Tuesday, April 22, 2008

FORE! by Evelyn Doane

Cape Cod can truly be considered a golfer’s paradise with over fifty golf courses to choose from. There are some with spectacular water views, some where one feels one is in Scotland…true links courses…and some in more park like settings. Wherever you decide to play, the experience will be most pleasurable, as our courses are in fine condition and offer challenges for the single digit handicapper and the less experienced golfer as well.
One of the real secrets about golf on Cape Cod is the amazing amount of golf one can play when dressed appropriately for the occasion. I have played in every month of the year. There was one January with temperatures in the sixties and golfers were backed up on the fairways! Fall golf on the Cape is delightful. With the surrounding water still warm, one can play happily and comfortably until December, while the temperatures off Cape can be a definite deterrent.
While there are some very special private courses on the Cape, I would like to tell you about some of my favorite public courses. I will also tell you about some opportunities to join some golf leagues to find great competition and also how to get to play these private courses too!
Some towns have their own public courses which one can join very inexpensively…about $500 for town residents. There is good competition at each one with club championships, other tournaments, mixed events and special groups for the men and ladies too.
Harwich’s town course is Cranberry Valley with a real feeling of Cape Cod with some views of cranberry bogs, kettle holes and scrub pines. The 18th hole is the signature hole here…a double dog leg par five.
Brewster is noted for its two Captain’s courses with each tee named for a famous local sea captain. Captains’ features holes with alternate routes of play and visible hazards. Pride is taken with the design that is in harmony with the environment.
Dennis has two courses also…Dennis Pines, which is quite challenging and Dennis Highlands which is shorter and easier. The Pines stretches to 7000 yards from the tips and winds around 170 acres of pine forest. It is necessary to be proficient with every club in the bag here.
Yarmouth has the old and charming Bass River course and the new 27 hole Bayberry Hills course. Bass River has a memorable 9th hole …a par three which due to the prevailing wind must be played out over the Bass River to successfully reach the sharply sloping green and avoid the bunkers on the right and the left. Bayberry features bent grass fairways and the “risk-reward” 15th hole…a short par five where one can go for the green in two through a gap in the woods or take the alternate route to the right leaving a 100 yard third shot to the green.
Barnstable has the lady-friendly Old Barnstable Fairgrounds course which is quite interesting and fun to play.
Ocean Edge in Brewster at Ocean Edge Resort has an interesting course with pot bunkers…interesting only if you don’t hit in one! One nine has just been redesigned by Jack Nicklaus.
There are also some great executive and par three courses that are fun to play as well as surprisingly challenging.
Chatham Seaside Links is an executive course with some of the best water views anywhere.
Kings Way in Yarmothport is another good executive course with a great restaurant in the clubhouse where all are welcome.
Blue Rock is noted for being one of the best par three courses in the country.
Chequessett Golf and Country Club is only a nine hole course but the tee boxes change for the second nine and make the course very interesting.
The Highlands in Wellfleet is a true links course and you might very well feel you are in Scotland! Twin Brooks is behind the Sheraton Hotel in Hyannis and is another par three with very good true greens.
Now as I said previously, there are fifty courses available on the Cape and just over the bridge, and these are my personal favorites. However if you would like to find out more information on these and all the others, please go to my website: http://www.chathambytheseawithevelyn.com/ and you will find telephone numbers and directions to all of the courses…yes…all fifty of them! Click on the golf course key at the right side of the home page to find out all you ever wanted to know about all these courses.
And…..here is some information about some good competition you may be interested in. There is a Pro-Am league for men with lower handicaps that plays every week at a different course during the off season. For the ladies, if you have a handicap index of 23 or less, you may join the Cape Cod Womens’ Golf League where the ladies may play just about every course on the Cape from April through June and then in September through November. Naturally you must have a verified handicap index for both of these organizations.
Have you been waiting for the secret of how to play on some of the private courses? Here it is! Just about all of these clubs have charity events and for only a little more than the usual greens fee, you may play in one of these events, compete for prizes and help a local charity too!
Eastward Ho! sponsors the Cape Cod Hospital Tournament in June.
The Ridge Club has a tournament for Children’s Cove in the Fall.
The Wianno Club has a tournament for the local library.
The other private courses also sponsor charity events and if you carefully read the Cape Cod Times in the Sports section under upcoming events, you will see these listed. Also, if you are a Chatham resident, you may play in the Chatham Residents’ Tournament at Eastward Ho! in the early Spring or late Fall.
If you are a serious golf aficionado…do go to http://www.golfclubatlas.com/ and read about the best courses not only in our state but all over the world.
I hope you have enjoyed a look at some of the wonderful courses on the Cape. If you have any questions, please do be in touch!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bass fishing in Pleasant Bay 4/15/08 by David Garner

My favorite memories from childhood in Orleans always revolved around the water. This time of year especially, mid april, I think back to my youth and the annual arrival of the Striped Bass.
Springtime meant "stripers" in Pleasant Bay. Located on the "back side" of the cape, above the elbow, Pleasant Bay is the largest salt-water estuary on this end of Cape Cod. Separated from the Atlantic by a thin and always changing barrier beach this wonderful abayment is ideally suited and located to hold and feed "tons" of stripers. In their annual sojour north, as the water gets warmer, the Bass migrate up the Atlantic coast following Herring and other bait fish. The first to arrive, the "scouts", are the smaller ones and usually under 14 or 15 inches. They methodically enter one abayment at a time south to north until they end up in the far reaches of Pleasant Bay just about this time of year. There are lots of ways to fish for stripers. It mostly depends on the water you're fishing and the time of year.

Louis Higgins, a local "bayman", was one of my many teachers on the water. In the late 60's he was already in his later years and clearly the epitomy of an "old salt". He had fish and shellfished all the old nooks and crannies of the Bay. Seaworms were his choice of bait to catch these young fish. I can see it as clear today as I did 40 years ago. His thick weathered hands sliding a hook into the mouth of a seaworm, its pinchers biting to resist, and pulling it out its side. His favorite lure was a silver spoon, still sold today, called a "Toniasetta". This spoon with a worm is killer. You can cast it or troll it but the key is bringing it in slowly or trolling slowly. It has wonderful action in the water which is only enhanced by the length of the worm. The little stripers feed from the end of the worm in and announce their arrival with what the fisherman feels are little "bumps" before a hook-up. Another trolling rig he showed me and my favorite still is what was known as a "capecodder". A two foot long, heavy 30lb. monofiliment, rig with colored beads, two silver spoons and two hooks. Add the seaworms and this should be declared illegal in Massachusetts. This is old school fishing. Todays bait choice for the little guys is usually a plastic white "grub" on hook.

Soon the larger bass enter the bay also looking for bait and compete with the little ones for food and habitat. The bigger fish usually like the deeper water to feed in and will in fact eat off the bottom taking good size crabs, shellfish and ells. But these larger bass, sometimes upward of 40 inches, also like to cruise the many sand flats and shallow areas that are typical of the Bay. This is my favorite place to take stripers. My method is light spinning gear, a "bay" rod usually 7 to8 feet long and light line usually 10-12 lb. test and an artificial surface plug. The greatest thrill in the world, as it was 40 years ago, is to catch big stripers on the "top"or surface. To see the water explode as a hungry 20 lb. striper hits a lure is unbelievable experience. To see it at the end of your own line is the best feeling in the world! With this smashing hit on your line you instinctively react by pulling the rod back over your head, trying to set the hook before the fish gets away. The second greatest feeling is the weight of the fish at the other end of the line after you have set knowing you have a big fish on! As the fish starts his first run expect line to spin off your reel. If its a big fish and your drag(resistence) is too tight on your reel then the line is already broken and you have lost a big one. In time that fish will get bigger and bigger each time you tell the story. Believe me... The hooked striper runs slower and stronger than a bluefish and mostly tries to stay deep. After two or three runs his energy usually subsides and you can bring him up along side your boat. Watching out for hooks, slowly reach your hand to the water and with your thumb grab the fish by its lower jaw and lift it out of the water. Try to handle the fish by the body as little as possible as its slime coating protects the fish.The mouth can not close when held like this so now you can remove your lure(bend back all barbs when fishing with multiple hooks) from its mouth. Quickly put the fish back in the water maintaining your grip and slowly pull the fish back in forth in the water allowing water and oxygen to pass through his gills to prepare him for release. Take your hand from its mouth and in a splash he is gone. Now you are ready for another one! I still can't think of anything more fun and relaxing than drifting in Pleasant Bay casting silently,seagulls musing over head, trying to catch that big striper that got away.