Making practice count

By Ben Stone


Everyone that plays the game of golf wants to lower their score, and are never happy until they do. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by practicing, mainly by focusing on practicing your short game and putting. Two-thirds of all golf shots are hit from within 100 yards, and 43 percent of shots are taken on the putting green. Those numbers do not correlate with how most people spend their time practicing.
When most people go the range to hit a bucket of balls, they usually pull out the driver first and sometimes that is the only club they hit. Not only is this a bad idea, it also will do minimal to help improve your game. Hitting balls can be good for you, especially if you are trying to work on mechanics or swing changes, but it should not be the only thing you do when you practice. You should spend equal amounts of time, if not more time, practicing your short game and putting. Have you ever watched a PGA Tour event and wondered how a pro can get up and down from almost anywhere? It is because they spend seventy percent of their time working on putting and wedges.
You always hear golfers saying, "I hate bunker shots," or, "I hate pitch shots from around the green." This is a clear sign of something that can be worked on. Instead of turning a blind eye to these problems and hoping you never have theses shots, practice them so they are no longer a problem. When you go to practice, drop a few balls in the bunker, or around the green, and practice these different shots until you start to get a feel and are more comfortable hitting them.

Next time you go to the range, don't go right to the driver. Make sure you practice your short game and, most importantly, practice your putting, this will go a long way in lowering your score.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 645

Laconia Country Club clinches the cup

Allison Mitzel

Assistant Golf Professional, Laconia Country Club

On Thursday, June 9, the annual Ladies Quad Cup returned to Laconia Country Club. The weather and course were in perfect conditions for the four teams to compete in the 18-hole event. The Quad Cup consists of women from Keene Country Club, Laconia Country Club, Manchester Country Club and Nashua Country Club.
The event rotates alphabetically to each course every year, and will be held at Manchester Country Club in 2017, Nashua Country Club in 2018, and Keene Country Club in 2019 before returning back to Laconia in 2020. One woman from each club was paired into a foursome, and all eighty women teed off at 8:30 a.m. The format was a point quota game, and players were awarded one point for a bogey, two points for a par, and four points for a birdie.
The best 15 scores were used to calculate each team's cumulative score. After the best 15 scores were recorded and calculated, there was a tie between Keene and Laconia Country Clubs at 34 points. Nashua was in third with 19 points, and Manchester Country Club was in fourth place with a deficit of 18 points.
In order to break the tie for first place, the 16th best score from each team was analyzed. Laconia Country Club's 16th score was two points better than Keene's 16th score. This two-point difference enabled Laconia Country Club to clinch the cup, and keep the trophy in their possession for the next year.
The women representing Laconia Country Club were Ann Brienza, Joanne Dickinson, Sue Dore, Maria El-Kurd, Scottie Ferry, Donna Grantz, Cindy Keenan, Connie Keller, Corrie Kinnicutt, Linda Knott, Helen Miller, Barbara Milligan, Maureen Power, Marianne Smith, Bette Stafford, Sheila Sullivan, Cheri Sweeney, Lorraine Verderame, Susan Whitmore and Mary Lou Wilson. The women are already looking forward to defending their win next year at Manchester Country Club.

A native of Poland, Ohio, Allison Mitzel is spending her first summer here in the Lakes Region as an Assistant Golf Professional at Laconia Country Club. She played golf collegiately at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and is currently the Assistant Women’s Golf Coach at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania. 

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 882

Pat Buchanan - Irreconcilable conflict?

On Saturday night, Omar Mateen was a loner and a loser.

Sunday, he was immortal, by his standards, a hero. Mateen had ended his life in a blaze of gunfire and glory. Now everybody knew his name.

He had been embraced by ISIS. His face was on every TV screen. His 911 call to Orlando police identifying with the Islamic State and the Tsarnaev brothers of the Boston Marathon massacre was being heard across America.

He was being called the most successful Islamist terrorist since 9/11. A hater of homosexuals, Mateen had, all alone, massacred more than four dozen patrons at a gay Florida nightclub, wounded 53, and driven deeper the wedges breaking up America. When it was learned that he used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, America's gun wars were reignited.

And make no mistake. There are out there in society some few looking at what Mateen did, and how he left this world, not in revulsion and disgust but admiration and awe.

Omar Mateen will not lack for emulators. While we see him as a sick and crazed mass murderer, some will see him, as he surely saw himself, as a warrior for Islam and Muslim martyr who earned paradise.

Yet, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama seemed either unable to recognize the roots of Mateen's malice, or they were inhibited from identifying those roots by the commands of political correctness.

The president called this "an act of hate," but declined to name the source of the hatred or motive for the massacre.

Where did Omar Mateen learn to hate not just homosexuality but the homosexuals themselves? Where did he come to believe that they deserved to die and he had a right to kill them?

Where might he have gotten such ideas? Who teaches this?

Well, not only do the Taliban and ISIS hurl homosexuals off buildings and stone them to death but 10 nations — Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Yemen and Pakistan — impose the death penalty for homosexual acts.

Peoples of these nations approve, for such laws find sanction in the holy book, the Quran. Sharia teaches that homosexuality is a vile form of fornication, punishable by death.

Clinton declared that we must redouble our efforts to work with "our allies and partners" to go after international terror groups.

Did she have in mind the Saudis and Gulf Arabs?

For they have on their books laws calling for beheading the same sort of people Mateen shot to death at the Pulse club in Orlando, and for the same reason — what it is they do.

A co-worker said Mateen had an abiding rage over the behavior of American women. Where did Mateen get that idea?

After San Bernardino, where an ISIS-adoring Pakistani woman and her husband perpetrated a massacre, Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, until they could be better vetted, and we "can figure out what the hell is going on,"

This was regarded as quintessentially un-American.

But "refugees" from the Syrian war have been found abetting Islamist atrocities in Paris. Terror cells containing "refugees" from Syria's civil war have been discovered in Angela Merkel's Germany.

We are learning that second-generation Muslims like Mateen seem susceptible to Islamist imams preaching terror against the West to advance the restoration of the caliphate.

Does this not suggest a pause, and a long hard look before we continue with a policy of warmly welcoming all refugees fleeing the half-dozen wars roiling the Islamic world?

After World War II, we vetted German and East European migrants to ensure they were not fleeing Nazis or Soviet saboteurs or spies.

No one seemed to regard that as outrageous.

Devout Muslims believe there is "no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet." Logically then, Muslim nations reject a "First Amendment" in their own societies that would protect a right of Christians to convert Muslims, or any "freedom of speech" that permits the mockery of Muhammad.

The iconoclasts at Charlie Hebdo learned that the penalty for blasphemy against Islam or insulting the prophet can be severe.

"East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat."

So wrote Kipling. Islam, not only in its extremist forms but in its pure form, is incompatible with modern Western democracy.

And the conflict appears irreconcilable.

The policy that should result from this reality is that while we fight side-by-side to annihilate our common enemies, ISIS and al-Qaida, the West should give up the idea of democratization and secularization of the Islamic world.

And those who believe Islam is the one true faith, to which all of mankind must eventually submit, should be told that they are welcome as visitors — but not as immigrants. For that would ensure endless conflict.

The more Islamic the West becomes, the less it remains the West.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 832

Lakes Region Profiles — Lakefront bargain hunt

By Mary O'Neil

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


One of the current favorites on cable television channel HGTV is the show "Lakefront Bargain Hunt." This program follows home seekers across the nation as they try to find the lakefront property they have always imagined owning within a reasonable budget. The show highlights locations that prove you do not need a "a boatload of money" to live on the lake.

Interestingly, an upcoming episode will feature a couple from western New Hampshire hunting for a bargain on Lake Winnipesaukee. Having grown up vacationing on the lake and after years of renting or staying with friends, they finally decide to find a lake house of their own. In their search they are assisted by local real estate agent Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group, who helps them find lakefront living within their budget of $375,000. The episode airs on HGTV this Sunday, June 19, and again on Monday, June 20 and July 4.

The premise of HGTV's Lakefront Bargain Hunt is that anyone can live on a lake. But what about those with substantially less than the $375,000 budget featured on the Lake Winnipesaukee episode? Is it possible for them? In the Lakes Region, the answer is yes. While less money may not buy you lakefront on one of the more well-known lakes, it is possible to enjoy the same lifestyle – gazing over the water from your living area and master bedroom, walking a few steps to jump into your boat, swimming from your own private sandy beach, sitting by a cozy fire under the stars while the waves lap the shoreline... Why? Because the Lakes Region has 273 water bodies to choose from, including lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Some people might respond, "Yeah, they get the lake and I get the pond." But the reality is some of the so-called "ponds" are bigger than water bodies with the title of "lake." For example, Pine River Pond near Wolfeboro covers 594 acres and goes to a depth of 62 feet off Boys Island. By way of comparison, Lake Opechee, a popular waterskiing lake and site of the 1954 National Waterski Championship, covers 426 acres. Currently for sale on Pine River Pond is a charming 3 bedroom home only steps from the water with over 150 feet of privately owned shorefront – all for around $200,000.

So if you really want to live on the water, go for it. Right now, there are many properties available for even those with a limited budget.

The unspoiled waters of Lake Winona in Center Harbor and New Hampton are an ideal spot for sailing, waterskiing, kayaking, and canoeing. This 148-acre lake is a cold water fishery with a maximum depth of 47 feet and is stocked with rainbow trout by NH Fish & Game ( And as far as properties, for example, a currently listed 3 bedroom ranch provides canoe and kayak access right from its own private beach for around $200,000.

Dotted with both primary and second homes, Webster Lake in Franklin offers a retreat from the busy water bodies of the more well-know lakes. With more than 612 acres and a maximum depth of around 40 feet, it provides ample surface area for every kind of lakefront pastime. One current listing for around $200,000 sits right on the shoreline and provides long range views over the tranquil waters. The ranch comes complete with over 100 feet of shorefront, private dock, and mooring.

Sargent Lake in Belmont is located just south of Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam and offers abundant recreational and wildlife activities throughout the year. This 43-acre lake is a haven for kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders. The lake hosts a variety of fish species including bluegill, lake trout, and smelt, making it a desirable spot for fly fishing, net fishing, spinning, and trolling. Wildlife enthusiasts enjoy sightings of river otters, muskrats, herons, songbirds, white-tailed deer, fox, and more. ( For around $160,000 you can own a 2 bedroom bungalow with over 150 feet of shorefront. Around $200,000 will get you a spacious 3 bedroom family home with water views from the open living area and 109 feet of waterfront.

Pristine natural beauty surrounds Balch Lake, situated in Wakefield. This sparkling water body near Wolfeboro covers a sizable expanse of 704 acres and has over 14 miles of shoreline. Year round activities on and around Balch Lake include waterskiing, jet skiing, fishing, snowmobiling, and hiking ( There are possibilities to own private waterfront on this lake for under $200,000, including a currently listed 2 bedroom cape with 105 feet of shoreline.

Sunrise Lake in Middleton, a 20 minute drive from Alton Bay, spans 247 acres and is classified by NH Fish and Game as a warm water fishery ( Homes situated on the shoreline are ideally placed to enjoy boating, kayaking, fishing, and long views over its sparkling waters. For around $175,000 you can take in the beautiful setting from a 2 bedroom camp with 75 feet of waterfront, your own sandy beach, and boat dock.

In the Lakes Region, there is something for everyone. These lakes represent just a few of the possibilities in the area. For those looking to wake up to sunrises and coffee on your deck overlooking the water or boating from your back yard, there is a way to do it in the Lakes Region for an affordable price. Start looking for your own lakefront bargain and maybe you will be the next star on HGTV's Lakefront Bargain Hunt.

Visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, and can be reached at 603-366-6306.

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 1746

DuBois — The Adirondacks, returning to my roots

IMG 2163 DS

Rock cairn at summit of Iroquois Peak, looking toward Algonquin Peak

By Gordon DuBois

The following article is the fifth in a series on hiking excursions that you may want to consider as you make plans for your summer backpacking adventures. I hope this series has inspired you to take advantage of the many trails that await you, not only in New Hampshire, but throughout the Northeast and beyond.


When I was a young boy I spent many summers with my aunt and uncle in the Adirondack Mountains at their home on Raquette Lake, which is centrally located in the Adirondack Park. During those lazy days of summer I wallowed away my time by fishing and exploring the woods around their home. My uncle Harry would take me and my cousin deep into the woods to fish for brook trout on his "secret" streams and ponds. When I became a teen I landed a job working at The Hedges, a resort on Blue Mountain Lake. On my days off I would canoe, sail, water ski, fish and swim in the clear, deep waters of Blue Mountain Lake. I also loved to climb Blue Mountain and other mountains in the area. Later in my life, after moving to New Hampshire and starting a family, I would occasionally join my brother to hike the high peaks of the Adirondacks. Later, I became more focused on climbing in the Whites of New Hampshire and other mountains in northern New England. The Adirondacks went off my radar. Then, last year, a hiking partner from Vermont, Mike LaRoss, invited me to join him on a backpacking trip to the "Dacks" and to climb several of the high peaks. I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered the beauty of these mountains and saw it as a return to my hiking roots.

The Adirondack Mountains are not geologically part of the Appalachian chain, but much older, the southern appendage of the Canadian Shield. The bedrock of this shield is over a billion years old. Over millions of years, upward doming of this bedrock and younger rock above created the mountain mass we know today. The Ice Age enveloped the mountains with glaciers thousands of feet thick that sculpted the mountain peaks and valleys. Unlike the Whites, the Adirondacks were mostly unknown until the 1840s. The source of the Hudson River was not discovered until the mid-1800s. After the Civil War, people found the Adirondacks to be an ideal location for summer vacations, away from the crowded cities of the east coast. Some of the wealthiest families in the world built their summer homes, or "great camps" here: The Vanderbilts, Morgans, Durants, Carnegies and Huntingtons. The Prospect House built on the shores of Blue Mountain Lake in 1882 became the first hotel in the world to have electric lighting in all 300 of the hotel's guest rooms. Thomas Edison was the head electrician. In 1892, the New York Legislature created the Adirondack Preserve. Today the Preserve (land owned by the people of New York through a constitutional amendment) totals 2.5 million acres and lies within the Adirondack Park of 6 million acres, making it the largest park in the nation outside of Alaska.

I met Mike at the start of the Calamity Brook Trail, which lies at the end of Upper Works Road, a remote side road off Route 28N. On this road lies the remains of the abandoned community of Tahawus and the McIntyre Mines. Still standing is the remnants of the 60-foot tall blast furnace. It was here in Tahawus, while on a hunting excursion, that Vice President Teddy Roosevelt was notified of the death of President William McKinley. From Tahawus he rushed off to Washington and on September 14, 1901 he was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States.

Mike and I spent our first day hiking into an area called Flowed Lands and found a campsite near the water. The large tract of water was created in the mid-nineteenth century by the owners of the McIntyre Iron Works in an effort to channel more water to their blast furnaces. From here we could access a number of the high peaks, including Mount Marcy, 5,344 feet, the highest summit in New York. Having arrived late in the day, we decided to make camp and climb Algonquin (5,114 feet), Wright (4,580 feet) and Iroquois (4,840 feet) peaks the following day. All three of these mountains have well-established trails leading to their summits. However, many of the other high peaks are trail-less and can only be climbed by following "herd paths" to the summits.

We began the next day in crisp, cool temperatures, hiking along the shores of Flowed Lands and Lake Colden. Just beyond Interior Outpost we found the trail that led to all three summits we intended to climb. The 2.1-mile trail climbed steeply 2,350 feet to the trail intersection near Boundary Peak. At this point we turned left and headed out to Iroquois Peak, following a well-established herd path. Iroquois offered us fine views of the high peaks to the east, with Mount Colden in the foreground with its impressive slides and unique large dike.
We then turned back and made out way up the summit of Algonquin Peak. After a very vigorous and exhausting climb, we rested for quite some time, taking in the magnificent views and considering whether to continue to Wright, another mile ahead.

With much hemming and hawing we decided to turn back and summit Wright another day. The decision was a good one as we were burnt from our climb and this would give us time to hike into Avalanche Lake, a picturesque mountain lake situated between Algonquin and Colden Peaks. The trail to the lake was strewn with large boulders, and a number of ladders and catwalks along the face of the cliff have been built to make passage along the lake possible. The view of this lake and the cliffs rising hundreds of feet above are impressive and most likely one of the most extraordinary views in the northeast. With evening approaching, we returned to our campsite and made plans to climb Mount Marshall (4,360 feet) the following day.

The hike to Mt. Marshall followed a herd path route, which climbed steeply to the peak with no views. We lingered for a few moments at the summit and then made our way back to our campsite, packed up and hiked out to our waiting vehicles. This three-day excursion whetted our appetites for more climbing in the Adirondacks. So I returned two more times to hike Colden, Cliff, Redfield, Skylight, Marcy, Gray, Haystack, Jo, Nye and Street. I plan to return to the Adirondacks this summer to continue on my quest to become a"46er". I look forward to returning to the mountains that got me started in my hiking adventures more than fifty years ago.

If you are looking for remoteness and mountain splendor, try backpacking in the "Dacks". It's about a six hour drive from the Lakes Region to most of the trail heads. There are plenty of motels and restaurants in the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake area for your hedonistic desires. You may also choose to visit the Winter Olympic training sites in Lake Placid. Trail guides and maps are available from the Adirondack Mountain Club, online or contacting them at their Lake George headquarters, 518-668-4447 (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday) or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mailing/physical address: 814 Goggins Rd., Lake George, NY 12845.

Gordon has hiked extensively in Northern New England and the Adirondacks of New York State. In 2011 he completed the Appalachian Trail (2,285 miles). He has also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, The International AT in Quebec, Canada, Cohos Trail in northern New Hampshire and the John Muir Trail in California. Gordon has summited the New Hampshire Hundred Highest peaks, and the New England Hundred Highest in winter. He spends much of his time hiking locally and in the White Mountains with his dog Reuben and especially enjoys hiking in the Lakes Region due to the proximity to his home in New Hampton. He is also a trail maintainer for the BRATTS (Belknap Range Trail Tenders) and can be found often exploring the many hiking trails in the area. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IMG 2165 DS

Boardwalk along cliffs of Avalanche Lake

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 820