Golf Blog

FedEx Cup Predictions

For years, the PGA Tour and players alike have conceded that the FedEx Cup and the season ending playoffs are not perfect.  However, it is an honest attempt to make the end of the season compelling and interesting.  Here are my projections for the 2017 version.

  • Jason Dufner will not win the FedEx Cup.  With 50 billion to 1 odds, don't empty your bank account banking on Duf man going from #30 to #1.  If you decide to bet anyways, here are Dufner's 9 simple check marks to victory.
    • Jordan Spieth must finish 29th or worse
    • Justin Thomas must finish in a 3-way tie for 6th or worse
    • Dustin Johnson must finish T4 or worse and wear blue shoes
    • Marc Leishman must finish T3 or worse
    • No more than 32% of the field can birdie the 3rd hole
    • Jon Ram must finish in a 3-way tie for second or worse
    • Rickie Fowler must finish T2 or worse
    • Pat Perez must not have bacon for breakfast
    • Jason Dufner must win the Tour Championship
  • "How does the FedEx Cup points thing work?"  will set a new record for number of times googled.
  • The Golf Club at East Lake was an amusement park in the 1890's. Tony Finau will make East Lake his own personal amusement park in 2017 and cruise to a 4 shot Tour Championship victory.
  • With 24th ranked Finau pulling out the Tour Championship victory, 176 individual alternate victory scenarios will emerge for the FedEx Cup.
  • The top 5 (Spieth, DJ, JT, Leishman, and Rahm) will all finish outside of the top 5 for for the Tour Championship, putting their chances of FedEx Cup victory into question and plunging the tournament into chaos.
  • Math difficulties and confusion will overtake the scoring booth.  
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... Mass hysteria!!
— Bill Murray - Ghostbusters

 

  • The following flowcharts will serve as the scoreboard during the entire back nine.
Brooks Koepka!?!?!

Brooks Koepka!?!?!

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  • World renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will be called in to provide live scoring projections and updates.
  • Neil crushes the call and kills it in the scoring booth.
Neil Calls the live FedEx Cup action.

Neil Calls the live FedEx Cup action.

In 5-billion yrs the Sun will expand & engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson on Spieth's birdie attempt on the 17th hole

 

  • With Rickie Fowler facing a 5 footer to finish in a 3 way tie for fourth place, Webb Simpson eagerly looks on.  Webb is not sure if a two way tie or 3 way tie from Rickie coupled with his 3rd place finish will be good enough for a first place finish.  If Fowler 3 putts and finishes in solo 5th, would he need a bogie from DJ on 18, or would the 3 way tie from Hoffman give him 2nd place??
  • After holing his put for a fourth place finish, Rickie reluctantly fist pumps.  Did he just win $10M or did he just win $1.5M.  Nobody knows!! The excitement and tension is unbearable.
  • On his way to the airport, Justin Rose receives a call from tournament organizers letting him know that he has indeed won the 2017 FedEx Cup!!
  • The bad news for Justin Rose is that he will get stuck in traffic as he turns his car around and heads back for the trophy presentation.
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The Canadian Rockies

When you think of the top 5 public golf destinations in North America, do the Canadian Rockies come to mind?  Probably not... but it should.  For most of the US, it's a relatively short flight to Calgary and an hour or so drive into the heart of the action.  Between Jasper, Banff, Kananaskis, and Canmore there are 6 courses on the trail.  Let's dig into the details of my recent adventure into the Canadian Rockies and sort out the details.

My partner in golf crime for the trip would be McKenzie O'Connell, most people call her Kenzie or Kenz, I decided to call her K Dawg.  Now, K Dawg is a 5 handicap and certainly a valuable addition to any golf trip.  She also jumped right in and showed off her impressive golf modeling chops.  Things were starting off nicely. 

The view looking back on the restaurant atop the Banff Gondola.

The view looking back on the restaurant atop the Banff Gondola.

Golf hard, model hard.

Golf hard, model hard.

After getting into Banff, we took the Gondola up for a view of the local scene and had a fantastic meal at the top, courtesy of Brewster Travel.  In terms of easy things to do in Banff, I would highly recommend the gondola ride.  With views of downtown Banff and the surrounding mountain ranges, it was an excellent preview of what was to come.  

Afterwards, we headed back to our first class accommodations at the Delta Hotels Kananaskis Lodge.  The hotel was centrally located in Alberta and has easy access to local hiking and biking trails with outstanding views of the Rocky Mountains.  A world class spa will be opening in 2018.

In the morning we were headed out to Kananaskis Country Golf Course for our first round of golf in the Canadian Rockies.  Designed by Robert Trent Jones and opening in 1983, the 36 hole layout is a favorite of local Albertan golfers.  In 2013, floods seriously damaged the course and it has been shut down for the past 4 years with funding and rebuilding underway.  In a sneak peak event, I was able to get some of the first photos of the new course, as 27 holes will officially open to the public for the 2018 season.  You can click on any of the images throughout the post to get the full course gallery.

Image courtesy of Robert Trent Drones.

Image courtesy of Robert Trent Drones.

The dual green on the Mt Lorette 18.  You can see the 9th hole on the Mt Kidd 18 still under construction below the mountains.

The dual green on the Mt Lorette 18.  You can see the 9th hole on the Mt Kidd 18 still under construction below the mountains.

The Mt Kidd 18 will open with 9 holes available in the beginning of 2018

The Mt Kidd 18 will open with 9 holes available in the beginning of 2018

The best part about the event at Kananaskis was the emotion demonstrated by the participants and the staff as they returned to their course after a 4 year hiatus.  I watched as head professional, Bob Paley, high fived and hugged a couple of familiar faces, afterwards he would turn to our group with a huge huge satisfied smile on his face... "See, this is the stuff that I miss the most, the people, the camaraderie... it's just the best."  Bob was immediately one of our favorite people we would meet on the trip.  The only downside was that smoke from nearby wildfires would cloud the view of the normally spectacular mountains.  

Next up was paddle boarding courtesy of Rebound Cycle, we would change that to golf paddle boarding as K Dawg would pull off a pretty sweet trick shot effort! 

When traveling with a golf model, it is necessary to note that just about every location is a modeling location.  Here are some of those shots from early on in the action.  As a published Golf Digest model, I would push Kenzie to be the best model she could be, while providing her with the experience and modeling guidance that she needed.

Golf stairway modeling

Golf stairway modeling

Model off standings: PJKoenig: 1.  K Dawg: 0

Model off standings: PJKoenig: 1.  K Dawg: 0

Next up on the Canadian Rockies agenda was Silvertip Golf Club.  With 600 feet of elevation change, Silvertip offers some outstanding views of the Three Sisters and nearby mountain ranges.  Unfortunately, the normally amazing views would be partially clouded by smoke.

As a professional, I’ve played all over the world and I find the Silvertip Golf Course to be one of the most spectacular I’ve ever played. Between Les Furber’s incredible layout and the scenery, it is easy to see why.
— Stephen Ames - 4 time PGA Tour winner & Member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
I would come out of the gates firing with birdies on the 1st 2 holes,  The flames would fizzle.

I would come out of the gates firing with birdies on the 1st 2 holes,  The flames would fizzle.

With several rounds under our belt, we were ready to put the pedal down on the EZ-GO and turn up the golf action.  With an early start on the Stewart Creek Golf Course, we would find our golf groove for a day of 36.  

Stewart creek is one of the more unique locations for a golf course as it is actually built on top of an old coal mining operation.  The shafts and tunnels run beneath the golf course and several of the mine entrances are still visible on the course.  We were told it was safe, but I took it easy on the divots to avoid plummeting through the fairway and into any abandoned mine shafts.  A big thanks to our host Greg for helping us avoid the pitfalls!

This coal mining shaft would cease operation in 1978.  

This coal mining shaft would cease operation in 1978.  

With several mine shafts and several models on the property, this was naturally the perfect time to start production on our 3 part series: "An Introduction to Male and Female Amateur Mine Shaft Modeling"  As you can clearly see in the video, I have increased my lead in the model off competition with a score of 2-0.

The stunning downhill 9th hole:  I would get nasty and make a 2!

The stunning downhill 9th hole:  I would get nasty and make a 2!

From time to time, I would find a slight gap in the smoke coverage and get a shot of the mountains.  These views are commonplace on all of the courses we would play in the Rockies.

From time to time, I would find a slight gap in the smoke coverage and get a shot of the mountains.  These views are commonplace on all of the courses we would play in the Rockies.

Next up on the tour of the Canadian Rockies was the highly anticipated Fairmont Springs Banff Golf Course.  We were in for a treat as veteran Golf Broadcaster, Luke Elvy, would join us for the round.  Luke is one of the best dudes you can play golf with and he was happy to lend advice, share stories, and even call the action as we golfed our balls.  He also has an Australian accent.

Exhausted from the mine shaft modeling, I would take the day off from the competition.  Surprisingly, K Dawg would still only manage a narrow victory..  Update; PJKoenig 2  K Dawg: 1

Exhausted from the mine shaft modeling, I would take the day off from the competition.  Surprisingly, K Dawg would still only manage a narrow victory..  Update; PJKoenig 2  K Dawg: 1

Kenzie would nearly make an all world 2 on the "Devil's Cauldron"  Check out the video here.

Kenzie would nearly make an all world 2 on the "Devil's Cauldron"  Check out the video here.

Even with a heavy dose of smoke covering the mountains, the Stanley Thompson course was a highlight of the trip.  The course is strategic, scenic, challenging, and fun to play.

A shot from behind what was originally the 18th hole.  The routing has been changed due to clubhouse and capacity demands.  

A shot from behind what was originally the 18th hole.  The routing has been changed due to clubhouse and capacity demands.  

For the final round of the trip we headed out to Canmore Golf & Curling Club.  In 1926, the original course was only 9 holes with sand greens and coffee cans for holes.  In the 1960's a curling rink would be added, and today, Canmore offers a full test of golf with stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges.  Thanks to our host Darren Cooke for showing us around.

Even during a historically dry season, The short par 3 11th at Canmore Golf & Curling Club is still a stunner.

Even during a historically dry season, The short par 3 11th at Canmore Golf & Curling Club is still a stunner.

Local golfing stud, Jack Stoliker would come out of the gates hot and birdie the 1st two holes.

Local golfing stud, Jack Stoliker would come out of the gates hot and birdie the 1st two holes.

The view from above the 10th hole at Canmore.  

The view from above the 10th hole at Canmore.  

One of the most compelling parts about the Canadian Rockies is that there is a lot more than golf in the area.  Even though our trip was compromised mostly of golf, the opportunities for hiking, helicoptering, kayaking, shopping, and of course, modeling, are endless.

With only one day left in the model-off competition, I decided to give Kenzie a chance to even the score on the downtown streets of Banff.  Naturally, K-Dawg rose to the challenge and pulled off some sort of movie shopping montage.  It is important to note that the original score called for Billy Idol's Dancing with Myself.  However, Billy Idol did not return our requests for copyright approval.  With the score even at 2-2, a return trip is in order.

Sand Valley

On May 2nd 1999, Mike Keiser opened a little golf resort called Bandon Dunes.  It was located in a remote coastal area of Oregon that was hard to get to.  Most golf experts told Mike that he was crazy for building a course in such a remote location.  But golfers came in droves to play the highly regarded David Mclay Kidd layout.  Two years later, Pacific Dunes joined the original course and then came Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald, and finally Bandon Preserve.  It is easily one of the greatest golf success stories of this generation.

After adding Cabot Cliffs to his portfolio of courses in 2016, Mike Keiser decided to open another golf resort in a remote location.  This time it's in the middle of Wisconsin, it's a little easier to get to, and its called Sand Valley.  With preview play already open on the resort's second course, Mammoth Dunes, and a par 3 course in the works, the Bandon Dunes formula that worked so well is looking to repeat itself.

The view from "Craig's Porch"  which is named after Craig Haltom, the landowner who originally brought the land to Mike Keiser's attention.

The view from "Craig's Porch"  which is named after Craig Haltom, the landowner who originally brought the land to Mike Keiser's attention.

The view of the clubhouse as you drive into the property.

The view of the clubhouse as you drive into the property.

Sand Valley Facts

  • The course opened to the public on May 2nd 2017, exactly 18 years to the day after Bandon Dunes opened.
  • Sand Valley is 4 hours from Chicago, 3 hours from Milwaukee, 2.5 hours from Whistling Straits, and 2.5 hours from Erin Hills
  • I drained a 40 footer on #5 for birdie and fell over attempting an overly unnecessary fist pump.
  • The course is designed for walkers only. 
  • The brisket tacos at "Craig's Porch" for $1.50 will knock your socks off
  • Ashley Mayo hit the opening tee shot at Sand Valley.  She found the fairway... she always finds the fairway.
  • Sand Valley has 53 rooms with 107 beds on property
  • The team of Coore & Crenshaw built Sand Valley and David McLay Kidd is the course architect for Mammoth Dunes.
  • Because of the name's negative connotation, the name for the par 3 course, "Quicksand" is up for review.
  • I disagree with the up for review thing.  Quicksand is an awesome name.
Even the parking lot at Sand Valley is filled with sand.  You can see the resort's par 3 course in the top left and the 1st tee and 18th green on Mammoth Dunes on the right.

Even the parking lot at Sand Valley is filled with sand.  You can see the resort's par 3 course in the top left and the 1st tee and 18th green on Mammoth Dunes on the right.

Sand Valley was built on top of a sand bed left behind from a glacier.

Sand Valley was built on top of a sand bed left behind from a glacier.

The green on the par 5 4th hole

The green on the par 5 4th hole

It's tough to make an uphill par 3 look this good.  Coore & Crenshaw  have figured things out at Sand Valley

It's tough to make an uphill par 3 look this good.  Coore & Crenshaw  have figured things out at Sand Valley

During my visit to Sand Valley Resort, I was able to play 6 holes at Mammoth Dunes and I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the other 12 while they were under construction.  For those of us outside the world of golf course construction, It's a unique experience to view a course in it's various stages of development.  I much prefer them with grass.

The sand dune I am standing on here partially obstructs the view of the green from the tee on the par 3 16th.  Given my experience with golfer's and their reactions to blind shots, this one should spark some debate.

The sand dune I am standing on here partially obstructs the view of the green from the tee on the par 3 16th.  Given my experience with golfer's and their reactions to blind shots, this one should spark some debate.

Basketball soon to be replaced by golf ball.  Kidd uses these basketballs to get an idea of how the green will break when finished.

Basketball soon to be replaced by golf ball.  Kidd uses these basketballs to get an idea of how the green will break when finished.

Fresh seed at Mammoth Dunes is coming in nicely.

Fresh seed at Mammoth Dunes is coming in nicely.

While creating Mammoth Dunes, Kidd and his team uncovered an old housing foundation.  Instead of removing it, they made a bunker out of it.  It's gnarly and awesome.

While creating Mammoth Dunes, Kidd and his team uncovered an old housing foundation.  Instead of removing it, they made a bunker out of it.  It's gnarly and awesome.

With Sand Valley Resort off and running, Wisconsin is quickly turning into one of America's go to destinations for amazing public golf.  With Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run, Sentry World, and Erin Hills all a reasonable drive away from one another, the area is poised to see a dramatic spike in buddy trips and birdies.  I know I added a couple to the tally.

To get an idea of the courses you would like to visit, you can view all of my course photos from Wisconsin here.

Go Goleta

Recently, the Goleta Department of Tourism invited me to help create the greatest promotional video that the world has ever seen.  While the world's greatest tag may be a bit of an exaggeration, Goleta is certainly an excellent place to spend a weekend.  

If you are like me, you are probably not familiar with the city of Goleta.  Located just 15 minutes outside of Santa Barbara, CA, Goleta resides right on the Pacific Ocean.  The best part about traveling to Goleta is the airport.  Since the airport is the size of a Spanish villa, it only took me 15 minutes from landing to arrival at the Pacifica Suites hotel.

My buddies for the trip were members of our San Francisco Skeeball team, Adam and Trevor.  That's right Ron Burganskee, Bill Braskee, and Gary Buskee (skeeball aliases) were getting back together.  The trip would start off in Goleta Style with the arrival of an all world gift basket comprised of local Goleta offerings.  Our group would dive into this gem with enthusiasm

First up on the agenda was a visit to the popular Sandpiper Golf Course.  With camera crews present, the pressure was on to deliver high quality golf shots combined with superior modeling skills.  Amidst the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, we delivered in style... Goleta style.  The back nine at Sandpiper Golf Course is exceptionally good and a couple of those birdies should definitely make the highlight reel.

The par 3 11th at Sandpiper sits right on the beach.  View the rest of my photos here.

The par 3 11th at Sandpiper sits right on the beach.  View the rest of my photos here.

After golfing up an appetite at Sandpiper, our group headed to M.Special, a local brewery that has cornhole, giant Jenga, and several standout ales.  We even brought in a Mexican fare lunch as the cameras descended on our dining experience.  If you have never eaten tacos while being filmed at close range, I can assure you it's a pressure packed experience.  We would rise to meet the challenge and consume our chips and salsa like seasoned models/actors.

Trevor displays his newly found skill at field goal beer golf, an impromptu skills challenge that probably won't become popular any time soon.

Trevor displays his newly found skill at field goal beer golf, an impromptu skills challenge that probably won't become popular any time soon.

Maintaining your food model face is difficult work

Maintaining your food model face is difficult work

After lunch, it was time to return to the Pacifica Suites and proceed to pool party like only Burganskee, Braskee, and Buskee can.  The video and picture below should give you an idea of the top notch pool action that happened.

Our final round of the buddies trip was at Glen Annie Golf Club.   With views of the pacific and the rolling foothills of Goleta, it's a fitting end to a fantastic weekend.  Be sure to check out the rest of my photos here. If you are interested in making your own Goleta style experience, you can get started here.

A view of the 10th hole at Glen Annie with lemon trees in the backdrop.

A view of the 10th hole at Glen Annie with lemon trees in the backdrop.

The sun sets on an excellent Goleta weekend over Glen Annie Golf Club

The sun sets on an excellent Goleta weekend over Glen Annie Golf Club

Ohio? Oh, hell yeah.

If you take some time to study the areas of the country in which you can find some of the very best golf in America, you will eventually land on Columbus, Ohio as a golf destination.  Since Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty and I routinely study these types of things, a trip was planned and an all-star itinerary was born.

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When we first arrived in Columbus, instead of heading straight to the golf course, we took a local tip and headed straight to Super Chef's.  With an array of breakfast options, we decided on "The Hulk," a green waffle sandwich with sausage, bacon, egg, and cheese.  This waffle sandwich would play a surprisingly critical role in the trip's proceedings.

After "The Hulk" was consumed, it was off to Scioto Country Club for our first round of golf in Ohio.  Things started off innocently enough until I noticed that Sean had his head down on the golf cart steering wheel.  Sean would announce that he was not feeling well and then proceed to birdie the next two holes.  Later on in the round, Sean would violently lose his waffle sandwich in the turn stand and then proceed to drain a handful of 20 footers.

The 18th hole at Scioto Country Club

The 18th hole at Scioto Country Club

The 10th hole was a favorite

The 10th hole was a favorite

In true "Breaking Eighty" form, Sean would break 80 along with a life long losing streak.  I would shoot 80 to Sean's 79 and Sean would capture victory over me for the first time.  It was a true Michael Jordan "Flu Game" moment.  Apparently The Hulk punching around in Sean's stomach had given him some sort of magical golf powers.

After playing the course where Jack Nicklaus learned the game, Scioto, it was on to play Jack's crowning architectural achievement, Muirfield Village Golf Club.  

Having grown up on a public executive course with a green fee of $5, I had no concept of how good golf courses could actually be.  For a while, I thought executive meant that this is where high powered corporate executives play golf.  As far as I was concerned, the 1905 yard course at Arlington Park was the bee's knees.  That was until my Dad took me on a trip from Indiana to the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.  I remember standing behind the 14th green, just totally amazed.  Only in my wildest dreams as a youngster, could I have imagined actually being able to play this golf course.

In a fitting moment, my only birdie of the day would come at the 14th hole.  Picture taken from where I stood as a kid during my first PGA tour event.

In a fitting moment, my only birdie of the day would come at the 14th hole.  Picture taken from where I stood as a kid during my first PGA tour event.

The tree on the 18th is just as fantastic as it is strategic.

The tree on the 18th is just as fantastic as it is strategic.

The 12th hole at Muirfield is a real gem of a par 3.

The 12th hole at Muirfield is a real gem of a par 3.

After an outstanding day at Muirfield Village, our power twosome would head out to The Golf Club.  Out of all the golf clubs in the United States, this one is The Golf Club.  We had heard good things coming in and the course would not have any trouble living up to it's name.  The Golf Club was designed by Pete Dye in 1967 and Pete actually consulted with a 27 year old Jack Nicklaus on some of the potential shot options on the course.  

Compared to some of Pete Dye's other designs, the features are less challenging, but significant in their subtlety.  From what I can tell, it wasn't until the 1970's that Pete Dye started really hating golfers and the course falls into the category of courses you will want to play over and over.  The course has a similar feel to Crooked Stick which was built around the same time.  

These railroad ties and bunkers are probably the coolest hazards that I have ever encountered.

These railroad ties and bunkers are probably the coolest hazards that I have ever encountered.

Just a slight rise of about 2 feet separates the fairway from the green on #10

Just a slight rise of about 2 feet separates the fairway from the green on #10

The bridge off of 17, my 2 iron would find the water.

The bridge off of 17, my 2 iron would find the water.

The 5th hole is one of the more unique green complexes.

The 5th hole is one of the more unique green complexes.

While Sean recovered from his bought with The Hulk, I would turn a day of 18 into a day of 54 holes, with an afternoon visit to the Ohio State University Scarlet and Gray Golf Courses.  With an executive course and a championship course both designed by Alister Mackenzie, these courses make a great addition to any Columbus trip.  Pro tip: just don't show up in your Michigan gear.

The view from above the Scarlet and Gray courses at Ohio State University

The view from above the Scarlet and Gray courses at Ohio State University

Just as Sean's food poisoning was subsiding, we would run into a second obstacle when weather would force us to move things around due to wet and soggy conditions.  Thinking quickly on our feet, we would be able to secure a tee time at the somewhat nearby Valhalla Golf Club.  As far as replacement rounds go, this was about as good as it gets.  

Unlike Phil Mickelson at the 2014 PGA Championship, we would finish 18 with plenty of sunlight.

Unlike Phil Mickelson at the 2014 PGA Championship, we would finish 18 with plenty of sunlight.

The island green 13th hole at Valhalla.

The island green 13th hole at Valhalla.

In addition to a world class golf course, Valhalla also has one of the coolest hang spots, or "man caves" I have ever seen at a golf course.

Complete with a putting green, full bar, and 2 Trackman simulators, the man cave provides the ultimate post game experience for those that can't get enough golf.  In the photo, we are watching the PGA at Quail Hollow, while golfing at Bethpage Black in the basement of Valhalla.  You could spend 2 days down there.

After honing or games on the simulators, it was time for one final round at the highly anticipated Camargo Club.  Having already played one of Seth Raynor's designs at Shoreacres, I was pretty excited to get a second helping from the classic architect.  As expected, we would not be let down.

The potentially drive-able 4th hole at Valhalla

The potentially drive-able 4th hole at Valhalla

The aptly named "Short" hole at Camargo Club

The aptly named "Short" hole at Camargo Club

After taking this photo, I would roll in a spectacular 35 footer for birdie. #shamelessplug

After taking this photo, I would roll in a spectacular 35 footer for birdie. #shamelessplug

Widely known for it's amazing collection of par 3's and huge greens, Camargo Club was an absolute blast to play.  The club itself is very minimal compared to some of it's counterparts and has an brilliant classic feel to it.  

As Sean was no longer suffering from stomach woes, his golf super powers had worn off and he suffered from a vicious streak of missed putts.  I took it to him with a nice little 75 and all was right in the golf universe again.

Since we didn't end the trip with birdies, we decided to finish it off were we had began, with a local tip on a place to dine.  Zip's Burgers is the place to go when in Cincinnati.  The atmosphere is top notch with an electric train that runs around the ceiling of the eating area.   Sean and I naturally would order up the Girth Burger and I would recommend it.  This time the tip would pay off and we would sail out of town with satisfied and settled stomachs.

A view from the Redan on 15 at Camargo Club.  The original Redan at North Berwick is also the 15th hole.

A view from the Redan on 15 at Camargo Club.  The original Redan at North Berwick is also the 15th hole.

Colorado

If you are looking for some distance gains with the driver, you may want to consider a trip to Colorado instead of forking over $500 for the latest and greatest.  With the entire state resting at least 1000 meters above sea level, you will gain at least half a club, no questions asked.

This was my first golf visit to the "Centennial State" and Colorado has some serious golf options located just outside of Denver.  First up on the agenda was Jack Nicklaus' Castle Pines.  The course opened in 1981 and from 1986 to 2006 hosted the International, a PGA Tour event.  In certain circles, Castle Pines may be even more well known for it's milkshakes.  I finally would know the feeling John Travolta expresses in the clip below from Pulp Fiction.  They are seriously that good.  After a glorious introduction to golf in Colorado at Castle Pines, a day of 36 at Cherry Hills and Colorado Golf Club was on the calendar.

It's quite possible that Travolta prepared for his role as Vincent Vega by visiting the Castle Pines shake shack.

Click on any of the images to view all of my photos from that course.

Click on any of the images to view all of my photos from that course.

The view of 18 from the clubhouse at Castle Pines

The view of 18 from the clubhouse at Castle Pines

 Cherry Hills is most well know for the 1960 US Open in which Arnold Palmer erased a 7 shot deficit to claim victory.  Being a part of Arnie's Army for as long as I can remember, I couldn't have been more excited for my visit.  If there was a single swing that earned Arnie the tile of "The King" his drive on the first hole at Cherry Hills was it.  Palmer would find the green with a persimmon driver and balata ball on the 346 yard par 4.

Would I be able to drive the green and duplicate the feat?  Would I birdie 6 of the first 7 to shoot 65?  Could I live up to the legend?  The answer would be a resounding no.  Even with superior technology, I would come up 30 yards short on #1 and only manage two birdies in the first seven holes.  I was pretty stoked about those 2 birdies with one coming on a holed out bunker shot.

A view from Arnie's tee box on #1 at Cherry Hills.

A view from Arnie's tee box on #1 at Cherry Hills.

A look down at Cherry Hills

A look down at Cherry Hills

After a fantastic morning round at Cherry Hills, I headed down the road to Colorado Golf Club.  CGC was created by the architectural duo of Coore & Crenshaw.  Having enjoyed several of their creations, I was excited for the afternoon round.  Adding some more flames to the fire was Instagram sensation Karin Hart.  Karin is a newcomer to the game, but she has picked things up nicely.  

Karin recovers from the rough looking stylish

Karin recovers from the rough looking stylish

The short 2nd hole kicks off the par 3 fun at Colorado Golf Club.

The short 2nd hole kicks off the par 3 fun at Colorado Golf Club.

Aside from the course, one of the highlights from our round at Colorado Golf Club was our forecaddie, Sadie LeCheminant.  Usually, I struggle to find serious value in a forecaddie, but Sadie brought the heat to our foursome.  A former professional snow boarder, Sadie was easily the best forecaddie I had experienced.  Book her today if you are serious about having a well informed and joyous time on the golf course.  

Sadie dials in the yardage, she would later dial in a well timed golf quip.

Sadie dials in the yardage, she would later dial in a well timed golf quip.

Next up was the 3 hour drive to Holyoke, CO and Ballyneal Golf Club.  With a population of 2,313 people, you probably have not heard of Holyoke.  However, Ballyneal is doing a great job of putting Holyoke on the map.  Even though it's in the middle of nowhere, Ballyneal has a small cozy resort feel to it.  Everything a golfer could want is right on the property.  With a large putting green course, a par 3 course, and a championship layout, you won't run out of golf to enjoy.  Left to myself, I would play until darkness covered the course, then I would play 3 more holes.

The wildly fun 6th hole is a drive-able par 4 with a uniquely shaped green.

The wildly fun 6th hole is a drive-able par 4 with a uniquely shaped green.

The 6th hole at Ballyneal

The 6th hole at Ballyneal

After a drive back to civilization, I would find myself in Colorado Springs looking at The Broadmoor Hotel.  The Broadmoor is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and it's visitors have included heads of state, celebrities, athletes, and business tycoons.  In 1986, George Bush woke up with a hangover in the Broadmoor and decided "he would drink no more."  The Broadmoor parties hard.

There are also 3 golf courses at The Broadmoor and I was scheduled to take on the East Course.  The East course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr and Donald Ross.  The course has hosted a number of USGA events over the years and will host the 2018 US Senior Open.

In an attempt to save up some golf karma, I would go birdie free during my round at The Broadmoor.  However, I would score with my pairing and join up with two fantastic gentlemen.  After the round, we would tour the hotel.  It's worth a visit even if you are not staying on the property.

Originally established in 1918, The Broadmoor Hotel has 779 rooms.

Originally established in 1918, The Broadmoor Hotel has 779 rooms.

The short 17th at Bear Dance

The short 17th at Bear Dance

For the final leg of my Colorado tour, I would take in a recommended local course called Bear Dance.  Despite it's name, the course was not designed by Jack Nicklaus and I would not dance with any bears.  However, I would resume my dances with birdies and get my fist pump on 4 times.

In a very anti climatic end to the trip, I would par the final hole of the trip and stop at a Taco Bell on my way out of town.  I usually prefer the birdie and Arby's exit strategy.

The astoundingly large bear paw bunker at Bear Dance was not actually left by a 15,000 pound bear.

The astoundingly large bear paw bunker at Bear Dance was not actually left by a 15,000 pound bear.

Scotland

After an inspiring trip to Ireland that included 13 rounds of golf in 8 days, I wanted more.  With Scotland just a short plane ride away, I decided to board that plane and meet up with a serious crew of golf nuts.

  • Ashley Mayo - Trip planner and ring leader of the golf circus.  This critically acclaimed Golf Digest Editor was also celebrating a birthday.
  • Jeff Blind - As the boyfriend of Ashley, Jeff is often referred to as Mr Mayo on hotel reservations.  However, standing at 6'6" Jeff holds his own on the golf course.
  • Jeff Filer - A second Jeff, standing at what feels like 7'2".  Thats over 13' feet of Jeff to deal with.
  • Shane Bacon - Fresh off his broadcast at the US Open, Shane brought his handsome face and swing speeds exceeding 115 mph.
  • Tom Murray - A master of the quip and pee your pants one liners, Tom brings the comedic heat. As a special treat, Tom will host the Paper Plate Awards at the end of this post.
  • Hally Leadbetter - Hally is a recovering tour pro on staff with Golf Digest.  This girl can golf her ball.
  • Chris Solomon - Chris is the driving force behind the No Laying Up podcast.  True to his game, Chris would not lay up once during the trip.

It is claimed that golf was first played in the village of Cruden Bay in 1791.  100 years later, Old Tom Morris of St Andrews and Archie Simpson would design Cruden Bay Golf Club in 1899. The course was then redesigned by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler in the 1920's.  Our group would hit our golf balls 226 years after the 1st golf ball was struck on this land.

Chris Solomon pounds one deep at Cruden Bay's 6th hole.

Chris Solomon pounds one deep at Cruden Bay's 6th hole.

After a rousing start to the golf trip, things were about to get nasty.  Carnasty at Carnoustie that is.  With winds gusting into the 40mph range on one of the toughest tests in golf, the golf battle was on.

Since The Open is coming to Carnoustie in 2018, it was important for our team to test the merits of the layout.  Even though they have been golfing here since 1850 and our opinions don't "officially" matter, we approved this course for Open play.

I always remember to pose as hard as I golf.

I always remember to pose as hard as I golf.

Photo bombed my way through Cruden Bay today. Hey, hey.

A post shared by Patrick Koenig (@pjkoenig) on

Tom would smoke his the 3 wood into the wind on the difficult 17th "Island" hole at Carnoustie.  You can sense the amazement in the face of the caddie as Tom finds the green.

Tom would smoke his the 3 wood into the wind on the difficult 17th "Island" hole at Carnoustie.  You can sense the amazement in the face of the caddie as Tom finds the green.

Hally would find the sand often at Carnoustie, this one would also find the bottom of the cup for birdie.

Hally would find the sand often at Carnoustie, this one would also find the bottom of the cup for birdie.

After a long and tumultuous internet romance between Shane and Chris, this would be the first time that they would actually meet in person.  With expectations high for a life altering introduction, things were surprisingly normal and there were no uncomfortable Butler Cabin moments or sloppy make out sessions.  

With it often being difficult to obtain a tee time to play the Old Course, Crail is a fantastic option just down the road.  With most of the holes offering fantastic views of the North Sea, Crail will satisfy your golfing soul.

The par 3 14th hole at Crail greets you on your arrival to the Balcomie Course.

The par 3 14th hole at Crail greets you on your arrival to the Balcomie Course.

After a successful morning round at Carnoustie, half of our group would tackle the Old Course at St Andrews.  The other half would head to the Golfing Society of Crail. 

Here we have Jeff Blind finding the green, Jeff Filer looking on, and Tom Murphy looking on in sheer amazement.

Here we have Jeff Blind finding the green, Jeff Filer looking on, and Tom Murphy looking on in sheer amazement.

The view from the 1st hole at Crail's Balcomie Course.

The view from the 1st hole at Crail's Balcomie Course.

Since only half of our group had played The Old Course, the other half needed to get up early and wait in line to get a tee time for that day.  After chatting with the starter, we were advised that getting in line between 3am and 4am should put us in a good position to be sprinkled into the tee sheet as singles throughout the morning.

After a good 2 hours of sleep, we walked through the darkness and got into line at 3:15am.  The first person in line had arrived at 2:18 am and we were in positions 5-8.  We were confident as we waited for the starter to open at 6am.  As we watched the sunrise over St Andrews, it was clear that there are far worse lines to wait in.  I'd take a 3 hour wait at the Old Course over a 30 minute wait at the DMV all day long.

At 6am, the starter opened up to a round of applause.  Moments later, we would learn that a foursome had cancelled their 7am foursome and our group was next in line to claim the coveted tee time.  After some high fiving and coffee drinking, The Old Course was ours.

The view from the early morning line at the Old Course.

The view from the early morning line at the Old Course.

Excitement level at 10 as we nab the 7am slot.

Excitement level at 10 as we nab the 7am slot.

Classic classicness.

Classic classicness.

Par saver from the knees!

Par saver from the knees!

Jeff Blind finds the green on 18!  "I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life."

Jeff Blind finds the green on 18!  "I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life."

Having heard much about the Old Course before actually visiting, my expectations were for a flat and rather pedestrian golf course.  I was told that it takes years and a minimum of 10 rounds to appreciate the subtleties of the Old Course.  

What I did not expect was just how much fun the course is to play.  The course is anything but flat and has incredible undulations that add a great deal of interest to any shot played along the ground.  Each hole feels like a walk through history and the ambiance of the course is unlike anything else.

I was surprised how far right you really have to go with your tee shot on 17 and I also can't describe just how awesome that tee shot into 18 is.  I remember smiling as I pounded one towards the village of St Andrews.  When was the last time you hit a tee shot with a big ass grin on your face?   

I feel sorry for people that don’t play golf.
— Shane Bacon

After a round of golf at The Old Course, The Dunvegan Motel is the place to get your golf party on.  It's where quotes like this make sense.

Up next was an afternoon round at Elie Golf Links.  It was a unanimous decision that this was the windiest round of golf that any of us had ever played.  Balls were not staying on the tees and flushed 6 irons were only going 80 yards.  You could literally fall into the wind and it would just push you right back up again.

After a 380 yard 3 wood, Jeff plays his 2nd from the parking lot at Elie Golf Links.

After a 380 yard 3 wood, Jeff plays his 2nd from the parking lot at Elie Golf Links.

Ashley checks out the periscope clubhouse at Elie Golf Links.  This is an actual periscope from the HMS Excalibur submarine that allows the starter's office to alert golfers when the 1st fairway is clear.

Ashley checks out the periscope clubhouse at Elie Golf Links.  This is an actual periscope from the HMS Excalibur submarine that allows the starter's office to alert golfers when the 1st fairway is clear.

After 2 hours of sleep, 18 at the Old Course, 18 at Elie in 45 mph winds, it was time to play a sunset round on St Andrews' Jubilee course.  To cap things off, we ordered Domino's pizza and smoked cigars from the Jigger Inn as we watched the sunset over 17 and 18 on the Old Course.  In terms of golf days, this was a good one.

A nice little compilation of when it takes 4 tries to escape and I am in the group with my camera, 

A nice little compilation of when it takes 4 tries to escape and I am in the group with my camera, 

In a heated golf bus discussion, our group debated the captioning options for Hally's Instagram post.  "Feel the 'burn' between your legs at Kingsbarns." was deemed too racy and was unfortunately scrapped.

In a heated golf bus discussion, our group debated the captioning options for Hally's Instagram post.  "Feel the 'burn' between your legs at Kingsbarns." was deemed too racy and was unfortunately scrapped.

With only one day left in Scotland, it was a day of 36 holes at Kingsbarns and North Berwick.  With Kingsbarns opening for play in 2000 and North Berwick being established in 1832, this was a good mix of the old and new.

The 18th at Kingsbarns

The 18th at Kingsbarns

At around 200 yards, the 15th at Kingsbarns is a real ball buster of a par 3.

At around 200 yards, the 15th at Kingsbarns is a real ball buster of a par 3.

The 12th hole at Kingsbarns was recently voted the best par 5 in Scotland based on a poll conducted by VisitScotland.com

The 12th hole at Kingsbarns was recently voted the best par 5 in Scotland based on a poll conducted by VisitScotland.com

North Berwick was one of the courses that I had earmarked on the agenda as I was looking forward to many of the holes and the original architecture.   North Berwick did not let us down that day as it has been satisfying golfers since 1832.  It knows what it's doing.

"The Pit" hole at North Berwick is as fun as any other golf hole in the world.

"The Pit" hole at North Berwick is as fun as any other golf hole in the world.

The biarritz green on the 16th at North Berwick is outstanding.

The biarritz green on the 16th at North Berwick is outstanding.

With the trip nearing completion as we headed down the 18th fairway, Ashley Mayo decided to knock one in for eagle and earn shot of the trip awards.  What a legend, that Mayo.  

With Ashley's walk off eagle, the trip was complete and it was time to take some selfies and hand out some awards.  I know you have been eagerly awaiting the Paper Plate Awards hosted by Tom Murray.  

Paper Plate Awards Hosted by Tom Murray

  • Most likely to play 36 while we're sleeping Award- Patrick Koenig *It's true, I played Muirfield twice while every was in bed on Tuesday.
  • Steal my chips and look like Jason Whitten Award - Jeff Filer *Jeff had 2 touchdowns and 3 birdies on The Old Course.
  • Most likely to pound the most D's on the same hole Award - Jeff Blind *D stands for driver people, jeez.
  • Expedia.com travel insurance Award - Shane Bacon *Shane booked the wrong flight and showed up a day late.
  • Hit every fairway Award - Ashley Mayo *Ashley has hit every fairway since mid 2005.
  • Least likely to lay up Award - Chris Solomon *not even once.
  • Feel the burn Award - Hally Leadbetter *While the caption may have been scrapped, the burn lives on.
See ya later, Scotland!

See ya later, Scotland!

Ireland

After reading countless books and listening to endless accounts of the golf in Ireland, I finally booked my flight to visit and play.  I would play 13 courses in 8 days, and at the end, the only thing I would wonder, is why I had not done this sooner.

On the flight over the pond, I decided to take in the book "A Course Called Ireland" by Tom Coyne.  The book is a self told tale of a man who decides to walk around the entire country of Ireland playing golf.  Although I had time constraints and would need to drive in between courses, the book got me in the mood to golf hard.  As the wheels hit the ground and I started driving my rental car on the wrong (left) side of the road, I wasted no time in hitting the links.

The journey began with a day of 45 holes between the 27 at Portmarnock and 18 at The Island.  Fortunately, the wind would only give me a gentle welcome with 15-20mph breezes nipping at my ball.  I would take advantage of the good conditions and card several rounds in the 70's.  The golf train was off and rolling hard.  It would not slow down for 7 days and I would not touch the brakes.

The 12th hole at Portmarnock

The 12th hole at Portmarnock

The 5th hole at The Island

The 5th hole at The Island

Next up was the world's #1 ranked golf course, Royal County Down.  With expectations bordering on ridiculous, the course did manage to meet most of my expectations.  Royal County Down is indeed one of the best courses I have seen.  The course never really lets up, but highlights include the par 3, 4th hole and the approach on #9.  In an unrelated note, Royal County Down set the record for most pictures taken at a course with 295.  It is as scenic as it is good.  A click on any of the pictures or links throughout the post will take you to a course's full gallery.

A look back on the par 3 4th at Royal County Down.  

A look back on the par 3 4th at Royal County Down.  

Next up was a visit to the world's oldest clubhouse and a round of golf at Ardglass Golf Club.  Built in 1405, the pro shop is housed in an old castle.  Just take several steps out of the castle and wander past some cannons and you will find the first tee.  You won't find anything like this in Florida.

It was at this point during my trip that I stopped paying attention to yardages on the scorecards.   With consistent 30mph winds, 6,260 yards has little meaning.  

If you are planning a visit to Royal County Down, I highly suggest staying at the Slieve Donard.  For a castle right next door to the world's highest rated golf course, it's not too pricey.

If you are planning a visit to Royal County Down, I highly suggest staying at the Slieve Donard.  For a castle right next door to the world's highest rated golf course, it's not too pricey.

What a clubhouse built in 1405 looks like in 2017.

What a clubhouse built in 1405 looks like in 2017.

The tee shot on the opener at Ardglass.

The tee shot on the opener at Ardglass.

Even though it was a decent drive up to Royal Portrush, I wasn't about to skip the newest edition to The Open rotation.  In order to earn their spot in the rota, Royal Portrush scrapped their existing 17th and 18th holes and built 2 new holes on the edge of the property.  I was able to see them, but I just missed the official opening by 2 weeks.

Although it was one of my favorites, Royal Portrush was probably the toughest test of golf that I faced on my trip.  The rough is very penal and if you are hitting it sideways, which is easy to do in 30mph winds, you will lose plenty of golf balls.  I am looking forward to watching The Open in 2019.

The 5th hole at Royal Portrush gives you a stunning welcome to the water.

The 5th hole at Royal Portrush gives you a stunning welcome to the water.

It does take some time getting used to driving on the left side of the road, but after a 6 hour drive down to the town of Lahinch, I was feeling confident with my motorist abilities.

At Lahinch, I would encounter the only sub par weather of the trip.  We made the most of it by sliding down the fescue and generally enjoying the misty and rainy conditions.

One of my favorite aspects of Irish golf are these grass walking paths.

One of my favorite aspects of Irish golf are these grass walking paths.

It was a shame not to catch Lahinch in more ideal weather conditions.  The course is a real stunner with some good lighting on it.  Although, they have a saying in Ireland that goes like this... "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute."  As it turns out, some of my best lighting would come moments later at Doonbeg with an afternoon round.

The 6th hole is drive-able from the gold tees.  With views like this, I didn't care too much about missing my short eagle putt.

The 6th hole is drive-able from the gold tees.  With views like this, I didn't care too much about missing my short eagle putt.

Dunes at Doonbeg

Dunes at Doonbeg

You can see the difference in elevation change between the back nine (center) and front nine (top right) at Tralee Golf Club

You can see the difference in elevation change between the back nine (center) and front nine (top right) at Tralee Golf Club

Up next, was a visit to Tralee Golf Club.  The open nine sweeps out to the ocean's edge quickly and treats the golf to some fine views of 14th century castle remains.  However, it is the back nine that receives most of the attention due to it's bold setting and design by architect Ed Seay.  

Some golfers may argue that the 440 yard par 4 12th hole, that usually plays into a prevailing wind, is a tad excessive.  Especially, with an 80 foot chasm before the green.   However, given that most golfers in the UK and Ireland prefer match to stroke play, the design becomes far more interesting when considering your opponent's score instead of par.  You are far better off keeping this mentality in mind as you play Tralee and the rest of Ireland.

Into the wind, the par 3 16th, can sometimes require a driver to reach the surface.  Fortunately, the breeze was benign and my 8 iron landed softly.

Into the wind, the par 3 16th, can sometimes require a driver to reach the surface.  Fortunately, the breeze was benign and my 8 iron landed softly.

After a fine outing at Tralee, a day of 36 was up next at Dooks and Waterville.  With the courses 30 minutes apart, this was an easy one to add to the calendar.  

Not sure why Dooks is considered off the traditional path, as it has one of the best settings for golf in Ireland.  It is also home to breeding grounds for the Natterjack toad.  Not only is Natterjack toad fun to say, but it is also the course's logo.

On the first tee at Waterville, I noticed that something was missing.  Something felt off.  Why was it so quiet?  Where was the sound of 30 mph wind blasting across my ears!?!?  The wind had stopped completely.  I didn't question things for too long and starting firing my ball at the limp flags.  As predicted, the afternoon breezes would freshen up and golf scores would return to normal.

Views on views at Dooks.

Views on views at Dooks.

Waterville from above. Here we see the 4th and 15th greens at the very edge of the golf course.

Waterville from above. Here we see the 4th and 15th greens at the very edge of the golf course.

After a drive further south, I would arrive at the much anticipated Ballybunion.  In addition to having an interesting name, the course has some golf holes of interest as well.  The most anticipated being the 8th hole.  My buddy Xan had made an ace some ten years ago and I had vowed to return to the scene and duplicate his feat.  In an extremely anticlimactic moment, I would fly the green and make bogey.  The hunt for my first ace marches on.

It is easy to see why everyone raves about Ballybunion as it delivers on just about every level and has several holes in contention for the "Golden Shamrock" awards.  Just as the name indicates, the forthcoming awards should not be taken too seriously and YouTube style arguments are encouraged in the comments.

The Golden Shamrocks: Stupid Name, Serious Awards.

The Golden Shamrocks: Stupid Name, Serious Awards.

The cool factor of the grass path here may take your mind off the fact that you need a punch driver to find the surface.

The cool factor of the grass path here may take your mind off the fact that you need a punch driver to find the surface.

With only one day left in Ireland, I would wrap things up with a day of 36 at Cork Golf Club and Old Head.  Cork was the only "non-links" course on the agenda, but with architectural credit to Alister Mackenzie, it was an easy one to add.  Cork Golf Club, like every other course on the trip, did not disappoint.

The 4th hole at Cork Golf Club

The 4th hole at Cork Golf Club

The setting for golf at Old Head is unlike any other on this planet.

The setting for golf at Old Head is unlike any other on this planet.

Old Head has been criticized for the disjointed nature of the "inland" holes with those along the coast.  After playing, I can certainly see the merits in such claims, but the experience of the round should outweigh most gripes one can find.  For a "golfographer" like myself, the stunning views and unique shots kept my attention just fine.

The par 3 16th at Old Head with the lighthouse in the distance.

The par 3 16th at Old Head with the lighthouse in the distance.

Best of trip awards: The "Golden Shamrocks"

  • Best par 3:  I had planned on making at least one ace on the trip and then just giving the shamrock to that hole.  However, I did not make an ace and the award goes where it belongs... to No 4 at Royal County Down.
  • Shot of the trip:  The 3 iron that came in sideways off the sea and smacked into the flagstick on #2 at Ardglass.  I would miss the short birdie putt and slump off to #3.
  • Best roadside snack: Between rounds on an international golf trip it is important to stay properly fueled.  Gas stations in Ireland carry these chocolate graham cracker things called Hobnobs.  It's basically gasoline for birdies.  Winner: Hobnobs.
  • Best par 4: With approximately 130 contenders in this category, the battle was tense.  Early on, the 1st hole at Ardglass was in the lead, then Lahinch and Tralee happened.  But in the end, the 11th hole at Ballybunion with it's views, it's challenge, and it's playing options, could simply not be beat.
  • Best tweet:  If you haven't noticed, the golf tweets have been extra spicy lately.  This one was brought to you by the caddies at Ballybunion.
  • Best par 5:  With contenders from the 1890's doing battle against designs from the 1990's.  This one was real hard to judge.  Although if you stand on 12 tee box at Old Head long enough, she will convince you.  Winner: #12 Old Head Golf Links.
  • Best roadtrip detour:  Somewhere in between Ardglass and Royal Portrush is Bertie's Pitch and Putt.  It's a full 18 holes in Bertie's back yard.  The best way to break up the golf is with more golf.  Runner up: The Cliffs of Moher
  • Most treacherous green:  Inside the Waterville house, there is an absurdly long hallway that leads to the Tillinghast room.  Legend has it that Tiger Woods 4 putted this hallway during his visit to Waterville.
  • Best Overall Course:  This is by far and away the most frequently asked question I have been asked.  It is also a ridiculous question to answer.  Each course that I played had tremendous character, outstanding conditions, with fun and unique playing options.  The photographs should convince you of each course's unique beauty and setting.  The final Shamrock award reminds me of the book that I read on my way over here. Winner: That course called Ireland. 

Golf Digest Think Young Play Hard Invitational - 2017

Every year, the fine folks over at Golf Digest throw a big golf tournament party and they call it the Think Young Play Hard Invitational, or TYPHI for short.  The tournament is so much fun, that it is one of the few tournaments T Rex attends every year.  As it turns out, the 65 million year old creature is a total golf nut.

For the tournament's inaugural 2 years, it has been hosted in Las Vegas.  Sensing that the TYPHI needed a change of pace, the tournament organizers consulted the ancient golf scrolls and moved the venue to Bandon Dunes.  From hot desert terrain to sea side wind storms, the tournament was on the move to the Pacific coast. 

When in doubt, go to Bandon Dunes
— Ancient Proverb

There are 2 acceptable options for any golfer arriving at Bandon Dunes without enough time for a full 18: Hone your putting game on the Punch Bowl or go to Bandon Preserve and warm up your wedges.  We had time for both.

The 2nd hole at Bandon Preserve gets the golf juices flowing.

The 2nd hole at Bandon Preserve gets the golf juices flowing.

With holes like the 6th, Bandon Preserve is easily one of the country's best short courses.

With holes like the 6th, Bandon Preserve is easily one of the country's best short courses.

For those new to Bandon, the Punch Bowl is a 100,000 square foot putting course designed by Jim Urbina and Tom Doak. It just had it's 3rd birthday and is a terrific way to spend hours putting.

You will find every kind of putt you can imagine out there, and probably a few you’ve never dreamed of.
— Tom Doak

With the tournament preparation taken care of, it was time to set our sites on the first round.  My partner?  Why It was none other than Smooderoo.  She's a doctor in Canada and wears hats that say "Pray for Birdies"  What could go wrong?  As it turns out in golf, lots of things can go wrong. 

Things that remained high during Round 1 of the 2017 TYPHI

  • Spirits
  • Temperatures
  • Our golf scores
In one of our team's first round highlights, we made a 4 footer for par on the relatively easy 17th hole at Bandon Trails.  The highlight reel was sparse, the aerial footage was plentiful.

In one of our team's first round highlights, we made a 4 footer for par on the relatively easy 17th hole at Bandon Trails.  The highlight reel was sparse, the aerial footage was plentiful.

The popular 5th hole at Bandon Trails.

The popular 5th hole at Bandon Trails.

This is where we would drop out of the lead.  #2 at Bandon Trails.

This is where we would drop out of the lead.  #2 at Bandon Trails.

So naturally, after a tough outing at Bandon Trails, I headed over to Pacific Dunes to hone my wind game.  I was fortunate enough to tee it up with the guys from ShipSticks and a good time was had flying drones, taking photos, and also playing some golf.  In perfect weather, with the sun setting over the ocean, Pacific Dunes is a visual assault on the golfing senses.  I tried to capture the magic from the ground and from the air.

A look back on the short 16th at Pacific Dunes.

A look back on the short 16th at Pacific Dunes.

The golf party really starts on the 3rd hole at Pacific Dunes.

The golf party really starts on the 3rd hole at Pacific Dunes.

With round 1 in the books, we found our 2 man team 4 shots out of the TYPHI flight lead.  Unfortunately, we would do little to help ourselves up the leader board during the second round at Bandon Dunes.  However, Sarah did help herself to some scotch at Bandon's secret stash.

The difficult 5th at Bandon Dunes is one of the best holes on the property.

The difficult 5th at Bandon Dunes is one of the best holes on the property.

A different view of the 16th green at Bandon Dunes.

A different view of the 16th green at Bandon Dunes.

In the end it was the folks from Jones Golf that totally dominated the field with stellar play both rounds.  Congratulations fellas!!  I highly suggest that you honor their victory by picking up a Jones bag.

 Just when the awards were about to be handed out, T Rex came in hot and crashed the party.  He immediately started roaring and pounding Bud Lights.  He then proceeded  to pass out as he took in a classic Bandon Dunes sunset.

After spending some time in the Bunker Bar and telling stories of missed putts and chunked chips, it was time for an early morning send off round at Old Macdonald and just like that the TYPHI had come to a close.

A big thanks to Luan and the team at Golf Digest, the staff at Bandon Dunes, and all of the sponsors for putting on another fantastic tournament.  

What your golf ball sees at it descends onto the 11th green.

What your golf ball sees at it descends onto the 11th green.

The view from behind and above #13.

The view from behind and above #13.

Leave a ball, take a pull on the scotch, and go make some birdies.

Leave a ball, take a pull on the scotch, and go make some birdies.

Any time you use the same club 5 times in a row, it’s a bad thing.
— Patrick Koenig
Our final round pairing featured Instagram standout Kasia Kay.  This girl can golf her ball.

Our final round pairing featured Instagram standout Kasia Kay.  This girl can golf her ball.

After calling in 6 rules violations, an angry and drunken T Rex demands a recount of all scores.

After calling in 6 rules violations, an angry and drunken T Rex demands a recount of all scores.

Personally, I am a big fan of railroad ties in bunkers.

Personally, I am a big fan of railroad ties in bunkers.

The Eighty Club

With all of the pictures I post of fantastic golf courses, I often get asked "How can I also play at these exclusive private clubs?"  People have written books on the topic, but to me, the answer remains simple.

  • Join a private club.
  • Network with other members of your club and others.
  • Play golf frequently with new people at new places.
  • Help out others whenever you can.
  • Be awesome to play golf with.

The best part about putting effort into the ideas above, is that you get to meet some really cool and interesting people.  There are a lot of people out there that love golf as much as I do and every time I meet one of them, we become fast friends.

One of those friends is Sean Ogle, the founder of Breaking Eighty.  Not only does Sean run an excellent golf blog, but he has created a forum to bring these friends together.  It is called The Eighty Club.

As Sean describes it.  The Eighty Club is a private golf society for the game's most passionate followers.  I describe it as a place where a group of golf nuts can talk about golf courses, golf architecture, golf equipment, or even golf ball shaped pizzas.  The rules to join are simple.

  • You must belong to a private club.
  • You have an interest in traveling and playing a variety of different golf courses.
  • You are passionate about the game and want to share this passion with others.

So what goes on in the Eighty Club?  

  • Online forum - Everything golf related gets discussed.
  • Weekly Newsletter - Sean gets on his blog horse and sends out the week's hottest takes from the club and the world of golf.
  • Potential for easier access - Meet people from other clubs around the country.
  • Live events -  The Eighty Club is looking to host 4-6 events annually. 
Portland Golf Club hosted the very first Eighty Club event.

Portland Golf Club hosted the very first Eighty Club event.

As you can see, Sean Ogle is pretty excited about having you join the Eighty Club.  Here he celebrates at Columbia Edgewater in Portland.

As you can see, Sean Ogle is pretty excited about having you join the Eighty Club.  Here he celebrates at Columbia Edgewater in Portland.

I show a couple of Eighty Clubbers the ropes of iPhone golf course photography at Pumpkin Ridge.

I show a couple of Eighty Clubbers the ropes of iPhone golf course photography at Pumpkin Ridge.

Shown here are 5 of The Eighty Club's 122 members, or roughly 4.1%

Shown here are 5 of The Eighty Club's 122 members, or roughly 4.1%

In my personal opinion The Eighty Club is one of the best ways to meet people that love to travel, love to play golf, and love to show off their clubs.  When you're not playing, it's a well run forum where you can discuss all things golf with people that are passionate about the game.  The people that I have met so far have been welcoming, knowledgable, and a lot of fun to play golf with.  As the club grows, it's only going to get better,  

The first event was a ton of fun and took place at some of the best clubs that Portland has to offer.  With Sean scheduling events all over the country The Eighty Club has the potential to dramatically boost your golf network as well as your travel itinerary.  I know I am looking forward to the next event in Philadelphia. 

So how do I get in the club?  There is a $500 annual membership fee to join The Eighty Club.  But the good news is that if you mention you are a friend of pjkoenig, Sean will knock $100 off of the annual price.  Sean covers the details here on his site and if you are ready to submit your application, click here.  As far as memberships to social clubs go, this one receives my highest rating: 10/10.  I look forward to seeing you inside the club.