2014 in Preview

Ahh New Year's fireworks
Ahh New Year’s fireworks

I know, sorry. Usually these preview editions and posts pop up before the new year actually starts. Well, I forgot. At least I’m beating Chinese New Year by a couple of weeks. So where do I want to play this year? And are there any goals I might have? Last year, which, in case you missed it, is detailed here, I made it to 6 new states. Meaning I’m ahead of my pace. Instead of July 2021 I think my new scheduled ETA is May 2021. Who knows, those two months could make all the difference. But now, 16 states in, things get dicey. There are 34 to go, and it seems daunting. Like when taking a long run (which my dog enjoys much more than I do) and you finish the first mile feeling fresh and think, “that wasn’t so bad” before realizing you’ve got 4 long, shin-splinting miles to go. I’ve still got to reach the four corners of the country: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Florida. It’s over 2,000 miles from Phoenix to each of those states’ capitals. At least if I ever end up moving to Denver, Juneau, Augusta and somehow Tallahassee become closer.  I still have yet to make a dent in the Midwest. I’ve gotten to second base with that region, skirting the edges in Colorado and Missouri. But soon I’m gonna have to dive headfirst into the Great Lakes, which is currently swimming in ice balls. Could get a little chilly.

At least Mojo can handle any frigid golf we may encounter
At least Mojo can handle any frigid golf we may encounter

I can’t think of any real golf goals I have for 2014. Obviously, visiting more states. But I did reach my goal of getting down to an 8 handicap. Anything lower seems a bit of a reach, considering anything 7 or lower is in the vaunted 70’s. Although I’m 1 round into this year and my scoring average is 76, so maybe I can go low. I should probably enjoy that while it lasts. And last year I finally completed my golf club upgrade. Except for my putter, nothing in the bag is older than 2 years after playing most of the millennium with sticks from 1999 or 2004. Well maybe my golf goals should be less golf-oriented. I guess I could write more golf posts. I haven’t written about every course I’ve played over the last 3 years, and that’s  just lazy. With this blog averaging at least 7 views per day, my readers expect more out of me. So there’s my goal. I have 42 posts as of this writing. By December 31, 2014 I will have 80. I will find something to write about, people have made suggestions and I should heed their advice. Plus the more I write here, the more likely I am to finish my long-awaited sequel to my book, Ride 2: Ride Harder (working title). So that’s the mission, 38 posts, or about 3 a month. But I should probably also make a real golf goal, so here goes. I aim to go the entire year without having a round with more than 3 three-putts. Sounds easy, but offhand it feels like half my rounds in 2013 broke that barrier of shame. 

That is definitely the swing of a golfer who can go low
That is definitely the swing of a golfer who can go low

So where would I like to play in 2014?

1. Hawaii (probability: 99%)

I never go 100% because you never know about force majeure. But this ticket is booked and all I’m doing now is waiting to see which of my friends are up for a round while we’re there. Shockingly, not all of my high school buddies are down with a round on the warm, inviting waters of the Pacific. Well, if they don’t wanna enjoy heaven-on-Earth and possibly be made famous by being featured on this very blog, who am I to convince them otherwise? While one day I do want to get to Princeville and play the Plantation Course at Kapalua, this particular trip will be stationed out of Oahu. Which means we get to take a round in at the Palmer Course at Turtle Bay Resort on the north shore. The pro at my favorite Nevada course, Las Vegas National, Rocky Nunes, sold me when he described the grounds as such: “Finally… Turtle Bay resort. To me, by far, one of the most beautiful places ever. I can’t find the words to describe this place…” That’s as good an endorsement as any.

 

Turtle Bay Resort - This definitely looks like paradise to me
Turtle Bay Resort – This definitely looks like paradise to me

 

2. Florida (probability: 99%)

This is another place I need to go for work, and there’s worse places to be sent (like Fresno). The big question is not if I’ll play, but where and with who? I’m trying to convince my dad to come out. That should be easier said than done, but he’s a busy man and the Sunshine State is out of the way. Then again, he likes wearing Tommy Bahama and loves Jimmy Buffett, he’d be right at home there. The real difficulty is picking a spot to play. I like to play in multiple locations if I can, but Florida’s pretty big (despite shockingly only being 22nd in size), and I need to choose my location wisely. The Tampa region has Streamsong Resort, which I’ve been reading a lot of good things about, and there’s a work office nearby. Miami is close to Doral, and also an office. But the one I really want to get to is TPC Sawgrass. I know seasoned Florida golfers would probably prefer the first two, but Sawgrass is a destination for any golfer. I love the Player’s Championship, the island green, the World Golf Hall of Fame is there, and I’ve played hundreds of rounds there in the Tiger Woods video games, so it should all be familiar. Right?

TPC Sawgrass - My home course in Tiger Woods '14
TPC Sawgrass – My home course in Tiger Woods ’14

3. South Carolina (probability: 70%)

Now I’m out of sure things. I wanted to go to Myrtle Beach last year, but it didn’t work out. That doesn’t change my desire to go. Maybe when I’m already out in Florida I can swing by for a bit. Same requirements as last year, Harbour Town and the beach. I should just book a flight and make this 99%. Hmmm…

Harbour Town Golf Links - Yep, still need to go here
Harbour Town Golf Links – Yep, still need to go here

4. Illinois (probability: 50%)

This is where I want the 3rd Annual Hacktus Open to take place. I don’t really know any courses in the area, I’m hoping to stay near Chicago during baseball season and make the required pilgrimage to Wrigley Field. I hope my golf trip doesn’t lose any steam (we went from 6 guys to 5 guys in 2014) but hopefully the allure of the Windy City sweeps up some extras and I can finally stake a claim in the true Midwest. As for golf courses, my best guess is to fool around at Cog Hill and their plethora of tracks to play. Not too far out of Chicago, I think this is the destination of choice.

Cog Hill - Looks pretty daunting
Cog Hill – Looks pretty daunting

5. Idaho/Montana (probability: 35%)

I do need to also go to Boise for work, and from there it’s not impossibly far to Coeur d’Alene Golf Resort, which is definitely one of the courses I most want to play. But I wanna make sure I play that course with at least one other person, I’m not going to a resort town alone. If that doesn’t pan out, maybe a nice summer trip to Montana, and hopefully Old Works could happen. This option is a shot in the dark, but I know there’s some guys who would love a trip to Big Sky Country, so if I can exchange 2 days of fun outdoors action for 1 day of golf, I’ve got a chance.

Couer d'Alene Resort - Apparently island greens will be the theme of 2014
Couer d’Alene Resort – Apparently island greens will be the theme of 2014

6. Alaska (probability: 2%)

Probably won’t happen this year, but it would be awesome to golf during the summer solstice… at 3 A.M. after last call. Plus, by June here in Phoenix we’ll be 2 months into triple-digit temperatures and a trek up into the tundra could be just what the doctor ordered.

MOJO
Mojo would love to go to Alaska too, but he’s got a family to worry about now

Bonus. California (99%)

I always end up back in my home state for one reason or another. I’m the only family member who lives outside of it, so I have to return periodically. Last year I happily returned, playing what may have been my last ever round at Blackhawk Country Club and the amazing Stanford Golf Course. This year I’m gonna finally get the timing right with my new best friend who works at Pebble Beach to get out there. He always says he can get one of the three, The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill or Pebble Beach. And I always tell him I would be more than grateful to hurry out if he gets me on at any of the three. So this year it will happen, especially because I’ll have to go home in the late spring to watch the San Jose Sharks finish off their first Stanley Cup in June. If somehow that doesn’t work, I’ll band a group together for Torrey Pines. And my golf league does have the match play in Palm Springs this year.

Pebble Beach Golf Links - Who wouldn't drop everything and rush out here if they were offered a round?
Pebble Beach Golf Links – Who wouldn’t drop everything and rush out here if they were offered a round?

So there it is, my game plan for the year. Obviously it will probably change. Who thought I’d end up in Missouri last year? Plus I’m thinking I might get one or two more states in New England knocked off. I’m going back for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown this summer so why not meander over to Connecticut or Vermont and scratch that off? As always, any suggestions are welcome and you’re free to join at any spot.

Good luck with all of your 2014 goals.

Graig

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