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Mt. Washington Resort course to host New England Open

June 30, 2010
BRETTON WOODS — The restored 18-hole historic Donald Ross golf course at the Mt. Washington Resort will host the New England Open championship from Tuesday, Sept. 14, to Thursday, Sept. 16, with a $50,000 purse.

The prestigious tournament will draw 120 PGA professional entries from New England and beyond, including club and teaching professionals, and mini-tour — equivalent to baseball's minor league — players.

The Resort's golf team is very pleased that the PGA has signed a three-year contract with the Resort to bring the New England Open to the course for three years: 2010, 2011, and 2012. "It's really a feather in our cap," explained Mike Brunetti of Celebration Associates at a interview with the Resort's team.

Resort golf pro Michael Carroll, golf course superintendent David Ousterhout, and golf course foreman Jaffe Jessen are extremely pleased that the Mt. Washington course is in the best shape it has been in for years. Starting in the spring of 2007, the course was restored by golf course designer and restorer Brian Silva, who was guided by Donald Ross' original plans. The course reopened in August 2008, but, like most courses within a 100-mile radius, it took a beating over the very harsh winter of 2008-2009 and a rainy summer slowed its recovery.

This year, however, with a mild winter and far fewer freeze-thaw cycles, the course is in tip-top shape, Mr. Ousterhout said.

"The week of the New England Open will start on Monday, Sept. 13, with a Charity Pro-Am event that will likely feature a professional in every foursome, with 144 golfers competing. This event is open to anyone who would like the thrill of playing the course in its fine-tuned championship mode: faster greens and higher roughs. Before the Open events kicks off, New England PGA Director of Rules & Championships Ron Green will work with Resort golf pro Carroll on course markings, hazards, and pin locations.

On the first two days of the New England Open — Sept. 14 and 15 — 120 professional competitors will engage in stroke — or medal as it's sometimes called — play.

On Thursday, the 50 low-scoring golfers, plus ties, will compete against one another for the purse, which, golf pro Carroll noted, is plump enough to draw the region's top players.

Spectators will be welcome on any of these days to come out and watch professional play without paying any admission fee. "There won't be any grandstands, but it's a great chance to watch and encourage your favorite pro," Mr. Brunetti said. "It's the last major event in the New England PGA's season and is bound to attract top local area professionals."

Securing the NE Open, primarily designed to attract New England professional golfers, has served to get the Resort's golf team thinking more strategically about attracting area golfers to the course.

"Lots of golfers are unaware that the course is open to the public," Mr. Brunetti said. "It's truly in spectacular shape, and we hope residents and summer visitors will come and enjoy it."

Peak season rates, including golf carts, are now in place for Resort guests: $75, Monday through Thursday; and $85, Friday through Sunday. Public players pay an additional $10.

But two special deals are about to go into effect.

A Sunday afternoon special rate for New Hampshire residents with a N. H. driver's license or other Granite State ID will soon be offered in the $35 to $40 range. "The Sunday afternoon ticket works extremely well at the Bretton Woods Ski Area, and we hope this will become just as popular for golfers as it is for skiers in the winter."

A multiple-play card for individual players is also being developed: Play five times, and the sixth game is free.

"We want New Hampshire golfers, especially those who live in this area, to have a chance to experience play here on a truly great course," Mr. Brunetti explained. "It's part of northern New Hampshire's quality of life."

"Golfweek Magazine" voted the Mount Washington course as "Best Course You Can Play" in New Hampshire in both 2009 and 2010.

The rules of dress on the course are very simple: no blue jeans or denim; men must wear collared shirts; and women cannot wear very short shorts or skirts.

Mr. Brunetti added, "It's fundamentally resort attire."

Garnett Hill
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