Courses ready for the season

Jade Trace Golf, a 9-hole, par-3 course in Laconia, is offering an invitational tournament during the week of the Amateur Championship at Laconia Country Club. Since LCC members have agreed to relinquish access to their course that week, Jade Trace is inviting those members to play in a tournament, which will feature the use of the Balata ball, a type of golf ball played with until the 1970s.

Jade Trace is also offering a progressive hole-in-one prize, eligible for golfers playing in a foursome. The prize will start at $1,000, and each day that the prize isn't won, 10 percent of the day's green fees will be added to the jackpot.


Den Brae Golf Course in Sanbornton is focusing on improving its virtual presence this season, working on an overhauled website that will have more information, as well as the ability to book tee times and purchase gift certificates through the site.

There will be improvements to the offline Den Brae experience, too. A large section of woods was removed from the seventh hole, making that area a grassed rough hazard. All the greens are now hand-mowed, which offers a faster, truer roll for the golf ball.


Lochmere Golf & Country Club in Tilton will host a qualifying tournament in June for the New Hampshire State Amateur Tournament, as well as several senior golf events, the Lakes Region Tourism tournament and other charity events. Gerald Chaille, part of the family that owns the club, said improvements are made every year to the course. This year, golfers will encounter freshly revamped and redesigned sand traps, with new sand and contouring. He added that the Greenside Restaurant is offering lunch and dinner service in its gazebo.

A feather in LCC's cap

LACONIA — Members at the Laconia Country Club think they've got one of the best golf courses in the state. Now they have some evidence to back up that claim, as the New Hampshire Golf Association has selected Laconia as the site for the 113th State Amateur Championship, which will be held July 11 to 16.

"It is the most prestigious amateur event in New Hampshire – we're thrilled to have it here," said Mike Somma, the club's general manager. "It validates that this is one of the best courses in New Hampshire. It's a nice feather in our cap. We're excited about it."

Somma, a New Jersey native, comes to Laconia with 30 years of resort experience, the last 15 of which were at Owl's Nest Resort & Golf Club in Thornton. He's been at Laconia Country Club since last July. Somma is among the recent changes at the private golf club. Other changes include upgraded maintenance equipment and a half-million-dollar renovation to the clubhouse, completed in the winter of 2014-2015.

Those improvements have shown results. Membership had been steady at around 430 for several years, with about 20 to 25 new members replacing outgoing members annually. To tempt new members, the club has begun offering a "trial membership," which gives the member a year to try out the club before paying the initiation fee. That, coupled with the facility's improvements, has provoked stronger interest in the club.

"I'm getting calls every day," he said. Somma said the maximum membership is 445, and he thinks the club will have to consider establishing a waiting list this season.

"It's a great golf course, a beautiful tract," he said, praising the work of course superintendent Tom DiFonzo. "He does a superb job of keeping this course in great shape." DiFonzo and his crew protected the course over the winter, and now, the fairways are green and the greens are verdant and freshly mowed. The course opened for the season on Friday, after a brief frost delay in the morning.

Hosting the state championship means that the club's members won't have access to their own course. Well, nearly all of them won't, that is. Some of the members will be able to qualify for the championship by playing at other qualifying events, while one spot at the championship is reserved for the hosting course. Somma said the Country Club will hold a 36-hole tournament on May 28 for its members, the winner will earn the chance return to the course in July to play alongside the best amateurs in the state.

Tom McCoy, vice president of the club's board, was one of the golfers who took to the course at the first opportunity on Friday. He said his son has qualified for the amateur championship for the past two years, and he his hoping to qualify so that the two of them can compete together. Either way, he's happy for his club to be hosting the event this year.

"Of course, it means a lot to us. We're proud that the state (golf association) chose our course and our club. We're glad to be able to showcase it to the best golfers in the state."


Belmont officer’s family homeless after fire


GILMANTON — A Belmont police sergeant and his family are now homeless after fire damaged the Sawtooth Road home yesterday afternoon.

There was no one home during the blaze and no one was injured.

Fire Lt. Brian Cattrell said the fire was spotted by either a neighbor or a passerby who reported the fire to 911. He said when he arrived, he saw flames coming from the first and second stories and immediately called for a second alarm, which brought crews from multiple neighboring communities.

He said the two first crews there entered the home with two separate lines through the front doorway and were able to knock down much of the fire.

Cattrell said the kitchen area had the most damage, but there was smoke, heat and water damage throughout the entire home. He said he's not sure what the cause of the fire was.

He said the displaced family has relatives in the area and will be able to stay with them.

The initial call came over the radio that there was an empty police cruiser in the driveway and that flames were lapping over the left side of the house. The home belongs to Sgt. Steve Akerstrom who was out of town on personal business and had left his take-home cruiser in the driveway.

Lt. Rich Mann of the Belmont Police Department said that he and his department are grateful that Akerstrom and his family are safe. He said it's too soon to know what his police department will be doing for Akerstrom and his family but said he should have more information next week.