Golf and Travel with Jim



I got my start in golf writing with a gig at a Connecticut-based golf magazine, where I interviewed Ernie Els, among others. Since then, I’ve covered tournaments for the LPGA, PGA Tour, Champions Tour and many amateur events. My work has been published in a number of magazines including Golf Boston Travel & Leisure, Southern New England Golf, New England Golf Monthly, Rhode Island Monthly and a digital magazine NewEngland dotgolf. My favorite golf courses are Kebo Valley in Bar Harbor, Maine, Pebble Beach and Furry Creek in Vancouver B.C. and almost any Donald Ross course. I can be reached by email at golfer1051@yahoo.com.

David Finn is golf’s biggest Fan

David Finn, a young man with a neuro-muscular condition, shown here in an old photo with Phil Mickelson and his caddy, Jim “Bones” MacKay, is sometimes referred to as golf’s biggest fanatic.

BOSTON – Phil Mickelson chipped within a foot of the cup on the 18th hole and had a tap in to win the 2005 PGA championship at Baltusrol. At the trophy presentation was Phil‘s family, the world media, and of course David Finn. Who is David Finn? He is and always will be the greatest golf fan in the world.

David Finn lives with his family in Ramsey, New Jersey. He is also a young man inflicted with a debilitating form of muscular dystrophy that confines his twisted body to a wheelchair. But when you see him smile and swing his arms in joy, his enthusiasm is contagious. His love for golf has resulted with David forming friendships with PGA pros that started when David met Phil Mickelson at the 2005 PGA.

David needs around the clock care, but his dad loaded up a special van and took David to Baltusrol, a course in Springfield, New Jersey that was hosting the PGA tournament. It was David’s first pro golf tournament and his dad, John, pushed his son all over the course looking for prime viewing spots for his son.

During a practice round Phil Mickelson’s caddie, Jim ‘Bones” Mackay, saw David in his wheelchair and waved Mickelson over to say hi. Phil posed for a few pictures and gave David an autographed glove and as Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca, “this was the start of a beautiful friendship.”

David Finn has muscular dystrophy, a passion for golf, and a special place in his heart for champion golfers Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and many more, is shown here September 1, 2018 at TPC Boston.

It was a good week for David, but it was even better for Phil, who finessed a delicate shot out of the rough and sank the putt, to beat Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn in a rare Monday morning playoff. It was the second major win for Mickelson and his caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay. Phil saw David in his wheelchair parked in back of the green. Mickelson decided to make the week complete by inviting David over to the trophy presentation. “It was” said Phil, “a moment of pure joy.”

I first met David and his family when they were set up behind the par-3 16th hole at the Boston TPC club. His dad John and mom Vanessa were two of the nicest people I ever met. The love and care they had for their son was something that all parents should strive to emulate. Initially I thought the poor kid has such a difficult life, but David does not deal in pity. His passion for golf helps him get through each day.

I remember one Labor Day weekend when the Deutsche Bank Championship was here, John Finn told me they had to rush his son to Children’s Hospital because he was having trouble breathing. “We almost lost him,” said John. “David was in the hospital for five months and they had to do a tracheostomy and now needs this respirator.” But David still showed joy as every player walked by and gave him a fist-bump.

Jim “Bones” Mackay has formed a very strong bond with the Finn family including providing tickets for the entire family for the 2013 Masters. The generosity shown to the Finn family has turned into some amazing encounters for David. He has met Michael “Air” Jordan and President George Bush.

Tiger Woods presented David Finn with a golf ball enscripted with “TIGER” at the 2018 Deutche Bank Championship.

One of my favorite days on the golf course was Sept 1, 2018 at the Boston TPC club in Norton Mass. It was the Dell Technologies Championship, and the Finn gang was once again set up behind the par 3 16th hole. Tiger Woods hit a good shot on the green but missed his birdie putt. On the way to the next tee, Woods fist-bumped David and dropped a ball in his lap. David shook his body back and forth and waved his arms about in a moment, that Phil Mickelson would describe as “a moment of pure joy.”

Over the years David Finn has acquired souvenirs from many PGA players and his room back in New Jersey looks like a mini Hall of Fame.

It has been a joy knowing the entire Finn family. Their dedication to their son reminds me of Dick Hoyt who pushed his son in a wheelchair in a number of Boston Marathons. Hoyt’s son was a quadriplegic and also suffered from cerebral palsy. It would be a better world if more parents were as devoted to their children as Dick Hoyt and John and Vanessa Finn are.

Golf forms bonds, friendships and life lessons like no other sport!

Maine Coast is Magical

By Jim Hammond

The rugged and rocky coast of Maine has 3, 478 miles of coastline.  And as you travel along the coastal inlets you can stay in homes that once belonged to captain s of whaling ships. Picnic by a harbor and watch the ships sail into port. And just as spectacular as the vistas and delicious seafood, you can experience some of the finest golf courses in New England.

Samoset Golf Resort

A great place to start your golfing adventure is Samoset Golf Resort in Rockport Maine. Samoset is a resort where lodging is spread out among the beautifully landscaped grounds, and guests are surrounded by Penobscot Bay. Sailboats cruise through the water and lobster boats speed through the water hauling the traps filled with lobsters that will be your post-round meal. Guests stroll on a long jetty that surrounds you with waves crashing against the rocks. It is truly a quintessential Maine experience.

Many of the holes hug the coast and dare you to try and cut the corners and score a birdie. But the well-designed course will let you bail out and follow the fairways to the generous greens. There are many opportunities to pause after finishing a hole and breathe in the fresh sea air. When you reach the par-5 4th hole you see the first of many ocean views. Samoset truly deserve the title of “Pebble Beach of the East.”

Samoset Resort

When you arrive at the course, a cheerful bag attendant will take your bag and confirm your tee time. Check out the well- supplied pro shop. If you want to fine-tune your putting touch, roll a few putts on   the 11, 000 square foot putting green and then loosen up at the 220-yard driving range equipped with 4 target greens.

 After golf drive up to the town of Camden, a town that surrounds the inner harbor and is filled with dozens of independently owned shops offering a variety of goods. Walk down to the harbor and enjoy a meal at one of the dock-side restaurants and watch the ships glide into their berths.  Check into one of the historical inns that are only a five-minute walk from the town.

I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Camden Maine Stay Inn, just a five-minute walk from the center of town. The inn was built in 1802 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has won a number of awards including the Trip Advisor Travelers Choice award and a recognition of excellence award for their beautiful property.

Camden Maine Stay Inn

Owners Peter and Janis Kesser have put countless hours into making this a premier property.  A spacious sunroom is the perfect setting for a multi-course breakfast, as you overlook the expansive garden that the Kesser’s have cultivated. The rooms are large, and the interiors incorporate the historical charm of the period.  To simplify: In 21 years I have stayed at inns across North America, and Camden Maine Stay Inn is easily one of the best properties I have ever visited in all of my travels.

Camden Maine is about a 4 hour drive from Boston, but great golf, a beautiful seacoast, beautiful restored inns and lobster await you. A trip up the coast in the Fall is wonderful and the crowds are diminished a bit. Enjoy.

Killington Golf Getaway!

By Jim Hammond


Killington golf course

Killington Resort’s golf course, open to the public from May 29 through October 11, was designed by Geoffrey Cornish and takes full advantage of unique mountain terrain, the par 72 stretches out to 6,186 yards with 2,000 feet elevation.

KILLINGTON, Vermont – Have you been thinking about booking a “stay-and-play” golf vacation that might be a two-hour drive, offering good rates and wonderful golf courses?

Then read on, since the village of Killington, located in central Vermont at the southern tip of Green Mountain National Forest, with all its amenities could be what you’re looking for.

Vermont is known for moose, maple syrup and mountains that in the Fall showcase some of the best foliage in the world. But Vermont does not get credit for the championship golf courses that are available to tourists looking for country charm and covered bridges.

Avid skiers come to Killington where seven mountains connect to offer 213 trails. And, across the street is the Geoffrey Cornish designed Killington Golf Course.


Green mountain national golf course

Killington, Vermont is best known for skiing vacations but from May – October two golf courses – Killington Golf Course and Green Mountain National – are becoming favorite drive-to destinations for New England golfers.

The cart attendant was putting my bag on the cart and saw me looking at the mountain. He said, “You know the base is so deep on the mountain that you can ski in the morning and cross the street and play 18 holes in the afternoon. And, I am talking in the month of May.” Now that is a workout.

Killington Golf Course may only play 6,168 yards from the tips, but tight fairways, blind shots and major elevation changes make for a formidable challenge. Hole No. 1 is 368 yards from the tips and is straight downhill to a small green. The fairway is tight and the rough is thick, so I would suggest a 3 or 4 metal for your opening shot to keep the ball in the short grass.

Hole No. 2 is 510 yards from the blue tees, and the green is protected by a stream that is surrounded by boulders. Lay up on your second shot and flip a wedge onto the green which can set you up for a birdie.

The 286-yard par-4 ninth is an example of the dramatic elevation on this mountain course. You can tee off with a long iron to the fairway, but the approach shot is to a green that is perched high on a hill and barely visible from the fairway.

The scenery here is impressive, almost picture postcard perfect, and the staff are attentive. I look forward to coming back in September to enjoy the cool weather and the foliage that will cover the mountains.

Green Mountain National

Green Mountain National, located in the heart of Vermont, is New England golf at its very best, just minutes away from the Killington Ski Resort, GMNGC has been voted “Vermont’s #1 Public Course” by Golf Digest & Golf Week magazine.

While visiting Killington on one of its many “stay-and-play” packages, expect to tee it up at Green Mountain National Golf Course. It is a public golf course but is as pristine and well-conditioned as any private golf course you will play.

Green Mountain National is an incredibly challenging track playing 6,589 yards from the tips. Towering pine trees frame many fairways, and you need to plan your tee shots carefully if you have any hope of scoring well. Located just a few minutes away from Killington Ski Resort in the heart of Vermont, Green Mountain National is New England golf at its very best, and has been voted “Vermont’s #1 Public Course” by Golf Digest & Golf Week magazine.

The greens are quick, and like many mountain courses you have to be comfortable with sidehill lies on the fairway and expect elevated greens. After a few holes you will see why Green Mountain National is rated one of the top public courses in Vermont.

Hole No. 3 is a par-4 that plays 400 yards, and has a pond guarding the green. The par 5 sixth hole has a split fairway. If you hit a monster drive to the right side of the fairway it is possible to reach the green in two shots.

The course is fun and challenging, so get there early and warm up at their driving range. You’ll find grass tees and an enormous practice putting green to fine tune your game.

Vermont is a beautiful state and Killington is home to friendly people, and two of the most scenic courses you can play.







Whitinsville Golf Club

By Jim Hammond 

Whitinsville Golf Club, situated on rolling terrain in central Massachusetts, is a 9-hole layout that plays to a maximum 18-hole distance of 6,427 yards for a par 70 course rating of 71.2 and a slope rating of 139, was recently ranked the second-best 9-hole golf course in the world by Golf.com.Advertisement

Whitinsville, Mass. – Here’s a golf trivia question you might win 10 times out of 10.

What Bay State golf course was recently rated by Golf.com as the second best nine-hole course in the world?

Answer: Whitinsville Golf Club in the village of Whitinsville, just outside Worcester in central Massachusetts.

If your golf course was listed as the second best in the U.S.A. it would be quite an accomplishment. Whitinsville Golf Club has the distinction of being rated as the second best 9-hole golf course in the world.


Golf.com recently released their 50 best 9-hole courses in the world, with Whitinsville Golf Club ranking #2 overall!

Donald Ross is credited with designing 400 courses. Oakland Hills which hosted 12 majors, and Pinehurst #2 are some of the better-known courses that challenged the skills of legendary golfers like Nicklaus, Palmer and Tiger. Whitinsville is just as challenging as any Ross course that hosted a major.

Ross was known as somebody that wanted to design a course without making major changes to the current topography. Whitinsville is a perfect example of this. Rolling hills and deep valleys create a variety of holes that demand your concentration from the first hole.

The first hole at Whitinsville is a 526-yard Par-5. The fairway is generous but your tee shot can end up in a valley where you lose sight of the green. When you get close to the green you will see a putting surface that falls dramatically toward the fairway. Ross was known for putting mounds (he called them crowns) on his greens. Check the pin placement carefully, otherwise your putt can roll off the green and back into the fairway. John Daly had the same problem at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

The second shot is from an elevated tee to small greens and big bunkers. It is only 149-yards from the back tees, but beware of bunkers guarding the green.


Whitinsville Golf Club is a Donald Ross-design established in 1925, that is rated the second best 9-hole golf course in the world by Golf.com.

A par-4 hole does not need to be over 400-yards to be considered a great hole. Hole No. 3 at Whitinsville is 372-yards from the tips. Hit a tee shot that will leave you about 150-yards to a green that is carved out of the side of a hill. It looks easy but hit it right and you have a tricky shot over a deep bunker. Go too far left and you have to chip off a hill some native grass and it will be almost impossible to keep the ball on the green.

Climb the hill to the elevated tee on the 358-yard par-4 fourth hole and enjoy the view. Six mounds covered with fescue guard the left side of the fairway so hit the fade. The green is tucked into a grove of trees and is bordered by a stone wall.

The Par-4 ninth hole is considered one of the best in the country. Tee off from an elevated tee and fly your ball over a large marsh. It is a dogleg to an elevated green, so cut the corner if you dare. A high-handicapper can play it left and try to get home in three. But if you are a power hitter let it fly and try to birdie the toughest 416-yard par- 4 you will find anywhere.

On the property is a practice range adjacent to the first fairway. I suggest you loosen up a bit before you take on the second best 9-hole course in the world, according to Golf.com. The conditions are pristine and outside deck overlooks the ninth green. Whitinsville is a private club and not currently accepting new members.