In the fall of 1999, my wife and I visited the area that we would eventually call home three months later. Having spent 7 years in Western Kentucky and truly loving every minute of our existence there, I didn’t exactly know what to expect living in the Northeast. But first impressions tend to be lasting impressions, and our relocation agent in nearby Allentown (who was assigned to assist us with our house hunting trip) didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet or give us the warm fuzzies about leaving a place that we’d grown to love.
Jeanie was our relocation agent, and we explained to her that we weren’t looking to buy a home right off the bat. The wife and I discussed this prior to moving and agreed that renting for a few years to get comfortable and acquainted with our new surroundings would be ideal for our situation. The most important thing that we communicated to her was that we were looking for a good school district for our kids, and right after that we were wanting to live in more of a rural area and avoid the inner city life at all costs. We have never been, nor will ever be, city people. I don’t like traffic, I don’t like crowds, and I’ve always appreciated having some sense of privacy. Give me a 2-lane road with farmland and mountains any day over the hustle and bustle of a busy city – I don’t need to be able to get to the mall in 10 minutes or less. In fact, put me an hour away from the mall. I hate the mall. I hate everything about going to the mall, I’m not a mall guy.
But Jeanie didn’t quite get the memo.
We spent the first two days looking at nearly every rundown row home and chronic fixer-upper in center city Allentown. I kept dropping subtle hints at every other traffic light that we came to, reminding her that (a) we weren’t interested in buying a home and (b) that I despised traffic lights and overpopulated areas in general… but she continued with her own agenda and finally it dawned on me that the only thing she was interested in was making a sale. Knowing that if we continued the same process with her over our remaining two days on our trip that we’d end up not finding a place to live, I called her office the next morning and told her that she was no longer needed. She was shocked and almost impolite after learning that we no longer wanted her input, and I basically told her to have a good life. When I got off the phone with her, my opinion of the people living in the Lehigh Valley took a serious nosedive, which only motivated me to drive as far away as possible to find a place to live. A quiet place, above everything else.
The next morning my wife and I grabbed a quick breakfast and decided to head north up route 309. I pointed at a little spot on the map that said “New Tripoli” and told her that maybe we should start there. We heard good things about the school district, it was a very rural area with light population, and it would only add about 15 more minutes to my wife’s commute to work each day. So that’s where we headed. The little town of New Tripoli ended up being precisely what the doctor ordered. We found a new town home that was for rent, we liked the area, and it was a situation that we felt would be comfortable until we found something a little more permanent later on.
But the best part was that I’d scouted what appeared to be a really nice golf course only a mile up the road from where we’d be living. To suggest that this had nothing to do with my part of the decision would be a lie, for sure. And I think the wife knew that, but she also knew that it was a nice area with a good school, and that a golf course nearby would more than help her husband settle in and make new friends. It really was a win-win for everyone involved, except Jeanie of course.
The name of that golf course is Olde Homestead Golf Club, and I’ll never forget the first time I took a tour of the place…. it was unlike any other course I’d ever stepped foot on. It was immaculate, the conditions, the scenery, the old Pennsylvania Dutch feel, the mountains, the wildlife – everything about it. Each hole that I toured only reinforced my notion that this was the greatest place on the golfing planet, and I couldn’t wait to put a tee in the ground and give it a test run.
Over a dozen years worth of fond memories and approximately 1000+ rounds later, I still enjoy playing there as much today as I did many moons ago. A lot of golfers often lament that they get tired of playing the same course over and over, but I’ve never felt that way there. Even when I became a member at a private club several years ago, I still logged plenty of rounds there to more than qualify being a regular. With it only being a mile up the road from me, and having one of the best practice facilities in the Northeast, there was no way I could possibly avoid the place, and not that I ever wanted to. The owners, the staff, the quality of service and the warm hospitality – all of these things only enhance the experience of playing undoubtedly one of the best 18 hole golf facilities in the Lehigh Valley, public or private. In fact – I’ve probably played no fewer than 200 courses in the Northeast over the past 12 years, and Olde Homestead still ranks #1 on my personal ranking system, by far. There’s not a single weak hole on the layout, and I feel like I’m appreciated there every time I walk through the gates. The people who make Olde Homestead what it is, and Olde Homestead the layout itself, have become family to me, my 2nd home only a mile down the road from where I live. But besides becoming my 2nd family and 2nd home, Olde Homestead also revealed the very thing that Jeanie failed to help me discover back in the fall of 1999: that my perception of the people in the Northeast couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I finally get settled in London this summer, I’ll have to find a new place to hang my golf hat for a few years. I’ve already made some inquiries and have my eye on a few places in particular, and they look relatively nice and enjoyable to play.
But no matter which course I play over there, it won’t be Olde Homestead.