course. “At this age, the focus should be on fun,” Rogers notes. “Other than sharing some safety reminders, offer minimal instruction or corrections. Your child will develop positive feelings about the game just by enjoying time with you. Offer plenty of encouragement and maybe cap off the day with an ice cream or other treat. If you’re able to, take your child on a golf cart ride at the course and stop by the pro shop for a snack or drink.”

Formal Instruction

If your child shows an interest in the game, consider formal instruction around the age of six or seven. Until that time, keep instruction to a minimum to avoid discouraging your child or turning them off from the game forever. Contact us to learn more about private lessons, or our Junior Golf Clinics, offered most Fridays during the summer months.

Get the Right Equipment

Gone are the years of kids using their parents’ old, cut-off golf clubs, which are too heavy and stiff.  “Without clubs of the correct weight and length, kids have a hard time developing a good swing and learning the fundamentals, and that can lead to frustration and negative feelings about the game,” Rogers points out.  Like any sport, good technique and habits start young. For guidance in properly fitting your child with golf clubs, contact Montcalm’s Proshop.

Continue to Support Your Child’s Interest in the Game

As your child gets older, continue to support their interest in the game by taking them to the driving range or inviting them to join you on the course.  When the time is right, consider getting a family membership so your children will have more play time. Invite them to watch a televised or online event of amateurs or pros at a tournament, or take them to an event. One of the best parts of the game is sharing it with people you care about. And when your child is interested in competing, there are many junior golf tournaments available for their age and skill. Montcalm offers a Junior Club Championship (open to children 15 and under who are on a Family Membership) each August during our Club Championship weekend. Visit our Club Calendar for details.

Family Golfing at Montcalm

Montcalm Golf Club is a family-owned and operated course and we pride ourselves on making golf accessible to golfers of all ages and abilities. To learn more about our beautiful facility, our memberships, and our golfing school, visit our website.

Enfield NH (July 15, 2020) — Montcalm Golf Club has announced the hiring of Dustin Ribolini as a 1st Assistant Golf Professional. Ribolini, who previously served as Associate Golf Professional at the Hanover Country Club (NH) received the 2020 New Hampshire PGA Assistant Professional of the Year Award in April.

“Dustin is a wonderful addition to our Club and brings passion and a well-rounded skillset. His knowledge in all aspects of golf and his personable approach parallels that of our staff and our commitment to offering a great golf experience,” said Steve Rogers, Montcalm Golf Club’s Director of Golf.

Ribolini, originally from Montpelier, VT, is a 2008 graduate of North Carolina’s Campbell University PGA Golf Management school, where he earned a degree in Business Administration. He earned his Class ‘A’ PGA Membership in 2011.

Prior to Hanover Country Club (HCC) where Ribolini worked for nine seasons, from 2012 to 2020, he was at Stowe Country Club in Stowe VT from 2008-2011. In the spring, Dartmouth announced it would close HCC for the 2020 season but last week announced it would close permanently.

ABOUT MONTCALM GOLF CLUB: Situated between the Green Mountain National Forest and the White Mountain National Forest in the Upper Valley section of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee region, Montcalm Golf Club has outstanding panoramic mountain views of Killington, Vermont’s Green Mountains and Mt. Ascutney, as well as rolling hills of velvet fairways and greens. In addition to a new state of the art practice and training facility, it offers one and two day golf schools throughout the summer. Montcalm Golf Club is conveniently located off of I-89 Exit 15 at 2 Smith Pond Road in Enfield, NH.

For reservations or more information: call 603-448-5665 or visit the website:


Since opening for the 2020 season on May 11, Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, New Hampshire continues to enrich the golfing experience for players of all levels. With several new enhancements, including a new practice and training facility, a new golf school, and a variety of membership packages, you couldn’t pick a better time to join or play at Montcalm! New to our course? Get a hole-by-hole tour.

New Golf Practice & Training Facility 

Montcalm’s new training and practice venue includes 40 full swing natural grass hitting stations, 20 PGA Tour-approved Turf Hound hitting stations, a bentgrass putting and chipping green, as well as beautifully-groomed practice bunkers and pitching areas. Our new 5,800 square foot putting green is expected to be ready for use by early July.

New Golf School

Looking to improve your game? Montcalm offers one- and two-day golf schools headed by Montcalm Director of Golf/Head Professional Steve Rogers. Rogers, a 26-year member of the PGA, has a rich history of instruction at some of the finest facilities in the country from Newport (RI) Country Club to PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, home of the “Killer Golf Schools,” to current cutting edge PGA proving ground Joey D Golf in Jupiter, Florida. Visit our website to learn more about our golf school.

New Membership Opportunities

Montcalm offers memberships designed to meet the varying needs of players, including:

  • Family
  • Non-Resident Family
  • Single
  • Non-Resident Single
  • NEW: Young Adult (ages 16-23)

Visit us online for membership classifications and pricing. 

New Golf Carts

In an effort to further enhance the golfer experience at Montcalm, we purchased a brand-new fleet of 60 Club Car Tempo golf carts with Visage, a GPS and mobile information system. Who’s ready to take one of these for a spin?

Expanded Food Offerings

All of our food is now prepared by our own team, allowing us to use the freshest ingredients. We switch out our menus regularly to expand our offerings.

Stay in Touch With Us

Be sure to get the latest information on upcoming events and activities at Montcalm Golf Club by following on Facebook and joining our mailing list. Join Our E List!

Award-Winning Golf in Northern NH

With 6,829 yards of rolling velvet fairways and greens surrounded by outstanding views, there’s nothing quite like golfing at Montcalm. It continually receives rave reviews from members and guests who enjoy the complete privacy and exquisite beauty that is Montcalm. Montcalm Golf Club is conveniently located off of I-89, Exit 15 at 2 Smith Pond Road in Enfield, NH. Call us at (603) 448-5665 or visit us online to schedule a tee time or arrange a tour of our facility.

Each of these one-page documents explain a major change going into effect on January 1, 2020. Each individual paper describes:

  • The current USGA Handicap System policy,
  • The Rule change and
  • The reasons for the change.The following papers are included:


  1. 1  Course Rating and Slope Rating
  2. 2  Number of Scores Required to Obtain a Handicap Index
  3. 3  Basis of Handicap Index Calculation
  4. 4  Limit on Upward Movement of a Handicap Index (Cap)
  5. 5  Exceptional Score Reduction (ESR)
  6. 6  Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)
  7. 7  Frequency of Handicap Index Updates
  8. 8  Maximum Handicap Index
  9. 9  Importance and Determination of Par
  10. 10  Course Handicap Calculation and Application
  11. 11  Playing Handicap Calculation and Application
  12. 12  Maximum Hole Score for Handicap Purposes (Net Double Bogey)
  13. 13  Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 1. Course Rating and Slope Rating

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): The USGA Course Rating System is the foundation of the USGA Handicap System and allows each player’s Handicap Index to be transported from one course to another. The system is widely used around the world but not by all current handicapping systems.

Rule Change for 2020: The USGA Course Rating System will be referred to as “The Course Rating System” and will join “The Rules of Handicapping” to form the World Handicap System.

Reasons for Change:

  •   The Course Rating System will be implemented by National Associations and allow a player’s Handicap Index to be from course to course and country to country.
  •   To enable acceptable scores made at any rated golf course in the world to be submitted for handicap purposes.

o For those who travel internationally, this will be a welcomed change as scores made outside the U.S. will easily be factored into their Handicap Index calculation.

To provide an accurate and consistent measure of the difficulty of a golf course by ensuring that playing length and obstacle factors are evaluated the same way worldwide.

o Since golf courses are rated by qualified teams trained by Authorized Associations, the integrity of the World Handicap System will be maintained.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 2. Number of Scores Required to Obtain a Handicap Index

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): A Handicap Index is issued to a player after five 18-hole scores are submitted and a revision takes place.

Scores can be made up of any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole scores.

A Handicap Index is revised on the 1st and 15th of each month.
Rule Change for 2020: A Handicap Index will be issued to a player after three 18-hole scores

are submitted and a revision takes place.

  •   Scores can be made up of any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole scores.
  •   Revisions will be daily, so a player’s Handicap Index will become active the day after their third 18-hole score is submitted.Reasons for Change:

One of the key principles of the World Handicap System is to enable as many golfers as possible the opportunity to establish and maintain a Handicap Index.

o By requiring fewer scores, players who only play sporadically may be more likely to obtain a Handicap Index.

Statistics show that players with a Handicap Index play more rounds of golf, so making it easier to get a Handicap Index can help increase participation.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 3. Basis of Handicap Index Calculation

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): When a score is submitted, it is converted to a Handicap Differential based on the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the tees that were played.

A Handicap Index is then calculated by averaging a player’s 10 best Handicap Differentials out of their most recent 20.

  •   The resulting average is then multiplied by .96 – also referred to as the “bonus for excellence.”
  •   If a player has submitted two or more Tournament Scores (T-scores) within the past 12- months, and two of those Handicap Differentials are 3.0 strokes below their Handicap Index as calculated from the steps above, then an additional reduction might apply.Rule Change for 2020: When a score is submitted, it will be converted to a Score Differential based on the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the tees that were played. In addition, a Playing Conditions Calculation will be included to account for any abnormal course or weather conditions.A Handicap Index will then be calculated by averaging a player’s 8 best Score Differentials out of their most recent 20.
    •   A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be included in the calculation to limit the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index within a 12-month period.
    •   An Exceptional Score Reduction will take place when a player submits a score that produces a Score Differential that is 7.0 strokes or more below their Handicap Index.Reasons for Change:

Moving to an 8 of 20 system will allow for greater responsiveness to good scores and eliminate the need for a bonus for excellence – which is often difficult to explain.

o Since players with a higher Handicap Index tend to have more fluctuation within their Scoring Records, using 8 of 20 will allow their better scores to weigh more heavily and create more equity across all Handicap Index ranges.

  •   Including a Playing Conditions Calculation will ensure that each Score Differential is reflective of a player’s performance in a given round.
  •   Limiting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index will ensure that a temporary loss of form does not cause a player’s Handicap Index to move too far from their demonstrated ability.
  •   The Exceptional Score Reduction procedure is designed to be intuitive by evaluating all scores as opposed to just “T-scores.”
  •   Incorporating these safeguards will add integrity to the system and support Handicap Committees by ensuring the accuracy of each member’s Handicap Index.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 4. Limit of Upward Movement of a Handicap Index (Cap)

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020)U: There is no restriction on the upward movement of a Handicap Index built into the calculation.

The Handicap Committee at a golf club is responsible for monitoring extreme upward movement of any members’ Handicap Index and make modifications where appropriate.

URule Change for 2020U: A “soft cap” and “hard cap” will be included within the Handicap Index calculation.

  •   The soft cap will suppress the upward movement of a Handicap Index by 50 percent if a 3.0 stroke increase takes place within 12 months.
  •   The hard cap will restrict upward movement if, after the application of the soft cap, a 5.0 stroke increase takes place within 12 months.UReasons for Change:

A new term, “Low Handicap Index” will be included within the Rules of Handicapping and will be made visible to players. This value will serve as the baseline for the soft cap and hard cap procedures.

o A Low Handicap Index will be established once a player has at least 20 acceptable scores in their scoring record. At this point, the soft cap and hard cap procedures will begin taking effect.

o A newly determined Low Handicap Index will be considered each time an acceptable score is submitted and a Handicap Index is updated.

  •   There is no limit on the amount by which a player’s Handicap Index can decrease, but the soft cap and hard cap will ensure that a temporary loss of form does not cause a player’s Handicap Index to increase to a level inconsistent with their demonstrated ability.
  •   The automatic calculation will prevent extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, as well as assist Handicap Committees as an anti-abuse safeguard.

o When special circumstances exist, such as injury, the Handicap Committee will have the ability to override the soft cap or hard cap.

This procedure will favor the consistent player, as players who have significant volatility in their scoring history over a 12-month period will be impacted by it more often.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 5. Exceptional Score Reduction (ESR)

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): When a player submits two or more Tournament Scores (T-scores) within a 12-month period that are at least 3.0 strokes better than their Handicap Index, they are eligible for an automatic Handicap Index reduction.

The amount of the reduction is determined by the number of T-scores submitted by a player within the last 12-months, as well as the difference between the Handicap Index and the average of the two best T-score Handicap Differentials.

Rule Change for 2020: When a player submits a score that produces a Score Differential of 7.0 strokes or more below their Handicap Index, they will be subject to an Exceptional Score Reduction.

  •   When the Score Differential is between 7.0 and 9.9 strokes below their current Handicap Index, a -1.0 reduction is applied to the most recent 20 score differentials. When the Score Differential is 10.0 strokes or more below their Handicap Index, a -2.0 reduction is applied to the most recent 20 score differentials.
  •   Scores submitted after the exceptional score will not contain the -1.0 or -2.0 adjustment (unless they are also exceptional), which will allow reduction to gradually work itself out of a Scoring Record.Reasons for Change:

To simplify the automatic reduction process.

o Section 10-3 of “The USGA Handicap System” is nearly five pages long. Exceptional Score Reduction will be covered in less than one page in the Rules of Handicapping.

o This new procedure will be straightforward and intuitive. When a player submits an exceptional score, they will receive an automatic adjustment of -1.0 or -2.0.

  •   Handicap research shows that players who have shot 7.0 strokes below their Handicap Index are more likely to do so again in the future.
  •   Under the USGA Handicap System, only rounds played in events designated by the Committee as T-scores can lead to an automatic reduction.

o There has been confusion as to which competitions should receive the T-score designation, and as a result it has been applied inconsistently.

o By considering all scores in the Exceptional Score Reduction procedure, a player’s Handicap Index will be more responsive to exceptional performances in competitive and recreational play.

Since T-scores under the USGA Handicap System are retained for 12-months and compared to the Handicap Index at each revision, it is possible for T-scores that were not exceptional at the time they were made to become exceptional at a later date. This will no longer take place in 2020.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 6. Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): There is no calculation or adjustment to account for abnormal course or weather conditions.

Rule Change for 2020: When abnormal course or weather conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low on a given day, a “Playing Conditions Calculation” will adjust Score Differentials to better reflect a player’s actual performance. The “PCC” is:

  •  An automatic procedure by the computation service that compares the scores submitted on the day against expected scoring patterns,
  •  Conservative in nature and applied in integer values, and
  •  Applied in the Score Differential calculation of all players – even those who submit theirscore(s) on a later date.Reasons for Change:

To provide a mechanism that allows a better assessment of the difficulty of a course on a particular day.

o Golf is an outdoor sport with many factors that can impact scoring (weather, rough height, hole locations, etc.).

» A score of 90 made under challenging conditions could be a more impressive performance than an 88 under normal conditions – and incorporating a Playing Conditions Calculation allows this to be represented.

  •   This is one of the more modern features of the system, but a similar calculation has been used successfully in other parts of the world.
  •   The Playing Conditions Calculation will also be used to identify if the Course Rating of a golf course needs to be reviewed by the local Authorized Golf Association.

o The PCC is designed to be conservative, so if an adjustment is taking place 4-5 days a week, then the Course Rating may not be accurately representing the difficulty of the golf course.

o The ability to identify such courses will provide enhanced integrity to the system.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 7. Frequency of Handicap Index Updates

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): Following the National Revision Schedule, a player’s Handicap Index is updated on the 1st and 15th of each month.

Rule Change for 2020: A player’s Handicap Index will update daily, provided that the player submitted a score the day before. On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place.

Reasons for Change:

To provide players with a more responsive and up-to-date Handicap Index.
o Under the current system, a newly submitted score may have to wait up to two

weeks before it’s factored into the player’s Handicap Index calculation.  To streamline the process of establishing a Handicap Index.

o After a player submits their third acceptable 18-hole score (made up of any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole rounds), they will be issued a Handicap Index the next day.

To encourage players to submit scores as soon as practicable, preferably before midnight on the day of play.

o Since the Playing Conditions Calculation will use scores submitted at a course each day, it is crucial that scores are posted on the same day of play.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 8. Maximum Handicap Index

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020)U: The maximum Handicap Index is 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women.

URule Change for 2020U: The maximum Handicap Index for all golfers will be 54.0, regardless of gender.

UReasons for Change:

  •   To make the game more welcoming to new players and incentivize beginners toestablish and maintain a Handicap Index.
  •   To provide all players with a more precise measure of their demonstrated ability and allow players of all skill levels to track their progress in the game.
  •   By encouraging novice and recreational players to get a Handicap Index, they’ll be provided with opportunities to learn about the Rules of Handicapping.

o Although the number of players with a Handicap Index at or above the current maximums of 36.4 and 40.4 is relatively small, many golfers who currently play but do not have a Handicap Index would be above those limits.

  •   Statistics show that players with a Handicap Index play more rounds of golf. Therefore, making the system more welcoming can help grow the game and create a more sustainable future.
  •   Although the maximum Handicap Index will be 54.0, the Committee in charge of the Competition can set a lower maximum limit for entry or use in competitions.

o If the desire is to have players with similar abilities competing against each other, the Committee can also divide the competition into flights.

Although some are concerned that increasing the maximum Handicap Index may lead to handicap manipulation, safeguards exist within the Handicap Index calculation to minimize the potential for it (“Cap” – Rule 5.8; “Exceptional Score Reduction” – Rule 5.9; “Handicap Review” – Appendix D).

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 9. Importance and Determination of Par

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): Par has little significance because a Course Handicap represents the number of strokes a player receives in order to play down to the Course Rating of the tees being played – not par.

Rule Change for 2020: Par will have an important role within the World Handicap System, requiring par values to be more precise. Golf courses fall within the jurisdiction of the Authorized Golf Association, who has the final determination of par based on the following guidelines:




3 Up to 260 yards 4 240 to 490 yards 5 450 to 710 yards 6 670 yards and up

Up to 220 yards 200 to 420 yards 370 to 600 yards 570 yards and up

 When determining Par, the Authorized Golf Association will also consider how the hole is designed to be played and effective playing length factors such as elevation, doglegs and forced lay-ups.

o For example, if an uphill hole falls within the par 5 yardage guidelines for men from all tees except the most forward set, which is 435 yards, that hole may also be designated as a par 5 from the forward tees.

Reasons for Change:

The Course Handicap calculation will include a Course Rating minus Par adjustment, which will enable a Course Handicap to represent the number of strokes a player receives to play down to the Par of the tees being played.

o As a result, as long as players are competing from tees with the same Pars, no additional adjustment is needed.

o If players are competing from tees with different Pars, the player(s) competing from the tees with higher Par must add the difference in Par to their Course Handicap.

  •   The maximum hole score for handicap purposes will be a “Net Double Bogey,” equal to Par + 2 + any handicap strokes the player receives. For this adjustment to be accurate, Par values must be correct.
  •   When a player does not play a hole, “Net Par” must be recorded as their score for the hole. Net Par is equal to Par + any handicap strokes the player receives.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 10. Course Handicap Calculation and Application

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020)U: A Course Handicap represents the number of strokes a player receives in relation to the UCourse RatingU of the tees being played. The formula is:

Course Handicap = Handicap Index x Slope Rating / 113.

URule Change for 2020U: A Course Handicap will represent the number of strokes a player receives in relation to the UParU of the tees being played. The formula will include a Course Rating minus Par adjustment:

Course Handicap = Handicap Index × (Slope Rating ÷ 113) + (Course Rating – Par) UReasons for Change:

Under the USGA Handicap System, when players compete from different tees, a Course Handicap adjustment based on the Course Rating difference must take place to make the game fair.

o This adjustment is necessary because players competing from different tees are competing with different benchmarks (different Course Ratings).

o This adjustment, identified and explained in Section 3-5, has generated confusion and there have been challenges with its implementation over the years.

  •   Applying Course Rating minus Par within the Course Handicap calculation will allow players to compete from different tees without any adjustment – unless a difference in Par exists.
  •   Under the USGA Handicap System, it is common for Course Handicap values to change very little from tee to tee.

o Confusion exists because the Course Handicap value only accounts for the number of strokes needed to play to the respective Course Rating.

  •   Beginning in 2020, Course Handicap values will change more from tee to tee, as they will represent the number of strokes to play to Par.
  •   Par is a term that resonates with golfers, so setting Par as the benchmark for a Course Handicap adds simplicity to handicapping.

o Players will be able to determine their Target Scores (the score they’ll shoot if they play to their handicap) by simply adding their Course Handicap + Par.

A score of Net Par will be used for holes not played, and the maximum hole score for handicap purposes will be a Net Double Bogey. Having a Course Handicap that is relative to Par will ensure that the correct number of strokes are received and applied for both procedures.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 11. Playing Handicap Calculation and Application

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020)U: When a player’s Course Handicap is adjusted based on the application of a Handicap Allowance or other term(s) of a competition, the resulting value is not defined and is still referred to as a Course Handicap.

URule Change for 2020U: The term “Playing Handicap” will be introduced within the Rules of Handicapping and will represent the number of strokes a player receives in a competition. The following formula will be used to determine a Playing Handicap:

Playing Handicap = Course Handicap x Handicap Allowance

If players are competing from tees with different Pars, then the player(s) competing from the tees with the higher Par will receive an additional stroke(s) based on the difference.

UReasons for Change:
By introducing the term Playing Handicap, there will be a clear distinction between two

key Rules of Handicapping definitions, where both serve specific purposes:
o A Course Handicap will be used to adjust individual hole scores (Net Double

Bogey and Net Par procedures).

o Playing Handicaps will be used for net competition purposes – including determining the results and winner(s).

Under the current system, confusion exists because there is only one defined term that often represents two different values.

o For example – A player with a Course Handicap of 21 participating in a four-ball stroke play competition using the recommended Handicap Allowance of 85% will receive 18 strokes during the round. In 2020, the 18 strokes received will be their Playing Handicap.

The defined term Playing Handicap will be intuitive and ensure that both terms are applied properly.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 12. Maximum Hole Score for Handicap Purposes (Net Double Bogey)

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020)U: The maximum hole score for handicap purposes is based on a player’s Course Handicap and the following Equitable Stroke control (ESC) table:

Course Handicap

Maximum Score on any Hole

9 or less 10 through 19 20 through 29 30 through 39 40 or more

Double Bogey 7

URule Change for 2020U: The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey, calculated as follows:

Double Bogey + handicap strokes a player receives (or gives) based on their Course Handicap

(“or gives” only applies to plus handicap players)

Reasons for Change
The Net Double Bogey adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the ESC


o For example – Using the ESC procedure, a player with a Course Handicap of 21 would have the same maximum score (8) on each hole – regardless of the Par or difficulty of the hole.

o By factoring in Par and Stroke Index values under the Net Double Bogey procedure, adjusted hole scores will be more precise and reflective of each player’s demonstrated ability.

» This is a more personal assessment compared to the grouping together of Course Handicap ranges.

  • While this is a change for all who have used the USGA Handicap System, Net Double Bogey has been used successfully in many parts of the world – as it is the equivalent to zero points in the Net Stableford format of play.
  • The 2019 “Rules of Golf” introduced the maximum score form of stroke play, and Net Double Bogey was included as a recommended maximum score.oWhenNetDoubleBogeyisthemaximumscoresetbytheCommittee,no adjustments are necessary for handicap purposes.

USGA Handicap System to World Handicap System – Change Summary 13. Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): To submit a nine-hole score, a player must play 7 to 12 holes under the Rules of Golf. When 13 or more holes are played, the score submitted qualifies as an 18-hole score.

A player can have a Handicap Index and/or a nine-hole Handicap Index (N).

  •   For players with a Handicap Index, nine-hole scores are combined in the order that they are received and used to produce an 18-hole Handicap Differential.
  •   For players with a nine-hole Handicap Index (N), the most recent 20 nine-hole Handicap Differentials are used in the calculation of their nine-hole Handicap Index (N).Rule Change for 2020: To submit a nine-hole score, a player must play 7 to 13 holes under the Rules of Golf. When 14 or more holes are played, the score submitted qualifies as an 18- hole score.
    •   For players with a Handicap Index, nine-hole scores are combined in the order that they are received and used to produce an 18-hole Score Differential.
    •   A nine-hole Handicap Index (N) will no longer exist. Reasons for Change:

To ensure that each player has one Handicap Index and one Scoring Record under the World Handicap System.

o Under the USGA Handicap System, a player can maintain both a Handicap Index and a Handicap Index (N).

The method for calculating a Handicap Index will be the same worldwide, and this applies whether a player submits all 9-hole scores, 18-hole scores, or a combination of both.

o A player’s Handicap Index will be interchangeable for both 9-hole and 18-hole play.

To enhance the integrity of the Handicap Index calculation.

o When a player with a nine-hole Handicap Index (N) competes in an 18-hole competition, doubling their nine-hole Handicap Index (N) is not always fair – as the player(s) doubling their nine-hole Handicap Index (N) are sometimes at a disadvantage and receive one or two fewer strokes than they would with an 18- hole Handicap Index.