WINTER HARBOR — In a fast-paced world, time seems to stand still on the Grindstone Neck golf course.
The course not only embodies the characteristics of traditional tracks, it unites a community through memories.
Grindstone Association will celebrate the 125-year anniversary of its golf course with a scramble on Friday, July 29.
Festivities will start at 11:30 a.m. and include lunch, a shotgun scramble, a hole event and cocktails. RSVP by July 18.
Built in 1891, Grindstone Neck ranks among the 100 oldest golf courses in the nation. The course, which is open from May through October, features views of the harbor and Frenchman Bay. Golfers can see the ocean from all nine holes.
Golf originated in Scotland centuries ago before coming to the United States. Courses initially followed the terrain and incorporated natural elements into the game. Now, Grindstone Neck Chairman Doug Dick says most of the good golf courses are “immaculate” without a grass blade out of place — but not Grindstone Neck.
“This is the way it used to be,” Dick says. “We don’t have sand traps like most golf courses, but we’ve got our own hazards.”
Those hazards include rocks, tall grass, wind and fog.
Dick, who summers in Winter Harbor, says he has played a lot of golf over his lifetime, and he has met people who belong to the finest clubs in the world.
“They talk about how this is their favorite,” Dick says of Grindstone Neck. “Because it’s not manicured, a lot of crazy things happen. It’s a throwback.”
It’s also a throwback to the past. Dick and four year-round locals — Edith Dixon, Custis Swope, Steven Kampmann and Kevin Conley — spend Thursday morning reminiscing about the course inside the Grindstone Neck Yacht Club.
Conley, the course’s superintendent, grew up caddying for Grindstone Neck for $1.50 a game. He and the other caddies would kill time playing cards or baseball on the first fairway. While working, they would bet sodas on which golfers would win.
“When you’re 11 years old and all your friends are down here caddying,” Conley says, “there was nothing better.”
Conley caddied for Swope and Dixon as well as Kampmann’s parents. He said one of the funniest matchups was Kampmann’s mother and a local Conley called “Mr. Pepper.”
“His mother was the best golfer, and Mr. Pepper,” Conley hesitates, “didn’t do so well.”
Conley recalls one time Kampmann’s mom asked Mr. Pepper, who “used to swear a lot,” if he wanted to continue after he pounded the ball into the ground on the fifth hole.
“He turned to the caddies and said, ‘We might as well keep up the comedy for them,’” Conley says, smiling.
Generations of locals have their own stories about the course.
“The great thing is that my kids and my grandchildren are all playing golf in this community,” Swope says. “A lot of them learned to golf here.”
Kampmann recalls a comment he made to his son, who was 9 years old at the time, while the pair waited their turn at the third tee: “Someday, if you ever get married, I can’t imagine a better place to ask someone.” Years later, Kampmann’s son proposed to his wife on the third tee.
Kampmann says that, just the other day on the golf course, he and his sons ran into someone who used to caddie for Kampmann’s dad.
“They never met my father,” Kampmann says of his children. “What I love about this is the continuity of relationships.”
Dixon values the memories she has golfing with her late husband, Fitz Dixon. She says he notched four holes-in-one on the course before passing away in 2006.
“Being a small community, we all kind of do everything together,” Edith Dixon says. “It can be an expensive thing to keep up. But if we didn’t have it, we couldn’t function.”
“It ties the town together,” Conley adds.
Conley tears up when discussing what the course means to him.
“I’ve spent practically my whole life here,” he says. “Now, I have a 5-year-old son who gets to come to work with me. It’s very special. He’s going to grow up around this like I did.”
Find more information about Grindstone Neck at grindstonegolf.com.