DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. ' A lot of golf courses lay claim to the name Donald Ross, but in few of these places do you feel Ross presence as strongly as at New Hampshires Panorama Golf Course, part of an elegant Dixville Notch resort called the Balsams. This palpable sense of Ross genius is probably due to three factors: He personally supervised the work here, something true of only a small percentage of the courses that bear his name; his original 18 has not been tweaked for the modern world with changes to make the greens and bunkers more tolerable for resort guests; no houses have been built in sight of these fairways.
With its square, grassy-faced bunkers, devilish putting surfaces, optical tricks and offset tee markers, Panorama stands as a memorial to its creator at every turn, offering generous landing areas that give way to difficult approach shots, that lead to short-game challenges of such marvelous intricacy that make Panorama one of the most difficult in New Hampshire.
The 387-yard 12th hole is a perfect example of Ross gift. It is a downhill tee shot to a bowl of a landing area with water right and woods left. You then face a sharply uphill approach over a crescent bunker placed so that the half-visible flag seems much closer than it actually is. The right side of the green is preferable here, but watch out for a bunker and a steep drop-off. Most players will hit their approach shots left to be safe, but that means putting toward a slope so deceptively severe that a three-putt from 15 feet is a 70-30 proposition. Hole by hole, the observant player here will get lessons in classic golf design.
The Balsams itself, 10 minutes down the road, has the single disadvantage of being far from civilization ' a pretty three-hour drive from the nearest big airport in Manchester. That negative is more than offset by the striking scenery of cliffsides and forested hills, a placid pond just out the front door, and a stately, 140-year-old, 200-room full-service hotel with heated outdoor pool, an executive golf course, fishing, kayaking, mountain biking, horseback riding, a small spa, billiard room, a movie theater, tennis courts, a full kids program, moose-viewing safaris and clothing shops.
Breakfast and lunch buffets feature long tables brimming with every imaginable hot and cold dish, from made-to-order omelets to fresh seafood, from Angus beef to vegetarian delights. The six-entree-per-night gourmet dinner menu includes offerings like lobster, prime rib, line-caught swordfish, fresh trout, all preceded by a daily selection of soups, salads and appetizers and followed by 20 choices of dessert.
For those wanting to experience a different side of the culinary experience, the Balsams offers cooking classes, culminating in a four-course luncheon, as well as an apprentice training program for aspiring chefs.
The resort has a classy country feel'port on the veranda and jackets at dinner, alongside cool mountain air and nice little touches like framed inspirational quotes set up in the hallways once walked by Teddy Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra. You can even visit the Ballot Room. Since 1960 the room has been the site of the first returns in presidential elections because the entire voting populace of Dixville Notch (26 in 2004) shows up at midnight to cast their ballots.
But its the golf that really makes the trip worthwhile. Even those who prefer to play on modern courses fashioned by the blade of a bulldozer will be impressed by the variety of golf shots, awed by the 40-mile mountain views and spectacular September foliage. After a round on a windy day at Panorama, you come away with a rare exhilaration, feeling like you have just held a private conversation with one of the games greatest designers.
Location: Dixville Notch, N.H.
Accommodations: 203 rooms and suites
Golf: Panorama Golf Course, par 72, 6,804 yards; Coashukee, par 32, 1,917 yards
Amenities/activities: Spa, tennis, hiking, fishing, nature programs, theater, mountain biking, game room, kids Camp Wind Whistle, watersports on Lake Gloriette
by Roland Merullo, LINKS Magazine
All Courses & Travel
Resort profile The Balsams Grand Resort
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.