That title has a sad tone to it, but 2017 was anything but a sad year for my golf. In fact, it was the most fulfilling year of my golfing life.
To be clear, I did not play less golf in 2017 than I did in previous years, although I did player fewer new courses. That is what I mean by the tour ending. I have played enough courses at this point to have a solid list of favorites, and I went back to several of them this year instead of running down new experiences. Replays, as opposed to new plays, was how I decided to use my time.
That change in focus crystallized for me when I was sitting in the Wichita airport after spending another weekend at Prairie Dunes. As outlined in my previous post, these visits to Prairie Dunes are a golf binge. One course, around and around we go from sun up to sun down for two days. Every time I come off the 18th hole of that course, I want to go right back out. Among the golf cognoscenti, that “18th green to 1st tee” standard is used to evaluate courses, and it is a good standard. What we are referring to with that standard though is a replay after the first play, I suspect.
My experiences at Prairie Dunes have set a new standard in my mind – 108 in 48. The question is, which courses would I want to go around 6 times in 2 days? What that means to me is, which courses are interesting, challenging and fun enough to stand up to that kind of immersion experience? Can’t be too hard or I get worn out. Can’t have weak stretches of holes or I lose attention.
Prairie Dunes passes the 108 in 48 test with flying colors for me for three reasons: First, the sequence of holes is packed with variety from a length, straight vs dogleg, and directional perspective. Second, the greens might be the best set on the planet. Third, the course is drop dead gorgeous – color contrast, texture, land movement, tree management – it is just the right kind of candy for my eyes.
Of the courses I re-played in 2017, Essex County Club and Maidstone are also 108 in 48 standouts, but for different reasons than PD. Both Essex and Maidstone play through multiple “zones”. Essex has its brook/wetland zone and its stone hill zone. Maidstone has its wetland zone and linksland zone. This gives them both a meandering adventure feel that I find compelling. Both are also outstanding at the level of fine details.
All three of these courses share a peaceful, refined beauty in common that creates a sense of transcendence during the course of a round. The passage of time melts away.
There are a handful of other courses that meet this standard for me. There are also quite a few courses that I love dearly and consider favorites that do not.
Obviously, there are courses like Cypress Point and Pine Valley that, when you get the call, you drop everything and go. Beyond those select few though, I find myself leaning toward continuing to spend as much time as I can on courses that qualify for my 108 in 48 list. With each joyful play, my love of them grows, and I cannot imagine a better use of the time.
By any conventional standard, I am not cool. I am a geek, and the older I get the more firm is my resolve to be as authentically geeky as I possibly can. Reflecting on 2017, it occurs to me that I have found my tribe of fellow geeks, and I was tremendously fortunate to spend quality time wandering the fairways with so many of them.
When I started GeekedOnGolf, it was a bit of a solitary journey. The vibe was focused on my game and my experiences. It was a “me” thing. Thankfully, in the intervening years, it has very much become a “we” thing. The men and women who I have met, and who I consider as my golf buddies, are among the best people I know. They are authentic, smart, funny, kind, and giving – they are geeks like me, and I love every minute spent with them.
As 2017 went along, I found that this enjoyment of camaraderie began to take on an equal or higher priority than my attention to the courses played. As I look forward to 2018, my primary thoughts are about whom I want to play with, and the courses to be played are an afterthought. That is a big shift, and it has a quality of meaningful wholeness to me.
In the category of good company, 2017 was the year that I became a golf dad. That was a dream that I had been holding in my mind and heart, and it came true as both of my sons turned into golf bums. There is nothing that I love more during those long summer days than having them come to at the end of the work day and say the magic words – hey Dad, can we go over to the golf course?
It just doesn’t get any better than to wander the fairways of Canal Shores, Kingsley Club or any other course watching Jack and Henry golf their balls as their love of the game grows.
Each year goes by, and I do my best to give back through this website, my work at Canal Shores, and generally trying to be a good golf buddy. Each year, because of the generosity of my hosts, my fellow volunteers, and my fellow geeks who take the time to visit here, I feel like I am deeper in debt.
To bring these 2017 reflections full circle, there is no sadness in that ever-growing debt, and there is only a growing sense of joyful meaning and love of the game as these adventures continue. I hope that you enjoyed following along this year, and wish you all the best in your geeky adventures in 2018.
Happy New Year!
MORE GEEKED ON GOLF MUSINGS:
- 2016 Golf Tour
- 2015 GeekedOnGolf Tour
- Wilson & Me
- New Year’s Shift
- My Bucket List – U.S. Open Venues
- 2014 GeekedOnGolf Tour
- Want to Improve Pace of Play?
- Short Game Game Plan
- These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
- Making It Right is Alright with Me
- 2013 GeekedOnGolf Tour
- End of Season Wrap-up
- From Putt Putt to Punchbowl
- A Slip of the Mind
- Coming Full Circle
Copyright 2017 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf