Tag Archives: 50 states

Paa-Ko Ridge

Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in Sandia, NM

paako ridge
Me and Bert, who came all the way from Alaska to beat me

The Stats

Tee Time: May 1, 2017, 9:50, 64 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Kenneth Dye, 2000

Playing Partners: Bert Verrall

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (74.1 rating/142 slope/7,218 yards)

Course Handicap: 11 (8.6 index)

Stats:  96 (49-47); 30 putts; 7/14 fairways; 4/18 greens; 7 penalty strokes

The Course

Just a half-hour from the Breaking Badlands of Albuquerque sit the scenic Sandia Mountains, covered in ponderosas, spruce and just a thin layer of snow. And in those mountains sits one of the nicest golf courses in all the southwest, the Golf Magazine #34 -ublic and Golf Digest #46-ranked Paa-Ko Ridge. And I finally got to get a round in with a fan of the blog. Bert came down from Alaska to pick up a car which he then drove from New Mexico way back up to Anchorage, some 4,200 miles up north. Crazy.

Paako ridge sandia nm drone
Paa-Ko Ridge from the air

Continue reading Paa-Ko Ridge

Black Mesa Golf Club

Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, NM

black mesa espanola new mexico golf
Looking out at the front nine at Black Mesa

The Stats

Tee Time: April 30, 2017, 3:15, 60 F, sunny, 25mph winds

Designer: Baxter Spann, 2002

Playing Partners: none

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (70.5 rating/136 slope/6,719 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.6 index)

Stats:  89 (49-40); 35 putts; 8/14 fairways; 7/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

black mesa espanola new mexico golf
Fresh snow from the day before on the mountains across the valley

After living in Arizona for five years, I finally made it out to New Mexico for golf. I don’t know why it took so long. Albuquerque is only a six-hour drive, about the same as LA which I’ve done too many times. And New Mexico has some of the prettiest desert scenery in the Southwest. So after a quick visit to Texas to acquire an Adrian Beltre bobblehead, I broke up the flight home by spending a night in Albuquerque and checking two courses off my list that I’ve been wanting to play for a long time, starting with Black Mesa Golf Club. Continue reading Black Mesa Golf Club

Legend at Giants Ridge

The Legend at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN

Me, the bigfoot and Greg
Me, the bigfoot and Greg

The Stats

Tee Time: July 18, 2016, 3:00, 72 F, sunny

Designer: Jeffrey Brauer, 1997

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (72.6 rating/132 slope/6,528 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 92 (46-46); 39 putts; 6/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 7 penalty strokes

Greg Stats: 109 (55-54); 42 putts; 5/14 fairways; 2/18 greens; 8 penalty strokes

The Course

After a great morning at one of my new favorite courses, The Quarry at Giants Ridge, it was a short, three mile drive up the road to the older course at this resort, the Legend. I’m surprised I had any energy left for this second eighteen after the long weekend. I’m just writing this for me, so in twenty years I can look and wonder how I survived the hectic travel. Friday night, my flight was supposed to land just after midnight in Minneapolis. We were then going to fly the 6:15am flight to Chicago, watch the Cubs-Rangers game, then fly right back that night. So I was already looking at about 4 hours of sleep max on this day. Except the flight out of Phoenix got delayed, and delayed, until we finally touched down at 1:30am local time, and my head hit the pillow shortly before 3am. As fun as traveling to golf is, the constant babysitting of your golf clubs is the only real gripe I have about it. Always paying for them to fly, waiting for them to come out the baggage chute, getting a rental car to fit them. Good thing they are the “loved ones”. So on barely an hour of sleep, we spent a hot Chicago afternoon enjoying the renovated Wrigley Field. Then Sunday we slept in, got to take in a Twins game at the beautiful Target Field (Major League stadium #35 for me) and then drive up to Duluth, followed by an early morning Monday and drive 90 minutes to Biwabik. It all ended up being worth it and I’m glad God invented caffeine to help me survive it.

giants ridge legend hole 17
The scene at the 17th. I believe the drop area is somewhere on that island. Swim to shore!

Continue reading Legend at Giants Ridge

Quarry at Giants Ridge

The Quarry at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN

giants ridge quarry graig
Me and Greg in front of the big abandoned mine lake

The Stats

Tee Time: July 18, 2016, 10:00, 72 F, sunny

Designer: Jeffrey Brauer, 2003

Playing Partners: Greg Ryan

Tees: Blue, Par 72 (72.9 rating/132 slope/6,696 yards)

Course Handicap: 7 (6.3 index)

Stats: 88 (44-44); 37 putts; 8/14 fairways; 8/18 greens; 4 penalty strokes

The Course

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the Home Run Derby in San Diego. The one where Giancarlo Stanton hit 61 home runs, topping out at 497 feet. Every time he hit a ball, I could only say “wow”. Each home run just left you speechless, it wasn’t so much a “wow” as a gasp at the crack of the bat. Well, that’s pretty much how my round went at the Quarry at Giants Ridge. Every tee, I was seeing something amazing and awesome. I found myself repeatedly spending an extra moment taking in the surroundings, taking the long route to my next shot, telling Greg how unbelievable this course is. Of course, before we got to start we were given not a primer on the golf course, but a history lesson of the mining and refining past of upper Minnesota. I’m usually fascinated by all this history, especially about the sheer amount of iron and ore they pulled out of these mines (hundreds of millions of tons) in total, a majority of it going toward the country’s World War II effort. But I was also eager to get out and check this course out, so the mining talk kind of washed over me like when Bart tried to listen to the history lesson at the box factory.

giants ridge quarry hole 17
The crystal clear water at 17 is just one of the charming features of this par 3

Continue reading Quarry at Giants Ridge

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

Continue reading Aviara Golf Club

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…

Continue reading Edgewood Tahoe

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

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

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

We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)

We-Ko-Pa Saguaro Course in Fort McDowell, AZ

wekopa saguaro
Sean, me, Ryan and Mike

The Stats

Tee Time: August 7, 2015, 7:58, 101 F, partly cloudy

Designer: Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 2006

Playing Partners: Ryan Cohan, Sean Cohan, Mike Harvey

Tees: Purple, Par 71 (70.2 rating/132 slope/6,603 yards)

Course Handicap: 10 (8.1 index)

Stats: 83 (41-42); 36 putts; 9/14 fairways; 9/18 greens; 1 penalty stroke

The Course

Four years in the desert and I finally made the trip out to We-Ko-Pa Golf Club with summer rates begging me to play. The pair of courses, Saguaro and Cholla, come heralded as two of the finest places to play golf in the entire Southwest. It’s always a battle between the two here and the two at Troon North for the top spot in many rankings. The best part about being a resident is I can play all four and judge for myself. We started with the Saguaro, and I’ll be sure to loop back for the Cholla shortly. The Saguaro course is younger by a few years, having been commissioned after the Cholla course proved successful. Saguaro was designed by the elite duo of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, who have a “lay of the land” philosophy to designing the courses that has led to some world-class golf around the world. Just take a look at this resume! On top of the fantastic golf, We-Ko-Pa features some stunning desert scenery. I’d love to take my clubs and camera out for a twilight round and catch a radiant Arizona sunset over this layout. Even a morning with some rain produced some stunning photos. So stunning you might just look at the pictures and ignore all my three-putts. Continue reading We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)