Opening Day in golf just doesn’t operate the way other field sports do. In baseball and football for instance, Opening Day is announced weeks ahead of time.
Not in Mike Ryan’s world.
The club pro at Derryfield CC uses a different, old-fashioned method to decide when he’s going to open the course to the public.
“I just look out my window and determine if we can play that day,” said Ryan. “I looked out my window last Thursday (April 3) and decided we were going to open nine holes on Saturday (April 5). That’s what I usually do. I use my eyes and then talk to the course superintendent who told me we can play nine. That’s it.”
Last Saturday. golfers streamed to the Mammoth Road course in droves. “It was a bit chilly, but 112 rounds were played on the first day, followed by another 100 last Sunday. This week we brought the carts out Thursday, which means we’re going to double last week’s numbers this weekend. Carts, for most golfers, are definitely essential.”
The long, cold winter that dumped upwards of 30 inches of snow in the Manchester area has left its mark at Derryfield.
“We still have some patches of snow and quite frankly, the other nine holes won’t be ready for couple of weeks,” said Ryan. “But nine holes is better than none. Compared to last year, when we had 150 sign up for membership during the first week, we just went over the 200 mark this week and we’re still counting.”
The 2014 season permit rates for singles ($948), family ($1,612), juniors (ages 13 and under, $99) and intermediate ($99) were released recently. “Our rates are very affordable,” said Ryan. A round of nine holes is $26 per player, and in two weeks time when the course opens its 18 holes, it will cost $42 to play a round. Golf carts for nine holes are $9 per person and $15 for 18 holes.
This season, said Ryan, golfers will be able to book their tee times online at www.derryfieldgolf.com. “We’re finally on par with the rest of the world,” joked Ryan. “We’ll have the system up and ready to go full speed by May 1. I’d advise people to even check online next week because we could have it up sooner. People can still come in person to book their tee times, but booking online is definitely the way to go. People can also use their smart phones to do it. So we’re excited about it.”
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Jutras Post has named Peter Bissonnette its head coach for this season. Bissonnette is no stranger to local baseball programs. Currently the varsity assistant at Manchester West under Dan Colburn, Bissonnette has coached baseball for 14 seasons in the Queen City.
A former Manchester South Little League, he will be entering his sixth season with the Manchester Babe Ruth League and has coached previously at Manchester West under former head coach Steve LaRose. Bissonnette also has coached in the Manchester Colt and Palomino Leagues. Nick Cenatiempo Sr., Nate Knoetig and Ray Voisine will be the assistant coaches this summer at Jutras.
“My immediate goal is to get Jutras Post back to a solid footing in American Legion baseball.” said Bissonnette. “West just hired a bright, energetic coach. Dan (Colburn) spent many years coaching at Pinkerton and now he’s looking to build the West baseball program. West and Jutras are tied together and Dan and I are committed to making those two programs strong again.”
Jutras didn’t have enough players to field a team last summer. They’re back in business mainly because Post 79 of Manchester is serving a one-year suspension for violating state legion rules last season.
Jutras can try out and sign players from West and Central this summer. Bissonnette recently attended a Central baseball meeting to extend those players an invitation to try out and play for Jutras.
“Legion baseball isn’t Central against West,” said Bissonnette. “It’s about Manchester and I want the Central players to continue playing summer baseball at Jutras Post. Legion baseball is very competitive and we want our city kids to compete against other talented teams around the state right through the summer.”
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As expected, the feedback from last week’s column about Colin Burke’s 32-year coaching career with the Manchester Babe Ruth League was positive. Former Manchester Memorial baseball coach Ted Menswar shared a story about Burke who coached Menswar’s son, Brant, in the Babe Ruth League.
“In one brief experience, Burke had the single greatest impact on my coaching life of anyone I’ve ever met,” said Menswar. “Teaching me a baseball lesson I’ve never forgotten.”
Menswar said he attended an early-season game one season to watch his son play at Prout Park. “I thought I needed to give Brant some sound parental advice from the bleachers, as many dads often do,” said Menswar. “So I yelled my profound words of wisdom out to him, causing a couple of people around me to turn in my direction. Colin looked up from the dugout and motioned me to come to him.”
Menswar said he was Burke’s coach in Pony League and figured his former player was seeking some advice from him.
Behind the screened backstop in front of his players, Menswar quickly found out Burke wanted to give him advice.
“He looked directly into my eyes and said loud enough for me to hear, but quietly enough to spare me public embarrassment, ‘Ted, who’s Brant’s coach?’ A little surprised and wondering why he was asking me a rhetorical question, I stumbled through my response and said ‘Aaaah. Umm, You are.’
“It was then, with a stern, but warm half-smile, Colin offered the three most impacting coaching words I ever needed to hear,” said Menswar. “Putting a hand on my shoulder, he leaned toward me and said ‘Then let me.’”
Menswar said Burke simply turned and walked back to the dugout, leaving his former coach “a little stunned and a lot embarrassed. I climbed back to my seat, Colin’s words still ringing in my ears. Though I have to admit, his lesson was, at times hard to follow, it was by far, the most important baseball rule I’ve learned as both a coach and a parent.”
“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.