Golf Blog

Goat Caddies!

When I first heard that there was a magical place in Oregon where goats carry your golf clubs, I stopped everything that I was doing and booked my trip immediately. Yes, that’s right, they have goat caddies in Oregon. In case I don’t have your attention I will type it in capital letters…. GOAT CADDIES. The good news is that these goat caddies do not come alone. At Silvies Valley Ranch you have first class hospitality, a massive cattle ranch, and 4 different golf courses. Oh and also, caddies that are goats… GOAT CADDIES.

Bruce the goat caddie gives me the stink eye after a missed short putt.

Bruce the goat caddie gives me the stink eye after a missed short putt.

To fully understand the story of the goat caddies, we must first go back to the 1880’s when a French Trapper named Silvie entered the land that would later become Silvies Valley Ranch. He had come not for goats, but to trap the go to commodity of the 1880’s… beaver. The removal of these beaver would shape the landscape over the next 120 years eventually making way for the Campbell family to purchase the property in 2007. Over the last dozen years or so, the 60 square mile ranch has been ecologically restored and countless improvements have been made.

One of those improvements is the establishment of a very unique golf resort. Located in the remote town of Seneca, Oregon, Silvies has created a wildly fun an interesting place to play golf. Unfortunately, the ranch is not an easy place to get to, but once you arrive on the property, you will be instantly glad that you and your friends made the voyage. The staff immediately welcomes you to the property and makes you feel like you are part of the family.

With a dining lodge, spa, and spacious rooms, the golfer has everything that they need for several days of golf and related shenanigans. Each guest has their own personal golf cart to drive around the property and since there is no cell phone coverage, they give you walkie talkies to request anything that you might need from the staff during your visit. We used it to broadcast movie quotes and have conversations like this classic exchange from the movie Airplane. I am not joking.

Now, when I mentioned four different golf courses at the beginning of this post, I was serious. Not only are the golf courses different from each other but they are different from most of the other golf courses in the United States. Here are the vital stats on the courses at Silvies Valley Ranch.

  • Hankins Course

    • Dan Hixon Championship 18 hole course

    • 7075 yards

    • Played odd # days

  • Craddock Course

    • Dan Hixon Championship 18 hole course

    • 7035 yards

    • Played even # days

  • Chief Egan Course

    • Par 3 golf course

    • 9 holes, 875 yards

    • Goat Caddies available

  • McVeigh’s Gauntlet

    • Challenging executive course (par 2’s 3’s and 4’s)

    • 7 holes, 1177 yards

    • Goat Caddies available

The opening hole on the par 3 Chief Egan Course

The opening hole on the par 3 Chief Egan Course

Sunset on the Egan.

Sunset on the Egan.

On the drive up into Oregon from California I phoned my friend Sean, from BreakingEighty. I hadn’t talked to Sean in a while and I wanted to get the latest on his adventures.

  • Sean: “Hey Patrick, what’s up?”

  • Me: “Ah, not much man, just driving up to Silvies Ranch in Oregon.”

  • Sean: “You’re driving to Silvies Ranch in Oregon? I am driving to Silvies Ranch in Oregon!!”

That is the story of how Sean and I found out that we were on the same Silvies’ agenda for the week. We had no idea that we were scheduled to visit at the same time, but it was a welcome surprise. If there is one thing that I love more than golf it is beating Sean Ogle at golf.

Since we arrived in the afternoon, we started off the fun on the Chief Egan par 3 course. Sean had brought his friend Jamie and we decided to go with a 2 on 1 skins death match. After Sean and Jamie took the first two skins, I decided to get serious and stormed back to win the match with some clutch putting. Sean and Jamie would get used to this sort of devastation.

The 2nd on on the Egan course

The 2nd on on the Egan course

Up next we took on the heart of the Silvies Golf Resort, the Hankins and Craddock courses. Both of these 18 hole championship golf courses were designed by Dan Hixon. Named after the early pioneers of Silvies Ranch, they are also the most similar of the four golf courses on the property. That is because they are played on the exact same piece of land.

Yes, that’s right, I am talking about a reversible golf course. The Craddock course is played on even numbered days and then the routing is reversed and the Hankins course is played on the odd numbered days.

The 15th hole on the Craddock course is the 3rd hole on the Hankins course. It is my favorite green on the property.

The 15th hole on the Craddock course is the 3rd hole on the Hankins course. It is my favorite green on the property.

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The 4th hole on the Craddock Course

The 4th hole on the Craddock Course

The two courses share a majority of the green sites with 27 green complexes in total. The 9 additional greens provide completely unique golf holes for each of the two courses and adds great variety to both the Hankins and Craddock golfing experiences.

The most important aspect of the two designs is that you absolutely do not feel like you are just replaying some of the same green sites. You approach the greens from completely different angles and usually from a different length, making each approach feel like something brand new. It’s also pretty fun to uncover the routing and see just how different the course unfolds playing the other way.

The 12th hole on the Hankins course is also the 5th hole on the Craddock course.

The 12th hole on the Hankins course is also the 5th hole on the Craddock course.

#16 on Hankins or #2 on Craddock

#16 on Hankins or #2 on Craddock

The sun sets over #16 on the Craddock course.

The sun sets over #16 on the Craddock course.

The par 5 5th hole on the Hankins golf course

The par 5 5th hole on the Hankins golf course

The fine folks at Silvies Valley Ranch believe that golf should be fun. The best part about this belief is that they just don’t sit around believing it, they actually do something about it. In addition to the varied golf courses at the Ranch, they also offer a number of fun challenges that golfers can take part in. You can win prizes in the golf shop by accomplishing these challenges. It is a shining example of how to make golf fun.

Nailed It

The 18th hole on the Hankins course is at 5000 feet elevation, it is downhill, downwind, and very dry. If you know anything about golf ball aerodynamics, you know that this is the perfect setting for bombing a huge freaking drive. The hole has been designed to inspire the long ball and if you manage to hit the longest drive of your life they will provide you with a Silvies Valley Ranch “Nailed it” flask filled with whiskey. Since this is golf, Silvies goes on the honor system.

As was expected, both Sean and I swung like a couple of madmen on the tee box and actually made some pretty solid contact. Sean’s drive measure 358 yards and mine came in at…… 366 yards. Neither of us could remember a time when we hit one further so the flasks were gifted upon us.

If you complete any of these challenges, you also get to sign the “Book of Winners.” I signed my name right next to tour player Graham DeLaet… who hit his drive 390 yards.

The “Nailed It” flask on display.

The “Nailed It” flask on display.

One-Putt Challenge

The final four holes on the Hankins course offer a similar challenge in terms of putting. If you manage to one-putt all 4 of these holes, you will earn a round of the course’s signature drink, “The Horseshoe Nail,” for your foursome. We immediately managed to 3 putt like a bunch of fools and spoiled our chances.

Fortunately, the challenge also allows the golfer to one-putt the 18th green to earn their own personal drink. I decided to hole out from off of the green and Sean hit the flagstick to tap in for his drink. I donated my “Horseshoe Nail” to Jamie and continued my journey of sobriety for another day.

One putt the 18th and you are drinking for free in the clubhouse.

One putt the 18th and you are drinking for free in the clubhouse.

Lucky 7

The final challenge takes place on the McVeigh course. Complete all of the challenges below and you get to play for free golf at Silvies Ranch for an entire year. Good luck with #7.

  1. Complete score on all 7 holes

  2. Use less than 7 clubs

  3. Use less than 7 balls

  4. Drink less than 7 beers

  5. Complete the course in under 77 minutes

  6. Birdie the par 2 Bonus Beer hole, (which has a 7.7 inch cup)

  7. Have a score of under 17

No one in our group even came close to finishing within 17 strokes. I don’t think we even kept score. We were too excited about our new friend Bruce... THE GOAT CADDY.

Bruce the goat caddy arrives to the first tee with his goat handler, Hadley.

Bruce the goat caddy arrives to the first tee with his goat handler, Hadley.

From the moment our group set eyes on Bruce, he was immediately part of the team. He strode right up onto the first tee and all of the appropriate introductions were made. This was by far the most excited that I have even been about a caddy (sorry, Shuster). You could tell that Bruce was eager as well, but I got the feeling that he would have been just as content to sit there and eat the bushes for an hour.

By the second hole, Bruce would get into the flow of the round and easily keep pace with our group. In no time, he was handing out clubs left and right while dispensing golf balls like the veteran goat caddy that he is.

I asked Bruce for advice several times during our round and both times he just kind of glared at me. I could read it all over his face. “You know what club to hit Koenig, just step up and pull the trigger, you pansy.” Bruce is a no nonsense type of goat caddie and has little tolerance for indecisiveness. I stepped into line quickly.

Front view: Bruce The Goat Caddy

Front view: Bruce The Goat Caddy

Rear view: Bruce The Goat Caddy.

Rear view: Bruce The Goat Caddy.

Bruce is outfitted with a custom made double bag goat saddle from Seamus Golf. It has got all of the pouches and accessories that one would want from their caddy. We only put 6 clubs in each of Bruce’s bags and they fit nicely. Bruce carried it with ease.

Even though Bruce was stealing the show, McVeigh’s Gauntlet was certainly holding our attention as well. The course is designed to be so difficult that it’s fun. The greens are sloped, tiny, and elevated onto hill tops. If you miss your target even slightly, you will face a tough up and down from a potentially precarious situation.

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The wildly difficult 3rd hole on the McVeigh Challenge Course.

The wildly difficult 3rd hole on the McVeigh Challenge Course.

The view from the tee box on the 1st hole.

The view from the tee box on the 1st hole.

Bruce keeps his eye on the paparazzi as I hunt down flagsticks.

Bruce keeps his eye on the paparazzi as I hunt down flagsticks.

Bruce the Goat Caddy Facts:

  • Bruce has done 4 loops in one day.

  • Bruce does not accept cash tips, he only accepts peanut tips.

  • Bruce has appeared on Good Morning America.

  • Bruce is not easily impressed.

  • Bruce’s selfie game is strong to very strong.

  • Bruce has a goat caddy buddy named Mike.

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Silvies Valley Ranch ranks as one of the most unique and fun golf destinations that I have visited. While the emphasis is on the goat caddies, the golf and the entire experience is first class. As my friend Evan Schiller would say, “Go for the goat caddies, the golf is not baaahhd either.”

I will leave you with the link to my Instagram story on the goat caddy experience. You will want to click on it..

Top 20 Golf Destinations in America

This is the first official pjkoenig ranking of America’s best public golf destinations. I urge you not to take this lightly. All of the spots listed here MUST be considered when planning any proper golf buddies trip. Maybe your brother is getting married, or maybe your best friend from college just got divorced. Perhaps you just want to get weird with your golf buddies. In all of these situations, a golf trip is required and it is a big deal.

For this ranking, only public destinations are considered and all private golf clubs will be completely ignored. When planning a trip for 8 or more golf buddies, It would be foolish to assume that greater than 1% of the golfing population can put together a day of 36 holes at Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links on Long Island. As you can imagine, this caveat eliminated a lot of great golf destinations.

This list is much more than a quick slideshow of the traditional destinations. This list has been carefully calculated and avoids bias as much as humanly possible. I even managed to overlook the food poisoning that I received at Pinehurst in 2018.

I simply filled in the numbers and let the destinations fall where they may. The list below takes the following 5 criteria into consideration and they are weighted accordingly. The full matrix is at the end of this post.

  • Golf (50%) - As it should be, the actual golf is the most important criteria on this list. Quantity and quality of golf are both of premier importance.

  • Entertainment (20%) - From live music to local dive bars, you gotta find something to do after the sun goes down. A wide variety of options is also important. Not everyone likes to get blacked out drunk and line dance to country music.

  • Value (15%) - Most large groups of golfers span across a pretty good income range. A destination is going to move up the list if you can bring your hilarious, but homeless buddy Steve and still manage some good golf.

  • Convenience (10%) - Getting to the destination and getting from course to course is considered in this criteria. Nobody wants to ride with your buddy Bill while he farts in the car for 7 hours. A lot of big cities were eliminated given the difficulty of keeping the trip golf centric.

  • Golf Experience (5%) - How cool are the overall golf vibes? Does the destination have a fun short course? Are there goat caddies? It is the unique and fun aspect of the game that is measured here..


#20 - Michigan

It could actually be a crime to put an entire state this good at the bottom of any list. However, it is important to keep in mind that even making a list this exclusive is a massive accomplishment. When it comes covering the state of Michigan, you have a handful of great golfing areas. Here are the hotspots.

  • Arcadia Bluffs - perhaps the most scenic golf course in Michigan has a new friend with the new south course opening in 2018.

  • Boyne Highlands - The Heather & Arthur Hills both deliver some heat.

  • Forest Dunes - Tom Doak’s reversible golf course, The Loop, and Tom Weiskopf’s classic design.

  • Grand Traverse - Jack Nicklaus’ The Bear

Depending on how you set up the trip, there can be a decent amount of traveling involved on a buddies trip to Michigan. I scoured the entire state over two weeks on the RGV Tour. Check out the recap here.

The aptly named Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan.

The aptly named Arcadia Bluffs in Michigan.

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#19 - Coer D’Alene, ID

I told myself, I wasn’t gonna do it. Don’t use the floating island green as the poster boy for this destination. But I did it anyways. It’s just such a cool thing that everyone should experience. It’s not just the floating island green that will get your attention, all of the par 3’s at Coeur D’Alene Resort are top notch. A round at nearby Circling Raven makes this a serious destination. Aside from the golf, you have a casino nearby and one of the country’s most beautiful lakes available for water sports. There is also a quaint little downtown for eating and shenanigans. We rocked the karaoke scene pretty hard. You can read about the full experience on the blog recap here.

The floating 14th at the Coeur D’Alene Resort Course.

The floating 14th at the Coeur D’Alene Resort Course.

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#18 - Streamsong Resort, FL

Although this little slice of golf heaven is rather difficult to get to, it holds everything that a group of golf buds could desire. Most importantly, it has some seriously good golf. The new Black course by Gil Hanse adds to an already impressive lineup of the Red and Blue courses designed by Coore & Crenshaw and Tom Doak, respectively. With on course lodging, Streamsong ups the convenience factor with stay and play options for booking.

Gil Hanse’s Black course at Streamsong

Gil Hanse’s Black course at Streamsong

The red course shines.

The red course shines.

The Blue course’s signature 7th hole.

The Blue course’s signature 7th hole.

#17 - Myrtle Beach, SC

For good reason, Myrtle Beach has been on the golfer’s map for decades. With options for beach activities and summer time goodness, you will have a swinging good time in Myrtle Beach without playing any golf at all. Fortunately, there is plenty of good golf to find in the area. Here are my go to courses in one of my favorite states.

  • Caledonia and True Blue - Two outstanding Mike Strantz designs. If you can only play one, play Caledonia.

  • Barefoot Resort - Fazio, Dye, Norman, and Love designs await your golf party.

  • The Dunes Golf & Beach Club - One of RTJ’s finest designs. Private club that allows unaccompanied play through www.myrtlebeachgolf.com.

You can read about these courses and more on my RGV Tour journey through South Carolina.

Mike Strantz’s Caledonia.

Mike Strantz’s Caledonia.

#16 - Kiawah Island Resort - SC

Number 16 on the list is a personal favorite of mine. Ever since I first played the Pete Dye designed Ocean Course as a kid, I have been smitten with the bold oceanside layout. If you only play the Ocean Course itself, your group is guaranteed to have an experience that they will remember for years. Fortunately, the resort has 4 other great options to round out your golf experience with Cougar Point, Osprey Point, Turtle Point, and Oak Point. The point is… there is plenty of good golf to play at Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

The front nine of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

The front nine of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

Alligators are plentiful at Kiawah Island

Alligators are plentiful at Kiawah Island

#15 - Big Cedar Lodge - Branson, MO

The Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, MO is an up and comer on the list of golf destinations. With a lot of the construction coming in the last several years, the finished product will be a serious golf force on the golf trip list. Check out this hot fire course lineup.

  • Ozarks National - Coore & Crenshaw design

  • Payne’s Valley - Tiger Woods design

  • Buffalo Ridge Springs - Tom Fazio Design

  • Top of the Rock - Jack Nicklaus designed par 3 course

  • Mountain Top - Gary Player designed short course

Since Big Cedar Lodge is technically a Wilderness lodge, golf is not the main focus. A quick scan of the “things to do” section revealed about 20 non golf related activities.

A giant sinkhole has been excavated in front of the range at The Top of The Rock.

A giant sinkhole has been excavated in front of the range at The Top of The Rock.

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#14 - Palm Springs, CA

When you look at Palm Springs from an airplane, you see a desert landscape punctuated with seas of green. As you examine those green seas closer, it becomes very clear what the city’s priorities are. Hundreds of golf courses tell you that Palm Springs love it’s golf. With so many options to chose from, how do you decide? Here are my top 5 public Palm Springs golf courses.

  • The Classic Club - An Arnold Palmer design that has hosted the Bob Hope classic numerous times.

  • Escena Golf Club - A high quality Jack Nicklaus design

  • Desert Willow Golf Club - The Firecliff course is one of my favorites in the area.

  • Silver Rock Golf Club - An Arnold Palmer design set right up against the mountainside.

  • Indian Wells Golf Club - The Celebrity and Players course. You know which one you are.

Silver Rock is one of my favorite picks for Palm Springs golf.

Silver Rock is one of my favorite picks for Palm Springs golf.

#13 - Sand Valley, WI

Sand Valley is a part of the Dream Golf umbrella that includes places like Bandon Dunes and Cabot Cliffs. So it is safe to say that the formula for success is alive and well at Sand Valley. With 2 championship layouts and a short course already in place, this destination will only improve as time moves forward and new golf is added. The lodging is also deliciously close to the golf courses and the dining is just as tasty. On my last visit, I had the cheese curds for three consecutive meals. Check out my full recap from my latest visit here.

Coore and Crenshaw’s Sand Valley

Coore and Crenshaw’s Sand Valley

#12 - St George, UT

Some of the most visually striking golf courses in America are in the St George, UT area. With amazing National Parks nearby, you’ve got a pretty cool opportunity for an all world golf destination.

  • Sand Hollow - The top of my list. The back nine is like nothing else in the country.

  • Wolf Creek - If there is such a thing as a golf roller coaster, this course would be it.

  • Sky Mountain - Sleeper pick alert!! Views this good do not come under $50. I walked it for $32.

  • Coral Canyon - Another good looking gem.

The 14th hole at Sand Hollow

The 14th hole at Sand Hollow

The golf roller coaster, Wolf Creek

The golf roller coaster, Wolf Creek

VALUE ALERT: Sky Mountain.

VALUE ALERT: Sky Mountain.

#11 - Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - AL

Throughout the fine state of Alabama you will find a sprinkling of high quality golf courses all designed by Robert Trent Jones. It is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and It is without a doubt, the greatest value for golf in the entire country. There are 10 golf courses in total and you probably won’t have time to play them all, so you will need to plan your route accordingly. You can read about my selections and the time we spent on the trail here.

We decided to parlay our golf trip with an Auburn v Clemson football game. It was tailgates, Motel 6’s, and too many visits to the Waffle House. It was a slammin’ Alabama good time.

The opening hole on Capitol Hill’s Judge course. One of my RTJ favorites.

The opening hole on Capitol Hill’s Judge course. One of my RTJ favorites.

#10 - The Greenbrier - White Sulphur Springs, WV

The Greenbrier is the oldest resort on this list and it’s a great place to soak up some golf history ambiance with your golf bros. The Greenbrier is the site of the 1979 Ryder Cup and is the old stomping grounds of Mr. Sam Snead. It’s also one of the few places that the public can play an original Seth Raynor design. For the golf architecture fanatics in your group, this should be a big deal.

Head on out to Slamming Sammy’s after your round on the Old White TPC or the Meadows course.

The Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier.

The Old White TPC course at The Greenbrier.

#9 - Silvies Valley Ranch, OR

At Silvies Valley Ranch they have caddies that are goats. That is right I am talking about goat caddies. This fact alone should be enough for you to start planning your trip. But Silvies takes it a step further by providing some incredible golf to go along with those goats. Dan Hixson has designed a reversible championship course that plays wildly different depending on the day. There is also a challenge course and a 9 hole par 3 course. The only bad news is that this destination earns the honor of the most difficult destination to get to. You can read the entire story on the resort here.

Bruce the goat caddy eyes and assesses the golf action.

Bruce the goat caddy eyes and assesses the golf action.

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#8 - Bend, OR

It’s the second destination in Oregon on this list and if you know anything about golf destinations, you know that it won’t be the last. There is a ton of really good golf packed into the Bend area. The top hits are below.

  • Pronghorn Resort - Nicklaus has designed a real beauty in the high desert.

  • Brasada Ranch - When golfing with your bros at Brasada, It’s customary to say “Hey nice shot, Brosado!”

  • Tetherow - You will either enjoy the challenge of this David Mclay Kidd design or you will curse his name and throw your clubs in the lake.

  • Crosswater - A big and bold Cupp and Fought design.

  • Sunriver - Two beauty’s with the Meadows & Woodland Course

You can view the full list of Oregon courses here. I got em all covered.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn.

The Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn.

Brasada Ranch

Brasada Ranch

The finishing hole at Crosswater.

The finishing hole at Crosswater.

#7 - Las Vegas, NV

As much as you might want to ignore Las Vegas as a serious golf destination, you simply cannot do it. Aside from the neon lined fairway called Las Vegas Blvd, there is a lot of high quality golf to be played in the area. Here is my quick list of the places that should be considered on your Vegas golf blowout. I would also recommend throwing your hungover buddies into a rental car and driving the hour out to Wolf Creek. If you can’t find some fun afterwards on the boulevard, then I don’t know what to tell you.

  • Coyote Springs - Underrated Nicklaus course but worth the hour drive.

  • Shadow Creek - $500 green fee and must stay at an MGM property. Time to cash in your blackjack winnings.

  • Cascata - The nearly $300 green fee will set you back, but at least it’s not $500

  • Paiute Golf Resort - The Wolf, The Sun, and The Snow: 3 Pete Dye designs worthy of the 30 minute drive.

  • Bal Hai - Close enough to see the strip but not close enough to slice your drive onto it.

Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek

Tom Fazio’s Shadow Creek

Paiute’s Wolf Course

Paiute’s Wolf Course

Nicklaus’ Coyote Springs

Nicklaus’ Coyote Springs

#6 - Pinehurst, NC

Even at #6, I was surprised that Pinehurst didn’t finish higher than it did. With the resort recently making improvements to course #2 and the opening of a great little par 3 course called The Cradle, the resort has really brought itself up to speed with the modern golfer. In addition to the resort, which has 9 golf courses, there is also a wealth of other options that I would list as must plays.

  • The Dormie Club - Coore & Crenshaw design. Never heard one bad word about it.

  • Tobacco Road - A bold and fun Mike Strantz design. Might be the most fun golf course in the world.

  • Mid Pines - Donald Ross masterpiece.

  • Pine Needles - Another Donald Ross masterpiece.

Pinehurst gives you a nice little carry bag to use for your round at The Cradle par 3 course.

Pinehurst gives you a nice little carry bag to use for your round at The Cradle par 3 course.

Pinehurst #2 has been returned to its sandy Ross roots.

Pinehurst #2 has been returned to its sandy Ross roots.

The golf in and around Pinehurst will get you excited.

The golf in and around Pinehurst will get you excited.

#5 - Scottsdale, AZ

Golfers like to visit Scottsdale for the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Open in January or Baseball’s Spring Training in March. Either way, Scottsdale is an obvious destination of choice for those stuck in the doldrums of winter across the rest of the country. With so many courses to decide from, I am here to make things easy.

  • We-Ko-Pa - Two of the best public golf courses in the desert await. This is my top of the list.

  • Troon North - The Pinnacle & Monument courses are often referred to as the best public options for golf in Scottsdale. Troon doesn’t disappoint.

  • Wickenburg Ranch - Don’t forget to play the short course, Little Wick as well.

  • Ak Chin Southern Dunes - This one is worth the 30 minute drive.

  • TPC Scottsdale - Go for the final four holes. You won’t remember the first 14.

  • Quintero Golf Club - Some seriously fun and scenic golf holes from Rees Jones

4 years ago, I wrote one of my first blog posts about a golf bros trip to Scottsdale. Read it here.

A double rainbow over the 11th hole at Southern Dunes

A double rainbow over the 11th hole at Southern Dunes

Wickenburg Ranch

Wickenburg Ranch

We-Ko-Pa is my go to option for public golf in Scottsdale

We-Ko-Pa is my go to option for public golf in Scottsdale

#4 - Lake Tahoe, NV

Scoring high in the value and entertainment categories is the stunningly blue Lake Tahoe. However, the location is perfectly suited for a serious golf buddy blowout. Just rent a house in the area on VRBO or AirBNB and golf your little heart out. With casinos in the south lake area and a more reserved, quiet vibe up north, Tahoe works for just about everyone. Lake Tahoe is a serious powerhouse destination. You can read about my latest visit to Tahoe here.

  • Edgewood Tahoe - Home of the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. A true Tahoe gem.

  • Old Brockway Golf Course - Former hang out of Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin. Scene of the first Crosby. A 9 hole must play.

  • Old Greenwood - A solid Jack Nicklaus design. A local favorite.

  • Grays Crossing - A Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy designed championship golf course.

  • Coyote Moon - Some fun holes, some weird ones, great views abound.

The 16th hole at Edgewood Tahoe

The 16th hole at Edgewood Tahoe

#3 - Pebble Beach, CA

With green fees consistently over $300 for the top golf courses on the Monterey Peninsula, this destination does not score high in the value category, but quite frankly it didn’t matter. It’s Pebble freakin’ Beach. Dubbed by many as the greatest meeting of land and sea, Pebble Beach is every bit as good as you have heard it to be. Here are the must plays in the greatest zip code in golf. It’s 93953 in case you were wondering.

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links - Probably worth the $550 green fee.

  • Spyglass Hill Golf Course - I’ve heard many local caddies say that they believe Spyglass is better than Pebble Beach.

  • Pacific Grove Golf Links - The front nine will leave you wondering, the back nine will blow you away. $39 for twilight is a ridiculous deal.

  • Bayonet & Black Horse - Not on the Pacific Ocean, but close enough.

  • Spanish Bay Golf Links - Listen to bagpipers pipe their bags as the sun goes down over the Pacific Ocean.

  • Poppy Hills Golf Course - A renovation in 2013 brought back Poppy Hills into relevance.

The 17th at Pebble Beach Golf Links

The 17th at Pebble Beach Golf Links

The 2nd and 3rd holes at Spyglass Hill

The 2nd and 3rd holes at Spyglass Hill

The 14th hole at Spanish Bay

The 14th hole at Spanish Bay

Pacific Grove Golf Links is on my list of must plays in Monterey.

Pacific Grove Golf Links is on my list of must plays in Monterey.

#2 - Destination Kohler, WI

Wisconsin is the best state for public golf in the United States. It’s got the premier golf courses, the unique courses, and several value courses all in the mix. I just can’t get enough Wisconsin.

Right at the epicenter of the Wisconsin golf storm is Kohler, Wisconsin. You have the Straits and Irish courses at Whistling Straits and the River and Meadows courses at nearby Blackwolf Run. If that’s not enough to satisfy the golfer’s soul, here are 3 other locations that deserve a visit.

  • Erin Hills - US Open stunner

  • Lawsonia Links - It’s gotten some well deserved attention in recent years, but this classic design should not be missed.

  • Sentry World - The world famous flower hole will blow you away.

You can read about my first visit to Wisconsin here.

The flower hole at Sentry World features a new floral design each year.

The flower hole at Sentry World features a new floral design each year.

The 16th hole at Erin Hills

The 16th hole at Erin Hills

The 16th at Whistling Straits

The 16th at Whistling Straits

#1 - Bandon Dunes

At the top of the list it’s Bandon Dunes in a runaway victory. With the anticipated addition of Bally Bandon Sheep Ranch in 2020, Bandon Dunes is only getting better. It’s gonna take a golf miracle to oust this destination from the top of the list any time soon.

Bandon checks all of the boxes and checks them hard. Let’s closely examine the winning performance in our five categories.

  • Golf - Bandon Dunes has outstanding variety mixed with tremendous quality.

    • 4 top 100 golf courses all in the same place.

    • The Punchbowl - A massively fun putting green course

    • Bandon Preserve - The country’s best par 3 golf course.

  • Entertainment

    • The Bunker Bar

    • McKee’s Pub

    • If you are feeling really adventurous you can head into downtown Bandon. Arcade Tavern is where the action is.

    • The fire outside of McKee’s

    • Night golf

  • Value - $250 per round with a replay rate of $125. Your 3rd round of the day is free and Bandon Dunes will give you $100 if you manage to play a fourth round on that same day.

  • Convenience - Not hard, but not easy to get to. Once you are on the property, everything is quick and easy.

  • Golf Experience - Everything about Bandon Dunes is tailored to be about the game of golf. It’s golf as it was meant to be.

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O Canada 2.O

After a recent visit to Kamloops in Canada, I decided to take exactly one day off before returning to Canada for more golf action. This time I was bringing friends. These are not just your normal friends, these friends have some serious golf firepower.

Josh Strukoff hydrates before pounding one deep.

Josh Strukoff hydrates before pounding one deep.

Luke Elvy sends one right at the flag

Luke Elvy sends one right at the flag

  • Tisha Alyn - Golf Model, The Influencer among Influencers

  • Luke Elvy - CBS Golf Commentator, Australian accent, Chief Fun Haver

  • Patrick Koenig - Local Golf Idiot, Director of the fancy shirt department

  • Josh Strukoff - Golf is Mental blogger, Water Drinker, Golf Grinder

Koenig smiles as he sends one into the woods.

Koenig smiles as he sends one into the woods.

Tisha Alyn reacts to a near ace.

Tisha Alyn reacts to a near ace.

Our crew was set to take on 7 golf courses in just 4 days in the Kimberley and Cranbrook area of British Columbia. Like many people, I had not heard of the destination before so I was excited to explore some new golfing lands. The hits were going to come fast and we were going to make sure that they were furious.

The Kimberley tour kicked off at Kimberley Golf Club.

The Kimberley tour kicked off at Kimberley Golf Club.

Kimberley Golf Club has been around since 1924 and is a local favorite for golfers. Green fees start at $45 and is easily one of the best values in the British Columbia Rocky Mountains.

A sign of the activities to come in Kimbereley and Cranbrook.

A sign of the activities to come in Kimbereley and Cranbrook.

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Just golf, trees, and mountains at Kimberley Golf Club.

Just golf, trees, and mountains at Kimberley Golf Club.

After a rousing good morning at Kimberley Golf Club, it was time to head out to Trickle Creek Golf Resort. When I first saw Trickle Creek on the itinerary, I knew that there were going to be some great opportunities for captions. It turns out that the caption game with Trickle Creek was more difficult than anticipated. Perhaps I just like the word trickle.

One thing that I would not struggle with at Trickle Creek was my high kicks. With the wet rock and the small landing area, this is what I would consider a high risk kick. The good news is that I am now considered a professional high kicker and I train for this sort of stuff. Do not attempt at home.

The divot of the trip came on the front nine at Trickle Creek.

The divot of the trip came on the front nine at Trickle Creek.

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Trickle Creek Golf resort is located in Kimberley, British Columbia which has the highest elevation in the province at just above 4,000 feet above sea level. So our golfballs were flying far and sure. The Les Furber design offers golfers options and provides a lot of interesting and fun golf holes. The course is located right next to the North Star mountain and provides plenty of dramatic views.

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With one successful day of golf in the books, it was time to lock and load for another day of 36 golf holes. We started out with the first Gary Player design in Canada, Wildstone Golf Course. We braced ourselves for some wild times at Wildstone. The highlight and lowlight came with another close call on the ace cam on hole #16. Just another tap in 2 for this ace hunter.

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The 17th hole at Wildstone was one of our favorite holes of the trip.

The 17th hole at Wildstone was one of our favorite holes of the trip.

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Push-ups completed

During the first two days of competition we did not play for cash, we played for push-ups. Push-up bets are a great way to ramp up the fun and get jacked at the same time. As you can see below, Tish out push-upped us all. Since I was dominating the field with my stellar play, I had no push-up debts to settle. I decided to do a few anyways as I was feeling left out..

For the afternoon round, we found ourselves amongst the trees of Cranbrook Golf Club. Our group would attack those trees with only 3 clubs for the 3 hole, 3 club challenge. When deciding what clubs you will need for a 3 club challenge, it is important to look at the holes themselves. Is distance a concern? Can you putt with your 7 iron? All angles and scenarios must be considered. I decided to go with a 3 wood, 6 iron, and a 56 degree wedge.

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With Tisha and Josh dropping out of the race early on, Luke and I emerged as the likely favorites to take home the 3 hole 3 club victory. I was draining putts with my 56 degree wedge and Luke was hitting his 7 iron like Jesus himself. On the 3rd hole, I had a 3 foot putt to take home the victory. The putt with my wedge never stood a chance, it sailed wide right and I found myself locked into a sudden death duel with Mr Luke Elvy. For the next two holes Luke and I would trade bogies in a showdown of thrilling mediocrity.

On the 3rd playoff hole of the the 3 hole, 3 club showdown, Luke faced a downhill 20 footer for the victory. Like a seasoned 3 club professional, Luke bladed his wedge into the back of the cup with tremendous ferocity and celebrated like an animal. Luke promptly thanked his parents, his sponsors, the fine city of Cranbrook and it’s citizens for believing in him.

I have never won anything like this in my life
— Luke Elvy - on his 3 hole 3 club playoff victory
The scene of my missed 3 foot putt for the victory

The scene of my missed 3 foot putt for the victory

The scene of Luke’s birdie victory

The scene of Luke’s birdie victory

The next course on the docket was Bootleg Gap Golf Club and it would quickly become one of the group’s favorites. Aside from the excellent name, the golf course is also wildly fun. The Les Furber design plays along the St Mary’s river and offers many impressive views of the nearby mountains.

In one of the dumbest bets in the history of sports betting history, Josh and I spotted Luke and Tish a 7 hole lead on the day’s match. Not 7 shots, 7 freaking holes. That’s right, we would have to win the first 7 holes just to get back to even. It was certainly not a wise wager but it was the inaugural playing of the 7-up Cup… and probably the last.

The 2nd hole at Bootleg Gap takes you right up to the  hoodoo’s  edge.

The 2nd hole at Bootleg Gap takes you right up to the hoodoo’s edge.

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Even though the outcome was partially decided before a golf shot was even struck, we attempted the come back of all come backs. The result… an 8 & 7 victory for Luke & Tish. This situation called for some serious heckling of the winner’s press conference. This video was my favorite of the entire trip.

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The signature par 3 12th at Bootleg Gap.

The signature par 3 12th at Bootleg Gap.

The 6th, 9th and 18th holes at Bootleg Gap.

The 6th, 9th and 18th holes at Bootleg Gap.

The golf party kept rolling that afternoon at St Eugene. Another Les Furber design, St Eugene rolls from the open fields to the woods and along the St Mary’s River. Dramatic views of Fisher Peak are visible from just about everywhere on the golf course.

The 17th hole features a golf teepee behind the green.

The 17th hole features a golf teepee behind the green.

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The 8th green with the 9th hole playing along the St Marys River.

The 8th green with the 9th hole playing along the St Marys River.

With a trip to the airport looming, we had just enough time for one more round of golf. The stage was set for the finale at Shadow Mountain and a showdown with the course’s signature 17th hole. Nicknamed ‘The Monster’ the 17th plays 606 yards from the back tees and features a 100 foot elevation drop from the tee box. I would pump one right into the trees en route to a disappointing bogey.

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The view from behind the 17th

The view from behind the 17th

The 2nd hole at Shadow Mountain.

The 2nd hole at Shadow Mountain.

One of the finer things about the Kimberley Cranbrook area is the airport. With only an hour remaining before my flight, I was just finishing up on the 18th hole. Normally I would have missed my flight by a good margin, but with the Kimberley airport, I had some time to spare.

The final photo from a inspiring 4 days of photos.

The final photo from a inspiring 4 days of photos.

Trickle Creek Time

Trickle Creek Time

Parking lot posers

Parking lot posers

Post bet burpees

Post bet burpees

Josh wins the award for trip MVP. This guy never stops the grind!

Josh wins the award for trip MVP. This guy never stops the grind!

All of the golf that our Canadian super squad played on this trip was on public courses and would rank as some of the best value golf courses that I have played. When you consider the exchange on the US dollar, you have got yourself a serious golf deal. During our visit we stayed at the Northstar Mountain Village Resort and all 7 courses are within a 24 minute drive from the resort. When you start considering the hot tub in every condo, you have got a serious golf buddies trip idea.

If I only could figure out a way to Hot Tub Time Machine myself to my next destination.

South Bend Bound

On January 4th of 1980, I entered this earth at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. In 2019, I would return to South Bend and so would the US Senior Open. Just think about all of the details over the past 39 years that had to fall into place to align these two events. But honestly, who cares!?! I was here to explore some of the golf in South Bend, cover the US Senior Open and take on the Warren Course at Notre Dame. It was time to Visit South Bend.

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Jake from Visit South Bend escapes the sand.

Jake from Visit South Bend escapes the sand.

My partner in crime for the week was Jake from Visit South Bend. Jake plays to a solid 6 handicap but in terms of a golf sidekick, he is a scratch player. Since Jake and I had decided that we needed to warm up our own swings before watching the professionals, we headed out to nearby Blackthorn Golf Club.

Designed by Michael Hurdzan, Blackthorn Golf Club opened up in 1994 to critical acclaim. Like many of Hurdzan’s designs, it was an instant success. Golf Digest ranked it as the #4 best new public golf course in the country that year.

Considered by many local golfers to be the #1 public golf option in the South Bend area, Jake and I tackled the golf course with enthusiasm.

The finishing hole at Blackthorn requires two well placed shots if you want to think about putting for eagle.

The finishing hole at Blackthorn requires two well placed shots if you want to think about putting for eagle.

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After finishing the 12th hole at Blackthorn, the golfer is treated to a golf barn ride on the way to the 13th tee box. That’s right! The cart path goes right through an old rustic dairy barn! The golf course property used to be an old farm and the dairy barn has been converted into a golf barn. I would rank it in the top 5 golf barns that I have seen.

Golf Barn alert!!!

Golf Barn alert!!!

When I originally wrote this post, I decided to put these golf barn photos on Twitter to see what other golf barns people enjoy. It turns out that there are many folks that get into a good golf barn. This thread is worth a look if you a golf barn type person.

Another member of my top 5 golf barns is at nearby Cog Hill.

Another member of my top 5 golf barns is at nearby Cog Hill.

The current #1 golf barn is at Sun Country Golf Course in Cle Elum, WA

The current #1 golf barn is at Sun Country Golf Course in Cle Elum, WA

After managing to break 80 at Blackthorn, it was time to go watch the pros break 70 at Notre Dame’s Warren Course for the US Senior Open. Steve Stricker was the man in charge that day. He grabbed a hold of the early lead with a smoking good 62. He would follow up that 62 with a 64 to move to -14 and threaten the US Senior Open scoring record books. As I would later find out, the course isn’t really that easy.

Jimenez mentally prepares himself to hit a laser beam down the left side of the fairway.

Jimenez mentally prepares himself to hit a laser beam down the left side of the fairway.

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Retief Goosen and Tom Watson chat it up.

Retief Goosen and Tom Watson chat it up.

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Jeff Sluman gets animated for the camera.

Jeff Sluman gets animated for the camera.

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Jimenez eats something

Jimenez eats something

I was not shy about flashing my fancy media VIP credentials.

I was not shy about flashing my fancy media VIP credentials.

It was pretty much like Wayne’s World but with more golf.

It was pretty much like Wayne’s World but with more golf.

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Convinced that we had actually learned something from the professionals at Notre Dame, Jake and I hit the course early the next morning. This time we were headed to Elbel Park Golf Course. Located right next to the Mud Lake Wetlands, the course was not as muddy as we expected it to be. Instead of mud balls, we found mud birdies.

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That afternoon, our group decided to gang up on Jake and beat him badly at golf. There was no real reason why we decided to go after Jake so hard, but it was our stated goal to “make Jake cry.” We threw everything we had at him, but Jake would not budge, he holed clutch par putts and hit fantastic iron shots down the stretch. Not only did he hold onto his wallet but he also defended his golf honor valiantly. That sunny day in South Bend, we did not make Jake cry.

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Usually, I hate Canadian Geese, but these fellas were oddly polite.

Usually, I hate Canadian Geese, but these fellas were oddly polite.

The 2nd green at Elbel Park Golf Course

The 2nd green at Elbel Park Golf Course

That afternoon, we headed back to The Warren Course for some more Senior Open action.

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Going into the final round, Stricker had built himself a 6 shot lead and it looked like Sunday was going to be a victory walk for the 52 year old. Jake and I decided to take a walk of our own around the Eberhart Petro Golf Course in nearby Mishawaka before catching the conclusion of the golf tournament. The golf course opened in 1929 and plays across the mighty St Joe River 4 times.

The 4th green at Eberhart Petro lacks sand but it does not lack character. I am a fan.

The 4th green at Eberhart Petro lacks sand but it does not lack character. I am a fan.

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The tee box on the 3rd hole at Eberhart requires a precise drive over the St Joe River.

The tee box on the 3rd hole at Eberhart requires a precise drive over the St Joe River.

After another great round of golf at Eberhart, it was time to head back to Notre Dame to catch the final round of the US Senior Open.

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After making birdie on the first hole, Stricker opened up a 7 shot lead and never looked back. The victory lap was on and we happily followed along for the ride.

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Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown made a visit to the media center.

Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown made a visit to the media center.

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Steve Stricker plays his shot into the 3rd hole.

Steve Stricker plays his shot into the 3rd hole.

This volunteer is concerned, Steve Stricker is not.

This volunteer is concerned, Steve Stricker is not.

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It was barely a two man race with Jerry Kelly trailing Stricker by at least 5 shots all Sunday.

It was barely a two man race with Jerry Kelly trailing Stricker by at least 5 shots all Sunday.

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An excellent display of friendship unfolds on the 72nd hole.

An excellent display of friendship unfolds on the 72nd hole.

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After watching Stricker stroll around the Warren Course like it was a pitch and putt, I figured that I could probably break 80 on this golf course myself. Fortunately, I was going to get the opportunity to try. Playing from the same tees with the same Sunday pins as the pros, could I break 80? I asked this question on Twitter and Instagram. 61% of the audience voted that I could break 80. I knew there would be some disbelievers, so I decided to record every single one of my strokes. In the end, there would only be 77 of them. The video below is for the 61% of you who believed. The other 39% can go fly a kite.

One of the best parts about visiting South Bend, IN is that Chicago is just up the street. Even though South Bend had all of the golf that I needed, a trip up to Chicago is a nice little plus when visiting South Bend. I paid a visit to the Sears Tower and Chicago Golf Club before heading out of town.

O Canada

For years, I kept hearing about this place in Canada called Kamloops. I would hear things like “Oh you gotta go to Kamloops.” or “What!?! You have never been to Kamloops?” So when the folks over at Golf Kamloops came calling, I was pretty excited to work with them. I replied with a “Yes, I have heard about your glorious golf courses, yes, I will come and yes, golf them hard...” or something like that. Over the next 4 days I would golf 6 courses in the Kamloops area. The first course on the list was a place called Talking Rock Golf Course.

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Since opening on the shores of Lake Shuswap in 2007, the golf course and the accompanying Quaaout Lodge have been held in high regard by the local golfers. Everywhere I went in the area, people wanted to make sure that I saw Talking Rock. For several days I had the pleasure of talking in Talking Rock. There was a hot tub in my room and a golf course in my back yard. I was a happy man.

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That’s a bear in the bunker… a bear bunker

That’s a bear in the bunker… a bear bunker

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Talking Rock Golf Course was designed by renowned Canadian Architects Graham Cooke and Wayne Carlton. Cooke and Carlton didn’t move much dirt in the creation of the course, so the end result is a very natural feeling round of golf. Even though the majority of the course meanders through the forest, it doesn’t feel tight and offers plenty of room off of the tee for sideways shots. The course finds it’s way out of the forest for a great finishing hole right on the banks of the Shuswap Lake.

Instead of wagering for cash at Talking Rock, we played for push-ups. As you can see in the graph below, there is a direct correlation between bogies made and push-ups completed. We even ran into the local golf dog after we pumped up our pecs. I didn’t catch the pupper’s name, but those eyes tell you all the story you need. This dog loves golf and he loves Talking Rock Golf Course.

Every golf course needs a golf dog.

Every golf course needs a golf dog.

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The penalty for poor play is push-ups on the pier.

The penalty for poor play is push-ups on the pier.

The next day I was set to take in some Kamloops local flavor with a day of 36. It was The Dunes at Kamloops and Rivershore Golf Club. Just like all of the courses on this post, both of these courses are public places that anyone can play and enjoy. Set against the mountainside, Rivershore and The Dunes are fun to play and offer some great views.

The 6th hole at The Dunes at Kamloops is a short par 3.

The 6th hole at The Dunes at Kamloops is a short par 3.

The 7th hole at The Dunes plays right up to the river.

The 7th hole at The Dunes plays right up to the river.

The finishing hole at Rivershore

The finishing hole at Rivershore

The 16th hole at Rivershore was one of my favorites on the golf course.

The 16th hole at Rivershore was one of my favorites on the golf course.

The view from above Rivershore

The view from above Rivershore

A couple of local golfing studs crashed the golf party at Rivershore. I love a good interruption.

A couple of local golfing studs crashed the golf party at Rivershore. I love a good interruption.

The next golf course was the big ticket item, it’s the one that you may already know about. It was time to play Tobiano. Or as I like to say “It’s Tobiano Time!” I was set to tee it up with the head professional at Tobiano, Shannon. With the golf world dominated by men, it’s always encouraging to see a female in a leadership position. It’s even better when it’s someone like Shannon. Not only can Shannon golf her ball, but she brings the jokes and a seriously fun attitude.

I would rank Tobiano as one of the top 10 most beautiful golf courses that I have seen in my travels. Having seen nearly 1000 golf courses all across the globe, that should say something about the setting for golf at Tobiano. Kamloops Lake is in view from every hole on the property and Thomas McBroom has routed the course to take full advantage. With lakeside holes on both the front and back nines, Tobiano does not let down.

The 7th hole at Tobiano is a signature par 3.

The 7th hole at Tobiano is a signature par 3.

Breakdown of emotions while playing Tobiano

The 8th hole is a long and winding par 5 that finishes close to the water.

The 8th hole is a long and winding par 5 that finishes close to the water.

The 17th hole is Tobiano’s last chance for an ace.

The 17th hole is Tobiano’s last chance for an ace.

I had the pleasure of celebrating 14 years of sobriety with my new friends at Tobiano. After making a glorious eagle on the 16th hole, I ordered some cheesecake and they put a candle in it. It was another good day to not be drunk out of my mind.

One of the unique things about putting my sobriety out on the internet is the incredible amount of support that I have received. Messages from fellow recovering alcoholics and supporters came flowing in to congratulate me. I even received several messages from those struggling with alcohol and looking for some assistance in changing their lives. This was inspiring stuff for me. Embarking on a sober lifestyle will always be the most important decision that I have made in my life.

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Winds are a common occurrence at Tobiano and when it blows, you are guaranteed to have your hands full. Our group had 30-40 mph breezes and the course played just about as difficult as it can. We embraced the challenge on the head winds and hit some huge drives downwind.

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I couldn’t tell you the signature hole—because there are 18 of them.
— Bob Weeks - SCOREGolf

While I can certainly identify with Bob’s quote above, I would have to disagree. The 7th hole at Tobiano takes the signature title for me. Ranging from 109 to 197 yards, the green is perched on top of a large mountainous swale. It’s high stakes on the 7th, especially with the wind, come up short or long and it’s game over. On one of the most scenic pieces of the property, it is wildly exciting to watch your golf ball land on the green.

The 7th hole at Tobiano thrills and delights the golfer soul.

The 7th hole at Tobiano thrills and delights the golfer soul.

The crew at Tobiano!

The crew at Tobiano!

The swales on the 11th hole at Tobiano.

The swales on the 11th hole at Tobiano.

After the sun set on another beautiful day in Kamloops, I had time remaining for another 36 holes of golf. First up was another local favorite called Eagle Point Golf Course. On the heels of a golf tournament, we had the entire golf course to ourselves. Eagle Point was designed by Robert Heaslip who is best known for building straight-forward, affordable golf courses throughout Canada. Eagle Point is exactly that.

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The 15th hole at Eagle Point.

The 15th hole at Eagle Point.

Reflections at Eagle Point

Reflections at Eagle Point

The 9th hole at Kamloops Golf & Country Club

The 9th hole at Kamloops Golf & Country Club

The final round of my Golf Kamloops adventure was at Kamloops Golf & Country Club. Conveniently located right next to the Kamloops airport, Kamloops Golf & Country Club is another place that anyone can play. The course has a high quality country club vibe and is a classic round of golf. Afterwards I took the 5 minute drive to the airport and the 10 minute walk through airport security. As I am often stuck in security and dealing with long lines at the airport, the Kamloops airport was a big breath of fresh Canadian air.

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Overall, I was very impressed with Kamloops as a golf destination. The highlight are the two marquee golf courses in the area with Tobiano leading the charge and Talking Rock backing it up. When you pair those two up with the other four local golf courses in the area, you have a very affordable lineup of some good golf. If you are interesting in putting together your own golf adventure in Kamloops, the journey starts here.

Hawaii 5.0.

Unlike the 1968 TV series, no criminals would be apprehended on this trip to Hawaii. The state would be the same, but our crew was looking to play 5.0 of the best public golf courses that the island of Kauai has to offer. Known as the garden island, Kauai has a much different vibe than the other Hawaiian islands. Friendly, chill, or laid back would be words that could describe the next 5 days. We would golf those 5.0 courses and enjoy every single one of them.

We kicked the journey of with a bang at the renowned Makai Course at Princeville. Rated as one of the country’s best public golf courses, the views and serenity of the golf course are some of the best that I have encountered. With 4 greens on the ocean, the course ebbs and flows nicely between seaside and inland holes.

The Makai course is so stunning that it even has an appeal to non-golfers as well. Every evening the staff leads a Sunset Cart Tour for those looking to explore the golf course. You will be treated to beverages, tales of Puff The Magic Dragon, and views for days. As one might expect, the sunset cart tour also features a stunning sunset.

The sun sets on the Sunset Cart Tour.

The sun sets on the Sunset Cart Tour.

Stop 1/5 on the Sunset Cart Tour.

Stop 1/5 on the Sunset Cart Tour.

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Opening for play in 1971, the Makai Course at Princeville was Robert Trent Jones Jr’s’ first ever solo design and has since undergone an extensive renovation that was completed in 2010. The design successfully launched a storied career for Mr Trent Jones Jr.. I did some research and the odds of a first time architect being handed such an amazing oceanfront property for their first solo effort in 2019 is 5 billion to 1.

Our group had the pleasure of playing with the Sales Manager at Princeville Makai, Lindsay Waller. Lindsay is new to the game of golf and is on a personal mission to break 100. We figured that our visit was just the catalyst that she needed to reach her goal. We went live on Instagram to document the progress. Unfortunately, Lindsay’s A game would not show up and she shot a 108. Probably just the pressure of playing with an A list celebrity. If you are looking to book a group be sure to get in touch with Waller, she can tell you all about the 10 she made on hole #2 as she sets you up with first class accommodations.

For someone who has not broken 100, Waller excels out of the sand.

For someone who has not broken 100, Waller excels out of the sand.

The 6th hole is your first view of the ocean at the Makai course.

The 6th hole is your first view of the ocean at the Makai course.

The Resort at Princeville is also an amazing place to stay. Well, only if you like waking up and looking out your window to rainbow views. I seriously woke up, saw this, and took a picture as I stretched my arms to prepare for another busy day of golfing hard.

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Even though there are several albatross nests on the golf course, our group found zero albatrosses.

Even though there are several albatross nests on the golf course, our group found zero albatrosses.

Early bird gets the worm, and I get the picture of the bird getting the worm.

Early bird gets the worm, and I get the picture of the bird getting the worm.

The next day our group headed just down the street to the local municipal golf course for course 2.0. Now, not many muni courses in the United States can pack the ocean front views quite like Wailua. The course starts out right along the ocean on holes #1 and #2 and returns to the sea for the finish on hole #17. Although the course is worth playing just for the 17th hole alone, you will find challenging green sites and a lot of fun inland golf holes.

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Wailua also loads up heavily on the municipal charm and I loved every bit of it. An old shop dog greeted us as we checked in and we warmed up by hitting balls off of mats in range stalls. The Par Aide ball washers oozed with an extra dose of muni goodness and the 160 yard tree signs had me squealing with golf joy. But the sign in the window of the pro shop had me super excited… BUSTED!

Wailua golf course is easily one of the best value courses that I have seen in a while. If you are a non resident, you can play Wailua for only $48 and the residents play for just $15! On the .gov website for Wailua you can find the course’s mission statement. That mission statement… “To provide a great golf experience.” Mission achieved.

I have always wondered… Par Aide? What if I want to make some birdies?

I have always wondered… Par Aide? What if I want to make some birdies?

Tha range at Wailua Municipal Golf Course

Tha range at Wailua Municipal Golf Course

Wailua features a heavy dose of roosters.

Wailua features a heavy dose of roosters.

Ah yes, the 160 yard tree.

Ah yes, the 160 yard tree.

Captain Rob gets up and down from the sand on 16.

Captain Rob gets up and down from the sand on 16.

Hot restaurant tip: The Bistro in Kilauea. Our group was slated for a special seven course meal. Due to the deliciousness of the cuisine, we were unable to control ourselves and only made it through 4/7 courses.

That evening after golf and dinner we loaded up into the golf bus and headed out to the Kilauea Lighthouse to watch the sunset. As far as sunsets and lighthouses go, Hawaii really shows off. I like to imagine that the little island out there is a tee box and the lighthouse is the flagstick. Probably a pretty good carry on that par 3. You hang glide over to the green after your tee shot.

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Course number 3.0 on the Hawaiian agenda was another Robert Trent Jones Jr design called Poipu Bay Golf Course. From 1994-2006, the course hosted the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. The event was a 36 hole stroke play tournament between the winners of the previous year’s 4 majors. Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods won the event 7 times. 1997 was the only year that Woods would fail to win the event after qualifying. Ernie Els beat him by 3 shots.

They had alternates join the competition when Woods won multiple majors in that year. My favorite swap was In 1990 when Mike Ditka replaced Curtis Strange due to an illness. Strange out… Ditka in!

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Mike Bailey sends one screaming into the 15th hole at Poipu Bay.

Mike Bailey sends one screaming into the 15th hole at Poipu Bay.

The 16th and 17th holes at Poipu Bay

The 16th and 17th holes at Poipu Bay

The 2nd hole at Poipu Bay Golf Course is a reachable par 5.

The 2nd hole at Poipu Bay Golf Course is a reachable par 5.

“Man it looks like Jurassic Park out here!” That statement is not only common but it is also surprisingly accurate when visiting the Na Pali Coast. Several of the scenes from the 1993 blockbuster film were shot here. If there is one thing outside of golf that I would recommend to a golfer visiting Kauai, it would be the Na Pali Coast.

Our group took a catamaran tour with Holo-Holo Charters. They offer a sunset tour of the coastline with drinks and a Mexican fare dinner on your way back. We explored sea caves, secluded beaches, and the impressive cliffs. It’s clear why they refer to the Na Pali coast as the jewel of Hawaii and the 8th wonder of the world.

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I figured by now the internet would have grown tired of my unnecessary male modeling poses. However, the people of the digital world can’t get enough of it. It’s a constant struggle to weave through the offers from folks like Vogue, Elle, and Time, politely reminding them that I have retired from the world of professional male modeling. “No, Better Homes & Gardens, I won’t do a special spread for your ‘Antique Roses of Fall’ issue.” This male has no interest in giving up his male model amateur status for a second time.

Standard male model boat pose.

Standard male model boat pose.

The sunset on the sunset cruise from  Holo-Holo Charters.

The sunset on the sunset cruise from Holo-Holo Charters.

The Hawaii golf party rolled onto course 4.0 at Puakea Golf Course. An unassuming start eventually whips its way deep into the jungle and we were having a jungle golf party before we knew what was going on. We golfed our balls with joy amongst the large volcanic cliffs, gaping ravines, and lush tropical surroundings.

Designed by Robert Nelson, the course was originally just nine holes built on top of an old sugar plantation. In 2003, the remaining holes were added to provide the golfer with a full 18 hole experience.

Puakea is also another serious island bargain. Ranging from $59-$85 for the visiting golfer, it’s another one of those courses that anyone can, and should, play.

The 5th hole at Puakea is a short par 4.

The 5th hole at Puakea is a short par 4.

The 4th hole is another short par 4.

The 4th hole is another short par 4.

Puakea really digs into the tropics on the back nine.

Puakea really digs into the tropics on the back nine.

The 6th hole at Puakea is when the jungle golf really gets going.

The 6th hole at Puakea is when the jungle golf really gets going.

For the final and 5.0 round of golf we were scheduled to take on Hokuala’s Ocean Course. This Jack Nicklaus signature design is nestled right around Timber’s Kaua’i Resort. The good news is that we were scheduled to stay at Timbers for the remainder of our trip. Trust me, you want to stay at Timbers Kaua’i. Although technically it is a resort, it felt more like we were staying at one of our rich friend’s condos on the ocean. The only difference is that I don’t have any rich friends that live on the ocean in Hawaii.

With all of the amenities that you could ever want, the only real struggle was deciding if you were going to swim in the multi level waterfall pool or go for the infinity option. I couldn’t decide so I did both.

The Ocean Course itself was one of my favorites on the trip. They were probably all my favorites, but the Ocean Course boasts some of the most dramatic ocean views. The course starts slowly, but when you reach the 13th hole, it’s all systems go. Ocean carries and straight up fun golf shots await you at every corner.

The view from above the 16th hole.

The view from above the 16th hole.

The 16th hole was probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s only about 300 yards from the back tees and is potentially drivable. The problem with the driver is that it must be struck exactly perfect to fit through that little gap. This predicament is a wildly fun one to consider and even a layup still leaves you with an exciting approach into the course’s most unique green.

The tee on the 16th hole has never looked this good.

The tee on the 16th hole has never looked this good.

The Ocean Course has  GolfBoards  available for rent. When at Hokuala, be sure to surf The Ocean Course.

The Ocean Course has GolfBoards available for rent. When at Hokuala, be sure to surf The Ocean Course.

The 17th hole is the 5th in a dramatic finishing stretch of 6 holes.

The 17th hole is the 5th in a dramatic finishing stretch of 6 holes.

The dramatic par 3 14th hole.

The dramatic par 3 14th hole.

The 16th hole is a potentially drivable par 4.

The 16th hole is a potentially drivable par 4.

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As with all of my Hawaiian adventures, I like to end the trip with a little male modeling. This time I recruited some of my model friends for a quick little session at the Timber’s infinity pool. These fellas were a little camera shy, but you can tell that there is a great deal of potential lurking below the surface of that water.

I, on the other hand, was not shy at all and hammed it up hard for the camera. I would rank the photos below as some of the finest water action shots in my portfolio. Tom was nervous behind the lens, but captured the final photos from Hawaii with perfection.

Pool models from left to right: Rob Myers, Mike Bailey, and Tom Mackin.

Pool models from left to right: Rob Myers, Mike Bailey, and Tom Mackin.

Golf tan feet add some pop to the picture. Photograph: Tom Mackin

Golf tan feet add some pop to the picture. Photograph: Tom Mackin

Water action sequence modeling. Photograph: Tom Mackin

Water action sequence modeling. Photograph: Tom Mackin

BONUS FUN FACT: The background in the logo from Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison Productions, is actually the 15th hole at Hokuala’s Ocean Course.

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It's Not Taco Time, it's Tahoe Time!

I could eat tacos until I am blue in the face, but if you made me choose between tacos and Tahoe, I would choose Tahoe every single time. The only problem with this particular visit to Tahoe… it wasn’t long enough. I visited only for a couple of days, but I loaded up on a heavy doses of those Tahoe blues.

First up on the agenda was a visit to South Lake Tahoe and Edgewood Tahoe. Every year, Edgewood plays host to the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. Celebrities and athletes like Justin Timberlake, Steph Curry, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Ray Romano crowd the shores of Lake Tahoe and golf hard.

Those “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers are working.

Those “Keep Tahoe Blue” bumper stickers are working.

Edgewood Tahoe is located right next to the casinos of South Lake and is an excellent place for a golfin’ and gamblin’ type trip. I wasn’t hitting the casinos on this particular visit, but I have been known to lose $5-$10 on a friendly Nassau. The best part about Edgewood is that it is a public golf course and anyone can tee it up. Just book a tee time and golf like a celebrity.

The 18th hole at Edgewood is one of the best finishers in Tahoe.

The 18th hole at Edgewood is one of the best finishers in Tahoe.

The 10th hole starts off a terrific back nine.

The 10th hole starts off a terrific back nine.

Beware of the bunkers on the 16th green at Edgewood

Beware of the bunkers on the 16th green at Edgewood

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For the afternoon, I headed up to the north side of Lake Tahoe to visit another public gem called Coyote Moon. Located in the pristine forests of Lake Tahoe, there isn’t a single home spoiling the view at Coyote Moon. Numerous rock outcroppings really add to the ambience.

The golf ride at Coyote Moon is also a lot of fun. With ample landing areas off of the tee, you won’t lose too many balls and will have plenty of chances to go for broke or birdie.

With the elevation and the significantly downhill slope, you could hit 3-4 clubs less on the 13th hole.

With the elevation and the significantly downhill slope, you could hit 3-4 clubs less on the 13th hole.

Shadows fall on the 16th green at Coyote Moon.

Shadows fall on the 16th green at Coyote Moon.

The par 5 12th hole is a great eagle opportunity and a personal favorite.

The par 5 12th hole is a great eagle opportunity and a personal favorite.

The following day it was a visit to Old Greenwood. Old Greenwood is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design and always a crowd favorite with the visiting golfers. Even though the golf course is lined with trees, it’s very playable and still presents a challenge to the scratch player. I casually strolled by Anika Sorenstam as I headed into the pro shop to check in. If Old Greenwood is good enough for Anika, it’s good enough for me.

The view from behind the 18th green. This uphill finishing hole is one of the finest holes on the property.

The view from behind the 18th green. This uphill finishing hole is one of the finest holes on the property.

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The short par 3 3rd hole at Old Greenwood.

The short par 3 3rd hole at Old Greenwood.

The public options for golf in Tahoe run pretty deep. Not only do you have a large number of courses to choose from, but you also have plenty of high end public golf courses as well. Where some destinations have a large concentration of private golf clubs, Tahoe has a great percentage of public golf that anyone can enjoy. I made a quick visit to another public course and area favorite called Schaffer’s Mill.

The 8th hole at Schaffer’s Mill.

The 8th hole at Schaffer’s Mill.

Good bunkering, good shadows.

Good bunkering, good shadows.

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After a rousing good meal at “The Sawyer,” a newly renovated restaurant at Schaffer’s Mill, I retired to my quarters for the evening.

When you are bouncing from hotel room to hotel room, a lot of the accommodations tend to blend together. However, my accommodations for this trip were especially unique. The River Ranch Lodge has white water rafting, a restaurant, and rooms that you can stay in right on the Truckee river.

The Cedar House Sport Hotel in Truckee also stood out. Just look at that fancy bed. How often do you take pictures of a hotel room bed? They also have these fancy shower heads that they will explain to you when you check in. So fancy that they require an explanation.

In the morning I loaded up on a serious breakfast situation and headed out for the final round of the trip. I had managed to secure a tee time at one of the few private courses in the area called Clear Creek.

Designed by the Coore Crenshaw team of architects, Clear Creek Tahoe opened for play in 2014. It’s regarded as one of the best places to play in the Tahoe area and I had the course to myself. I was feeling pretty special.

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Every golfer hits the skids every once in a while and for the past several weeks this guy had been going sideways with the golf ball. That was all going to change with my solo mission around Clear Creek. The birdies flowed like mountain fresh spring water rolling down the mountain side. Even when things got a little questionable, I would roll in a long par putt to keep the momentum going. It was one of those days that makes the golf soul smile. I tapped in for birdie on 18 and a satisfying even par 71.

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The short 17th emits a strong Pine Valley vibe.

The short 17th emits a strong Pine Valley vibe.

Before the sun had time to set on another blue and beautiful day in Tahoe, I was off to my next blue destination… Hawaii

Portugal Pants

As a golfer who takes a lot of golf trips, some destinations can be routine and I look forward to some more than others. So when Portugal landed on my calendar, the excitement level was at a pretty solid 10/10 for several months. What excited me even more was that I was partnering with one of my favorite clothing brands, Bonobos. If possible, the excitement was boosted to another level with an off the charts Portugal golf crew. Since we were all outfitted by Bonobos in Portugal Pants, polos, and shorts, this post is going to score off the charts with style points. Now normally I like to start out a blog post with a stunning golf course photo, but in this case, the Portugal pants must be displayed.

Brodie Smith joins the airport pants party.

Brodie Smith joins the airport pants party.

The Portugal pants in Portugal

The Portugal pants in Portugal

After jumping a smooth flight with TAP Air Portugal, the stunning golf views would come the very next day at Oitavos Dunes. Rated as a top 100 golf course in the world, the anticipation for Oitavos was high and the dunes did not disappoint. The course was only matched by our top notch golf crew. Below you will find the golf roster. A golf roster this powerful is best read while listening to AC/DC, so please crank up the “Shoot to Thrill” and review your lineup.

  • Patrick Koenig - Golf Photographer, Golf High Kicker, Local Golf Enthusiast, #1 Male Model, Golf Idiot.

  • Brodie Smith - Legend of the Frisbee, YouTube Star, Golfball Bomber, has his own Wikipedia page.

  • Blair Wheeler - Surf Stud, #2 Male Model, Master of Style, 3 Putt Expert.

  • Ben Boskovich - Managing Editor, 12/10 “cool ranking” for entire 2015 year.

  • Carly Rappoport - Manager of Brand Communications for Bonobos, Voice of Reason, Hashtag Consultant.

Things heat up as the back nine at Oitavos Dunes reaches the ocean. Here is the view behind the par 5 13th hole.

Things heat up as the back nine at Oitavos Dunes reaches the ocean. Here is the view behind the par 5 13th hole.

Brodie rips a driver. The shot tracer is on the left and Blair Wheeler is on the commentary.

Brodie rips a driver. The shot tracer is on the left and Blair Wheeler is on the commentary.

The par 4 10th in the background with the par 3 14th in the foreground.

The par 4 10th in the background with the par 3 14th in the foreground.

This was the only time all day that I found the short grass at Oitavos Dunes

This was the only time all day that I found the short grass at Oitavos Dunes

Not only is Blari Wheeler a fellow Male Model, but he can also snap a solid photograph. Photo: Blair Wheeler

Not only is Blari Wheeler a fellow Male Model, but he can also snap a solid photograph. Photo: Blair Wheeler

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When you go golfing with Brodie Smith, you don’t just play a normal round of golf. Since Brodie is a big deal on the YouTubes, almost every shot on this trip was filmed. We were constantly rolling commentary and filming ourselves in good, bad, and sometimes awful predicaments. While it is a lot of fun to do, it takes up a lot of time and can be very distracting to playing actual quality golf. Between the jet lag and the YouTube production efforts, I had the perfect excuse for my horrid play at Oitavos Dunes. I made a snowman right out of the gate and never looked back.

What didn’t suffer was the amount of enjoyment I took from playing golf in a new country and on a new World Top 100 golf course. There are some really good holes out at Oitavos Dunes and you can see why it is ranked as the country’s best golf course. Some of my favorites include the drivable par 4 11th hole, the par 5 8th and the back to back par 3’s on 14 and 15.

For our stay in Quinta da Marinha, the golf crew had a little golf house at the Sheraton Cascais Resort. My only grumble with the property was that we couldn’t stay and enjoy the place for a week. The 4 bedroom suite was perfect for golfers visiting and playing the Oitavos Dunes course. The next day, we disembarked from our living quarters and got right back to pants modeling the portugal pants by Bonobos at Dom Pedro Golf.

Ben Boskovich finds the center of the green as the pants pictures continue..

Ben Boskovich finds the center of the green as the pants pictures continue..

Some good options on this short par 4. Our group went with the “Hammer it at the green” option.

Some good options on this short par 4. Our group went with the “Hammer it at the green” option.

With five courses at Dom Pedro Golf, there was plenty of championship caliber golf awaiting our group. We were scheduled to play the renowned Victoria course. In 2015, the World Cup of Golf was played on the Victoria course and it has been the home of the Portugal Masters since 2007. However, the big honor would come in early June of 2019, when it would host the first ever Portugal Pants Cup sponsored by Bonobos. Oddly enough, pants were optional.

The WGC globe still looms large at Dom Pedro

The WGC globe still looms large at Dom Pedro

From above Dom Pedro Golf

From above Dom Pedro Golf

The Portugal Pants Cup, or PPC, is a total team score match play format. It was Brodie and Blair vs. Ben and I. Despite being constantly ridiculed for having the only first name not starting with the letter B, I was hanging around and making some putts to keep things close. After 17 holes, the Portugal Pants Cup was all even. The tough par 4 finishing hole was going to decide the outcome.

Like a man in charge, I stepped right up to the tee and hooked one into the lake. I remember it made a significantly larger than normal splash that really got some oohs and ahhhs from the opposing team. I teed it up again and hit one down the middle. “Did it really have to make such a huge splash like that?” I wondered to myself as I headed back to the golf cart.

Not to be outdone, Blair suffered a lost ball penalty off of the tee which kept things close, then Ben made up some ground with a killer approach shot. Slowly we were inching back into the hole. Brodie did some stuff and then Blair did some other stuff, to keep it short, a lot of things happened on that 18th hole. However, it came down to my bogie putt from the fringe. In one of my finest Portugal putts of all time, I rolled in that 30 footer for bogie and celebrated like we had just won the Portugal Pants Cup… which we had.

Blair Wheeler, demonstrates style on and off of the course in the inaugural Portugal Pants Cup by  Bonobos .

Blair Wheeler, demonstrates style on and off of the course in the inaugural Portugal Pants Cup by Bonobos.

The 5th green and 6th tee at Pine Cliffs.

The 5th green and 6th tee at Pine Cliffs.

Up next was a visit to the cliffs of Portugal, to be specific the Pine Cliffs of Portugal. This resort features a stunning cliffside beach and one of the most fun short courses I have played. Even though there are only 9 holes at Pine Cliffs, each one will hold your interest and captivate you with the views.

The resort itself is also freaking amazing. With easy access to the beach (you have to take an elevator down the cliffside), and a handful of amazing restaurants on the property, you won’t run out of things to do for quite some time. Even when all of the restaurants and evening activities subsided our crew wandered out onto the 9th hole for some night golf putting competition. That Brodie Smith guy won both nights.

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When I hit my four iron into the 6th hole at @pinecliffs I heard a roar from the forward tees. It wasn’t just a 1 foot roar, it was an ace roar. Since you can’t see the bottom of the hole from the tee, I asked “Did it go in!?” “Maybe, it one hopped and disappeared, man!” “I think it’s in!!” @brodiesmith21 @benbosk @blairwheeler couldn’t confirm the ace but they were fairly certain that it went in. When we got up to the hole we found the golf ball in the bottom of the cup and I started running around like a madman. The problem was that I was the only one screaming like an idiot. Brodie, Ben, and Blair were just standing there with bummed out looks on their faces. That’s when it hit me, “Oh you sons of guns!” Unbeknownst to me, they had sent a scout to put my tee shot into the hole and I fell for the ace prank hard. At least I looked real classy in my @bonobosgolf apparel. FYI: ”sons of guns.” has been edited for internet decency.

The 6th hole at Pinecliffs and scene of the ace prank.

The 6th hole at Pinecliffs and scene of the ace prank.

After our time at The Pine Cliffs resort was up, it was time to head back into Lisbon to do some exploring. After we checked into the super fancy Pestana CR7, we got some lunch, turned down numerous (15) offers for marijuana, and hit the streets of Lisbon to explore the city. Most of the townspeople speak Portuguese, which is kind of like Spanish but an entirely different language.

My favorite story dealing with that language barrier comes from an art store tucked into an old Lisbon side street. Brodie was looking for a painting of a horse to go with his DarkHorse themed logo. After a little explanation, the store owner recognized the word ‘horse.’ Excitedly, he came over and started quickly rummaging through a large pile of paintings he had created. One after the other, he handed paintings of horses to Brodie. “Horse! Horse! Horse!” he then paused and rapidly flipped through several more paintings. “Horse!” Then another pause and more shuffling. “Horse! Horse!” “Ok, I think I got enough here.” replied Brodie. Brodie purchased one of the dozen horse paintings and we happily left the store. It was a good moment in horse history.

Advanced male model pose #NSFW

Advanced male model pose #NSFW

We were a little early for the rave at the Viking.

We were a little early for the rave at the Viking.

The pink streets of Lisbon.

The pink streets of Lisbon.

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What you can’t see here is that none of us are wearing our  Portugal pants by Bonobos .

What you can’t see here is that none of us are wearing our Portugal pants by Bonobos.

Never miss an opportunity to male model.

Never miss an opportunity to male model.

Our fearless troop leader, Carly Rappoport.

Our fearless troop leader, Carly Rappoport.

When we were traveling back into Lisbon, Brodie asked me, “We got a free morning, should we just call up a random course and see what we find?” “Absolutely” was my response. We decided to check out a local course called Lisbon Sports Club. I chose the golf course solely on the fact that it had a cool name and it was old… 1922 old. “Worse case, we still get to play golf, right?”

As we piled out of the Uber the next morning at Lisbon Sports Club, we were immediately greeted by a goat. That is when I knew that our gamble was going to pay off big time. After following our goat to the first tee, I took one look at the opening par 3, grabbed my camera and smiled. This was going to be fun.

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While the quality of play was uninspired from both Brodie and myself, the round of golf was a lot of fun. Each hole had a ton of character with a hint of golden age architecture. Some holes were quirky, some holes had castle remains, and some had blind shots. Every one of the holes felt like a new experience. At this point, I have played over 900 golf courses and seen around 16,200 golf holes. However, “I’ve never seen a hole quite like this one” was muttered at least a dozen times.

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After a perfect week of weather it began to rain as we finished up our round at Lisbon Sports Club. To escape the rain, we quickly holed out our bogie putts and headed to airport. The good news… it was upgrade time!

In all of my travels, I have never flown first class, business class, or any sort of class for that matter. That all changed on the flight from Lisbon to New York with TAP Air Portugal. You can lay down, the television is bigger, the have a full desk for all of your stuff, they even give you a little gift bag . It is full luxury! For the first time in my history of flying, I was bummed out when the plane touched down. “Awww man, you mean we have to leave now?” Yes, unfortunately, the Portugal Pants party post has come to an end.

I never smile like this in economy.

I never smile like this in economy.

They give you business socks, in business class.

They give you business socks, in business class.

Is spelling Coeur D'Alene more difficult than making par on the island green?

You will want to double check your club selection on the floating, movable, island green at Coeur D’Alene Golf Resort. You will also want to double check your spelling after typing out the city name, Coeur D’Alene. Both tasks require a certain amount of precision and even slight mistakes will bring serious wrath. Upon completion of reading this blog post you will be able to easily navigate both tasks.

You should be able figure out the spelling and we shall get into the details of the island green later, but first, it is my duty to give you the details on one of Idaho’s greatest public golf courses, Circling Raven. Often ranked at the top of many lists, the Gene Bates design opened for play in 2003. The golf course sits on the land of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. In the tribe's own ancient language, it is called Schitsu'umsh, meaning "Those who were found here" or "The discovered people." Take my word, you will want to discover Circling Raven for yourself.

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Our crew got several chances to play Circling Raven and both rounds managed to hold my interest providing a fresh experience each time we played the course. As you can see in the aerial photograph below, the course is void of surrounding homes and visual distractions. Circling Raven is often forgiving off of the tee and provides a fun challenge for the casual golfer as well as the scratch player.

Holes 2-5 at Circling Raven take place on the other side of the tracks.

Holes 2-5 at Circling Raven take place on the other side of the tracks.

Golf Snake Alert! This harmless little guy was hanging out near the pin on the 2nd hole. He witnessed several pars and a lip out bogey.

Golf Snake Alert! This harmless little guy was hanging out near the pin on the 2nd hole. He witnessed several pars and a lip out bogey.

The view from the 8th tee box at Circling Raven

The view from the 8th tee box at Circling Raven

The Director of Golf at Circling Raven,  Dave Christenson , watches his golf ball land safely on the 16th green.

The Director of Golf at Circling Raven, Dave Christenson, watches his golf ball land safely on the 16th green.

For those that like to gamble with more than their $5 pro V1’s, there is a casino located right next to the golf course. Lee Abbamonte and I hung out in the casino bar, listened to some live music, and conversed with the locals. Circling Raven has hotel accommodations on the property and you can actually walk from your hotel room to the first tee.

While Circling Raven is certainly an excellent golf course, one course alone does not make Coeur D’Alene area a certified golf destination. However when you add in The Coeur D’Alene Golf Resort, you have a golf location worth making a trip for.

The Coeur D’Alene Golf Resort has somehow managed to make a name for itself based just on one golf hole alone. Home to the world’s only floating, movable, island green, golfers come from all over the world to see this feat of golf engineering.

The view of the floating 14th green emerges as soon as you step outside of the clubhouse.

The view of the floating 14th green emerges as soon as you step outside of the clubhouse.

In 1991 the first golf ball was struck onto the 14th hole and golfers have been inspired to visit and try their hand ever since. The green is reachable only by boat and usually plays anywhere from 140 - 170 yards. An underwater cable system adjusts the green’s position on a weekly basis. The good news is that they don’t make any changes while your golf ball is in the air. I like to imagine that there is a little underwater golf den where Golf Satan is at the controls. Golf Satan just sits there and moves the green out of the way on every shot, laughing maniacally. What a horrible thing to do, but that’s just how Golf Satan does things.

On the day we visited the hole was playing about 150 yards. Everyone but Lee Abbamonte found the green safely. However, Lee threw down not one, but two extra balls and found the green with each one. He banged in back to back birdie putts of 30 and 25 feet and exclaimed “This is my greatest golf moment of all time.”

A little boat called the “Putter” gives you a ride back to the mainland and they even provide you with a certificate for successfully completing the golf hole. The certificate is signed by the Captain of the “Putter” for authenticity. While the island green is a one of a kind experience, there are 17 other golf holes to play as well and trust me, you will want to golf ‘em all.

The tee shot on the short par 4 4th hole.

The tee shot on the short par 4 4th hole.

The collection of 5 par 3’s at Coeur D’Alene Resort stand out as one of the best in the entire country. You might make some 2’s, you might make some 7’s but you will certainly enjoy the views and challenges that each one provides.

The par 5 11th green with the par 3 12th hole in the distance

The par 5 11th green with the par 3 12th hole in the distance

The floatin’ 14th

The floatin’ 14th

The downhill 6th hole.

The downhill 6th hole.

The lakeside 3rd hole.

The lakeside 3rd hole.

The fidget spinner 5th hole.

The fidget spinner 5th hole.

When it comes to booking your trip to Coeur D’Alene, you have several options. You can stay at the CDA Resort or the Circling Raven Casino. We stayed at the casino and just made the 30 minute drive into Coeur D’Alene. If you tell em pjkoenig sent you, you won’t get a discount but there is a 1/10 chance that you will receive a high five.

Hot Times, Hot Springs... It's Harrison Hot Springs

“It feels like a totally different country up here.” I said those words out loud as I drove my Jeep Wrangler rental car out of the Vancouver airport and towards Harrison Mills, British Columbia in Canada. With such a short and easy flight from Sacramento, it felt like I had barely left California. Here I was hours later, driving the Canadian countryside on my way to Sandpiper Golf Resort to “Play the Piper.” When I arrived, I was thrilled to learn that I was staying in a tiny little golf cabin right on the 15th hole. The accommodations at Rowena’s Inn have been so popular that they are adding 7 more cabins to meet the demands of visiting golfers. It’s like you have your own little golf house out there.

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After checking into the golf cabin, I explored the property and scouted my plan of attack for the following day. My plan was simple, avoid the planes landing adjacent to the 17th fairway and make a ton of birdies.

The scouting report on the 16th hole.

The scouting report on the 16th hole.

The 17th hole runs adjacent to an airstrip for incoming planes filled with golfers.

The 17th hole runs adjacent to an airstrip for incoming planes filled with golfers.

This little lady demonstrates perfect form in the over the shoulder water pour pose.

This little lady demonstrates perfect form in the over the shoulder water pour pose.

The next day I got up early for a day of 36 with the Director of Golf at Sandpiper Golf Resort, Dave Corke. At Sandpiper, Dave is a little more than just the Director of Golf, he is also the most popular guy on the course. Not a group passed us by without a brief exchange of golf quips and handshakes. It was like getting a celebrity escort around the property. “Hey Dave! great putt for triple on that last hole.” “Play on through, Dave! We’ll just hide out here in the middle of the fairway, so you won’t hit us.” The jests and friendly smiles came in waves.

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As for the golf course itself, it’s got several main strengths. The first one is the high fun factor. The course is only 6,500 yards from the back tees and places a premium on accuracy off of the tee. The good news is that you won’t necessarily have to be accurate with your driver. Sandpiper offers plenty of shot options from the tee and club selection comes down to what you want to face with your second shot. When you have options, the fun factor really starts to rise. There are also several reachable par 5’s that will give you several good chances for an eagle. Making eagles is fun.

The second strength at Sandpiper is the beauty of the golf course’s surroundings. The majority of the course runs through chutes of tall stunning pine trees and reminded me a little of Sahalee Country Club in Seattle. The course picks up the ambiance further on the 15th hole when it reaches the banks of the Harrison River. With a handful of the finishing holes playing along the water, the views will delight the golf senses.

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If you happen to play Sandpiper in the months of October or November there is a 100% chance that you will find at least one eagle. However, that eagle will most likely be bald. Every year tens of thousands of bald eagles converge on Harrison and Sandpiper Golf Resort for some sort of bald eagle summit meeting. They line the trees and feast upon the spawning salmon. The story of the day goes to Dave Corke for his tale of salmon falling from the sky on the 9th tee box. A bald eagle had dropped his daily catch and the plummeting fish nearly hit Dave right in the head. Fortunately, Dave survived the ordeal and lives to tell the tale of flying salmon.

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After a rousing day of 36 at Sandpiper it was time to head down to Harrison Hot Springs and jump into full exploration and discovery mode. That’s right, it was time to begin the hunt for Bigfoot. With sightings all over the Harrison Hot Springs area, there is a wealth of information and lore on the hairy beast. I decide to jump right in and orchestrate my own Bigfoot expedition. First, I was going to need to conduct some research and fully investigate all of the available clues.

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All clues were fully investigated.

All clues were fully investigated.

Although the fresh fudge clue turned out to be a dead end, I received several hot tips from local fudge eaters that Bigfoot is real and in the area.

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There were many Bigfoot clues, but the biggest discovery was the fact that Bigfoot is indeed a fan of pizza.

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Following a hot lead, I decided to hike up to Whippoorwill Point to see if I could get my camera lens on the world’s most famous beast. On my way out to the point, I passed the source of the Harrison Hot Springs. Since the springs can reach up to 140 degrees, they are guarded by the trellis in the picture below. It is rumored that Bigfoot drinks the water directly from the springs, a potential source of his otherworldly strengths.

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As you can see below, a huge break through in the Bigfoot case was made on Sandy Cove on my way to Whippoorwill point. We are still awaiting the clinical results on the footprint pictured, but I think it is pretty obvious that this print is the real deal.

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Like almost every other Bigfoot adventure, mine would come up short in the end. The only shot of the hairy beast that I was able to capture was this picture of a replica Bigfoot in front of Muddy Waters Cafe. This particular Sasquatch is staring down the treats at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory which is also located on the main drive in downtown Harrison. Since he was frozen in stone, I had to eat the all of the chocolates myself.

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The scene in downtown Harrison is quaint and filled with all sorts of restaurants and scenic viewpoints. With the mountains on one side of the street and Lake Harrison on the other, the town is worth visiting for the sights alone. Fueled by the hot springs, you can go for a soak in the public pool, take in a fantastic meal at Morgan’s Bistro, or go for some ice cream on the the main drive. The stop at Morgan’s Bistro was easily my favorite meal of the trip. I took in a delicious halibut while overlooking Lake Harrison.

Standard sunset stroll in Harrison Hot Springs

Standard sunset stroll in Harrison Hot Springs

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Quick little evening workout session

Quick little evening workout session

My accommodations for the visit were at the nearby Harrison Beach Hotel. The hotel is located right in the heart of the scene and has balconies that overlook the lake. The photo below was actually taken from my personal balcony while I was in my underwear, which earned the hotel an unheard of 11/10 balcony rating.

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With only one day left in Harrison Hot Springs, I decided to pursue the Loch Ness Monster. That’s right, since I failed with Bigfoot, I was going after the second most legendary beast in the world. I would need a boat and an expert guide for this sort of mission and BC Sportfishing fit the bill perfectly. There were no real clues that the Loch Ness Monster was hiding out in Harrison Lake, but my all star guide, Anthony, told me there was a pretty good chance that we might catch some sturgeon. I happily boarded the boat.

Anthony has been providing fishing tours for over 20 years. Not only does he look like a pro, he is one.

Anthony has been providing fishing tours for over 20 years. Not only does he look like a pro, he is one.

Awaiting the nibbles…

Awaiting the nibbles…

Sturgeon can live to be over 100 years old and can grow to be over 20 feet long. These fish have been swimming in the sea for over 200 million years dating back to the triassic period. They might not be the Loch ness, but these fish sounded like the next best thing. Tony told stories of 2 hour battles with these ancient water beasts. However, my battle would last a quick 30 seconds as I reeled in a recording setting fish. When we put the tape measure down it measured a whopping 16.” It was indeed the smallest sturgeon ever captured. The largest sturgeon on record was a Beluga female captured in the Volga estuary in 1827, weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 lb) and 7.2 m (24 ft) long.

This sturgeon will likely live in the waters of Harrison Lake for the next 20 years.

This sturgeon will likely live in the waters of Harrison Lake for the next 20 years.

Even though I had not photographed Bigfoot or captured the Loch Ness Monster, I considered the trip to Harrison Hot Springs a raging success. After the fishing journey, I jumped on a plane back to the US with my new fishing record and a smile on my face.