Is there something wrong with me (or even you)? Quite possibly. As a boy I lived right next to one of the holes on Bend of the River 9 hole Golf Course in Hadley, NY. I have never had the opportunity to play a round there. Not as a kid and not as an adult.
As a golf course goes, it’s really nothing all that special, its uniqueness lies in that it was my first experience with golf. Just like many of you (you do have one don’t you?), I have a "must play" golf course list. Actually, it is an excel spreadsheet. This list is a constant work in progress, I always seem to be adding new courses, yet never crossing off enough of the ones I have played.
The courses in black have been played (see inset pic) , the courses in light gray are waiting (impatiently) to be played. So much golf to play and so little time to do so. Surprisingly, my list is void of Pine Valley, Augusta National,Winged Foot, Seminole (this is my Augusta), Olympic Club, Riviera, Oakmont, Merion, and the like. I am a realist and I understand that about as close I’ll get to playing those historic venues is owning a scorecard from there! No, my list has golf courses, both public and private, that I hope to get a chance to play. Of course, if someone from Seminole called and invited me to play, I would be there tomorrow, maybe even sooner. My list is almost 100% accessible, my only handicap or obstacle is money and time or even both. I seem to be on a mission to play as many "new" courses as possible and at times I get disappointed when I have to play the same course over again. This may be why I have been reluctant to join a private club. I’ll join one eventually, but for now I have a pressing need to make a dent in my list.
Resort golf courses? Sure, got a bunch on there; TPC Sawgrass, Sea Island, The Greenbrier, Whistling Straights, Pebble Beach and friends, Kiawah Island, and about 30 courses near Myrtle Beach. Courses that you may never have heard of; Cape Arundel in Maine, Rip Van Winkle Country Club in the Catskills (NY), The Presidio in California, Miami Shores GC (Donald Ross’ last designed course), Hyde Park Country Club near Jacksonville, Florida (I have to best Ben Hogan’s 11 on a par 3 there), both Donald Ross courses on Fort Bragg, NC (Stryker and Ryder) and The Bayonet and Blackhorse courses at the now defunct Fort Ord in northern California just to name a few. Overseas? Ireland, Scotland and England, I won’t even go there, that list is way too long. I may never want to come home once I golf there. We’ll be going to Northern Ireland soon, on a family vacation. Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, here I come. Alaska? I went there for three weeks a few years back to camp and hike all over. I passed up on playing golf at 2am in the morning, I am still kicking myself for that one. Unfortunately for me, I have pretty much "exhausted" all my choices in the greater Cincinnati area, both public and private. Ultra exclusive Camargo Club (#55 on America’s 2007-08 Top 100 Private Courses that you can’t play), it is Cincinnati’s toughest course to get on, and I played it twice. Fortunately, I still have Columbus and Cleveland to make a dent in. Heck, Kentucky is right across the river and Indiana is a hop, skip and a putt away. Luckily for me, my in-laws live in Michigan and we frequent there fairly often. In case you didn’t know it, Michigan is chock full of incredible golf courses. Maybe more golf courses than you could actually play in a lifetime. My goal this year was to get in 40 additional "new" golf courses. I am stuck at 27 with a slim hope of making it to 35 before winter. Of course, I played no less than 10 courses that I have already played in the past as well. I’ll be passing through northwestern Pennsylvania at the end of the month. I am meeting up with a few old friends from Connecticut to squeeze in a few rounds of golf in a weekend before winter finally sets in. We are playing Scottish Heights, Treasure Lake Silver and Bavarian Hills. Never heard of them? Neither have I. They’ll get me to 30, but still ten short of my goal of 40 new golf courses. My friends don’t know it, but on my way back home I’ll stop and play America’s oldest continually operated golf course, Foxburg Country Club. They have been playing golf there since 1887. A classic, old school 9 hole course, complete with postage stamp sized greens and a golf museum in the clubhouse. I don’t think I am anywhere near an obessive-compulsive disorder (am I, or are you?) with my excel spreadsheet of courses, after all I still haven’t typed in Augusta National. The number one course I want to play in the USA? That’s easy, Bend of the River Golf Course. It’ s been over 31 years since a young boy of 9 sat on the tee box selling golf balls to guys teeing off, watching them in their funny plaid pants joking around, (being with your buddies is a big part of golf) and hitting their drives (many of which sliced into the treeline and I later found their golf balls only to sell them to another foursome the next day or a few hours later) up the hilly fairway. I am thinking that after I play there, I just might let go of this ever increasing golf course list, err spreadsheet. Well, I doubt it, because I’ll surely discover four more golf courses that I’ll need to play on the way home! Reality tells me that I’l never come close to playing all the courses on my ever growing list. It’s just not possible. However, my motivation tells me that I’ll go down swinging in an effort to do just that.