Geeked on Golf


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IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE LIKE

A Geek Dad’s Diary entry on a trip with one of my very best buddies.

A line is crossed when one drives a long way to play a golf course. Most of us have a course close by that is good enough to conveniently scratch the itch when it arises. Exerting the effort to road trip signals a focus shift from our own play to the experience of the playing field, which adds a dimension to the game. An even brighter line is crossed when one boards a plane, clubs in tow. My son Jack crossed that line for the first time this year on a trip to Aiken, SC, and I had the pleasure and privilege of being his partner in adventure.

Our journey to South Carolina was circuitous to say the least. The original plan was to head to Chattanooga to check out The Course at Sewanee and Sweetens Cove. I was very much looking forward to watching Rob Collins’s creation melt the lad’s mind. Alas, nature and the TVA intervened, flooding the course a week before our visit. We audibled to Pinehurst, intending to play Mid Pines and Pine Needles, two courses that are high on my hit list. An ominous weather forecast and exorbitant flight prices rendered that option untenable. After exploring destinations from Arizona to Alabama, we finally found a flight into Atlanta and arranged rounds at Palmetto G.C. and Aiken G.C. I’ll go to great lengths to play golf, and even greater lengths to make my kids happy. Put the two together, and there was no way that I was going to let Jack down. Off we went.

This diary entry is not about the courses, but a few brief impressions. A visit to Palmetto Golf Club is like stepping back in time. The course was originally laid out by Herbert Leeds, who is also responsible for Myopia Hunt Club. The man knew how to design interesting golf holes. Dr. MacKenzie later enhanced the bunkering and greens, taking the course to new heights. It is one of those golf courses that I could happily play every day for the rest of my life. My feelings about Palmetto are even warmer, after watching Jack work his way around the course, taking in the architecture as his appreciation grows.

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Aiken Golf Club is an entirely different experience, but one that blew us away equally. Owned by the McNair family, the course has received an in-house renovation over a period of years. The result is a meandering golf experience over beautiful property packed with variety, with each hole punctuated by a fun green. We were joined for our 36-hole day by my buddies Kevin Moore and Dave Zinkand, and it is an understatement to call the proceedings a geek fest. We were like four kids out there soaking in this affordable, publicly accessible gem.

Our trip was about much more than golf though. I love Jack. He is a smart kid with a big heart who is growing into a really good young man. I know that he loves me too. We tell each other. I also know, however, that at 16 he is in a tough time in his life. Demands of school and activities are high, on top of the simple fact that coming of age ain’t easy. Jack is fortunate to have a posse of great friends, and it is no surprise that he would rather talk and spend time with them than his parents. My mom likes to remind me that I hardly spoke at home for two years during my early teens.

To paraphrase a wise man*, it’s not what you’re like, but rather what you like that matters. Common interests bring us together and act as a gateway to connecting at deeper levels. I have experienced this progression with kindred golf spirits and members of the Canal Shores volunteer community, who I now count among my closest friends. And I am experiencing it with Jack as his love of the game blossoms. He might not feel like talking, but he is always up to talk golf. He might not want to hang with the family, but he is typically up for grabbing his clubs for a game. Whether it was on the course or on the couch on Masters Sunday, I stayed connected to my dad through golf. The game is playing the same role for me with Jack.

While driving around Augusta looking for food and the entrance gate to ANGC, we explored another shared interest – hip hop. We took turns sharing old and new school favorites and both ended up a little more enlightened about music, and each other. For fun, and to memorialize our adventure, we collaborated on a Spotify playlist, which we now share with you.

With every passing year, my gratitude for the game of golf increases. Personally, it provides endless challenge and enjoyment. Interpersonally, it delivers consistently great people into my life while making my world bigger. Most importantly, it gives me a connection to my sons that will hopefully endure as they grow into their own lives.

Our first buddies trip is successfully in the books. Many more to come.

*John Cusack’s character Rob Gordon in High Fidelity

Copyright 2019 – Jason Way, GeekedOnGolf


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EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES – GOLF COURSE GEEKERY

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Following is an index of my posts which chronicle my geeky study of golf courses and attendant adventures.  I am no journalist, but I do my best to share the experience of spending time at these special places, as well as give insights into their history and design. Part expression of gratitude for the generosity of my hosts, and part attempt to pay forward that generosity, I hope you enjoy.


MOST RECENT COURSE(S)

THE MIDWEST MACKENZIE – CRYSTAL DOWNS

Crystal Downs is not Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s only Midwest design, but it is certainly his most highly regarded work in the region. The greatness of the course can be linked to the interest and variety inherent in the land, and MacKenzie’s visionary ability to embrace what a site offered. He was fortunate to have as his collaborator Perry Maxwell who expertly translated ideas into reality on the ground, adding his own touches and creative flourishes as he went. Read more…


MORE COURSE GEEKERY

TILLY’S TALE AT SOMERSET HILLS

Somerset Hills embodies a rare opportunity for golf architecture aficionados and players alike. For the design enthusiast, it is a course to be studied closely as an integral step in the progression of one of America’s greatest architects, A.W. Tillinghast. Read more…

FAIR IS A FOUR LETTER WORD AT FRENCH LICK

The devilish designer himself greets visitors to The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort. A statue of the creator of nearly one hundred golf courses over a decades-long career stands by the bag drop. He is smiling, a friendly countenance on first impression. Alongside the sculpture is a stone adorned with a quote that ends ”…so why build a fair golf course”. Read more…

ROUTING PERFECTION AT SAND HILLS

Sand Hills Golf Club is generally considered to be a modern masterpiece. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw’s design has been credited as the original spark that lit the fire of the minimalist movement in golf course architecture, and the club proved that players will travel to experience great golf in far flung locales. The combination of minimalism and destination golf has been nothing short of revolutionary for the game. There is a case to be made though that Sand Hills is more than just a great course—it is perfect. Read more…

WHERE ENTHUSIASM LIVES – CAL CLUB

To be clear, Cal is a golf club. The golf course is the focal point, and walking golf is the only activity of interest, at least during daylight. The beautiful land on which the course sits, and its eclectic architectural history, combine to produce an intensely enjoyable playing experience. Read more…

IN PRAISE OF RESTRAINT AT ROCK HOLLOW G.C.

The first edition of this season’s Upping My Dye-Q series takes a look at the Tim Liddy designed Rock Hollow Golf Club. Read more…

TIMELESS IDEALS AT NATIONAL GOLF LINKS

An in-depth profile of C.B. Macdonald’s National Golf Links of America and the design ideals it embodies. Read more…

HONORING ALISON AT DAVENPORT C.C.

An in-depth look at the history and evolution of the C.H. Alison designed Davenport Country Club. Read more…

SO LONG KOHLER – WHISTLING STRAITS AND BLACKWOLF RUN RIVER

For several years now, a spring gathering of golf geeks has taken place in Kohler, WI.  We drive up, play 36 holes, and drive home.  It is a gloriously exhausting day with a great group of guys on courses I enjoy – and I don’t think I’m ever going back.  Read more…

DESERT FOREST DAYDREAMING WITH DAVE ZINKAND & DAN MOORE

My first visit to Desert Forest was with Dan Moore, after David Zinkand had already done the bulk of his renovation work.  I never played Red Lawrence’s original, but Dave Zinkand’s update immediately grabbed ahold of my heart.  Wonderfully routed, minimally bunkered, with interest-packed greens, the course demands strategic thought and creative execution to score.  Read more…

THE SANDBOX – CLOSING DAY AT SAND VALLEY

We made our second trek of 2017 to Nekoosa specifically to play The Sandbox (name not yet confirmed), the 17 hole par-3 course created by the Coore & Crenshaw crew.  Michael Keiser graciously took the time to play a loop with us, and then gave us the run of the place.  Read more…

BOSTON TWOFER – BOSTON GOLF CLUB & ESSEX COUNTY CLUB

With this season’s Noreaster heading back to Long Island, I found myself longing for golf in Boston by mid-summer. Work afforded an opportunity to make it to Beantown, and I was able to line up visits to my two of my favorite courses.  Read more…

5TH ANNUAL NOREASTER – BACK TO LONG ISLAND

After two years in Boston, our group was longing for a return trip to Long Island, and Friar’s Head.  Planning began over the winter, but took a detour.  Read more…

AIN’T IT GRAND – OPENING DAY AT SAND VALLEY

For what has become an annual spring pilgrimage for us, Peter K. and I set out early so that we could make a critical pit stop on the way to Sand Valley for opening day.  As I have said before, going into central Wisconsin without visiting Lawsonia Links is a mistake as big as Lawsonia’s massive features.  Read more…

EXPLORING AMERICA’S GREAT GOLF CLUBS – KINGSLEY CLUB, BOSTON GC, BALLYNEAL & CALUSA PINES

What makes a golf club great?  Certainly, in order to be great, a club must have an outstanding golf course.  A top-notch course is not enough to make a club truly great though, especially for the discerning golf geek.  Great clubs resonate at a deeper level – they evoke the spirit of the game.  Read more…

THE SAND VALLEY STORY CONTINUES…

Under Michael Keiser’s leadership, Sand Valley is already a must-visit (repeatedly).  If future plans comes to fruition, it is a legit contender for the title of best golf destination in North America.  Read more…

THE REVIVAL – COMMUNITY GOLF IN AMERICA

There is a movement afoot.  Across the country, from Goat Hill to the Schoolhouse Nine, from Sharp Park to Winter Park, there are a growing number of community golf projects getting attention and serious support.  Read more…

A SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER – OAKMONT, BALLYNEAL & SAND HILLS

2016 has been yet another wonderful year of golf adventures.  The season culminated in late September with a stretch of dreams come true in this golf geek’s life with visits to Oakmont Country Club, Ballyneal Golf Club and Sand Hills Golf Club.  Read more…

AWAKENING TO ALISON – MILWAUKEE CC & ORCHARD LAKE CC

Prior to the past month, I had only played one other course credited to the design partnership of Colt & Alison, and that course had been meaningfully altered.  In playing Milwaukee Country Club and Orchard Lake Country Club, my eyes were opened to just how skilled Mr. Alison was at creating golf courses that are at once demanding and beautiful.  Read more…

ONE FOR THE AGES – A WEEKEND AT PRAIRIE DUNES

Gunch is the word that the staff and members use for the native areas that line the holes at Prairie Dunes.  The definition above is fitting.  The gunch is the sole aspect of Prairie Dunes that is not perfectly pleasurable.  Read more…

BUDDIES BACK IN BOSTON – ANNUAL TRIP RECAP

Last year’s eastern buddies trip was such a winner that we decided to return to Boston again this year to play Myopia Hunt Club, Essex County Club, Whitinsville, Kittansett Club and Wannamoisett.  The trip had a wonderful little wrinkle as we were hosted on our first day by a group of members from Myopia and Essex with whom we had casual and fun four-ball matches.  Great guys, great courses, great times.  Read more...

AS GOOD AS IT GETS – LOST DUNES & THE DUNES CLUB

Last season, I screwed up royally.  I have access to Lost Dunes, the Tom Doak gem in SW Michigan, and I did not go.  Pathetic, I know.  Read more…

DESERT DAYS – SAND HOLLOW, PAIUTE WOLF & WOLF CREEK

Las Vegas is a regular destination for me.  My work has taken me there at least fifteen times.  With the exception of one trip that I took to get a lesson from Butch Harmon, golf has not been a part of my Las Vegas experience.  Read more…

A MAGICAL DAY AT SAND VALLEY

My buddy Chuck was kind enough to include me in a visit to Sand Valley to tour the first course, which is under construction and set to open in 2017.  I expected to be in golf geek heaven, and yet what I experienced so vastly exceeded my expectations that I fear that trying to put it into words won’t do it justice.  Read more…

A 1,537 MILE DRIVE – THE FORT, HYDE PARK, CAMARGO, FRENCH LICK & HARRISON HILLS

My schedule worked out such that I had a few days to hit the open road for golf adventure.  With much appreciated help from Tim Liddy and Jason Thurman, a tour through Indiana and Ohio came together which allowed me to add to my experience of Ross, Raynor, Dye, and Langford (with a healthy dose of Liddy).  Read more…

MY BUDDIES IN BOSTON – ANNUAL TRIP RECAP

This year, we headed to Boston, where there is no shortage of world class golf.  We had the privilege of playing 4 outstanding courses – The Country Club, Boston Golf Club, Old Sandwich, Essex County – and I took enough photos to negatively impact my golf, so it makes sense to share them and offset the damage.  Read more…

GOLF HEAVEN ON EARTH – THE KINGSLEY CLUB

My discovery of the Kingsley Club was just dumb luck.  On a buddies trip to Arcadia Bluffs and Crystal Downs, we needed a third course to play.  I stumbled across the Kingsley Club review on GolfClubAtlas.com – it looked interesting, so it was added to our itinerary.  Read more…

DISCOVERING GOLF’S BIRTHPLACE IN AMERICA

In 2013, I took my first golf buddies trip.  Unlike conventional trips to resorts like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, or Bandon Dunes, we headed out to Long Island, NY.  We are fortunate enough to be able to leg out access to private clubs through our personal and professional networks.  Read more…