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  • Writer's pictureMason Reed

Newport Part 2 of 3 - The Lead Up: Sakonnet and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

June 2024

With Fisher’s cancelled we were able to get two rounds of golf in before heading over to Newport. My uncle belongs to a gem - I mean gem - of a course in Little Compton called Sakonnet. It’s an old 1890’s Donald Ross course that is quirky, fun and has six of its holes on the water. With a quaint Cape Cod style clubhouse and lovely people I couldn’t believe we had found this; I was smitten. So smitten that I bought a Sakonnet head cover for my 3 iron. The significance of this can’t be understated. My golf clubs - like many other people’s - only have a few covers. Typically, driver, 3-wood, hybrid (maybe) and putter. That’s 3-4 pieces of premium real estate to tell the world what you care about in golf. Some people will put their home club on these covers to let folks know where they play their daily golf. Others will put famous courses they’ve played to signal they are well-traveled golfers (also known as bragging). Mine is a mix - driver cover was a gift from a friend who has designed many of the most memorable, recent golf club logos (Seth McWhorter) and my 3-wood was given to me by my late father. It’s basically the opposite of bragging - a nondescript cover that he likely bought at Wal-Mart. No amount of money would get that 3-wood cover out of my bag. Sakonnet seemed worthy of a spot in the bag. It was an awesome, under the radar golf course and I got to share it with family and friends. (Blogger note: Just so I don’t get accused later of hypocrisy - times do change and head covers do as well. The themes may tire, the experiences change and you also just lose these covers. I’ll do my best but no promises these are the covers I have in the years to come.)

We played Sakonnet for two days before making the hour long commute over to Newport. Newport is directly across the water from Little Compton but unless you have a boat you are doing a giant “U” of a drive for about an hour, which is what Jon and I did.

We checked into our hotel and headed over to our Newport host’s house. We’ll call him Jim because I never want to disclose my host’s name. Not to mention he turned out to be the best host ever so I REALLY don’t want to disclose his name. Jim’s house was fantastic - views of the ocean but he also threaded the needle in designing it inside and out: it was clearly tastefully done and he had spent a ton of money but at no point did it feel like the money was on your nose. This is the tightrope you walk when you find yourself with some level of affluence - how do you do things with your life that don’t scream “I have lots of money!” Speaking of screaming about money, Jon and I brought a bottle of Caymus as a gift; and as it turns out the gift was opened inside of 43 seconds of arriving at Jim's and consumed while sitting in his Adirondack chairs looking at the water. We had already won before we started the night.

I try not to make quick judgments but I had decided that I loved Jim after about 15 seconds, even before he cracked open the Caymus. I liked his demeanor, I liked his style and he wasn’t a douchebag which is unfortunately something you do run into in the private club golf circles. Jim had all kinds of plans for us but called a couple of audibles and decided that we had new plans.

First, we went and had a glass of wine at sunset at the NY Yacht Club. I wasn’t aware of this but the NYYC was home to the America’s Cup champions for many many years. And when you have the America’s Cup trophy you get to host the next competition. So Newport became pretty famous for these America’s Cups. Today, the club was full of what appeared to be very affluent and beautiful people, enjoying a drink at happy hour overlooking the water. I couldn’t help but think what they all did for a living but just moved on from that distraction and enjoyed the moment.

Stunning views from NYYC

From there, we went downtown to a restaurant that, apparently, Jim had organized at the very last minute. You know you are a big player when you can make a phone call and have the best table at the best restaurant in under an hour. This is what Jim did. The top floor of the restaurant requires a jacket for men. If you don’t have one, they give one to you. I loved this; in a world that has become so casual that you can golf and go to work in a hoodie, wearing a coat for a nice dinner feels good. We sat down and it became immediately clear that Jim was in charge of ordering amazing sushi that isn’t on the menu and I was in charge of wine. Hmmmm - what should I order? How much should I spend? Here’s a trick for all of you aspiring golf guests out there - order Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They are all excellent, it’s a red wine that everyone can like because it’s not polarizing and the price is always premium but not obnoxious. I ordered the bottle and Jim’s response upon hearing my order was, “Oh great. I was hoping for Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” Boom. We were now rolling. Also if you feel like dropping some pop culture knowledge you can always quote the Beastie Boys song “Body Movin’” and say “Like a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape I’m fine like wine when I start to rap.”

View from dinner, pre-wine

Dinner was epic. Jim disappeared at the end to “go to the bathroom” - 30 minutes later we went to look for him and as it turns out he went to the ATM to get cash. Apparently, part of the way you always get awesome tables is by taking care of people at the restaurant. A great lesson for aspiring ballers!

After dinner (really, on the way out) we walked down to the second level of the building which was a packed bar. We all grabbed a beer and Jim (who is likely in his early 60s but has a panache that makes him seem 40) immediately found two friends of his son’s who were beautiful young ladies that I presume were in their early 30’s. One of them, Colby, looked like she was a model. Tall, beautiful, all the things. As I joined the conversation she was laughing and having a good time and looked at me and said, “Tell me a funny story.” I have no idea what inspired her to ask me to do this - maybe I had that “I have funny stories” look on my face. In under a second I had to make a critical decision about what type of story to tell and I decided I was going big - I wasn’t concerned that I would ever be dating Colby as her looks and age were well beyond my reach. So I quickly said “I’ve got a great story” and proceeded to tell an unfortunate story from my youth about the time I had diarrhea in my tighty-whities at summer camp. I’ve learned to just own this story because otherwise the experience and humiliation would haunt me. This story can only go one of two ways: horror/gross-out or uncontrollable laughter. Thankfully it was the latter. Colby and Jon couldn’t keep it together - at that moment I was the funniest person in Newport. So much so that Colby demanded other, similar stories; she clearly determined that this summer camp episode couldn’t have been the only time. Now before you pass judgment about this potty humor story, understand that a) it was the funniest story I could think of in less than a second and b) the ability to laugh at oneself amid awful circumstances is one of the greatest, most confident and self-aware things you can do. Even if involves catastrophic underwear problems.

So, yeah, that’s how the night ended. Full of fun, laughter and one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Jim decided that maybe “930am-ish" was a better tee time than 9am. Couldn’t have agreed more.


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