Golf at Dorchester with the great Bobby Greenwood (2006)

This article was written by Brad McNeal of Glade Vista, Fairfield Glade, Tennessee, dated July 25, 2006.

  Golf at Dorchester with the great Bobby Greenwood

“God, if you don’t help me I might make a fool of myself” these were the words uttered by Dorchester’s course designer Bobby Greenwood. When the crew would leave every evening about 4:30 pm, Bobby would get down on his knees in the dirt and talk with God.  Did the Lord answer Bobby’s plea for help? After a history of 29 years, Dorchester has proven to be Fairfield Glade’s most popular course to play by return tourist. This was Greenwood’s first of many courses he’d ever design.

It was a very hot afternoon, Bobby showed up at the VISTA office before lunch to meet and greet the staff. Bobby entered with a big smile on his face, you could feel the joy radiating from him. VISTA writer, Robbi Weaver asked him, “Bobby, what is your warm up routine?” Bobby replied, “I put the clubs on the cart, go to the tee box, wiggle my shoulders and hips, say a prayer, and hit the ball.” “You don’t go to the range and hit balls?” With a smile Bobby said, “Robbi, you don’t need to warm up a Rolls Royce.”

VISTA Publisher, Jon Weaver, VISTA Resident Photographer, Ron Peplowski, and I were very thrilled and honored to play alongside Mr. Greenwood. It was a bit unnerving, just imagine playing a course for the first time with the person that designed it.  Bobby has an interesting personality. He has an equal mixture humility and confidence. It is just an extreme pleasure to be around Bobby. And, especially during a round of golf!

We arrived at the clubhouse afternoon, it was rather hot. Everyone greeted one another with warm smiles and kind words. After the starter informed us of the cart path only holes, she directed us to the snack bar to pick up some complimentary glasses of ice water. While waiting to tee off on #1, Bobby pointed out that he had caught an 8 lb. bass in the pond just beyond the front of the #1 tee.

I took my first shot on this luxurious course, my errant tee shot collided with the water skipping across and settling on the fairway. I turned to the group and making light of the situation said, “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.” Bobby chuckled and said, “You know, I never won a tournament that I didn’t feel lucky while playing.” Bobby stepped up to the box, lined up his shot and with a seemingly effortless swing sent one sailing, straight as an arrow, down the center of the fairway. We stood there in amazement watching this beautiful tee shot disappear over the hill, down the middle. As we stood on the fairway, Bobby recalled the reason for two tiered green. The large rock beneath the surface dictated the need. This approach shot would be the first and only time Bobby would land in a bunker all day.

We got back in the cart and went to #2 tee box, it doglegs left. Bobby told us the shot to take was left over the trees, after some thought, Bobby said he wanted, just for fun, to draw it just around the trees. The ball traveled thru the air just how he had described and after hooking for 60 yards landed again in perfect position dead center, the ball landed just inside 100 yards from the green. Driving around the cart path Bobby pointed out the placement of the red and yellow tees. He was proud of the ladies tee which eliminated much of the dogleg for the ladies… more fun to play for the ladies.

On the next hole, the par-3 #3, Bobby proceeded to tell this story; He pointed to the single tree that flanks the green in the front.  “That tree had a dozer blade pressed against it and the operator was ready to the trunk ready to push it down. I yelled to the operator, ‘Whoa! HEY! What are you doing? Do you see that yellow tape around the trunk of this tree? That means leave it alone.’ The saw operator looked back at me puzzled and said, ‘But it’s right in front of the green…’ I replied at 150 yards, `We need this tree. It’s important, it adds to the challenge of the hole. You could put the pin behind that tree, and make the golfer draw it around.’ It’s stories like this that made this such a special day.

As we approached the par-4 #6, we waited for the group in front of us to finish up the hole, Bobby told us that this was the first green he had designed. He had said the he probably  went a little over the top designing it. The berms around the back are really large and the green is huge, when he finished it was shaped like a heart. He put the large mound in middle because he had said that it was “interesting.” We spent a few minutes taking the large mound head on. With pin placement in mind, putting on this hole could frustrate even the best golfers.

As we approached the green on #7, Bobby pointed out that the green was shaped like an hour glass. There is a reason for that too, in his original design Bobby had two trees placed one on each side of the green. The trees were strategically placed in the indentions of the hourglass shape. However, the two trees suffered the same fate as many other trees on a golf course, they died and had to be removed. Perhaps additional watering and fertilizer killed the two pine trees. Bobby also added another dimension of difficulty to this green, between the two trees there is a depression between both sides of the hourglass. With his approach shot Bobby stuck one within two feet of the pin for an easy birdie. “That felt like something from the past. I’m having delusions of grandeur!” Bobby chuckled.

As Ron was preparing to tee off on #8, Bobby, being the cut-up he is, grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures of Ron. “I know you being a photographer, never get a  picture taken of yourself. So now it’s your turn,” Bobby busted out.

As we rounded the turn we stopped in the snack bar to re-fill ice cups and refreshen ourselves. By the way, please let me remind everyone to drink plenty of water during these hot summer months when working or playing outside.

As we sat around and enjoyed the cool beverages and a few snacks, Jon asked Bobby why he had a Wyoming hat. Bobby replied, “I bought this hat when I traveled there to speak at an FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) camp. I was asked to speak to a group about my experiences, it was indeed a great pleasure for me.” Bobby has many stories to tell, I look forward to more of these conversations with such a golf legend.

The back nine proved much more relaxing and picturesque. The par 3, #13, has great view of the green 150 yards below you. There is also a small stream just beyond the green. When I asked Bobby is there anything that he would change about the way he designed this course, he responded with this, “There is one thing, I would have put the tee for #13 on lot adjacent to the current one. The new tee would be on the lot located to the left of its current spot. And, I would love to build a new green 160 yards down the valley to the right, the end result would be a similar tee shot dropping 100 feet to the valley where the green would be guarded on the right with the slope of the (mountain) and the stream guarding the left side. Don’t you think that would be a tremendous golf hole?”

The next very noteworthy hole is the par 5, #14, if you have read about Bobby in the previous edition of the VISTA you may have read about this tee box. This is the hole where Bobby had to convince the “powers that be” to buy one more acre of land after already purchasing 14,500 acres. The view from this tee box is phenomenal, no matter which one you play from you should ride to the blues just to check out the view.  Also while deciding on the routing plan for the back nine, Bobby was walking through the thick woods, the fairways were not cleared yet, and he kept hearing water running, after some search he finally wandered back in the timber to discover a lovely waterfall that fronts the right of this interesting #14 green.

With the help of God, Bobby has designed the course with you the golfer in mind… player friendly perhaps? Even the cart path routes were placed with much thought and planning… again, for the enjoyment and convenience of the players.

Bobby played very well all day. When asked how much he has played this year, Bobby had said that this was probably his fifth round of the year. His game never showed any signs of weakness.  He was very patient with me being a novice golfer. I am very appreciative of that, he had nothing but kind words for each of us all day. I can’t express my gratitude to this man for his inspiration, and the example he sets for all of us on and off the course.

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