Darlene Fafand tees off on the fifth hole at Glocester Country Club last Wednesday as golf pro David Baluik and playing partner Kara Bennett look on.
HARMONY â Glocester Country Club is more than just a golf course. Situated on Waterman Lake, this private club also offers tennis, swimming and boating for its members. A sandy beach and tree-lined picnic grove border the lake. Clay tennis courts are located near the main clubhouse, adjacent to a putting green.
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The club is situated on Route 44, just west of Greenville.
âThe golf course was built in 1929,â said Bill Walter, a board member who offered a tour of the facilities last week. âThis is really a family-oriented country club. People can golf, swim, fish and play tennis here. There used to be an archery range down by the water.
âWe have a marina at the lake where members can dock their boats,â Walter added. âThereâs a small charge for that.â
Glocester C.C. would fit right into the New Hampshire countryside with its lakeside setting. Its members can cook out in a grove near the water. A cool breeze blows off the lake, even when temperatures approach 90 degrees.
The head golf pro is former Cumberland High golf star David Baluik, son of local legend Stan Baluik, who served as golf professional at Kirkbrae Country Club in nearby Lincoln for 46 years. (Stan remains director of golf at Kirkbrae.)
âI came to Glocester in 1990,â David Baluik admitted. âThe club is sort of unique in that it is very family-oriented. I invite some other local golf pros over for a tournament each year where we have three members play with a pro in each foursome. The pros always kid me that they are coming to âCamp Glocesterâ because of the lake, the beach, the boating and everything else families can do when they come here.â
Baluik, who turned professional after high school and spent the 1980s chasing his golf dream in the U.S. and overseas, finds the nine-hole Glocester layout intriguing.
ââItâs a short course, itâs tight, we have small greens and they are fast,â he said. âEvery hole is a birdie hole but you can also make double-bogey in a hurry. Itâs fun to play. Sometimes I go out there and really try to attack the course. That doesnât always work. You really have to hit the ball pretty straight to play well here.â
There are two sets of tees for each hole, allowing members to play to a par 70 for 18 holes of golf.
âThe course record is 61,â said Baluik, who was known as an extremely long driver of the golf ball during his younger days. âTommy Hebert, one of our members, shot 61. A junior member, Matt Creamer, shot 61 this summer.â
Hebert, an elite R.I. Amateur golfersfor many years, just underwent knee surgery and will be out of action for a month, Baluik admitted.
Baluik has shot 61 twice at his home course. The 1980 Cumberland High graduate still hits the ball a long way. And he enjoys playing this tight golf layout, which features out-of-bounds markers on just about every hole.
The golf course is built into a tight piece of tree-lined property along Waterman Lake with Route 44 slicing through it, putting the second, third and fourth holes on the other side of the highway.
âPeople can drive by on Route 44 and see part of the golf course,â Baluik said, âbut you have to come through the entrance and drive down to the lake to see how beautiful this property is. It reminds a lot of people of Vermont and New Hampshire.â
The golf course plays to 5,504 yards for 18 holes. The ninth hole is the only par 5.
âOur signature hole is probably number two,â Bill Walter said. âWhen we host the Pro-Member tournament, a lot of the pros tell us this is one of the toughest holes around. Itâs a dogleg right off the tee and you have to be very accurate with the tee shot. The second shot is anywhere from 160 to 200 yards, even with a good tee shot. There is out-of-bounds to the right. And if you go long or left on your second shot to the green, there is OB back there, too.â
The par three sixth hole is a scenic 163 yards downhill from an elevated tee. The clubhouse and lake are part of the view from the tee. The 7th is a great risk-reward hole measuring 335 yards with a high mound in the middle of the fairway, around 230 yards from the tee. Miss the small green left and youâre in British Open-style fescue.
The golf course is well-manicured. It is maintained in top shape by superintendent Andrew MacLachlan and his crew of workers. The greens are quite small, receptive to well-struck iron shots, and guarded by an array of sand bunkers.
The membership is limited to 160 single/family memberships. Family members currently pay $2,920 per year with additional fees and assessments of approximately $650 per year. Single members pay $2,870 with a similar total for fees and assessments. All members are responsible for a $100 monthly food minimum from May through September.
The club, which is open all year round, weather permitting, also offers full service dining at its restaurant and outdoor patio.
The course is fairly easy to walk. Golf carts are available for $14 (18 holes). There are no advanced tee times needed for members and their guests.
The club has room for several new members. Anyone on its waiting list before December 31, 2011 will have their initiation fee waived. For more information, go to the clubâs website: http://www.glocestercc.com/