NCC opens new short-game area

In a well-attended ceremony last week, the Nashua Country Club cut the ribbon on their new three-acre short game practice facility. Club President Dick Singleton presided over the event that included the ceremonial hitting of the first ball by sixteen past club champions who represented sixty separate championships.

The championships date back to Val Poulin’s first men’s club championship in 1948 to Don Bragg’s men’s senior title in 2012. Barbara Dion, the Babe Didirickson Zaharias of Nashua, joined in the festivities, representing an astounding sixteen women’s club championships from 1981 to 2007.

In a surprise announcement, the facility was named after long time club professional, Dick Dichard. “I know 99 percent of what goes on around here, maybe more, and I never saw this coming,” said an obviously flattered Dichard.

If anybody deserves such an honor it is Dickie Dichard. His involvement with the club dates back to 1962 when he was a caddy under then-head pro John Wirbal until 1965. He returned to work as an assistant pro under Wirbal from 1977 to 1993 and then became head pro in 2001.

In their typical methodical approach to improvements at NCC, the short game facility came about from a survey of the membership from several years ago asking them what they would like to see at the club.

Under the guidance of a special short game committee and general manager David Scaer, the facility evolved from a Request for Proposal that went out to golf course architects.

Massachusetts based architect, Mark Mungeam, was selected and the possible sites were considered.

Mungeam drew up concept plans for each of the three locations and after much consideration the site to the left of the driving range was decided upon.

The design includes two target greens, one larger and the other smaller, several sand bunkers, chipping and pitching areas and approach shot locations that include about every lie you could possibly have on a golf course- uphill, downhill and sidehill lies, off fairway turf or out of the rough.

The longest possible shot is about 75 yards and the design makes it possible to have as many as 30 people using the facility at one time without anybody getting conked by an errant golf ball.

The onsite work began last fall and benefitted from the mild conditions that allowed the bent grass turf to get a good hold before winter set in.

The early, warm spring of this year was a blessing as was the addition of new course superintendent, Greg Hollick, who has had extensive new course grow in experience from his days at TPC Boston and Golf Club of Cape Cod.

Even with the optimum conditions in the past year, NCC was patient in waiting until to turf had fully developed before opening it up for play.

Mungeam, who recently completed an executive nine hole course and short game area at Lyman Orchards in Connecticut, has seen an increase in interest in short game facilities.

“I think they’re becoming more and more popular for several reasons,” Lyman said, “Because of the time constraints many people have these days where it is a less time consuming means of being involved with the game and practicing your short game is the quickest way to improve your scores and lower your handicap.”

“Not only can the Nashua CC short game area be used for practicing the full gamut of pitches, chips and bunker shots,” Mungean added, “it can actually be played as a three hole short course that youngsters can use when they are ready to start playing to targets.”

However it may be used, the Dick Dichard Short Game Facility is a great addition to Nashua Country Club.

Wayne Mills can be reached at sports@nashuatelegraph.com.