Longtime friends stay connected on the course

  • Phil Blanchard and Les Lowe have been golfing together since the late 1980s and play with each other just about every week in Hilltop Golf Course's Tuesday morning men's group. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Phil Blanchard takes a putt at Hilltop Golf Course while playing partner Les Lowe tends the flag. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Phil Blanchard and Les Lowe have been golfing together since the late 1980s and play with each other just about every week in Hilltop Golf Course's Tuesday morning men's group. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Phil Blanchard and Les Lowe have been golfing together since the late 1980s and play with each other just about every week in Hilltop Golf Course's Tuesday morning men's group. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/11/2019 12:56:32 PM

It’s been more than 30 years since Phil Blanchard and Les Lowe played their first round of golf together.

And over the last three decades, the two have maintained a friendship both on and off the course. They are the longest tenured members of the Tuesday morning men’s group at Hilltop Golf Course in Peterborough, which when they started and for many years was known as Monadnock Country Club.

These days, they play together just about every week in the weekly league, only playing with others when one of them can’t make it. Part of it is due to their friendship, while also being the only two to use a cart so it makes the most sense to have them play their nine holes together.

“We just have a good time together,” Blanchard said.

They also have a weekly Friday outing with a few other friends where they play at courses around New Hampshire and Massachusetts, most recently at Hooper Golf Course in Walpole. At 85 (Blanchard) and 90 (Lowe), two rounds a week is usually enough for their summer golf outings, although with Lowe spending his winters in Florida, Blanchard goes down every year and they make sure to get in a few rounds.

The way the two became friends was actually through Lowe’s late wife Ruth and Blanchard’s wife Jane. When the Lowes joined Monadnock Country Club, where Blanchard served the role as course manager at the time, Lowe’s arm was in a sling, but Blanchard and Ruth played in the club’s popular tennis scrambles and soon the wives hit it off and quickly got the group together more often.

“Our wives were both nurses and that was the connection that started it all,” Lowe said.

Once Lowe’s arm was better, he joined the men’s group on Tuesdays that Blanchard was running. They’d get matched up from time to time, but back then the league was much larger and Blanchard was always moving the pairings around.

But now each week, they take to the nine-hole course together with Blanchard usually driving the cart. They’re evenly matched on the course so it’s typically a fun back-and-forth with very little margin for error.

“Lately, I’ll beat him by one and the next week he beats me by one,” Lowe said. “It’s just the way it works out.”

During their Friday outings, the group had a longstanding tradition of putting money on the line, although the bets usually consist of $1. And when their isn’t a cash prize waiting at the end of the round, they more than make up for it with some good old fashioned joking around.

“When it’s a good shot, you say good shot. A bad shot gets a lot ribbing,” Blanchard said.

The friendship extended beyond the golf course as they started to spend a lot of time together socially and as the case with any husbands of wives who are friends, they quickly realized they had a lot in common.

And while golf is the thing they have done for many years, they also go out for lunch a few days a week.

“They say they’re not a good friend unless you break bread with them,” Blanchard said.

Both agreed that No. 2 at Hilltop is their least favorite because as older golfers who don’t hit as far as they used to, it doesn’t allow them to play to their strengths.

Lowe has twice aced No. 3 and owns a better score for both nine holes (30 to Blanchard’s 32) and 18 (66 to 68). And he makes sure to remind his good friend whenever he has a chance.

They both enjoy the Tuesday group, even though it’s not what it used to be, and it’s just another excuse to get together and swing the clubs.

“I always saw golf as 10 percent skill and 90 percent social,” Blanchard said.

While they’ve seen a lot of changes over the year at their hometown course, including multiple owners, decline in members and a name change, both have stayed loyal and have maintained their memberships all the way through.

It’s a unique course, but it’s their course. And until they can’t play anymore, they’ll be out there every Tuesday morning in the summer months, trying to get the best of each other.




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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