Hooper Golf Course in Walpole has a new course record.
Ryan Kohler, for several years one of this region’s top amateur talents, shot a 9-under par round of 62 in scorching heat Saturday afternoon.
He was 5-under on the front and made four birdies coming home. The 62 eclipses by one shot the 63 that John Hollar previously shot.
Hooper is a nine-hole layout, and Kohler’s home course. He was playing Saturday with Mike Davis and Patrick Neal, longtime friends.
Remarkably, Kohler could have gone lower. A birdie putt on hole No. 17 hit the back of the cup and bounced out.
He began his round with an eagle three at the par five first hole, and added front-side birdies on the fifth, seventh and eighth holes.
He kept momentum with a birdie on the 10th, the opening par five again, and got back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14. The deuce at 13 was his only par-three birdie of the round.
He then book-ended his record round nicely with a birdie at 18.
Kohler’s previous low round was 63, which he shot more than a handful of years ago at Brattleboro Country Club, the course where he plays most regularly out of today. Brattleboro, like Hooper, is a par 71.
“So, anyway you slice it,” he said of his round Saturday, “this is a personal best.”
Kohler remains a member at Walpole; he knows the course intimately.
He said the “funny thing” about his round of 62, is that he didn’t hit great and he missed some putts in the 10- to 12-foot range that could have made for something more.
“It’s just a strange game,” the 35-year-old said. “I’ve played better rounds and not shot nearly that kind of score. Sometimes it just works out that you stumble into these kinds of rounds.”
He said it was special to do it while playing with two close friends from his school days. Neal, in fact, is the current head course superintendent at Hooper.
Kohler said he grew up with Neal. “I was from Alstead, he was from Walpole and we went to Fall Mountain together,” Kohler, a onetime college baseball standout, said. “Actually, he was the kind of the friend who got me into golf. And, as another side note, he had a lot to do with this round, because quite honestly, you can’t shoot really low scores unless the greens are great. So in a sense I owe him credit for having the course in the great condition.”
Kohler, who lives in Keene, took some competitive time off following the N.H. Amateur, but he will return to action Monday at the N.H. Stroke Play Championship at Green Meadow in Hudson, an event he won in 2012 at that very venue.
The following week, he said, he’ll tee it up in the Vermont Mid-Amateur in Manchester.
Then comes a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier. Last year he advanced from a qualifier in Massachusetts to that major event, which was in North Carolina. There he did not advance to match play in the two rounds of stroke-play qualifying.
“In amateur golf, that’s about as good as it gets,” he said of earning a shot to play in the Mid-Amateur. This year’s championship venue is the Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. Sectional qualifying will be held Aug. 5-22 at 65 sites.
The 2021 Mid-Amateur will be played in this part of the country, at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Mass., Sept. 25-30.
In 2015, Kohler captured the Robert H. Elliot N.H. Mid-Amateur Championship at Stonebridge CC.