Golf Blog

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

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

The trail trip was officially kicked off at Fazio's  Old Overton .

The trail trip was officially kicked off at Fazio's Old Overton.

The Robert Trent Jones (RTJ) Golf Trail in Alabama has been on my "To Do" list for many years.  2016 would be the year that we would finally pull the trigger on the trail.

Widely known as the greatest value in golf, the RTJ Golf Trail consists of 11 locations across the state of Alabama.  All together there are 26 golf courses and 468 golf holes.  Although the desire to play all 468 holes was there, we would only play 144 of them.

Before we tackled the trail, we decided to get in a warm up round at Tom Fazio's Old Overton.  It was no problem warming up as the temperature was around 90 degrees.  

 

The 6th hole at  Ross Bridge  is the 2nd in a great set of 4 par 3's.

The 6th hole at Ross Bridge is the 2nd in a great set of 4 par 3's.

After the initial golf/sweat fest at Old Overton, our numbers increased to 5 as we took on our first RTJ Trail course at Ross Bridge.  Because of the heat, we were one of the only groups on the course and we decided to play as a five some.

After the initial 18 at Ross Bridge, the trip really began to pick up some steam as we headed down the road to play Oxmoor Valley's Ridge course.  We also picked up 2 additional golfers and became a force to be reckoned with on The Trail.

We would play the front nine on the Ridge Course twice to bring the day's hole count to 45.  I would also set several personal records for most birdies in a single day with 8 and most gallons sweated in a 12 hour period with 5.

One of my favorite par 5's on the trip was the 3rd hole at  Oxmoor Valley's Ridge Course .

One of my favorite par 5's on the trip was the 3rd hole at Oxmoor Valley's Ridge Course.

Trip Organizer, Nik Divakaruni, finds the green on the island 6th hole on The  Judge at Capitol Hill .

Trip Organizer, Nik Divakaruni, finds the green on the island 6th hole on The Judge at Capitol Hill.

Those who drink from the birdie well on 16 are rumored to finish strong.  Naturally, I bathed in it.

Those who drink from the birdie well on 16 are rumored to finish strong.  Naturally, I bathed in it.

 

With the golf crew in full force we headed out for another day of 45 holes of golf at Capitol Hill.  It would be a day of government officials as we took on The Judge, The Senator, and finally, The Legislator.

Not everyone would make the full 45 holes.  We would lose 2 golfers after 36 stating that things were getting "Too political"  Others would argue that the highlight of the day was the banana pudding between 18's.  Everyone would agree that the opening hole on The Judge was awesome.

Be sure to click on the course links to view more photos.

The final putt on the 45th hole of the day would fall as the sun would set on  The Legislator .

The final putt on the 45th hole of the day would fall as the sun would set on The Legislator.

The trigger that inspired the visit to the south was actually the beginning of the 2015 NCAA College Football season.  In addition to golfing like fiends, we would be attending the Auburn Clemson game in Auburn.  

After a day of 18 holes at Grand National's Lake course, we set out to tailgate hard and then get our College Football kickoff on.  This would be my first SEC football experience and I would not be disappointed.  The tailgators ate and drank like linebackers, the fans cheered as if their hair was on fire, and we joined right in.

The War Eagle at Auburn circles the stadium before kickoff and lands at midfield.  Here he stops by to say hi to the out-of-towners.

The War Eagle at Auburn circles the stadium before kickoff and lands at midfield.  Here he stops by to say hi to the out-of-towners.

Golf animal, Nik, holes out from 150 yards and shows me the ball. What a boss!

Golf animal, Nik, holes out from 150 yards and shows me the ball. What a boss!

Expert green reader, Kris Buerkle, sizes up a 20 footer and then jars it.

Expert green reader, Kris Buerkle, sizes up a 20 footer and then jars it.

The  Links Course at Grand National  comes in at #6 on Golf Digest's Best in State rankings.

The Links Course at Grand National comes in at #6 on Golf Digest's Best in State rankings.

The 8th hole on the  Short Course  is just one of 18 outstanding par 3's.

The 8th hole on the Short Course is just one of 18 outstanding par 3's.

Capitol Hill's  Senator Course  plays host to the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.

Capitol Hill's Senator Course plays host to the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.

Brad Thompson, a former backup QB at Clemson, routinely bombs the driver 310+ and inspires his playing partners to come up wtih creative new excuses for not hitting a wedge into every green.

Brad Thompson, a former backup QB at Clemson, routinely bombs the driver 310+ and inspires his playing partners to come up wtih creative new excuses for not hitting a wedge into every green.

A stong tailgate scene unfolds at Auburn. University

A stong tailgate scene unfolds at Auburn. University

Clemson would emerge victorious but they would not cover the spread, which was bad news for the majority of our gang.  To ease the pain, we retired back to our local Days Inn accomodations and played frisbee in the parking lot.

The next morning the golf would continue with another day of 36 holes at Grand National.  The Links course was rumoured to be one of the toughest tests of golf on the trail and we wanted a piece of the action.

In the "Shot of the Trip" Nik Divakaruni would hole out from 150 yards for birdie on the 12th hole.  Nik would attempt to purchase the entire beverage cart in celebration.  I would join in the golf party by playing one of my better rounds of the year and carding a 72 after a rousing birdie on 18.

After finishing up on the Links course, we had enough time left on the trip to hit up the par 3 course at Grand National.  The Short Course consists of 18 outstanding par 3's ranging from 100 yards to over 200.  Each one of these holes would be a welcome addition to most championship layouts.

If you have never hit a bunker shot in your bare feet, you are missing out.

If you have never hit a bunker shot in your bare feet, you are missing out.

We took off our shoes to feel the bermuda on our toes and work on our sock tan lines.  Captain Joe Garvey even went shirtless for 6 holes.  Just as darkness overtook the course, we finished up on 18.  Unfortunately, we would leave Alabama before the sun would rise on the RTJ Golf Trail again.  With 324 holes remaining to be played, a return trip is in order.