Aviara Golf Club

Aviara Golf Club & Resort in Carlsbad, CA

aviara golf club
Mike, Kevin, me and Bill

The Stats

Tee Time: July 13, 2016, 7:25, 73 F, sunny

Designer: Arnold Palmer, 1991

Playing Partners: Kevin, Bill and Mike

Tees: Middle, Par 72 (70.0 rating/129 slope/6,054 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 90 (44-46); 37 putts; 2/14 fairways; 5/18 greens; 7 penalty strokes

The Course

After a great week at the Major League All-Star festivities (I wonder how far Giancarlo Stanton could hit a driver), there was just one last thing to do before heading back to the dry desert. That would be getting an early-morning round in at Southern California’s top golf resort, Aviara Golf Club, home of the LPGA Kia Classic. This course must look amazing during the TV coverage, with pristine lakes and scenic waterfall features throughout. I’ll make sure to catch it next spring.

aviara golf club hole 14
Of all the water par 3’s here, the 14th is probably the toughest

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Callippe Preserve

Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton, CA

Me, CJ and the lots of little kids
Me, CJ and the lots of little kids

 

The Stats

Tee Time: June 18, 2016, 2:10, 81 F, sunny

Designer: Brian Costello, 2005

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Ryan and Mike

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (71.5 rating/129 slope/6,409 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.0 index)

Stats: 88 (43-45); 40 putts; 8/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

In the foothills of the mighty Mount Diablo is where I grew up golfing, in the sunny warmth of the East Bay summer. It’s always beautiful there, even in its current drought-stricken conditions. The hills aren’t dead and brown, they’re vibrant and golden. Gorgeous oak trees provide cool shade, as well as a nice home for stray golf balls that will never see the ground again. This is the first time I’ve ever had to pay for golf in the greater Danville area, and it was well worth it. In high school, I was lucky enough to have three golf courses to play anytime I wanted to, with the Lakes and Falls courses at Blackhawk and while I worked at Round Hill in Alamo.

callippe preserve hole 12 panorama mount diablo
Looking over the driveable, 299-yard 12th with Mount Diablo in the distance

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Edgewood Tahoe

Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Lake Tahoe, NV

Me and CJ
Me and CJ

The Stats

Tee Time: May 23, 2016, 10:50, 48 F, cloudy turning to rain

Designer: George Fazio, 1968

Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Larry and Mike

Tees: Blue/White Combo, Par 72 (71.2 rating/137 slope/6,610 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.0 index)

Stats: 92 (47-45); 31 putts; 7/14 fairways; 1/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes

The Course

Even in mud season, there’s no better place in the world than in the presence of the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe. It’s so inspiring here that I set a major portion of my brand new book, Hunt, in this location. You can buy that here, because the more sales, the more golf trips! But anyways…

See, look at that sweet Tahoe setting...
See, look at that sweet Tahoe setting…

It’s nearly Memorial Day and Donner Pass is still getting snow. But ski season’s over now, and the golf course is the next best place to enjoy the outdoors. If I was ever gonna have a bad time golfing, it would’ve been this round. A hurt back on a frigid, breezy, rainy day and trying to keep calm while playing with a creepy, camo-clad Dale Gribble look-a-like who must’ve said six words all day, shot at least 130 and was using a disposable camera? But I had my ever-enthusiastic buddy CJ with me and, even sweeter, the amazing Edgewood Tahoe golf course offering up 18 holes of jaw-dropping alpine scenery. You can never have a bad day at Edgewood. I almost should just stop writing and let the pictures do that talking. Check out how gorgeous the 9th green is below.

Like this view from off the 9th green...
Like this view from off the 9th green…

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Thoughts at the halfway mark

After surviving a weekend in steamy New Orleans, I’ve reached the halfway point in my quest to play golf in all 50 states. Fortunately, in the 5 years or so I’ve been doing this, I’ve remained healthy, employed and the country hasn’t added any new states to the Union.

But what if something had happened, or will happen, and 25 is all I get? I mean, ice hockey does start up again soon. And that means possible broken bones, hematomas, concussions or even deep lacerations. No wonder the ladies dig us hockey players.

But I must see it through. I’ve come this far, gotta finish. I mean, look at some other things that just wouldn’t have been the same if someone had decided halfway was good enough. I’ve come up with twelve.

12. The United States: The country would look pretty small if we’d stopped after admitting the first 25 states. On June 15, 1836, Arkansas was admitted. That leaves just three states west of the Mississippi River and no West Virginia. Good thing they kept going, we all know the Pacific Coast is way better than the Atlantic.

At least traveling would be a lot easier
At least traveling would be a lot easier

Continue reading Thoughts at the halfway mark

Presidio Golf Course

Presidio Golf Course in San Francisco, CA

presidio golf course graig mantle
Jordan, me and Dave

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 18, 2015, 11:10, 68 F, sunny and windy

Designer: Robert Johnston, 1895

Playing Partners: Dave Jensen and Jordan Stankowski

Tees: White, Par 72 (70.7 rating/129 slope/6,101 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 80 (40-40); 32 putts; 5/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

Set in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s Presidio Golf Course is a beautiful gem in a city full of them. Just don’t look too closely at the city or you’ll see all the flaws too, like a porn star in HD. Anyways… I would’ve played anywhere today given the circumstances. I got to get a round in with two good college friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (and it would’ve been a third if not for some random conference). And just like the old days, I made a couple dollars and beat Jordan by a couple dozen (actually 80 to 96). Somehow it’s already been over ten years since I spent a year sharing an 11-foot by 13-foot room with another human being, and a shower with about 40 others. Continue reading Presidio Golf Course

Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Half Moon Bay Ocean Course in Half Moon Bay, CA

half moon bay ocean course

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 15, 2015, 2:20, 68 F, overcast

DesignerArthur Hills, 1997

Playing Partners: Craig, Larry and Leonard

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (71.2 rating/125 slope/6,470 yards)

Course Handicap: 6 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (44-43); 37 putts; 6/13 fairways; 8/18 greens; 3 penalty strokes

The Course

golden eagle
Before I go on, check out this badass golden eagle

Based on the pictures alone, Half Moon Bay’s Ocean Course is a must play. I’ve heard stories of five and six hour rounds, which is always a mood killer and stayed away. But since I had some time to kill before Stanford’s 7:30PM Thursday-night dismantling of UCLA, what better way than to spend a few hours next to the ocean just a few miles from Palo Alto? I was taking a gamble with a 2:20 starting time, given that sunset right now is just after 6:30. Surprisingly, there were only a few waits and we managed to get all my 87 strokes in before the stars came out. While slow play is the worst thing in golf, there are worse places to be trapped than on this relatively new links layout on the Northern California coast. And at a fraction of the cost of some other cliffside courses a few miles down the road, any Bay Area resident or guest should head out here once. Continue reading Half Moon Bay (Ocean Course)

Oakmont Country Club

Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA

oakmont country club
Mr. Space, me and my dad

The Stats

Tee TimeOctober 13, 2015, 9:00, 64 F, mostly cloudy, breezy

DesignerHenry C. Fownes, 1903

Playing Partners: Richard Space, my dad

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (73.3 rating/136 slope/6,436 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (5.7 index)

Stats: 87 (43-44); 35 putts; 8/13 fairways; 3/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

I got to make a quick trip to the beautiful city of Pittsburgh for a fall round of golf at Oakmont Country Club, the #6 golf course in the country according to Golf Digest’s most recent rankings. It always seems to hover around this spot on the ultimate golf leaderboard, dancing above or below fellow Pennsylvania course Merion, which I had the good luck to be able to play earlier in the summer. So maybe I can weigh in on which should be ranked higher, and then after that I’ll figure out if Augusta is worthy of its #1 ranking… Continue reading Oakmont Country Club

TPC Louisiana

TPC Louisiana in Avondale, LA

TPC Louisiana
Jordan, me and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: September 6, 2015, 10:20, 88 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Pete Dye, 2006

Playing Partners: Jordan Ritenour and Greg Ryan

Tees: Tournament/Players, Par 72 (71.0 rating/133 slope/6,374 yards)

Course Handicap: 8 (7.0 index)

Stats: 85 (45-43); 34 putts; 8/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes

The Course

Home to PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic every year, the TPC Louisiana is one of the few premier courses in the New Orleans area, about twenty minutes south of the sights and smells of Bourbon Street. At first appearances, it’s obvious that this course was designed to be spectator friendly. Wide expanses allow of easily moving among the holes routed in a good way to see your favorite golfer or park at one hole and watch players come through. No elevation change whatsoever. On a hot, muggy, post-thunderstorm day with a sparsely populated tee sheet, TPC Louisiana comes across as a benign, pleasant place to play a round. Located in what was a swamp just a few years ago, you’ll still see remnants of that. The bald cypress and their “knees” dot the fairways. The water birds wade along the shores of the ponds and turtles enjoy their pool days. A serene setting even in the oppressive late-summer heat. Continue reading TPC Louisiana

Fallen Oak Golf Club

Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier, MS

fallen oak us
Jordan, me and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: September 4, 2015, 8:24, 95 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Tom Fazio, 2006

Playing Partners: Jordan Ritenour and Greg Ryan

Tees: Third, Par 72 (71.7 rating/138 slope/6,549 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (7.0 index)

Stats: 88 (45-43); 36 putts; 6/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 5 penalty strokes

The Course

A stay at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi is required for access to Fallen Oak Golf Club. That is not a bad thing. An MGM casino, the Beau Rivage is the most luxurious casino resort on the gulf coast. The flair and flash of the Las Vegas strip combined with the southern hospitality of the South. It’s literally right on the coast. Exiting the I-10 takes you to the off ramp over the water. With the brand new MGM Park, home of the AA Biloxi Shuckers baseball team, right across the street, a game and some gambling is a great way to spend your night before getting out to your round the next day. The actual course is about twenty miles north in Saucier, through a private gate and down a road into the Mississippi woodlands. This is where you get to you enjoy a little slice of heaven for a few hours. Continue reading Fallen Oak Golf Club

Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club in Wickenburg, AZ

wickenburg ranch
Sean and I relaxing on a random couch

The Stats

Tee Time: August 21, 2015, 11:15, 100 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Bill Brownlee and Wendell Pickett, 2015

Playing Partners: Sean Cohan

Tees: Blue, Par 71 (70.6 rating/134 slope/6,486 yards)

Course Handicap: 9 (8.0 index)

Stats: 77 (36-41); 36 putts; 9/13 fairways; 11/18 greens; 0 penalty strokes

The Course

If Phoenix is the sun, then the 101 freeway is like the orbit of Mercury. The 202 is Earth or Mars. The newly discovered 303 is like Neptune. That would place Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, in this Valley of the Sun solar system, somewhere out where Pluto resides. And just like Pluto, the journey out to this distant location is well worth it. Located in a new housing development in Wickenburg, this might be the most exciting thing to come to this part of Arizona since all the gold was mined out of Vulture Mountain many years ago. The course just opened in 2015 and I can guarantee you’ll be seeing it rated on a few lists in the near future. For now, while the houses are still being built and sold, the plan is to stay open to the public for a couple years. Just like the gold, come out and get it before it’s too late.  Continue reading Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club

I set a goal in 2011 of playing at least one round of golf in all 50 states by 2021. This is a quest to play some of America’s finest courses in every state, even the flyover ones…