Summer usually holds great memories and for many of us such moments helped shape our youth. Just like an old song on the radio that instantly brings back memories and a smile to our face, so too are the sights, sounds, smells and experiences of summer. An outdoor shower after swimming, digging your toes in the sand looking for clams, the sounds of children laughing while running on the beach, an outing on a boat, BBQs, the taste of salt on your skin and the warm sensation when you go to bed at night after a day in the sun.
I can now add golfing in the cranberry bogs to my list of summer experiences thanks to a gracious host, Willowbend in Cotuit, Mass., which is comprised of three nine-hole courses: the Bend/Old, Bay and Bog. A number of the elevated tees on the Bog side offer arresting vistas, most notably at No. 5, a par-3 overlooking a New England red barn with an American flag on one side and cranberry bogs around the green.
Like any great club it also has its share of fish tales which in this case literally involved fish. The feeling around the club was fun, family and friendship. Members were engaging and my partner on the course, Director of Golf, Michael Vidal was the consummate guide and instructor. He gave me the history behind the club including the three nine hole course that make up Willowbend and when needed golf tips to improve my extremely sporadic golf shots which like many of us boarder on looking like I have no idea how the game is played to a great “sandy”, a shot out of the sand and one putt into the hole. Much of this is a trickle down from David Southworth’s management and style; relaxed, engaging and dedicated.
Whether in corporate America or on Cape Cod, I am always amazed with any organization that has the ability to retain employees for long periods of time. To me this speaks volumes about management and the happiness of the employees and the environment they work. Jim has been tending bar at Willowbend for 22 years and like any great bar man he has a specialty drink and great stories. It is no secret that I strongly believe the bar to be the beating heart of any great golf club. The Willowbend coffee is a signature drink made with Jamison Irish Whiskey, homemade whipped cream, and cream de mint to give it a green look. Jim’s story; he spent the day after the 2011 US Open at the bar in Willowbend with Rory McIlroy’s Dad and the 2011 US Open trophy while Rory graciously kept his commitment to a corporate outing being held at the club by Fireman Capital the day after his spectacular record setting 16 under win at Congressional.
I read a quote recently that said “If life gives you lemons and you make lemonade hopefully you can find someone that life gave them vodka and you can have a party”. Since the course really comes alive in September when the bogs are flooded and the cranberries rise to the top and are harvested I am thinking I may return with a great bottle of vodka and see if we can make a few Cape Codders and some autumn memories