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What is the intention of this book? Hopefully to shed a little light on what exists in the world beyond your local course. It provides an opportunity for the average duffer to realize how vast the golfing opportunities are, and to take their game on the road. What is really available so golfers of all skill and income levels can get in some serious windshield time!

Do you ever wonder about those magnificent resort courses advertised in golfing magazines? These publications are readily available when joining the local golf club. Part of the membership dues puts you on their subscription list. Most golf courses have magazine racks in the pro shop or bar area which provide information on local, county and state wide golfing opportunities. Golfers are enticed to visit various resort venues, but these provide just a select few expensive choices. Magazines are dependent on advertising for their revenue. Consequently the fantasy locations are limited to those paying the fare and the myriad of other locations are not available.

Is your local course or town the extent of your golfing adventure? We all have to play somewhere and the somewhere aspect of the game in most cases is determined out of habit or convenience. There are actually 18,514 courses available in the United States as of this moment. The probability of playing them all would necessitate about 300 rounds a year for 60 years. I’m thinking that’s not likely to happen!

But of all those possibilities, can you imagine the adventures that are now available to be experienced? Traveling the golfing world that has been previously denied, just because the awareness of its immensity and availability did not exist, well now it is a reality. Hopefully this is a source of information that will provide the references to you golfers yearning to be set free.

On a recent visit to Barnes and Noble book store, I noticed that the golf section of the sports area had over 60 books represented by 40 publishing companies. They all related to various aspects of how to improve your game. Depending on the source quoted there are between 26.2 and 29.5 million golfers in America with annual expenditures amounting to 76 billion dollars being spent on the sport of their choice. The only travel related books were magnificent coffee table editions which contain magnificent photographs of the greatest golf courses in the world. They are only just that, pretty picture books. A mean spirited tease! The uninitiated golfer needs to understand that these clubs are either private or prohibitively expensive.

Is this a treatise on traveling for the sake of golfing? Why yes it is! The suggestion of “Ball-go-far” has no correlation as to how far we can hit a ball, but how far we can get a golf ball to travel with us on our golfing adventures. The latter part of this manuscript with titles that begin with “The Summer of and the year” is an ongoing diary of what we have experienced and you will experience in both the golfing and travel aspect.

Golf magazines are replete with tantalizing advertisements suggesting golfing destinations that you and your friends or family can play for a mere pittance. Incredible stay and play golf packages, nothing to it, just endorse over to us a wraparound mortgage on your home and futures. And for an entire week of all the golf you can possibly play needs only, oh say, the authorization of selling or indenturing your first born son. Life is short; play now, pay later. These ads are wonderfully attractive, but methinks they are directed at someone other than myself, they are oriented more toward the elite player or executive.

Duffers of the world, unite! Golf vacations do not have to be prohibitively expensive. Some of us golfers are not privileged to afford these upscale resort courses as seen promoted in the aforementioned magazines. Then there is the matter of being remotely qualified. Sure, if you can afford the green fees by all means play the course and if embarrassing yourself when paired up with strangers on an elite course is of no concern, press on. I for one, struggling to maintain my lowly 20 index, would much prefer to be paired up with a friendly local, than be paired with a single digit partner who has nothing in common with my game. Anyway, such is my preference to play with my peers. In addition some statistical wizard suggests 90% of golfers will never break 100.

Once upon a time we referred to our elders as “Q–Tips” a reference to their white hair. As Pogo was fond of saying “We have found the enemy and they is us.” And so it has come to pass that now we are true members of the ancient order of Q-Tips, or some of us are anyway. Of course there are those of us, me in particular, being somewhat more follicly challenged who can only claim to what is left are white sidewalls. But I digress! Since retirement, golf has taken on a greater role, not quite an obsession, but becoming more of an influence, almost a way of life for the wife and myself. Woodworking, ballroom dancing, bagpipes, or stamp collecting were something to consider, but they were just not in the cards for us. As our appreciation, enjoyment and improvement of the game grew,so did our need to expand our horizons. Playing the same course over and over and never being able to master it necessitated an excuse.

Playing more golf, (and as we all know, more is better) cheaply and further afield necessitated checking into the economics of how to play more rounds and making sure it was as affordable as possible. So what is one to do? This was a growth process. How is one to do this? Listen up child and you will be set free. The discount books as in “two for the price of one” golf. First come the Red Dot Book, the Value Book, local and semi local newspaper sports section promotions and the free golf publications other than the national version, the kind you find lying around the pro shop or clubhouse bar. Than as you get farther and farther from home, start acquiring the regional or state golfing publications. Can you imagine discount golf while you are on vacation, instead of premium rates? Can this possibly be true? Why not stay and play for a week, this time at truly affordable courses where your comfort level is more to your liking?

Although we are creatures of the 20th century and have been dragged kicking and screaming into this new millennium with all of its wonderful newfangled gadgets, we are becoming more acclimated with their uses. There are so many web sites to help stretch our golfing dollar across the courses of this incredible country, as well as the accommodations that are part and parcel of these adventures. More sites are probably being created by the minute than what will be listed later.

Each year around anniversary time we get away for about a week or so. This is a reward for our 84 years of blissful marriage, 42 for herself and 42 for me, so being the mathematical genius that I am and applying the addition skills I learned sometime between 2nd and 12th grade that’s how 84 was arrived at. Feel free to substitute any appropriate adjective for blissful that you may feel so inclined, as I’m sure my better half has done. Sometimes we’ll even take a similar trip in the fall which really doesn’t interfere with my football obsession. It is a great opportunity to inject a little diversion in our golf life. The home courses are nice enough, but as things stand we will never bring them to their knees. So these occasional nomadic excursions satisfy the craving to find out if the grass is really greener on the other guys stomping grounds.

Planning the courses to play, where to stay and for how long, what to see, who do we know in the area, is always a pleasure. Picking up the Rand McNally map from my lap between the advertisements on TV lets me fantasize, where have we been, where haven’t we been, if we take a loop this way how many new courses can we hit, which ones are affordable, sometimes there are too many private and not enough public courses, pick some optional links as local tournaments or activities may interfere, will the Red Book or other discount books come in handy? Endless alternatives and when the route is chosen, nothing is written in stone until tee times and reservations are made. Making the one page itinerary of courses, motels, sites and friends is quite satisfying, in addition to which, She Who Knows All can give it the once over, a nod or uh huh, and we’re good to go. No disappointments, because the road not taken, well, that will probably become part of the next trip.

If I were a bachelor the maps would probably be pinned to the living room or kitchen wall. However, being as how things are, She who knows best has relegated the maps to the garage wall and that is just fine by me. One of the maps is of the U.S.A. with red marker indicating all the routes we have taken. As a consequence of all the markings, over time there have appeared huge voids suggesting, hey look where we haven’t been yet. This magical appearance of vast sections of the country not yet played was not a conscious intention on my part, it just happened, but don’t tell her that, as it gives me the appearance of actually showing some signs of not being an intellectual vacuum.

The other map is an old AAA map of all the golf courses within about 200 miles. This gets the red marker treatment as well. And guess what? In addition to looking like a measles chart, it also has vast areas that desperately need our attention. All this Social Security and retirement income is not really burning a hole in our pockets. Actually it’s not ours! We are just its temporary custodians, responsible for seeing that it gets reinvested in the economy, in a timely manner. And what better way to accelerate the health of our financially destitute country than to turn it over to the local golf courses?

All these routes and markings begin to add up. Add up to what you say? Well if one is to attempt the playing of every course in America, there has to be a plan. So there is a little method to my madness. They are visuals! See! See! Can you see where we haven’t been? Oh yeah! Of course having a wife who is an accomplished golfer, athletically inclined, carrying an index substantially lower than mine creates the positive atmosphere of, have clubs will travel. So she is an inadvertent enabler to my quest. As Lou Gehrig said in his parting address to all the faithful Yankee fans, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” How could I be so lucky?

DISCLAIMER ! This is not an epistle on “How to tee up your ball and smack the snot out of it with your driver, making it go further than mankind has ever witnessed.” This has more to do with putting the golf clubs in the trunk of your car and taking them on road trips never imagined. There are plenty enough “How To” books on the market to improve your game. Experiencing your game at new locations and the adventures these places hold is what this is all about.

Golfing fantasies or bucket lists are in all of our dreams. We all know the local pro or club hot shot who has shot his age, maybe even multiple times. Well, hope springs eternal and that is what will be required for me to shoot my age. I’ve calculated the intercept between the score and my age as realistically happening when approaching, oh Say, around 117. What with the miracle of modern medicine and club technology there is always the chance. Yeah right! Of course that miraculous accomplishment should occur simultaneously with having played every course in America. Your goals may not be as realistic as mine, but we all have them.

There are so many goals, both attainable and not so much. How about the north, south, east and western most courses, two in Alaska: Attu, which is probably rather remote, and The North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks which is the northernmost and can be played twenty four hours a day in summer. There is Key West in Florida and the big island of Hawaii. And as for Maine the St. Croix Golf Club in Calais will be your easternmost. How about elevation? Mount Massive in Leadville in Colorado at, oh say, 10,000 feet, can you imagine how far that drive might go or Furnace Creek below sea level in Death Valley, California? All of our major cities offer so many opportunities.

Have you all seen The Golf Digest magazine list of the one hundred greatest courses in the world, or the top one hundred courses in America, or the best courses in each state? Well most of them are unattainable as most are private clubs. However, there are still many that are available to the average golfer. So although they are scattered all over the world some might be right in your back yard.

Just as the Babylonian, Greek, Egyptian, Roman and other ancient civilizations raised magnificent edifices to worship their various gods and probably serve their own personal interests, so do we in a sense gratify our golfing experience by affording ourselves with comfortable clubhouses. Any-Town-On-Hudson serves as the bedroom of capitalism, so the Hamptons serve as the playground of the captains of industry and finance. Generations upon generations of these leaders have graced the land with club houses that are recognizable on the professional tours and probably are ensconced on some historical building list. Although it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven, it would be easier to play a round of golf on the moon than secure a tee time at these private clubs. Yes, just a tad envious.

Well, the alternative is, once again, more is better. Day trips, overnighters and ultimately the long summer vacations, whenever possible try to plan a non- weekend route as the courses will be less crowded and less expensive. All this to grow the scorecard collection, all of which are entered either into an album or shoe box! Unlike my brothers who probably possess man caves, dens or cool garages where they could display their conquests, like mounted and stuffed beasts from days of yore, I am relegated to dragging out the scorecard albums instead of the obligatory slide show. She who is never wrong is not so ecstatic about the score pencil collection that has been continually growing lo these many years. My Martha Stewart skills being somewhat limited have however created a golf pencil-card mirror thing in response to her “What in the heck are you going to do with all those pencils”? The other option would have been too difficult to explain to the police and Ripley’s Believe it or not.

Golf America •  Lake Forest, CA 92630 • (949) 581-8854