Golf Blog

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 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.  

Guest Golf Blog Post - Paul Bradshaw

Have you ever thought this to yourself "I bet if I just quite my job and played golf all day, I could probably make it on the PGA Tour?"  Yeah, I played Torrey Pines once and shot a 74.  Yeah sure, I just need to hole a couple more putts and hello US Open!  How hard can it be? 

Here to share his story as an aspiring pro, we have a very special guest on the PJKoenig golf blog, Paul Bradshaw!  Paul hit his first golf shot at the age of 5, and from that point on was immediately hooked. He went on to become one of the leading amateurs in South Africa, securing a full golf scholarship with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Turning professional in 2004, Paul played extensively on the Sunshine Tour and co-sanctioned European Tour events.

Today Paul works for a major golf retailer in South Africa and operates his passion project, Golf Assessor.  Below you will find Paul's story, you can also find out more about Paul at www.golfassessor.com.

People think the life of a touring professional is all bells and whistles. Trust me on this one – if you’re a journeyman, it’s definitely not.  

I turned professional in 2004 after attending the University of Arkansas on a golf scholarship for a couple years. And ‘excited’ was an understatement. I couldn’t wait to get started on what would be a great learning curve and journey filled with ups and downs.

Being from Cape Town, South Africa I chose to tackle the Sunshine Tour first. So many players have used it as a stepping stone through their careers such as Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, John Daly, Tom Lehman, Lee Westwood to name but a few. A tour that has a good number of events each year with a handful of them co-sanctioned by the European Tour having purses of $750 000 at that point in time.

The first tournament I played I fired rounds of 73-70 and missed the cut by one stroke. Welcome to life as a touring professional! Being only my first event though and being hugely confident in the early stages of my career, I wasn’t phased. Plenty more events coming up.

My second event was the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek and also a European Tour event. I was staying 50 minutes away from the course that week (because the course is in the middle of nowhere) and I still had a private courtesy car pick me up and take me through to the course each day.  Free food and drink before and after each round in the clubhouse. Manufacturers on the range letting you test clubs and if you’re happy with them – they’re yours. Four dozen balls for the tournament, 4 gloves and 3 caps. How does anyone even use that many balls in 4 months never mind 4 rounds!!? It was somewhat of a whirlwind that was oh so enjoyable.

A tough course and I opened with rounds of 71-73. Coming into the scorer’s tent after the round I honestly felt as though my score wasn’t good enough and I had missed the cut. Well, turns out I made the cut by 5 strokes. Easy Game!

Third round I was paired with Tim Clark and final round paired with Francesco Molinari (his first ever event as a professional and now he’s gone on to make millions of Dollars). I didn’t finish the event off as well as I’d liked, but I finished in a tie for 48 th and made $3 000 for my efforts. As a 21 year old I thought to myself “I can get used to this earning decently and not even playing my best too!”

Fast forward 6 months and 8 events later. I missed a few cuts and now the co-sanctioned events were over meaning tournament prize money purses were back to peanuts. Events where you make the cut, but unfortunately still don’t make enough money to cover your costs for the week. One three round event during the winter tour I carded rounds of 71-69- 70 to finish 6 under and T7th. I made a whopping $750. On the Sunshine Tour. A Top 10 finish. My expenses for the week came to $500 so I recorded a profit of $250. That’s when I started realizing that this is a whole lot more difficult than people think.

The general public see the bigger names earnings hundreds of thousands if not millions of Dollars, but don’t necessarily understand that they are the huge minority of professionals that don’t have to worry about money ever again and are just chasing victories. As for the rest of us, it is tough!

Don’t get me wrong though – if you are talented and driven (keyword ‘driven’ there!) then you may just take advantage of windows of opportunity and make a successful career of it. Look at guys like Ian Poulter, he was a very average amateur who struggled to even break 70. He isn’t a great ball striker at all and stats and other players will vouch for that. However, he’s made a killing from golf and drives a couple Ferarri’s, has a mansion in Florida and never has to worry about money again.

I take my hat off to the guys that have plugged away for hours on the range for years and years and finally succeeded by winning a tournament or securing playing rights or whatever it may be. It is tough on you mentally and it’s amazing how professional golf can sift out the stayers and the ones that fall away. It takes a toll on you mentally especially if you’ve missed a number of cuts in a row. That’s why players like Justin Rose I have immense respect for and should all of you. He missed 21 cuts in a row as a professional after finishing T4th at the 1998 Open Championship as an amateur. If that was me I don’t think would’ve ever been able to recover. But he did. And now he’s ranked 9 th in the world as of 10 April 2017. Absolutely phenomenal.

All I can say is when watching your next PGA Tour event, take note of the adverts in between footage.  Because the PGA Tour’s slogan is oh so right – “These Guys Are Good”.

2017 Masters

A week before The 2017 Masters, I received a text message with an offer to attend a practice round and the Par 3 contest at Augusta.  It didn't take long for me to reply and pack my bags.  The first thing I put in that bag was my camera.  You are permitted to bring cameras on the course for practice rounds at Augusta!  

Upon our arrival, we decided to check out the scene on Washington Road.  Washington Road is the same road where John Daly hangs out at Hooters and sells T-shirts and fancy pants.  Naturally we stopped by.  I passed on taking a picture with big John, as I felt weird about a two time major winner ringing up hat sales.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

After some corn hole and various other shenanigan type things, we found Magnolia Lane on the map and decided to take some photos like a couple of delinquent teenagers.  

Now normally, we would have been stoked out of our minds for The Masters in the morning, but we had been staring at the forecast below for the past 72 hours.  We were still stoked, but just more of an angry at the rain gods type stoked.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

With a mild stroke of luck, the rain would hold off and the gates to Augusta National would open.  We gleefully entered and strolled the grounds.  Knowing that we would only have an hour or so before the storms rolled in, we headed out to the hot spots.  

I was able to get some pretty good shots and the sun actually came out for a full 90 seconds while we were on #13.

To view all of my photos and my top 11 Augusta list, click here.

Augusta National1-51.jpg

After a couple of hours, the weather horns would sound and we would be given the boot.  However, after a several hour delay, the course would re open and we would come rushing back. As you can see, people were excited to return.

Just as the Par 3 Contest was getting underway, the horn would sound again and we would be given the heave from Augusta National for the day.  This was the first time in 50 years, the Par 3 contest was cancelled due to weather.

All was not lost though, Snoop Dogg was in town to play some golf and give a little rap show.  Be sure to click the link to get the Golf Digest Recap.

Note:  When I say catch his flight, I mean watch Delta fumble around and cancel flights for 2 days: Summary: Masters good, Snoop cool, Delta bad.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

Before our flight out of town, our group headed up to the fantastic Champions Retreat Golf Club.  Located only about a half hour away from Augusta, Sean of Breaking Eighty even had time to hole out from 170 yards for eagle before catching his flight back to Portland.  

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

The 2017 Masters Picks

There comes a time every year in March when I drop everything that I am doing and say "Holy Shit, The Masters is in 15 days, 3 hours, 12 minutes, and 42 seconds."  Sure enough, its my biological golf clock kicking into gear for the season.  After some brief homework and careful consideration, I present my selections for the 2017 Masters.

  • Bubba Watson - These days, I make my picks for Bubba based on the color of ball he plays.  This one is tough as we won't know if Bubba's pink and white swirl order will be delivered by Thursday.  Projection: Ehh
  • Phil Mickelson - With Phil's trending performance this year on and around the greens, he will play nicely at The National.  Phil will stand a chance to win if he can find the fairway with consistency.  Either way, Phil will deliver a riveting Sunday post round interview in which he mentions being inspired by this very pjkoenig blog post.  Projection: T-3rd
  • Ricky Fowler - While trying to escape tree trouble on 10, Ricky suffers an unfortunate injury to the groin on a White Dogwood ricochet.  Fortunately, State Farm is on site to turn his misfortune into a series of highly entertaining advertisements. Projection: Solo 16th
  • Dustin Johnson - With DJ's ascension up the OWGR golf ladder complete, he reaches another high with a course record 62 on Friday.  Unable to maintain his mojo, we watch DJ's lead slowly slip away over the weekend only to be overtaken on the 72nd hole.  Distraught by the events, Paulina Gretzky posts bikini photo on Instagram. Projection: 25.6k likes / Runner Up.
  • Rory Mcilroy - Still looking to banish his 2011 Masters' demons, McIlroy and Spieth hold a demon seance on the 10th green at midnight on Wednesday.  Rosemary's Baby is in attendance along with that demon girl from The Ring. Projection: 60% demon reduction / T2.
  • Tiger Woods:  A recent twitter poll found that the opening of Jurassic Park was more likely than a Tiger start at the 2017 Masters.  Projection: DNP

 

  • Jimmy Walker - Jimmy Walker misses the cut, meets up with Johnny Walker immediately afterwards. BAC Projection: .15%
  • Stewart Hagestad - With Vegas giving Hagestad 2000/1 odds, the most likely scenario is that Stewart hires Fred Couples to wear a Stewart Hagestad mask and play the tournament in alternate disguises.  After the scandal is uncovered Saturday morning, everyone still loves Fred Couples.  Hagestad and Couples are permitted to finish under the little known "Hilarious Masters Pranks Clause" Projection: Hagestad: T52 Couples: T32.
  • Hideki Matsuyama - After hitting a perfect 3 iron into 15, Hideki holes out for double eagle on Saturday.  Disgusted with the shot, he throws his entire golf bag into the lake and is unable to finish.  Projection: DQ
  • Andrew "Beef" Johnston - After a sluggish start, Beef gains momentum by putting his curly fry headcover and Arby's hat into play on the weekend.  Although he has the beef, Beef doesn't have the birdies to seriously contend.  Projection: Delicious
  • Jordan Spieth - With one win under his belt and fresh off his Wednesday night demon seance, Ole Spiethy is one of the favorites coming into Augusta this year.  If that putter gets hot, not even the 12th hole can stop this man.  Jordan's Scotty Cameron explodes into flames as he holes the winning putt on Sunday and the golf demons are released into the sky.  Projection: Masters Champion
  • Justin Thomas - This kid is no longer on Spring Break and he is here to seriously contend in this year's Masters.  Even though JT fades on his Sunday back nine, Justin and Ricky build a 2 man shirtless pyramid on the 18th green to honor their spring break bretheren's Masters' victory.  Projection: T4

Bonus Masters Graph Section

Ian Poulter Analytics

Projected Ball Count

Augusta Demon Distribution

Los Angeles

With the forecast for Seattle in January predominantly consisting of rain, it appeared to be a prudent move to book a long weekend trip to Los Angeles.  I called up my Portland buddy, Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty and fellow Seattle-ite, Ben Garrett, and they both agreed with me.  A sunny January date in LA was booked and tee times slowly filled up a marvelous agenda.

Everything was looking fantastic until about a week before the trip when someone told us to look at the weather forecast.  Epic rainfall, flash foods, and the inevitable golf course closings!!  Even our VRBO land owner offered to refund our money if we wanted to come back another weekend.  However, these 3 golf dudes would not be denied.  We had rain pants and it would take a lot more than some silly "flash food" to keep the drivers out of our hands.  Plus, the weatherman is usually right only about 1 out of 10 times.

The view from the 1st tee at Riviera.

The view from the 1st tee at Riviera.

Up first on the agenda was The Riviera Country Club.  After watching The LA Open on TV for years, I was super excited to play Riviera.  Also, those clouds in the sky are definitely not bringing any precipitation.  The tee shot on the first hole is one of the coolest I have experienced, you are probably fifteen feet or so from the clubhouse as you fire one off down the hill.  They even announce your name on the tee to make you feel like a tour pro.  Some of us hit that tee shot like a tour pro, some of us did not.  

With respect to the rules of the game, no breakfast balls are allowed on the first tee at Riviera.

The par 3 16th hole at Riviera with the 6th in the background .

The par 3 16th hole at Riviera with the 6th in the background .

A small river runs down the middle of the 3rd green at Griffith Park.

A small river runs down the middle of the 3rd green at Griffith Park.

After drying off our socks and wringing out our pants, we struck gold with another rain free day at The Valley Club of Montecito.  Not only was the weather good but the course is an absolute gem and we had a fantastic host.  The Valley Club has done an outstanding job of keeping with Alister Mackenzie's original design plans and as a result, the course is very enjoyable.  

Ben would make an eagle 3 on the 15th hole and Sean would almost card an ace on the 8th hole to secure a tie for the "Shot of the Day" honors.

With our tee time at Los Angeles Country Club coming up next, rain threatened another round.  However, our host was just as hardcore as us and we headed out for a water logged round on one of California's finest golf courses.  We finished up 18 and watched the Falcons destroy the Packers from the fantastic clubhouse.  I can't wait to come back and visit this course on a sunny day... Or any other day, it's just flat out great.  

After our round at LACC, we grabbed some grub at the Misfit in Santa Monica, then hit the hot tub.  As you can see, the hot tub party was off the chain

After ringing out our pants for a second time, we had one last round to get in, the odds were in our favor with only a 30% chance of rain.  As it turns out, the sun wouldn't be the only good fortune that would shine down on us during our round at Rustic Canyon.  Ben Garrett would make his 7th career ace on the 8th hole.  4 of those 7 aces have come in the last 4 months.  Probably time for this kid to start buying Powerball tickets.  Hopefully, our next visit to LA will include more luck with the weather.

Probably the most talked about feature at Riviera is the bunker in the middle of the 6th green, after 3 putting my way around the bunker, we decided to play a shot out of it just for kicks.  The 6th hole was certainly unique, but personally, I gave the nod to the 16th for best par 3.

The 10th hole was also just as fun as advertised.  After driving it on the 11th tee box, I managed a nice par.  A huge thanks to Mayumi and Tal for setting up a fantastic round.

After the rain free round at Riviera, we would not be so fortunate with our second round of the trip.  After getting fully rained out at Wilshire Country Club, we found a course that was actually open for play.  It was going to be a wet one at Griffith Park.  After 15 holes of downpour, we played the last 3 in just a drizzle. 

The par 3 14th, with the 1st hole and the clubhouse in the distance.

The par 3 14th, with the 1st hole and the clubhouse in the distance.

Ben easily captures 1st place in the "Best Overall Trip Photo" category.

Ben easily captures 1st place in the "Best Overall Trip Photo" category.

After the screaming and excessive high five-ing ended, Ben takes time to show off his male model skills in a celebratory pose.

After the screaming and excessive high five-ing ended, Ben takes time to show off his male model skills in a celebratory pose.

Sean and I would try to add to the hole in one tally, but "look good missing" was the only thing we were actually able to accomplish.

Sean and I would try to add to the hole in one tally, but "look good missing" was the only thing we were actually able to accomplish.

2016 Recap: 12 months, 12 winning rounds.

Contrary to what you may find elsewhere on the internet, 2016 was an awesome year.  I was able to play over 100 rounds of golf at some of America's finest destinations with some of America's greatest people.  I even got a couple of Canadian rounds on the books.  Check out 2016's winners for round of the month below.

January 2016:  Streamsong with Mayo and Ogle.

The year started out  strongly with a journey to Florida for the PGA Show and some golf with Ashley Mayo of Golf Digest and Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty (The second  best golf blog on the internet)  36 at Streamsong was hard to beat.  Ashley and Sean are even tougher to beat.  

Fantastic use of the sandy terrain at Streamsong Red.

Fantastic use of the sandy terrain at Streamsong Red.

A lot of pictures happen with this threesome.

A lot of pictures happen with this threesome.

February 2016: Wolf Creek with Ashmaeb.

Wolf Creek is just about as memorable of a golf course as one can find the U.S.  In a winter month vacation, Maebs and I brought the Instagram heat to Wolf Creek.  Be sure to click on any of the course links for more photos and stories.

AshMaeb goes deep in Mesquite

AshMaeb goes deep in Mesquite

The difficult par 3 8th at Wolf Creek.

The difficult par 3 8th at Wolf Creek.

March 2016:  Spanish Oaks.  Can't keep a good Texas caddie down.

On a trip to Texas, I was paired up with an all world caddie at Spanish Oaks, his yardages were spot on and his knowledge of the course shaved countless strokes.  I even canned a few long putts that I would have otherwise misread.  

The 17th at Spanish Oaks.

The 17th at Spanish Oaks.

The caddie made the difference in March.

The caddie made the difference in March.

April 2016: Consolation Round: 2016 Golf Digest TYPHI.

After Cody Ross and I suffered a tough loss in a playoff at the Think Young Play Hard Invitational, it was time for T-Rex to take on the Links at Bali Hai in the consolation bowl.  Sarah Moodie, Jeremy Lusk, and I hit the links hard indeed.

The 3 putt penalty hat lacks style and functionality

The 3 putt penalty hat lacks style and functionality

May 2016: Pinehurst No. 2 with Payne Stewart

I was never fortunate enough to have met the man in person, but the spirit of Payne Stewart lives on.  There is no place where this is more true than at Pinehurst No. 2.  The site of Payne's first US Open Victory and iconic victory pose.

To the left: Payne and I discuss pre-round strategy.  Above: I fail to properly execute pre-round strategy discussed.

To the left: Payne and I discuss pre-round strategy.  Above: I fail to properly execute pre-round strategy discussed.

June 2016: The Massacre at Merion

This one was an easy victory for Merion as it is without a doubt one of the most special places that I have ever visited in the world of golf.  In an epic Merion showdown, it was the women vs the men.  Although the women were fantastic hosts, they took no mercy on Sean Ogle and I, scoring a lopsided victory in what would later be called "The Massacre at Merion."  Even though we suffered a crushing defeat, Sean and I would consider the loss a victory.

Our group at Merion

Our group at Merion

Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam of Golf on this very hole.

Bobby Jones completed the Grand Slam of Golf on this very hole.

July 2016: Friar's Head with Captain Joe, Ashley Mayo, and Jeff Blind

As I look back on 2016, it would be tough to remember a round more enjoyable than this one at Friars Head.  As Ashley Mayo reminds us, it's not where you play, but who you play with that makes the difference.  This round had both areas covered in style.

The 9th tee box at Friars Head is special.

The 9th tee box at Friars Head is special.

So many birdie push-ups.

So many birdie push-ups.

August:  Water Balloons at Manzanita Golf Course.

My good friend Joey the Cat was turning 30 and it was time to celebrate.  What better way to beat the heat, but with water balloons.  I kicked things off with a splash here in Oregon.

Behind the scenes action shots taken by Andrew Herrold.  Even though I was soaked on the 1st tee, my pants dried quickly and the rest of the round was a blast.

Behind the scenes action shots taken by Andrew Herrold.  Even though I was soaked on the 1st tee, my pants dried quickly and the rest of the round was a blast.

September: Robert Trent Jones and the RTJ golf trail

With a full line up of golf bros and endless golf, the RTJ trail in Alabama really felt like one endless round.  Perhaps the best value in all of public golf, the trail is a fantastic destination for any group of die hard golf buddies.

I would card one of my better rounds of 2016 at Grand National's Lake Course with a 72.

I would card one of my better rounds of 2016 at Grand National's Lake Course with a 72.

October: Golfing next to the President at Olympia Fields. Chicago Cubs win the World Series

Few people in the world get the chance to play golf with an active President.  I am currently not one of those people.  However, I did have the privilege of playing golf on the same course at the same time with Barack Obama at Olympia Fields.  Later on, the Cubs would win the world series.  It was a good trip to Chicago. 

POTUS Obama tees off as I play the other way at Olympia Fields.

POTUS Obama tees off as I play the other way at Olympia Fields.

November: $9 solo mission on Thanksgiving at Tuscan Ridge

While playing golf with friends is fantastic, heading out to the course as a single can be just as satisfying.  After paying a modest $9 greens fee, it was just me, the grass, and my golf ball as I worked up a Thanksgiving appetite.

A look back on the 3rd hole at Tuscan Ridge.

A look back on the 3rd hole at Tuscan Ridge.

December: The Club at Estancia

When my plane landed in Phoenix my wife informed me that it was snowing in Seattle.  Although, I missed my wife, I didn't miss the weather.  The next day I would be teeing it up at Estancia in 70 degree desert conditions.    Between our fantastic hosts and Tom Fazio's visual assault on my golfing senses, The Club at Estancia delivered one of the year's most enjoyable experiences.  

Like any good New Year's post, I will close with a vague and immeasurable New Year's resolution.  "Play more golf in 2017."

The short 11th at Estancia

The short 11th at Estancia

Looking back on the 12th hole

Looking back on the 12th hole