RGV Tour Blog

Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts is not physically big, but it packs a serious punch when it comes to it's golf.  The RGV Tour visited 9 golf courses in the state and there is not a single slouch in the group.  Brace yourself, these courses are coming at you hard.  We started off with a day of 36 at Essex County Club and a round at Kittanset Club.  Both of these clubs would normaly make your week and I was lucky enough to double down in one day. 

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Just look at it... sitting there... in a total state of harmony as it presides over it's natural element, the golf course.  This is where the Recreational Golf Vehicle was meant to be and where it performs the best.  Just about every golf thing you can imagine is packed into that thing, including a full lineup of manual score counters and a host of unnecessary training aids.  In the back you can see the 11th green at Essex Country Club, but let's be honest, you didn't notice that at all, the stars and stripes sucked you right in.  

Once you make your way away from the RGV and head out onto Essex County Club, you will find it to be one of the best.  It is a Donald Ross design and definitely some of his finest work in the beginning portion of his career. The routing around a particularly cool rock out cropping is very well done and leads to a great finishing tee shot on 18.

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 Early contender for strongest RGV Tour caddie

Early contender for strongest RGV Tour caddie

After rocking around Essex, it was time to make the hour or so drive down to Kittanset.  The course is a William Flynn design and one of his best.  It starts out with some pretty strong links vibes, works it's way into the woods, and finishes back up by the sea.  The 3rd hole get's all of the attention but the entire course is fun to play and very interesting architectually.

 The 3rd hole at Kittansett is right on the beach!

The 3rd hole at Kittansett is right on the beach!

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When I first heard about Boston Golf Club, it was described to me as a mini Pine Valley.  At the time, that sounded good, but I had never seen Pine Valley and wasn't able to come to grips with the comparison.  After visiting Boston Golf Club, I want to play Pine Valley even more and I want to play Boston Golf Club again.

When finishing at some courses, you walk off the 18th green and say, "Man, that was fun."  On other courses, you walk off the 18th green and say, "Man, let's play that again!"  Boston Golf Club falls into the latter category.  Fortune would be on our side and we would actually go for an emergency 9 and end up with a day of 27 holes at Boston Golf Club.  What a treat!

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At this point, a brief hiatus back to Connecticut resulted in the unfortunate loss of The RGV Tour Guest Book.  The details of the incident are hazy and a criminal investigation has been launched.  We do know that the book was last seen at Wethersfield Country Club in the restaurant.  The initial reward was set at $100 and after several days it was increased to $200.  With no leads in weeks, the reward money has now been raised to $1 Million.  Actual reward payouts are subject to change.

One of my few regrets on the RGV Tour was that I did not make a PB&J sandwich at the beginning of the tour, store it for 6 months, and then eat that old sandwich when visiting Old Sandwich Golf Club.

It's not a huge deal because golfing Old Sandwich is far better than eating some old stale PB&J.  It was a another top notch tour visit.

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 Old Sandwich in it's entirety.

Old Sandwich in it's entirety.

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At this point I headed on over to Cape Cod and another highly anticipated round of golf at Eastward Ho!  It's the only golf course with an exclamation point in it's name and the Ho deserves it so.  We had a rowdy good group of guys for our round and we started it off with some New England clam chowder in the bar before heading out to the course.  The bar is a great hang spot and it leads right out onto a view of the 18th green.

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    It was another day of close calls on the ace hunt as I had two shots within a foot on #3 and #7.  Another buzzed the cup on #10 and our entire group was a little surprised that I only found the middle of the green on #15.

    When I got serious about trying to make a hole in one, I approached every par 3 like this is going to the one.  I envision the ball bouncing and rolling into the hole on every single shot.  I could care less about making a 3 on any of these holes, I am just trying to make it.  The shots at the middle of the green are unacceptable and immediately dismissed as failures.

    As a result, my concentration and focus on the par 3's has been much better and balls have been taking off right at the pin.  I have had more than my fair share of close calls and at least a dozen or so shots could have found the hole.

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    Things I noticed about Cape Cod.

    • Khaki vibes are real strong on the cape
    • People say "on cape" or "off cape" in regards to their location
    • It feels like vacation everywhere
    • There are 27 public golf courses and 15 private.  I only played 4.

    Next on the calendar was a visit to TGC Sacconnessett with Phil Dinah or "Phil the Thrill" as he is known in certain circles.  Phil started the 'thrill show' off slow but really managed to bring some heat down the stretch.  The highlight of his performance was when he recommended the chicken salad at the turn.  I know what you are thinking... "Come on, the chicken salad recommendation was the highlight?"  I can almost hear the eyes roll as I type this.  But that's only because you haven't tried this chicken salad.  

     The 16th hole was also a highlight at TGC Sacconnessett.

    The 16th hole was also a highlight at TGC Sacconnessett.

    We finished up as the sun set and I plugged the RGV into the electric car charging port and spent the night in the parking lot.  As for as places to park go, this was a real primo spot.  The following day, I woke up early and scooted on over to Cape Cod National.

     

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    Cape Cod National is easily one of the top courses "on cape" and I was lucky enough to tee it up with The Director of Golf, Mike Walker. The course is meticulously maintained and a lot of fun to play.  While having lunch with Mike after the round, he made an all world recommendation.  "You know where you should play?  Highland Links!"  He told me a bit about it and I was immediately sold.  Mike even offered to join me and drive on out to North Truro on the tip of Cape Cod.

    Highland Links is one of the few true links courses that exist in America.  With sandy soil and sea views on the majority of holes, the course has a simple feeling and it is one of the best 9 hole walks on the east coast.  Plus, I will golf any course with a lighthouse.  The best part about the course is that it is open to the public and only costs $35.

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    Just like that, only one round remained in Massachusetts.  The good news is that it was at The Country Club.  Not just any country club but The Country Club.  In my travels, I have now found The Golf Club and The Country Club.  I feel like this is a big deal and I am pretty proud of it.  

    The Country Club has more golf history than you can handle.  

    • The Country Club is the oldest country club in The US.
    • The clubhouse is old and awesome.
    • The club is one of 5 charter clubs that founded the USGA
    • I thought Tom Brady's house was gonna be bigger.
    • Gisele was not at the pool.
    • The Country Club Hosted the 1913 US Open won by amateur and caddie, Francis Ouimet.  Ouimet's unlikely victory was made into a Hollywood movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played.
    • Justin Leonard's putt in the 1999 Ryder Cup happened on the 17th hole.  Watch it.
    • I trickled in a tester on 18 to close out our Ryder Cup match.
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    Even though I only took in 9 golf courses, it is clear that Massachusetts is a serious contender for best golf state.  It was a pleasure to golf it and a shame to see it go.

    New York!!!

    Is New York the greatest golfing state in The United States of America?  According to the various lists, it has about 12 of the top 100 courses in the country.  The only other state that gives it a serious run is California.  When the dust finally settles on the RGV Tour, I will look forward to giving my take on each state and it's level of golf excellence.  But you can look forward to seeing New York right near the top.

    With great golf comes great golfers and I was fired up to meet the people and the places that make up one of America's greatest golfing communities.  Let's jump right into the golf action.

    The party got started just outside of Manhattan on The Links at Ferry Point.  Falling right into the RGV Tour groove were newlyweds Ashley Mayo and "Mr Mayo," Jeff Blind.  Rounding out the foursome was one liner specialist Mr Tom Murray.  If I only had one round of golf left on the planet, this team would round out my foursome.  It has been confirmed that at least Mr Mayo feels the same way.

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    After tearing up the links and replacing all of our divots, we headed back to Manhattan for some pizza and hijinks.  By hijinks, I mean hanging out and talking quietly.  I ended up spending the night in the Ferry Links parking lot and just taking an Uber in and out of the city.  A big thanks to Colin and the staff who do an excellent job and were very welcoming to The RGV Tour.

     Ashley Mayo sticks one in tight on 17.

    Ashley Mayo sticks one in tight on 17.

    Ashley and Jeff often head out to Ferry Point for a twilight nine and it is easy to see why.  The course is fun to play and when that golden sun licks the tips of the fescue, it is hard not to squeal with golf joy.

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    I can't say enough good things about this group of people.  The only better way to start off a state would be if the Governor met you at the state line and handed you a bag of cash.  However, I already feel like I won the lottery with friends like these.

    Long Island is home to some of the most outstanding courses in the world and they all are in relatively close proximity to one another.  I only had time to fit in a couple of lesser known gems out on Long Island.  My invite to Shinnecock and Sebonack got lost in the mail.

    We started off Long Island with a visit to Hampton Hills and a round with the enthusiastic Tracy Mehlman.  When you take a break from focusing on playing the very best courses and start focusing on playing with the very best people, the game can be even more rewarding.  That theory was proven true with Tracy at Hampton Hills.

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    One of the most unique course histories on Long Island belongs to The Bridge Golf Club.  Back in the 60's and 70's the Bridgehampton racing circuit was in full force on the land that the golf course currently occupies.  The Bridge does a great job at preserving this history and a lot of the remnants from the race track are still in place today.  Guard rails adorn the fescue, abandoned tires can be found in the rough, and you enter the property right under the original Chevron Gasonlines race track overhang.

    The clubhouse is like a museum with golf art adorning the hallways and open spaces.  The Bridge even has a speedway simulator in the basement for the race track speed junkies.  Oh yeah, the golf course is also excellent.

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     The opening tee shot at The Bridge

    The opening tee shot at The Bridge

    Next up on the agenda was one of the few options for public golf in the New York area, Pound Ridge Golf Club.  I met up with a couple of ambitious RGV Tour Players named Albert Ortiz and Jonathon Lockhart.  Amidst the serious heat, we pounded plenty of drives and had a serious good time.  Jonathon even brought the tour some fresh mutz from Hoboken.  Mutz is what they call mozzarella cheese in Hoboken and it is seriously delicious.  I had to eat it fast as the RGV refrigerator is currently on the fritz, which wasn't a problem.

     The 15th green at Pound Ridge offers an opportunity for the rare bank it off the rock birdie.  

    The 15th green at Pound Ridge offers an opportunity for the rare bank it off the rock birdie.  

    When the RGV Tour was conceptualized, certain courses were on the must play list.  Sleepy Hollow was one of those golf courses and it did not disappoint.  

    My golf buddy, Ben Garrett, had joined the tour at this point and we were giggling like a couple of school kids as we pulled up to the old clubhouse.  We found our host for the day and he promptly advised us that we might be facing a bit of a delay.  "We are going to be playing behind Bill Clinton."  Damnit!  This RGV Tour can't catch a freaking break.

    As the former President walked up to the tee box, a small group of caddies, members, and guests had formed awaiting his arrival.  He shook our hands like only an experienced President can and made his way down to the tee box.  

    Joining Bill was author, James Patterson.  If you google "How many books has James Patterson written," the answer is "At least 50."  It turns out the real number is 147 since 1976 which makes this tweet likely to happen.

     The postcard 16th hole.

    The postcard 16th hole.

     One of the coolest logos in the game.

    One of the coolest logos in the game.

     The often overlooked par 3 10th hole.

    The often overlooked par 3 10th hole.

     The haunted bridge leading to the 3rd hole.  Pro tip:  Everything is haunted at Sleepy Hollow.

    The haunted bridge leading to the 3rd hole.  Pro tip:  Everything is haunted at Sleepy Hollow.

    Another close call on the ace hunt came on the third hole.  With Clinton and Patterson looking on, I fired one right at the stick that landed an inch away from going in on the fly.  Imagine the handshakes and presidential approvals that ace would have received!!  However, the shot will just be another log on the almost and what if dumpster fire.

     The 2nd and 16th holes from above.

    The 2nd and 16th holes from above.

     16 from the tee box.

    16 from the tee box.

    Another day of 36 holes had the tour heading to The Creek Golf Club and Piping Rock.  Both courses are CB Macdonald designs and Ben and I golfed them hard.  If you are feeling frisky, you can listen to the conversation about Ben's tour visit on the RGV Tour Podcast.  

    The Creek was easily one of our favorites from the entire trip.  After the first 5 holes, you head on out to the beach and it is freaking glorious! Piping Rock doesn't get the added benefit of the waterfront views, but it still delivers a great round of golf.

     The 10th hole at The Creek is a short par 4 and a big time favorite.

    The 10th hole at The Creek is a short par 4 and a big time favorite.

     After taking 4 shots on the beach on #10, I took a break and took this picture.

    After taking 4 shots on the beach on #10, I took a break and took this picture.

     The Creek boasts one of the best entrances in golf.

    The Creek boasts one of the best entrances in golf.

     The island Biarritz green is about 90 yards long.

    The island Biarritz green is about 90 yards long.

     The Biarritz 10th from the tee box on #9.

    The Biarritz 10th from the tee box on #9.

     The 11th hole at The Creek.

    The 11th hole at The Creek.

    The roads and infrastructure in New York are, without a doubt, the most difficult that the RGV Tour has encountered.  Each road feels like a never ending series of speed bumps and the rig was bouncing all over the place.  The roads were so bad that the constant banging and shaking caused the screws holding in the microwave to strip completely and emergency repairs needed to be made.  The roads also shook the fire extinguisher off of the wall and the damn thing went off while I was driving.

    Another challenge in New York is that all of the parkways in the city are built with clearances around 7 feet.  When you are driving an 11 foot tall RGV at 60 mph, taking a wrong turn could end up in a seriously bad haircut.  Unfortunately, most of the parkways are the suggested roads on Google Maps, so we had to plan out our route beforehand like it was 1995.

     The short hole at Piping Rock is piping hot.

    The short hole at Piping Rock is piping hot.

     The finisher at Piping Rock finishes up a great day of 36 holes.

    The finisher at Piping Rock finishes up a great day of 36 holes.

    Next up, the tour made a stop at Fenway.  We are not talking about Fenway Park we are talking about Fenway Golf Club.  It is a Tillinghast design and it flies right under the radar.  With so much good golf to play in the area, Fenway doesn't get the notoriety that it deserves.  The course was in excellent condition and with a storm rolling in, we had the place to ourselves.

     The short par 4 15th hole.  This green is smaller than it looks.

    The short par 4 15th hole.  This green is smaller than it looks.

    It must be noted that on the very first hole at Fenway, after hooking his drive into the trees, Ben holed out for an eagle 2.  Not only is Ben a 3 time Sahalee Club Champion, he is also some sort of hole out artist.  

    Ben has 7 lifetime hole in ones with 4 of those aces coming in a 6 month span in the summer of 2016.  After each hole in one, he poses erotically next to the pin and there is a splendid mixture of jealousy, anger, disgust, and arousal.

     Ben celebrates with a double rock out fist

    Ben celebrates with a double rock out fist

     The 7th and 8th holes at Fenway

    The 7th and 8th holes at Fenway

    I would like to take this time to point out my dislike for the statement "You can't see any of the other golf holes except for the one that you are currently on."  Some golfers like to point this out like it's some sort of amazing achievement.  All that really means to me is that the golf hole is surrounded by trees.  

    A good architect will use peaks and glimpses to excite the golfer and distract their attention from the current task.  Walking by the 17th green surrounded by water as you head out for the back nine is a devilish little trick.  My favorite example of such a tactic comes at holes #8 and #9 on Pasatiempo.  With 9 visible in the background it encourages the golfer to think ahead to the next hole when the 8th actually requires much more attention than one would think at first glance. 

    Tillinghast has accomplished a similar feat here on 7 and 8 at Fenway.  The 10th and 11th holes at Essex County Club in Massachusetts are also similar.

    Surprise Bonus Golf Content!!! Connecticut joins the party.

    I know what you are thinking.  "Koenig! I could barely handle all of the NY golf and now we have CT to deal with as well?!!"  Well, those are the breaks. We have a special triumvirate including Fairfield, Yale, and Stanwich coming in hot.

     The golf vibes at Fairfield are some of the best vibes the tour has felt.

    The golf vibes at Fairfield are some of the best vibes the tour has felt.

     The critically acclaimed 'Swale at Yale'. The Biarritz 9th hole is often labeled as the very best of it's kind.

    The critically acclaimed 'Swale at Yale'. The Biarritz 9th hole is often labeled as the very best of it's kind.

     The risk reward 17th hole at Stanwich

    The risk reward 17th hole at Stanwich

    End of Bonus Golf Content

    See, that wasn't so bad.

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    Before we dropped Ben off at JFK, we had time for one last round at Anglebrook Golf Club.  Anglebrook is the final design creation of Robert Trent Jones Sr.  The course is bold and offers plenty of challenging and unique hole designs.  Conditions were pure.

    Our group spent half of the time streaming the final round of The British Open and the other half hitting our golf balls into the woods.  We managed to find a few birdies and laughs along the way.

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     The good times roll on the RGV Tour.

    The good times roll on the RGV Tour.

    After dropping off Ben at the airport so he could resume his "normal life," I needed one more New York round before I could call it quits and bolt for Massachusetts.  That round was to be at Wykagyl Golf Club.  I even had a local caddy request me as he was a fan of The RGV Tour.  What a way to finish this star studded state!

     The 11th hole at Wykagyl was a favorite

    The 11th hole at Wykagyl was a favorite

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    With so much golf in New York left un golfed, it was hard to say goodbye.  This was easily one of my favorite states and one of the most unique challenges.  The RGV Tour must roll on.  

    Bon Jovi was born in New Jersey

    When I originally planned the route for The RGV Tour, I made sure that the summer would be hitting hard when we rolled into town for the big states.  New Jersey was one of those states and summer was here.  Like the title says, Jovi was born in Jersey and The RGV Tour was ready to rock and roll.

    The tour started off at Galloway National and with a birdie on the very first hole.  Immediately after that, I was attacked by green headed flies.  Green heads are not ordinary flies, they are big and they bite hard.  I ran around like a mad man for an entire hole dodging flies and punching myself repeatedly in an effort to survive.  Fortunately, my man on the bag had some bug lotion.  I lubed up in a hurry and the bugs stayed away.  I would survive the ordeal.

     The 17th hole at Galloway is a real scene stealer.

    The 17th hole at Galloway is a real scene stealer.

     The 2nd hole... scene of the fly attack.

    The 2nd hole... scene of the fly attack.

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    Next up on the calendar was another Tom Fazio design, The Ridge at Back Brook.  Things heated up on the ace hunt as I had a couple of laser beam iron shots that just buzzed the cup.  Still no aces on the tour, but the close call count is around a dozen.

    At this point, my game is really rounding into form.  My short game is noticeably sharper every day.  I am much more confident with the putter and I actually believe that I am going to make a large percentage of my putts.  That belief translates to some pretty sweet action on the greens.

    Back in Arkansas, I was playing to a 5 handicap and now it's hovering around .4.  Scratch golfer status is just around the corner. 

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    Somerset Hills had been a long anticipated stop on the tour and the date was finally here.  I arrived early and presided over the lot like only the RGV Tour can.  I was going to be first out on the course on a near perfect day.  The only thing missing that day was the A game.  

    One of the most valuable skills that I have been working on during the tour is how to play bad golf and have a really good time doing it.  Nobody likes to hit bad golf shots and when they start to pile up, it can effect your mood pretty easily.  The key is to get over yourself and realize that nobody cares if you shoot 65 or 85 and they won't remember your actual score no matter what.  What people will always remember is what sort of person you are.  Were you fun to play with or were you a grumpy wanker?  It is my pledge to always make sure that The RGV Tour will be the golf party that you want to join. 

     One of the most enjoyable green complexes in America.

    One of the most enjoyable green complexes in America.

     After ogling this view for years, I finally was able to snap the shot for myself.

    After ogling this view for years, I finally was able to snap the shot for myself.

     The 2nd hole at Somerset Hills is a par 3 redan hole and it is one of the best in America.

    The 2nd hole at Somerset Hills is a par 3 redan hole and it is one of the best in America.

    Although The RGV Tour loves to see the nation's best and most exclusive clubs, it also loves to see the public side of the golf world.  Growing up as a muni kid, these courses will always be the most familiar to me and we had a pretty solid line-up of public courses in New Jersey.  The Architects Golf Club, Neshanic Valley, Highbridge Hills, and Ballyowen were all serious courses and we golfed them seriously hard.

     The Stanley Thompson themed 17th at Architects Golf Club

    The Stanley Thompson themed 17th at Architects Golf Club

    The Architects Golf Club is not your normal golf course.  Each one of the golf holes was designed with a particular Golf Course Architect's stylings in mind.  For example, the 13th hole was designed in the honor of  Alister Mackenzie.  Alister loved to give the golfer a chance to hit the "hero shot" and that's exactly what the 13th hole does.  The reachable par 5 below features a risk reward option with bunkers set into the hillside above the green.  The 17th hole above uses the bunkering style of Stanley Thompson and the 10th hole below has that George C Thomas'  vibe.  You are not going to be magically transported to Riviera, but the golf course is a really fun option for those interested in golf course architecture.

     It's not the 10th hole at Riviera, it's the 10th hole at Architects.

    It's not the 10th hole at Riviera, it's the 10th hole at Architects.

     The risk reward 13th is an ode to Alister Mackenzie

    The risk reward 13th is an ode to Alister Mackenzie

     Neshanic Valley has 2 18 hole tracks and a short 9 for the public to enjoy.

    Neshanic Valley has 2 18 hole tracks and a short 9 for the public to enjoy.

     Ballyowen is another good option for the New Jersey public golfer.

    Ballyowen is another good option for the New Jersey public golfer.

     RGV Tour standout:  Joe Zwickl.  Joe has at least 20 tattoos and will have to give you 20 shots if you want to hang with him.

    RGV Tour standout:  Joe Zwickl.  Joe has at least 20 tattoos and will have to give you 20 shots if you want to hang with him.

     Highbridge Hills was the 2nd round on a day of 36 holes.

    Highbridge Hills was the 2nd round on a day of 36 holes.

    After wrapping up the tour of Jersey's public golf, we headed out to a recently renovated Seth Raynor golf course called Watchung Valley Golf Club.  This is where I ran into a 90 year old golf stud named Al.  Al was hesitant about joining the RGV Tour at first, but I pleaded with him to join me and he relented.  

    Al was the Caddy Master at Watchung for 55 years and they pretty much let him do what he wants these days.  He is also not the sort of golfer that likes to start off with small talk.  By the 3rd hole we were talking concentration camps as Al described his service to the country in World War 2.  

    Below, we see Al escaping from the principal's nose bunker on the 16th hole.  Al was not thrilled about visiting the bunker.  "Damn this bunker!" he would exclaim.  In the end, Al would take 103 strokes to get around the golf course, not bad at all for a guy in his 90's.  Thank you for being a part of The RGV Tour, Al.

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     The 10th hole at Watchung Valley

    The 10th hole at Watchung Valley

    One of New Jersey's finest was up next at Donald Ross' Plainfield Country Club.  I am not a huge Donald Ross fan, but this place is  something else.  I would describe the course as one of Ross' boldest designs and it was a lot of fun to play. It must be noted that in 2011, Gil Hanse would restore the course

    Plainfield CC not only holds a spot in America's Top 100, but it also holds a special place in golf history.  In 1904, Leighton Calkins created the handicap system at Plainfield.  That same system is currently in place today!

     The sporty little 11th hole was one of my favorites.

    The sporty little 11th hole was one of my favorites.

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     In the 1930's the routing of the course was changed and holes 13-15 were added into the layout.  Not everyone thinks these holes blend with the rest of the course and when you head over to the 13th, you can feel the vibes change.  The 15th green is pictured above.

    In the 1930's the routing of the course was changed and holes 13-15 were added into the layout.  Not everyone thinks these holes blend with the rest of the course and when you head over to the 13th, you can feel the vibes change.  The 15th green is pictured above.

    The golf party in New Jersey would end with a serious bang and a seriously good time at Ridgewood Country Club.  While the course was gearing up for the PGA's Northern Trust, The RGV Tour took part in something called "Baroo at 2".  

    Ridgewood Country Club has a great group of members and that group is lead by Bill... or Baroo.  They all get together at 2 on Saturdays to have an old fashioned golf shootout.  Baroo himself was my partner and we were locked into a serious duel.  We started off hot and held a commanding lead at the turn.  That's when I was handed a mighty fine Cuban cigar, I lit that baby up and started to feel the effects of a cigar that was clearly out of my league.  Before we knew it, we were down 3.

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    That's when Baroo and I decided to get serious.  I ditched the cigar and made some birdies to get us back in it.  On the 17th hole,  Baroo hit the shot of the day... The Baroo Bouncer.  From 180 out in some heavy rough he struck it pure and true.  "Go, go, go, sit, sit, no, go, go, I mean sit" were the words Baroo spoke to his golf ball.  In the end, the ball ended up 5 feet from the hole.  After some clean up work, the match was over and Baroo and I were victorious.  

    Just as we rocked into Jersey, it was time to roll on out.

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    The Pennsylvania Party is On

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    After, I finished up in Maryland, I wasted zero time getting over into Pennsylvania.  From a morning 18 in Maryland to an afternoon 18 at Wyncote in Pennsylvania, the state transition was a smooth one.  I even ran into an excited twosome that were fired up to be the first golfers to sign the RGV Tour guest book in Pennsylvania.

    The second round in the state was one of the state's best.  I put Lancaster CC towards the top of the "best surprise" category.  This place is magic and easily one of the best places to play in the state.

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    After that it was time for Billy Black and the legend of Stonewall.  Billy was my caddy for the day.  Billy is 14 years old and he is a total animal on the bag.  What Billy lacked in experience, he made up for enthusiasm.  We even did a little work on the "Caddies of The RGV Tour" photo series.  The idea here is to present caddies in suggestive poses on the golf course.  Then we basically turn it into a calendar and Blam!  Retirement fund!

     The stone wall at Stonewall

    The stone wall at Stonewall

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    With the Gil Hanse designed French Creek just across the street from Stonewall, the tour was not going to not play 36.  Having the opportunity to play a lot of different courses designed by the same architects makes these courses even more fun.  After a while, you start to feel like you know these guys and become familiarized with the challenges and styles that they present with each course.  It is like visiting an old friend... an old friend that you have never met.

    Like any artist, you can see how architects have matured over the years.  French Creek was one of Hanse's earlier designs opening for play in 2004.

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    When visiting Philly on a golf trip, It won't take you long to realize that the city is packed with a ton of golf talent.  I joined up with some serious gamers for an early morning round at Makefield.  I was easily the hack of the group in our power foursome with Dan, Patrick, and Kevin.  My personal highlight of the round came after I topped my 3 wood into the ditch on 18.  Disgusted, I threw down another ball and popped it up on the green to 2 feet.  It was one of the best bogey finishes I can recall.

     Dan approaches 18 after hitting it 900 yards off the tee.

    Dan approaches 18 after hitting it 900 yards off the tee.

     The tour's other Patrick poses hard.

    The tour's other Patrick poses hard.

    One of the few solid options for public golf in the Philly area is the Golf Club at Glen Mills.  I met up with one of the tour's most passionate players,  a man by the name of Mike Zinda.  Mike has cataracts and it can be difficult for him to see his ball.  Most of the time he just goes by feel and hopes to find it out in the fairway.  Imagine playing by yourself and saying "I think that went left" and just hunting for it in the rough?  Mike doesn't mind at all though and I was happy to hunt down his golf shots with him.  The limitations that golfers overcome to play the game is always inspiring.  Like a true golf nut, Mike would make a return trip to the tour at Neshanic Valley.

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    It was the 4th of July and it was time to celebrate America.  The RGV Tour chose to celebrate with golf, hot dogs, and USA pin flags at Huntingdon Valley Golf Club.  The flag game is actually quite fun.  Every player gets a flag and gets a total number of strokes based on handicaps.  If you are an 11 handicap, you would get 83 shots, I got 73 shots as a 1 handicap.  Then you just put your flag in the ground where you ball comes to rest after 83, or 73 shots.  If you make it past 18, you start on 1 and just keep playing until you run out of shots.  The winner is whomever makes it the furthest.  

    With several hot birdies out of the gates, it looked like I was gonna have to play an extra 9 holes.  However, reality set in and I only made  it to 17 green.  The good news is that our group was seriously fun and we raised a healthy sum of $$ for the First Tee of Greater Seattle.  The original $10k goal is going to be reached well ahead of time.

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    The RGV Tour consistently hunts down and attracts the biggest golf nuts in the world and in Pennsylvania, we found one of the biggest golf nuts the world has to offer.  I am talking about Author Tom Coyne who would quickly become one of my favorite guests on the RGV Tour.

    Tom walked 40 courses and the entire country of Ireland for his NY Time's Best Seller "A Course Called Ireland" and played 111 courses in two months for "A Course Called Scotland."  So Tom is perfectly suited for life on the RGV Tour... he is my cup of tea.  None of us brought our A games to Waynesborough Country Club  but we did have an A+ time.  

    I sat down with Tom for a lively discussion in the Bride's room at Waynesborough Country Club.  This RGV Tour Podcast is worth a listen.  Tom has also just released "A Course Called Scotland" and it would be wise to pick up a copy here

     The 10th at Waynesborough

    The 10th at Waynesborough

    Up next was another Philly area surprise.  With the quality of golf courses being so high in the area, courses like White Manor were not on my radar before visiting the area.  Readers please note, that this course should definitely be on your Philly golf radar.  We ended up finishing in the rain.  But it was more like making birdies and clutch putts down the stretch like golf animals.

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    Eventually the rain would give up, but The RGV Tour would not.  We never stop golfing on the RGV Tour.  Never.

    RGV Tour player Kevin and I headed down the road to take on Applebrook, another fantastic Gil Hanse design In the area.  We made a handful of birdies and finished up the day of 36 with plenty of sun left in the day.  

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     Sandy saves at Applebrook

    Sandy saves at Applebrook

     The 9th at Applebrook

    The 9th at Applebrook

    Fittingly, I scarfed down a Philly cheesesteak sandwich on my way out Pennsylvania.  The RGV Tour leaves every state saying, "I will miss this state."  But Pennsylvania, I will miss you more.

    Maryland

    Maryland started off with a serious bang.  That bang was actually a knock on my RGV door at 6:18 in the morning.  I woke up in an instant and realized that I was scheduled for a 6:30 tee time.  When you wake up 12 minutes before your tee time, you usually don't end up making that tee time.  However, I was sleeping in the golf course parking lot and made it to the tee box with time to spare.

    The event was The Summer Solstice at Little Bennett Golf Course presented by The Hive.  The Hive is a group of Maryland & DC based golfers that have created their own USGA golf club.  They don't have a course but they put on some great events for their members.  This event was a personal best ball format.  Each golfer was allowed to play as much golf as possible in one day and piece together their best 18 hole score.  

     The view on 18 before the 1st tee shot was struck

    The view on 18 before the 1st tee shot was struck

    The strategy is to play aggressive and make a lot of birdies.  If you make a double, you've got a chance to replace it with a par on your 2nd or 3rd round.  If you make it around a 4th time, that gives you 4 cracks at each hole.  It's a wildly fun format that relieves the pressure on some holes and really ups the ante on holes that you have previously played poorly.  

     Somewhere during the 2nd round.

    Somewhere during the 2nd round.

     The view on the 55th hole

    The view on the 55th hole

     The view on the 66th hole.

    The view on the 66th hole.

    During my time at The Solstice, I learned that I need about 41 golf holes to really find my game.  Once I found it, I shot down some flags and rolled in some putts.  I slowly lowered my score by erasing pars with birdies and replacing double bogies with eagles.  When the sun set and the dust cleared, we had golfed 65 holes and I had a 62 on my scorecard.  That 62 would be good enough for a 1 shot victory.  

    Since this is a charitable endeavor, I took my winnings and donated them to The First Tee.  If I have learned one thing on this trip, it's that giving is the easiest way to get back.  If you look at the world's most successful and influential people, they all make a practice to give more than they receive.  So if you follow this logic, it actually makes sense for you to donate out of selfish reasons.  Just click the link to donate and become part of the magic.  

     Even on a cloudy day, the view of the Washington Monument pops through at East Potomac.

    Even on a cloudy day, the view of the Washington Monument pops through at East Potomac.

    After the solstice, it was time to head into the nation's capital and do some golfing in the district.  My partner was an RGV Tour player by the name of Zack Bass.  Zack has a great passion for the game and was excited to be a part of the tour.  While East Potomac in Washington DC is not a top tier course, the location is very cool and the company was as good as it gets.

    After grinding out some pars and bogies for most of the day, Zack had a pretty good look on 16 for birdie.  Sensing a big moment, I grabbed my camera.  Like a natural born superstar, Zack rolled in the birdie putt and I captured the magic on my camera.  The RGV Tour searches for those that possess the 'golf zest' and Zack has it in spades.  What a way to earn your RGV Tour card with style.

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    The best part about golfing early, is that it usually leaves some time to golf late as well.  Naturally, I headed on over to Whiskey Creek to enjoy the second half of a 36 hole day.  Whiskey Creek is a public golf course designed by Ernie Els and a great option for play in the DC area.

    The tour ran into some unusual drama out at Whiskey Creek and you can hear all the details about it on the podcast episode.  The good news is that drama was handled very well by the staff at Whiskey Creek and we even ran into the RGV Tour's latest award winner, Emma.  In a landslide victory, Emma now holds the title of "Best RGV Tour Golf Course Bartender."  Keep on serving those Diet Cokes, Emma.  

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     The finish hole at Whiskey Creek

    The finish hole at Whiskey Creek

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    Next on the RGV agenda, was Congressional Country Club's blue course.  Congressional has hosted 3 US Opens, with the first being won by Ken Venturi in 1964.  Ernie Els won the event in 1997 and in 2011, Rory McIlroy added a US Open at Congressional to his trophy case.  The course has also hosted a PGA Championship and a US Senior Open.  Although it is not officially listed on Congressional's website, The RGV Tour would visit in June of 2018.

    The club house is massive and the first thing I did when arriving on the property was proceed to get lost.  I highly recommend this strategy as a method for exploration.  I ran into all sorts of history and pictures... I even helped a bird that had flown into the building escape.   The clubhouse is the largest in the entire nation and I would suggest wandering around for a while if you have the chance to visit.

     The 10th hole is a par 3 over the water.

    The 10th hole is a par 3 over the water.

     The iconic 18th hole at Congressional

    The iconic 18th hole at Congressional

    The RGV Tour visit to Congressional featured two outstanding RGV Tour players named Kevin and Ford.  The golf IQ was exceptionally high with these two and some top notch tales were traded.  Ford can also bomb the ball about 340 yards, so we played 7200 yards which made for plenty of 4 irons into greens.  On this day, those 4 irons were struck true and a good number of birdies were found.

    Congressional will quickly punish wayward shots and continually test good but not great golf shots.  Every inch of grass out there is challenging but manageable if you are playing good golf.  Congressional is just a serious test of golf that tested us good.

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    Next up was Queenstown Harbor with Chris and Ryan.  Whatever, I can say about this round, Ryan probably said it better.  In one of my favorite posts on The RGV Tour, Ryan does a great job of explaining the day and giving some great insight on what it's like to join the tour.  The only thing that Ryan forgets to mention is the strength Chris' outfit for the day.  His shirt is red, his shoes are red, even his putter is red.  It is a red hot RGV Tour ensemble.  Chris knows how to golf party hard.

    Since the beginning, I have always felt like each round on the RGV Tour is special and it was great to hear Ryan's take on the day.  I highly suggest reading his piece below.

     Chris matches his shirts, shoes, and even his putter with an all word RGV Tour scripting.

    Chris matches his shirts, shoes, and even his putter with an all word RGV Tour scripting.

     Ryan fans one out to the right but poses on it hard.

    Ryan fans one out to the right but poses on it hard.

     A good chunk of the back nine at Queenstown Harbor

    A good chunk of the back nine at Queenstown Harbor

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    The Country Club of Maryland plays 6,328 yards.  If you look at that yardage and determine that the golf course is a pushover, you would be wrong.  Playing to a par 70, the course is every bit as challenging as it's 7000 yard counterparts.  RGV Tour player Jeremy and I tackled the course on an outstanding Tuesday afternoon.  Jeremy is an English Teacher and is really working on honing his game during the summer break.

    Jeremy and I decided to have a duel in the summer heat and we started slugging it out right away.  No hole was halved on the first 10 holes and after the tenth hole the match was all square.  That's when I turned on the birdie buzz saw, the course turns up the difficulty down the stretch and I turned up the heat.  In the end, I emerged with the victory but both of us emerged with smiles.  It was another great day on The RGV Tour.

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    On a hot tip from Jeremy, I decided to take in a baseball game to give my golfing senses a break.  Camden Yard is a great place to watch a game.  I highly recommend the crab dip waffle fries and some ice cream in a miniature helmet.  

    The Seattle Mariners beat the Orioles 3-2.  It is odd to think that the entire MLB season will actually be over by the time I see Seattle again.  Now that I think about it, the entire NFL season will actually start and finish as well.  We got a long ways to go, folks.

    After 6 rounds in Maryland, It was time for the finale.  Just like the ending in Terminator 2, this one would not disappoint.  The good news: nobody gets dipped into molten steel in the end.  Instead of self aware robots, it was Pete Dye and his railroad ties at Bulle Rock Golf Club.

    I am sure that I will say this a hundred more times, but the people of the RGV Tour really keep this golf engine pumping and the duo that I met up with at Bulle Rock were no exception. From the moment they recognized me speeding by in a golf cart, Mike and Mike were some of my favorite tour players.  

    Mike K. works at Under Armour and for most of the front nine, Mike M and I were trying to land some sort of million dollar sponsorship deal.  Let's just say, I don't think they are gonna trade in Spieth for Koenig anytime soon.  Mike M also had quite an interesting journey to share.  From manning commercial ocean liners around the world to running the show at your local Home Depot, Mike kept us entertained all day long.

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    Just like that, the Maryland chapter came to a close and I headed into Pennsylvania for a seriously jam packed state.

    With the Fourth of July coming up, there are sure to be some serious fireworks in Philly!

    Virginia is for golfers

    Virginia was the first leg of the journey where I really started to feel the wear of being out here on my own.  As the tour approached the 5 month mark, I really started to miss my wife, my friends, and my family.  But the fact of the matter remains... this golf train is in motion and it can't be stopped.  On a positive note, the amazing people that I meet along the way dull the loneliness and give inspiration to keep things rocking.

    There are some mighty fine people and golf courses in this state and I golfed em hard.  They say that Virgina is for lovers, but maybe it's just for people that love golf.  The first course on the agenda was The Highlands Course at Primland.  It wasn't easy to get to, but it was worth the drive.

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    After a rousing round at Primland, it was time to head out for a serious golf escape at Ballyhack.  Part of the Dormie Network, Ballyhack is one of Virginia's finest places to play.  Built on top of an old dairy farm, the undulations are dramatic, the views are stunning, and the course is fun to play. The photos from Ballyhack were some of my favorites over the last several months.

    Membership to Ballyhack is just as unique as the course.  If you love to travel and golf, I would suggest clicking here.

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    After watching a little US Open action and popping off the attached PSA, I headed out to Poplar Grove.  This would be a round that would nearly go down in the record books.

    After starting off poorly, I got hot in an instant on the 14th hole with a nice little birdie.  I followed that up with another nice putt for birdie on the 15th and then I made a pretty casual eagle on the par 5 16th.  Holy crap, who am I?

    With my sights set on 4 in a row, I stuffed one in there tight on the par 3 17th and then rolled that in.  Just like that, I was in record territory with a shot at a personal best 5 in a row.  The good play continued and I had a 5 footer on 18 to finish the final 5 holes in 6 under par.  

    It never ever came close.  I pushed this thing so far right that you would have thought I shot 108 on the day.  Maybe some day I will have another look.

     The golf magic started here on the 14th hole.

    The golf magic started here on the 14th hole.

     The scene of The RGV Tour's 3rd eagle on 16 at Poplar Grove.

    The scene of The RGV Tour's 3rd eagle on 16 at Poplar Grove.

    After spending the night in a Wal Mart parking lot and running some early morning RGV errands, I headed over to Spring Creek in Gordonsville for what may have been the hottest day on tour.  As I walked up to the golf shop, I could feel my face melting.  Thankfully, the rain would come in the late afternoon and cool things off.  I also got a haircut to help with too much hair causing me to overheat.  Not sure if that is an actual thing or not, but it felt right.  

    For my round at Spring Creek, I made 3 double bogies, 4 birdies, and 11 pars.  Which on the 'interesting scorecard scale' is about 7/10.

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    Next up was a highly anticipated day... my sobriety day.  I had purposely paired it up with a highly anticipated round at Kinloch Golf Club.  Today was going to be a good day and the anticipation lived up to the hype.  If you ever get the chance to play Kinloch make sure that you get a grilled PB&J at the turn.  I had 2 of them.

    The more of myself that I put out there, the more people give back and the outpouring I received on Twitter alone was amazing.  Thanks to everyone who was part of my 13 year celebration.

    For a homeless golf hobo like myself, one of the nicest things about being invited to some of these private clubs is the locker room facilities.  With one of the heaviest flow showers I have experienced, Kinloch gave me a serious cleaning.  I should be good for another week or so.  

    The golf course also happens to be one of the best in the world.  Designed by Lester George, Kinloch is littered with so many strategic decisions.  Most courses provoke strategic thought on only a handful of holes but Kinloch gives you something to mull over on just about every golf hole.  I love a golf course that makes you think and engages your brain.

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    I would return late to Virginia on a special request form Michael McCartin.  Mike is a member of Tom Doak's team, Renaissance Golf Design.  As often happens with these teams, members break off to start their own independent projects.  This was the case for Mike and The Schoolhouse Nine.  

    Located an hour or so outside of DC in Sperryville, VA, Mike had the chance to build his very first golf course in 2015.  With limited land and resources, he created a unique and fun place to play.  The green complexes are the centerpiece of the design and feature fantastic undulations allowing for varied play depending on the daily pin position.  So many decisions are made when constructing a golf course and I was treated to all of the explanations from the course's creator.

    For my visit, the rain was dumping down hard and with flash flooding in the area, we decided to tee off.  Since sand capping and irrigated fairways were not really in the budget, we decided to play barefoot through the tide pools and rip currents that had replaced the normally grassy meadows.  This was one of the RGV Tour's more memorable stops.  What a way to cap off the state.

     

    North Carolina

    We have got 9 courses to cover in North Carolina and there isn't a bad round in the bag.  Strap in folks, because North Carolina is one of America's greatest golfing states.  The action got started out at Grandfather Golf Club.  The good news about starting off in the Cherokee National Forest is that the weather is significantly cooler.  This was a much needed break from the previous sweat fest in South Carolina.

     Just imagine the 60 degree weather!

    Just imagine the 60 degree weather!

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    There is a high concentration of quality golf courses in this area and unfortunately, I only had time for a couple of them.  I was certainly satisfied with my decision to pay a visit to nearby Elk River Club.  The club is not very well known in golf circles outside of North Carolina, but I found it to be one of my favorites in the state.

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    After a great couple of rounds in the mountains, the tour made it's way into Charlotte for what would be one of my favorite tour stops in North Carolina.  I was meeting up with the Thrift brothers, Payne and Wilson, to play Charlotte CC.  While these two don't have their high school diplomas, they do have a pretty good golf education and took me on an excellent tour of Charlotte CC.  There was even a pretty good sibling rivalry match going on.  In an upset victory, younger brother Wilson took the victory over Payne.

    Afterwards, I sat down with the entire Thrift family and we enjoyed a marvelous home cooked meal.  The conversation was just as amazing as the salmon.  

    Thank you very much to the Thrift family for inviting The RGV Tour into your home and your driveway.  Upon departing, the tour was honored with a fine American flag painting to commemorate the visit.  It is proudly displayed in the living quarters of the RGV.  This is as amazing as it gets.

     Payne and Wilson work the bridge.  Strong male modeling careers lie ahead.

    Payne and Wilson work the bridge.  Strong male modeling careers lie ahead.

     Wilson storms down the back nine to take the victory over Payne.

    Wilson storms down the back nine to take the victory over Payne.

     Charlotte has got a much bigger skyline than I expected

    Charlotte has got a much bigger skyline than I expected

    After a brief stint over to the North Carolina coast and Eagle Point, it was time to welcome Kenzie O Connell onto the RGV Tour.  I picked her up at the airport in the RGV, which is just about as classy as it gets.  After meeting up with an old friend of mine from San Francisco named Chandley, we got to work on putting together the first ever RGV Tour promotional video.  These results should speak for themselves.  Tour interest has risen 250% after this video hit the internet.

    Up next on the never ending golf journey was Pinehurst No 5 and The Cradle with Unkl Ben.  He's not my uncle or a rapper, that's just his Instagram name.  Ben is an employee of Pinehurst on the maintenance staff and was eager to show off his golf courses to us.  We gladly obliged.  While No. 5 is an excellent round of golf, it was The Cradle that really grabbed our attention.

    The Cradle is a 9 hole short course designed by Gil Hanse and the yardages range from 50 to 127.  So, you won't need many clubs.  For what you do decide to bring, they give you a nice little carry bag for your round.  My favorite part about The Cradle is that in the afternoons, they pump the jams.  *You can dance if you want to, just don't leave your friends behind. *Safety Dance

    Our crew did a little dancing and set out after some aces.  We found some birdies but nothing went in the hole.  I am still scratching my head on one of my shots.  "How does it bounce there and end up there without going in?"  I have said that phrase too many times.

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     Kenzie O Connell makes birdie on #2 at The Cradle

    Kenzie O Connell makes birdie on #2 at The Cradle

     My Callaway wedges rocked the cradle.

    My Callaway wedges rocked the cradle.

    Up next was the RGV Tour Open out at Dormie Club.  The Dormie Club is a consistent favorite in the Pinehurst area and we had a gang of golfers ready to tee it up in the name of the First Tee.  We had alerted the local news and we had some coverage from the press.  Ted Fitzgerald wound up getting some great photos from the event and we ended up on the front page of The Pilot.  The Pilot is pretty much the New York Times of Southern Pines.

    Since it was so hot, Kenzie and I decided to play barefoot in order to keep cool.  I did wear sandals for maybe 50% of the time and there is also a video of me high kicking my sandal into the air after syncing a tough putt for par.  

    In the sponsor group, Kenzie and I teed it up with Luke and Andy from Lie & Loft.  These guys run a golf design company that makes some really cool stuff connecting golf and the home.  Their motto: Golf is Home.  Man, what a sentence!  Golf couldn't be more of a home for me on this journey.   The Lie & Loft folks gave away some great prizes to our Gross and Net Champions.  To see what they are cooking up next, check em out here.

    Afterwards, Kenzie posed for an impromptu toilet modeling session.  Yes, you will need to tune into the podcast to get the full explanation.

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     Toilet Model, Kenzie O Connell

    Toilet Model, Kenzie O Connell

    Next up:  FOOD POISONING!!!  I wanted pizza, but I ended up with a Shrimp Po' Boy at the Hickory Tavern.  I wouldn't be the same for a full week.  Ha, nice try golf gods, but I am gonna keep after it.  Just because you have food poisoning doesn't mean you have to stop playing golf.  The first test of this theory came at Tobacco Road.  The good news is that Tobacco Road is a wildly fun place to play golf and I managed to pull through.

     A look from behind the green on 14 at Tobacco Road

    A look from behind the green on 14 at Tobacco Road

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     The always fun par 5 13th at Tobacco Road

    The always fun par 5 13th at Tobacco Road

    After Tobacco Road, It was time for Kenzie to hop off of the golf train and return to reality.  It is always a pleasure having a co-pilot on the journey and Kenzie was a fantastic one.  The Tour gives Kenzie a 5 golf ball co-pilot rating.  When it comes to RGV Tour Co pilot ratings, that's the highest co-pilot rating possible.  It's pretty much like receiving an Oscar.

    For the head pilot, it was time to move forward and back into the mountains.  I had two tee times lined up at several of North Carolina's best.  It was Wade Hampton and then Mountaintop.  At Wade Hampton, the sickness of the Shrimp Po' Boy was still coursing through my veins, but I managed to keep my senses intact and even make a couple of birdies.  

    The attention to detail that the maintenance team at Wade Hampton takes is simply outstanding.  While I was out there, they were raking the creeks to make sure that they flow clean with fresh mountain water.

     The stunning 17th at Wade Hampton.  They spend about $15k each year making sure those 2 trees remain disease free.

    The stunning 17th at Wade Hampton.  They spend about $15k each year making sure those 2 trees remain disease free.

     The wildly challenging 3rd hole at Wade Hampton

    The wildly challenging 3rd hole at Wade Hampton

     A look back on 18 from the clubhouse porch

    A look back on 18 from the clubhouse porch

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     The 17th green from high up

    The 17th green from high up

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    After existing on crackers for several days, my body was slowly making a recovery.  Which is good because Mountaintop's snack shacks are serious business.  You can get just about anything your heart/stomach desires.  I went with a steamed turkey and cheese sandwich that soothed my stomach like never before.  As I headed out of North Carolina and into Virginia the zest was beginning to return.

    It is swampy in South Carolina!

    It's got a ton of charm, it's filled with alligators, and it's got a lot of golf to play.  It's South Carolina!  The Tour started off at Jack Nicklaus' May River.  It's one of his finest designs and I had the pleasure of employing one of the course's finest caddies.  He was so good that after the round he invited the tour to come crash on his front lawn on the banks of the May River.  This Southern Hospitality is no joke!

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    Next up was a visit to Coore and Crenshaw's Chechessee Creek Club.  Very little earth was moved on this piece of property and it was. a pleasure to see what Coore and Crenshaw can do with just about any piece of land that they are given.  The greens at Chechessee Creek offer the course's biggest challenge.  Find yourself in the wrong spot and it's wildly difficult to save par.  I saved a couple, but found plenty of bogie fates.

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    As a youngster, I grew up playing a 9 hole course called Arlington Park.  The course has zero bunkers and offers up 5 par 3's and 4 par 4's, the longest being just 300 yards.  I was completely content and fell in love with the little neighborhood golf course.  Eventually, I would come to realize that there are other golf courses in this world and the first course to really open my eyes was Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

    When I was 13, my Dad took me out to play the Ocean Course and I remember him paying $140 for the greens free.  For one round of golf it was 150% more than my annual membership to Arlington Park.  Holy crap!

    I would rise to the moment and turn in the best golfing round of my life at that time and shoot an impressive 75.  For years, I would remember in vivid detail the long curving birdie putt that I made on #10.  Needless to say, I was excited to return.

    Over the years, the course has been softened in some areas for resort play and the current conditions are less wild and much more manicured.  The Ocean Course still remains one of the most beautiful places to golf in the world.  I would play well again but only manage a 77 on Pete Dye's marvelous creation.

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    After I cleaned the sand out of my shoes, I headed on down to play Kiawah's Osprey Point.  With 4 high quality public courses at Kiawah Island, it is a serious golfing destination.  You have great options with Cougar Point and Turtle Point.  There are also several private courses on the island that I have yet to play.

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     The sun sets over Osprey Point and another day on The RGV Tour ends.

    The sun sets over Osprey Point and another day on The RGV Tour ends.

    After Kiawah had soothed my golfing soul, it was time to head out to Myrtle Beach.  My first stop was not at a golf course but at a golf school.  I had the chance to meet up with the students and staff at the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach.  It is always great to meet up with people that have a similar zest for the game of golf and these folks are some of the most passionate that I have encountered. If you are interested in learning more, send me a message.

    After touring the facilities, we headed out to play some golf at nearby Wachesaw Plantation Club with Brandon Canesi.  Brandon is not your ordinary golfer, he has a disability that would stop most of us from ever picking up a golf club.  Brandon was born with a condition called limb reduction and he has no hands.  However, that hasn't stopped this young buck from tearing up the course.  You can check out Brandon in the video below and head over to the RGV Tour podcast to hear my conversation with him.

    After a full day in class, it was time to pick it up a notch with a full day of 36 at Glen Dornach and The Dunes Golf & Beach Club.  I met up with an enthusiastic RGV Tour player named John McCabe that made the day a lot of fun.  The tour extends a big thanks to John for setting things up and his generous donation to The First Tee.

     The double green of holes 18 and 9 at Glen Dornach lies right on the Intercoastal Waterway

    The double green of holes 18 and 9 at Glen Dornach lies right on the Intercoastal Waterway

     One of my favorite approach shots in South Carolina is the 16th at Glen Dornach

    One of my favorite approach shots in South Carolina is the 16th at Glen Dornach

     One of my favorite tee markers, that's a gator with a golf ball in his mouth.

    One of my favorite tee markers, that's a gator with a golf ball in his mouth.

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    Before heading out of Myrtle Beach, I decided to pay a visit to Caledonia.  Designed by Mike Strantz, it's easy to see why his courses are a favorite with many golfers.  Mike's designs are bold and most importantly a lot of fun to play.  In a country where a lot of the golf courses can blend together, Mike does a great job of making his tracks stand out.

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    With one final round to play in South Carolina, the tour headed east to find a pair of rowdy RGV Tour players in Greenville SC.  The Tour met up with Jimmy Ferguson and Richard Cox at Greenville CC.  These guys score exceptionally high in the golf IQ category and scored pretty well on the actual golf course as well.

    The tour can be a grind and it certainly wears on you over time.  However, it's the spirit of the people that want to get involved that keep me going.  It amazes me how many times I have shown up to a golf course with a mundane attitude and immediately snapped out of it when I meet an excited new RGV Tour golfer.  To all of you RGV Tour players... Thank you so much for keeping it fresh, fun, and inspirational.

     The approach to the 9th hole at Greenville CC's Chanticleer Course

    The approach to the 9th hole at Greenville CC's Chanticleer Course

     The 18th at Greenville CC would be the final hole golfed in South Carolina.

    The 18th at Greenville CC would be the final hole golfed in South Carolina.

    Florida

    When I looked at Florida while originally planning my journey, I remember thinking... don't get sucked into Florida too deep, you could die out there.  However, I would get sucked in deep, the good news is that I would not die.

    I started off the state with a visit to Capital City Country Club and a round with Golf Scribe, Jay Revell.  The first thing that I recognized about the course are the impressive live oaks dripping with Spanish Moss.  They are beautiful and it is awfully hard to capture their full essence with a camera.  I also recognized Jay's short game as particularly precise.

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    As I headed down the gulf coast of Florida, I ran into a couple other mighty fine places to golf my ball.  I am talking about World Woods.  Bad name, bad logo, great courses.  They have two courses out there to enjoy, Pine Barrens and Rolling Oaks.  Pine Barrens is the more noteworthy of the two, but both courses are worth playing.  We would avoid the rain and get in 36.  Just about every day during the Florida leg, rain would threaten but never actually come.

    The inspirational story of the month comes from RGV Tour player Mark Thomas who was battling a bad back but made it out to the course anyways.  Mark was not to be denied his RGV Tour card and played his heart out over all 36 holes.  It's players like Mark, who make the RGV Tour special.

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    As you pull into Black Diamond Ranch, you get a quick glimpse of the famous 5 quarry holes that make the place so special.  The bad news is that you have to wait until the back nine to play them.  That stretch of holes comes on 13-17 of the aptly named Quarry course.  There is also a Ranch course and a 9 hole Highlands course.  That's 45 holes of Tom Fazio golf!

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    Every year, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook hosts the Valspar Championship.  It's a pretty decent tour stop and in 2018, Tiger Woods joined the field.  With Tiger's appearance, the size and revenue of the tournament effectively doubled.  Tiger would contend and narrowly missed out on a playoff as he made it through the Snake Pit.  The Snake Pit consists of holes 16-18 and they are notoriously difficult.

    After being joined by a couple of the local pros on the front nine, I played the back nine by myself.  As I made my way into the Snake Pit, I gave myself a challenge...  even par "wins the Valspar."  The story played out in dramatic fashion on my Instagram Story.  After making bogey on 16 and par on 17, I needed a birdie 3 on 18.  With the "invisible crowd" sensing a big moment, I delivered an 8 iron that nestled in tight setting up a 9 foot putt for birdie and the win.  Moments later, the crowd would storm the green as I canned the winning putt.

    I probably have too much fun with these made up scenarios, but it keeps things fresh when you are golfing every day and sometimes by yourself.  I am certainly not Tiger Woods, but it is fun to feel like him. 

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     The snake at the snake pit signifies your entrance to the pit.

    The snake at the snake pit signifies your entrance to the pit.

    With a day up in the air, I decided to fill the missing link in my Streamsong portfolio... Gil Hanse's Black Course.  It was as hot as Hades, but I was glad I made the walk.  The pictures below should give you an indication of how big and bold the design is.  Plenty of sand and plenty of strategic golf holes.  My favorite being the 9th, which is a blind approach to a punch bowl green.  The excitement of walking over those hills on an "Alps" hole after you hit one right at it, is pure golf bliss.  The anticipation and excitement of learning your fate is fantastic.  Even if it's over the green, you still have that hope.  Fortunately, mine was in there tight.

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    By this point, I am way too deep into Florida, but I keep going deeper.  I am talking about Naples and Calusa Pines... and it was worth the travel deep into the state.  We managed to play 18 and then headed around again after a rainstorm left the course wide open for us.  We even managed to do a little par 3 RGV rooftop range practice after the round.  What a day out at Calusa!

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    Now that I had made it down to Naples, the trick was to extract myself quickly, and I looked to my friend Arnold Palmer for inspiration.  Having watched his tournament every year on tv, it was finally time to play.  The course is not especially unique but the finish is quite strong and the Arnie vibes are magnificent.

     The iconic 18th from the air.

    The iconic 18th from the air.

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    I managed to get out of Florida with only playing a couple of more rounds at Reunion Resort and Amelia Island Plantation.  First up was Reunion Resort.  With 3 courses designed by Nicklaus, Player, and Watson, the resort is the only one it's kind in the world.  The short par 4 7th shown below is my personal favorite.

    The round at Amelia Island Plantation would be my farewell to the state of Florida and a good precursor of the swamps to come in South Carolina.

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    Georgia

    Once the tour wrapped up in Tennessee, it was time to head south into Georgia.  Things started off at Lookout Mountain, an excellent Seth Raynor Design.  After Lookout Mountain, you could say it all went downhill from there.  

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    Things heated up as the tour rolled into Atlanta and pulled up to Candler Park for the very first RGV Tour One Club Open.  The only rule..  you are only allowed the use of one club.  We had a small turnout, but the competition was fierce and a lot of fun.  I have learned that smaller groups help you to focus on the individuals and that can be much more rewarding.  This was certainly the case at The RGV One Club Open.  Afterwards, the Tour spent an evening on the town and the night in the driveway of tournament organizer, Mark Thomas.  

    When I pulled into Atlanta, I knew there was a lot of golf to be golfed.  However, I didn't fully realize the depth of golf that exists in this city.  With my invitation out to Peachtree still pending, I took on a lot of the area's other top notch golf courses.  First up was Rivermont.

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    The actually make all of their own wicker baskets at Rivermont and the maintenance staff has become quite adept at basket weaving.  While Merion has red and orange baskets, the club at Rivermont opted for yellow.

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    The next day, the tour woke up and rolled out to Druid Hills where I had the pleasure of meeting up and playing with Ryan Bush.  Ryan and his wife Katie have started something called the ForeHadley foundation and it does fantastic work in a field where little else is being done.

    Ryan and Katie have a sad, powerful, and inspiring story to share and each year they host a golf tournament to raise funds to combat a relatively unknown birth defect called CDH.  The RGV Tour is extremely proud to be associated with individuals like Ryan, Katie and their foundation.  You can learn more and support their mission on their website.  

     Ryan scrambles hard to save par

    Ryan scrambles hard to save par

     Nice little view of Atlanta from above Druid Hills

    Nice little view of Atlanta from above Druid Hills

    Next up comes the wildly scenic Currahee Club and it started off with a birdie.  7 pars later, I was looking to close out a mistake free front nine.  Naturally, I shanked one into the woods.  I grumbled something along the lines of "there goes that par" as I proceeded to tee up another ball and rip It down the middle.

    With 160 left, I hit a solid approach that ran off the left slope and heading towards the pin.  Almost always in these situations, the ball just crosses over the pin and that's that.  But there is always a little glimmer of hope that something special might happen.  Doing what I could to encourage my golf ball, I yelled "GET IN."  And just like that, my Callaway Chrome Soft Taco Bell golf ball listened.  It hit the pin and dropped in the hole.  I had saved par from 160 and the party in the fairway was on!

    Naturally, I wanted to keep the streak going and fortunately, the good play and the pars continued.  When I reached the 17th green, I faced a long birdie putt to keep things rolling.  In glorious fashion, I proceeded to 4 putt.  Golf!!

     The scene of the dreaded streak ending 4 putt at Currahee Club

    The scene of the dreaded streak ending 4 putt at Currahee Club

     A big thanks to Billy Pratt for making the RGV Tour stop at Currahee Club special.

    A big thanks to Billy Pratt for making the RGV Tour stop at Currahee Club special.

    Probably my favorite Tour stop in the Atlanta area was Piedmont Driving Club.  It's a Rees Jones design that was established in 2000, the club itself has been around since 1887.  The pictures below were some of my favorite in the entire state.

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     The exceptionally tiny 19th hole

    The exceptionally tiny 19th hole

    What a better way to finish up a jam packed state than with a day of 36.  I started off in the rain at Tom Watson's The Manor and ended up golfing in the sun with RGV Tour Player, Steven Hastings, at The Governors Towne Club

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    As I left the state of Georgia and headed into Florida, I ran into this guy, who gave me a chuckle.

    Going 5 rounds with Alabama!

    When visiting Alabama, it is important to walk around and just yell Roll Tide whenever you get the chance.  People respond very well to it and it makes you feel like a local.  When visiting the golf courses of Alabama it is important to wear shorts.  Folks, it gets hot in Alabama.  

    First up on the sweat fest, was Limestone Springs.  "The Lime" as I would lovingly refer to the course throughout my round, was a nice warmup round for what would be a quick state.  Don't be fooled, each round packs a serious punch.  So put on your headgear and grab some suntan lotion, because it's coming in hot, fast, and hard.  It's 5 rounds with Alabama!

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    This RGV Tour Title Bout is offically  scheduled for 5 rounds of golfing and is brought to you by RGV Tour productions.  Round 1 is your only chance to take a breather with "The Lime".  However, I did I take plenty of punches during my round, carding 9 penalty strokes.  

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    Round 2 starts off with a couple of jabs and ends with a couple of uppercuts.  The Ledges provides plenty of chances to score early, but really earns it's stripes as a contender with a very strong finish.  If you can escape the final four holes without a bogie, you have a good chance of making it to round 3 with a lead on the judge's scorecards.

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    After the bell rang on round 2, RGV Tour Pro, Todd Murphree and I decided to pop a couple drives off of the RGV's rooftop range.  In a foolish move, I stepped on the rooftop sunlight and nearly put my foot into my bedroom.  "Well that's gonna be a problem" I said as I inspected the damage.  30 seconds later, we heard a pretty good clap of thunder as a storm was rolling in quick.

    Not wanting to have a rain storm directly onto my bed, we hustled to the nearby Target store and fixed the sunlight in the parking lot with some glue and an umbrella as the rain began to poor down.  Just like that the Tour was back in the game and ready for round 3.

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    My opponent in round 3 was PGA Tour heavyweight Zach Sucher and we were taking on Shoal Creek.  The good news is that Zach was coming off of an injury and was only putting his short game on display.  I was going to hit the drives and he was going to play from my ball once we got around the green.  This should give you a pretty good idea of where the big difference lies when it comes to RGV Tour Players and PGA Tour players.  Somehow, Zach managed to shoot 11 shots better than me using my tee balls and most of my approach shots.  I wasn't knocked out, but I was definitely falling behind in the title bout.  

     Be sure to tune into the US Women's Open this year as it heads to Shoal Creek

    Be sure to tune into the US Women's Open this year as it heads to Shoal Creek

    I got my senses back together and headed into round 4 at Pursell Farms' FarmLinks.  I was meeting up with the Pursell twins, Martin and Parker!  In a surprise twist, Martin & Parker were actually awarded the "Gentlemen of The RGV Tour" award in the middle of round 4.  These two guys were some of the most hospitable and gracious folks the tour has encountered to date.

    As far as the RGV Tour is concerned FarmLinks is probably the best option for public access golf in the state of Alabama.  The round of golf is fair, fun, and gorgeous.

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    Congratulations, if you have made it this far into the post and are still standing.  But no matter what you do next, round 5 is gonna provide the knockout punch.  It's the Country Club of Birmingham and it was an instant RGV Tour favorite.

    Right away, you have 3 legendary architects teaming up on you swinging away.  With the original design created by Donald Ross, Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones would add touches as the years went by.  Just like that, I went down for the count.  What a fantastic way to end 5 rounds with Alabama.

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     The final hole in Alabama was one of my favorites, strong Dye vibes emanate from the mounding on the right hand side..

    The final hole in Alabama was one of my favorites, strong Dye vibes emanate from the mounding on the right hand side..

    Thanks for jumping into the Alabama Title Bout with The RGV Tour.  Here is a link to The Mike Tyson fight in Punch Out.

    Top Notch Tour Travels in Tennessee

    After getting acclimated to some warm weather in Mississippi it was time to head north into Tennessee as the season began to round into form.  As I crossed the border and headed for TPC Southwind, the rain was coming down hard.  The good news is that The RGV Tour always plays in the rain.  If the golf course let's the Tour golf, we golf.

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    Since TPC Southwind hosts the FedEx St Jude Classic every year and the stands were already going up, it was natural that I would arrive on the 18th tee needing a par to win the event.  Unfortunately, my tee ball would trickle into the water and I would need to get up and down from 160 to earn the victory.  With 50 feet for the championship, my putt dove hard at the end and curled into the cup on the high side.  The crowd erupted in utter chaos.  I jumped into the stands and high fived everyone.  The people lifted me up and chanted my name.  Well, at least the putt was real, the chanting my name was the stuff of make believe.

     The view from the celebration in the stands.

    The view from the celebration in the stands.

     Sunny skies in Memphis

    Sunny skies in Memphis

    The rain would clear up the next day for a visit to Memphis Country Club.  Designed by Donald Ross, the club opened for play in 1917.  While the course is fantastic, it was the heavy flow of the club's showers that really blew me away.  I am pretty sure it's a thing that country club's across the country pride themselves on.  I nearly drowned in the flow at Merion and Memphis CC is clearly keeping up with the big boys.

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    Next up was Justin Timberlake's old golfing grounds at Mirimichi Golf Club.  JT purchased the course in 2009 and reportedly put $16 million into renovating the course, he sold it in 2014 for $500k.  So not the best of business investments for the man who brought sexy back, but some solid bones and a very eco friendly golf course remain.

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    At this point in time, the tour had to halt operations for a golfing emergency, a tee time at Cypress Point!  Like any respectable golf nut, I immediatley hopped on a plane to golf the Alister Mackenzie gem.  You can get the full scoop on my Cypress Point podcast.

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    After one of the most inspiring rounds of golf that I have ever played, I returned to Tennessee with renewed vigor for the road.  Yes, golfing inspires me to golf more.  It also helped that The Golf Club of Tennessee was next up on the calendar.

     I would not make an ace on the stunning 4th hole

    I would not make an ace on the stunning 4th hole

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    The Tennessee stretch would pick up the pace with a day of 36 at Richland Country Club and then a skins game at Greystone Golf Club. On the 10th hole at Richland, the group's forecaddie would head out to spot our golf balls on the par 5.  RGV Tour pro Kris Buerkle can really pound it and he sent a screaming rope hook right at our caddie.  Our man tried to jump out of the way but he was caught right in the knee and down he went.  It was the first round ending injury on tour and hopefully the last.  In the end, our caddie was fine and we gave him a hefty tip as he iced his knee.  The RGV Tour's official policy on caddie sniping is listed in section 2.3 and states specifically "Do not snipe your caddie."  Kris went before the RGV review board and was found innocent on all charges.

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    On the twilight half of 36, we had ourselves a skins game show down at Greystone Golf Club.  Local golfing stud, Jody Barrett, invited us out for the weekly game that sees a lot of action out in Dickson, TN.  Our group was filled with top notch talent, but we would not earn a single skin.  However, I would capture a closest to the pin prize with a sweet little 7 iron to 2 feet.  Still no aces on the RGV Tour.  

    Afterwards, Jody would invite us out to his farm and The RGV Tour would spend the night amongst the livestock.  The generosity and the willingness of RGV Tour players to open up their homes has been simply amazing.  The tour is proud to be associated with such fantastic individuals like Jody Barrett.

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    In Nashville for one last round, I decided to take on a local favorite at Hermitage Golf Club's President's Reserve course.  Apparently, the owner of the course paid a visit to Whistling Straits and really liked the idea of sheep roaming the golf course.  Because, before he could even return from his trip to Wisconsin, the sheep were delivered to his home course and they had taken over.  These sheep are pretty cool but they appear generally disinterested in your golf score.

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    When visiting Tennessee as a golfer, one should not leave the state without paying a visit to Sweeten's Cove.  The course was designed by King-Collins Golf.  Rob Collins is the principal architect and he has been described by the NY Times as a "golf cult hero."  When I pulled up to the course and began wandering around, he was actually the first person that I met.  It's a hands on place for Rob and it's clear that he takes tremendous pride in his creation located in Pittsburg Tennessee.  Opening in 2014, the course is still in it's humble beginnings with a trailer for a pro shop and a modest grounds crew.

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    Whatever small time shanty vibes you may pick up in the pro shop fade away very quickly as you head out onto the course.  The design is bold, fun, and strategic.  All 9 of the green complexes allow for pin locations that can drastically change the course of play and you could enjoy the course 30 different ways before you get a sense of familiarity.  In a sea of courses that run together, Sweetens Cove stands out.

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    With one last round in Tennessee to be played, it was Black Creek Club that drew the farewell honors.  Designed by Brian Silva, the course is a modern template course set in a residential community.  The Redan, Biarritz, & Alps templates all stand out and are very well done.  The course is reminiscent of a Seth Raynor or Macdonald design and it is a lot of fun to play.

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    Overall, I would say that Tennessee surprised me as a state.  There is a lot of variety here and the RGV Tour was happy to take it all in.

    Most importantly the RGV Tour has now raised over $6000 for the First Tee of Greater Seattle.  The best part about this total it's mostly a combination of RGV Tour Players giving small amounts. With the average donation around $35 it's a serious grass roots campaign.  Thanks to everyone who has supported the tour so far.

    If you are interested in being a part of the effort, click here.

    Louisianassissippi

    After a rousing good time in Arkansas, it was time to get into the south.  As far as I was concerned the swampier the better.  The tour started off at Koasati Pines in Kinder, LA.

    As I began to walk down the 1st hole, the ranger pulled up to me and asked "What do you think you are doing?"  "Um, playing golf," I responded.  The ranger proceeded to get on his radio and inform the powers that be that I was attempting to walk the golf course.  "Tell him that he can't walk and he needs to head back in and get a golf cart."  Apparently walking a golf course is outlawed in Louisiana.  Hmmmm...

     Notice that there are no golfers walking Koasati Pines.

    Notice that there are no golfers walking Koasati Pines.

    So, Louisiana didn't really get me fired up from the beginning, but I managed to run into a great golfer and he happily joined the RGV Tour.  We proceeded to have an excellent time as the sun set over a fine day in Louisiana.  I ended up staying at the local casino RV resort and had a 30 minute golf conversation with the lady that checked me in and another guy in line.

    The Tour continued further south through Louisiana with dates at Oakbourne CC and Louisiana.  This is where I ran into the tour's first gator and started to really break a sweat for the first time.

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     RGV Tour gator not really that impressed with my sandy par.

    RGV Tour gator not really that impressed with my sandy par.

    A couple of days in Louisiana got up into the 80's and I started to get worried that once the summer hits, the RGV is gonna be hard to keep cool.  The AC works fine right now, but if something happens, it is quite possible that I may cook like a turkey in this thing.  After about 3 months, I find myself worrying about things on the RV that I rely on daily.  What if the water pump breaks? What if the generator craps out?  What if my golf clubs burst into flames?  All I can do is put out the good vibes and perform the the necessary maintenance.

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    With one final round left in Louisiana, I decided to join up with a couple of junior golfers at Money Hill.  When I was a high school golfer back in Indiana, any score in the 70's was a good one.  With these kids, I am pretty sure they never shoot anything out of the 70's. The good news is that I could still out drive them if I really stepped on one.  So my ego didn't take too much of a bruising.

    In the end, everybody got some RGV Tour T-shirts and some Callaway hats.

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    Next up in Mississippi, I came to a good little area for some golf around Biloxi.  I started off with Fallen Oak and got paired with a great player from Florida.  Jason was a regular at Fallen Oak and on the back nine, he started mentioning that he had never birdied 18 and today was going to be the day.  18 was his nemesis.

    Being a first timer, I instantly realized the opportunity to go down in history and make birdie on my first visit.  With 2 good drives in the fairway, the stage was set for a showdown.  After we both missed the green, the outlook did not look quite as promising.  Jason was in the water, but I was alive from the grass tongue in between the green side bunkers.  As soon as the ball came off my wedge, I knew it had a chance. It didn't take long before that thing was resting in the bottom of the hole for a walk off, chip in, birdie.  We high fived and carried on.

     This was one of my favorite pictures that I have taken so far.  I just waited on those clouds and finally the sun broke free and hit the green.

    This was one of my favorite pictures that I have taken so far.  I just waited on those clouds and finally the sun broke free and hit the green.

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    The other two courses that The RGV Tour took on in the area was The Preserve and Grand Bear.  With a grinding pace of play at Grand Bear, I was glad when I ran into another golfer, a junior golfer named Callee.  Calle is a member of All State Girls' Golf team and she shot a pretty casual 71.  I made several pretty casual 7's.

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    When it comes to rain on the RGV Tour, the official policy is that if the course will let us play, The Tour will play.  That was the case as I had the course to myself at The Preserve.  On the back nine, the sun came out and I was rewarded with a splendid afternoon. 

    I had hear some rumblings about Dancing Rabbit for some time and I was excited to take on the 36 holes in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia is much different in Missisippi, but both cities have some darn good golf.  Both the Oaks course and the Azaleas course were a collaboration with Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate.  

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    I ran into La 'Ellis on the front nine of the Oaks course and he gave me the biggest smile and two thumbs up when I explained to him that he was "On The RGV Tour."   La 'Ellis had just lost his sister to cancer and was looking to the golf course to find some sort of serenity or peace in a difficult time.  As we made our way around the course, I couldn't help but think what a gift the game can be for those that play it with the proper perspective and attitude.  We had a great time and La 'Ellis even made a donation to the First Tee.  As I headed to the parking lot, I saw him head around for another 9.  La 'Ellis was indeed a standout RGV Tour Player.

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    I had one final destination left in Mississippi and I was in for a big day of 36 in West Point, MS.  I kicked things off with an early round at Old Waverly.  The course was designed by Jerry Pate and Bob Cupp in 1988 with the US Women's Open being held there in 1999.  Although walking around the property, you feel like the place has been there for 60 years.  I managed a couple good swings early but faltered down the stretch.  In the picture below, you will find Magnolia Drive.  Similar, but different from Magnolia Lane.

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     The 11th green features a pretty sweet beach bunker

    The 11th green features a pretty sweet beach bunker

    As I pulled up for my afternoon round at Mossy Oak, I heard somebody yell, "Hey Patrick!"  It was Ben whom I had been chatting with on Instagram.  He had also brought a full party bus of golf bros with him.  I immediately could tell that these guys liked to golf party and they demanded that I join them for a burger at nearby Stafford's.  I jumped in the golf party bus and away we went.  

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    After consuming a burger, fries, and a butterscotch shake at Stafford's, I was ready to hit the 1st tee.  My stomach wasn't but I certainly wasn't going to let that stop me. I trudged on.

    Mossy Oak was a perfect send off course for Mississippi as it is a relatively new design that will certainly get a lot of attention in the coming years.  Gil Hanse designed the course and it opened for play in 2016.  This was the youngest course ever to earn an RGV Tour stop visit.  Pretty big deal for Mossy Oak and Gil Hanse.

    You can listen to the podcast on Louisianassissippi here.  For a full list of the courses and the pictures, check out the Tour Tracks page.  Next up, the RGV temporary halts operations to make a date with Cypress Point back in California.

    The RGV Tour tackles The Natural State.

    When Chelsea Pezzola told me that she was friends with the coolest golfer gal in Arkansas, I knew that we had to meet up and do some RGV Tour golfing.  Her name is Christina Lecuyer and she is one of the most generous and hospitable hosts the RGV Tour has encountered.  Christina and her husband Nathan, graciously gave the RGV a spot in front of their house for several days.  She set up just about every round in Arkansas and we had a blast.

     I would hit the shot of the day into the par 5 10th hole.  A Callaway 3 wood that will go down in RGV Tour history.  Sadly, I would miss the short eagle putt.

    I would hit the shot of the day into the par 5 10th hole.  A Callaway 3 wood that will go down in RGV Tour history.  Sadly, I would miss the short eagle putt.

    My first round in Arkansas was Big Creek Country Club.  Spring was taking it's sweet time rolling in and I teed off in 30 degree weather on Master's Sunday.  After staying warm with a couple of birdies, it was time to take in the final round of The Masters at a local pub.  I had some pizza and ran into some interesting bar patrons.

    As I rolled into Little Rock, I found myself with some extra time on my hands.  I decided to pay a visit to the Little Rock Zoo to see if any of the local wildlife wanted to join the RGV Tour.  Most grown-ups don't go to the zoo by themselves and I can't figure out why.  You get to see cheetahs and bears.  A caracal even hissed at me.  What's a caracal?  It's a badass little cat.  If you have an extra couple of hours, go to the zoo.  You won't be disappointed.

     Even out of focus, you can tell this cat is pissed.

    Even out of focus, you can tell this cat is pissed.

    For my first round with Christina, we tackled The Country Club of Little Rock.  The course is one of the state's finest and it was just rounding into form.  The weather forecast was finally cooperating.  My game wasn't behaving as nicely and I made a 10 on a short par 3. The good news is that I managed to respond with back to back birdies.  Golf !!

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    For those of you not familiar with Christina, she has appeared on 2 seasons of the Golf Channel's Big Break and recently appeared on the show Shotmakers.  She won the first 3 tournaments that she ever played in and won 5 times in her college career.  She can golf her ball good.  The video below is one of my favorites from the tour.  Not only does it showcase Christina's fire for the game, but this is also an absolutely perfect putt.

    Next up on the RGV agenda was a day of 36 holes at Chenal Country Club and Pleasant Valley.  I would take on Christina in match play and she would beat me severely both rounds.  

    I would state that I only really start trying when I am down 6, but my late round comeback would lip out hard and I would lose 6&7 in both attempts.  However, I did manage to smile as my golf balls sailed into the woods.

    In an exciting turn of events, we would bump into Patrick Sullivan from the Web.com tour at Pleasant Valley and he would show us how to play like a pro.  He made an easy 5 birdies and we would do plenty of pushups to pay for it.

    Whenever you get a chance to play with someone who is actually on a professional golf tour, you quickly realize just how much better they are than you.  As a 3-5 handicap, I am light years away from being able to compete on tour.

    Fortunately, there is the RGV Tour.  Which is a semi professional, or "bush league" tour.

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    Christiana and I had a chance for payback on the 36th hole of the day.  I had an eagle look and Christina had a good look at birdie.  If we both made our putts, Patrick was gonna have to do 45 pushups on the 18th green.  Sadly, I three putted and Christina missed her birdie putt.  Patrick escaped unscathed.  Afterwards, I would remark... "I have let down my country."  Probably a little ambitious but it was definitely a pisser.

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     Patrick Sullivan makes another birdie.

    Patrick Sullivan makes another birdie.

    After some sweet Little Rock action the tour headed to Hot Springs to take in the 144th running of the Arkansas Derby.  I don't know much about horse racing, but I would try to parlay the $50 I won on a slot machine earlier into a small fortune.  I would come out +$10 and just spend it on gas for the rig.  

    Before heading out of Hot Springs, we would dine, or attempt to dine, at Jahna's and experience an impressive display of restaurant ineptitude.  To make a long story short, we sat down at 8pm, left at 10pm without ever receiving any food.  The cops were called and a tornado almost killed us all.  I give these guys 3 months before they close their doors.

    Things would turn around quickly at Texarkana Country Club for the state finale.

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     The view from above the 16th

    The view from above the 16th

     An island tee box to the 6th hole at Texarcana

    An island tee box to the 6th hole at Texarcana

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    With the weather warming up and the birdies dropping fast the tour heads south to Louisiana and Mississippi in search of some gators.  Before I left town, Christina and I had a chance to jump on the podcast. This episode is definitely worth a listen.

    Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri

    As the Tour rolled out of Texas, we headed into some potential danger zones with weather.  When I was planning the route I knew it wouldn't be all sunshine and 70 degrees and this was one of the areas of the country that I was concerned about.  I was playing some of the country's best courses in less than ideal conditions.  Any way that I sliced it, I wasn't going to be able to play them all in prime season.

    For my first round of golf in Oklahoma, I was greeted with some serious breezes and some serious temperature drops.  Let's call it 40 degrees with 40 mph winds, give or take a degree or an mph.  The good news is that I was playing Oak Tree National, one of Oklahoma's finest layouts and one of Pete Dye's most difficult designs.  This would be the toughest test of golf that the RGV Tour has encountered to date.

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    It was cold, it was windy and I fought hard.  I couldn't feel my hands but I did manage to find a grand total of 5 pars and I was able to break 100.  With water on 13 of the 18 holes, the course doesn't allow much room for error and you gotta drop those birdie putts when you get the chance.  The highlight of my round would come when I would lip out a 5 foot birdie putt on the 13th hole.

    Oak Tree National opened up in 1976 and was redesigned by Pete Dye in 2002.  The course has hosted a number of high profile tournaments, most recently the 2014 US Senior Open.  It was an excellent place for the RGV Tour to kick off Oklahoma.

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    The 2nd tour stop in Oklahoma was Southern Hills.  Southern Hills is a Perry Maxwell design/gem and one of America's most storied golfing destinations.  The course has hosted 7 major championships for men (3 US Opens and 4 PGA Championships.)  Southern Hills welcomed the RGV Tour with open arms and this was easily one of the tour's most memorable stops.  Thanks to the team at Southern Hills for bringing out Channel 6 to raise awareness for The First Tee and The RGV Tour.  Takeaway: You haven't really lived until you have hit driver from atop a motorized vehicle on the evening news.

    The last tour stop in Oklahoma was Karsten Creek.  Home to the OSU golf teams, Karsten creek is set to host the NCAA's in 2018.  While the tour was a little early to fully witness the green grass, the brown stuff plays pretty nicely.

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    I decided to press my luck with the weather and head further north into Kansas.  The lure of Prairie Dunes and Flint Hills National was too much to resist.  They sucked me right in like a tractor beam.  First up on the agenda, was Flint Hills National.  It must be noted, that as good as these courses played, they are no where near their full potential due to the off season.

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    Flint Hills is a Tom Fazio design and the site of a serious push up fest for the RGV Tour.  In a serious display of upper body strength, RGV Tour Player, Dave Pivinski, did about 200 pushups during the round.  The next day, he said he could still feel his arms, but we could tell he was hurting.  What a champion!

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    Prairie Dunes CC would become an instant RGV Tour favorite.  After playing the 1st 3 holes, I was already considering membership.  Probably due to it's remote nature, the club is very affordable, and for the right golfer it is one of the best deals in the Top 100.

    Against my better weather judgement, I would push further north towards Kansas City and an Easter date with a group of irresistable nieces.  Amidst the Easter egg hunts, I would find some satisfying rounds at Milburn Country club and The National at Kansas City.

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     Milburn Golf & CC

    Milburn Golf & CC

     Local KC golf stud, Frank Espinosa joins the golf party.

    Local KC golf stud, Frank Espinosa joins the golf party.

    On my way out of Kansas City, the tour would encounter it's first and hopefully last snow day.  Snow days, when you are a kid, are awesome.  They are not so awesome as a tour pro on the RGV Tour.  The pros at Old Hawthorne and I were ready to golf in the snow, but the Superintendent wisely vetoed the play request.

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    As the tour rolled into St Louis, Jack Frost followed.  The good news is that when you tee it up in 30 degree weather, you will most likely have the entire golf course to yourself.  That was indeed the case for rounds at St Albans Country Club and Westborough Country Club.

     2 holes before I took this picture, I was hiding in my golf cart protecting myself from the rain with my umbrella.

    2 holes before I took this picture, I was hiding in my golf cart protecting myself from the rain with my umbrella.

    With the weather being cold and just gearing up for spring, it is tough to play such excellent golf courses, knowing how much different they will be in a month or so.  Even though the dormant zoysia plays very nicely, it is hard not to imagine what these courses would look like in full green, leaves on the trees, mode.  

    The most accurate description I heard was "You are photographing models without their make up on."  I mean they still look good and you are going to get some good photographs, but you know there is another level.  In the end, Kate Upton is still Kate Upton and that spring... she is coming soon.

    I also managed to take in a St Louis Blues hockey game, naturally, I got confused.

     A 30 degree tee off set the record for coldest weather encountered on The RGV Tour

    A 30 degree tee off set the record for coldest weather encountered on The RGV Tour

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    While I didn't have the time to take in all of the top courses in Missouri, one of the contenders for best in state is easily Boone Valley.  The course was designed by PB Dye, son of Pete Dye.  Some holes do remind you of Pete, but you certainly don't walk off of 18 and feel like you played a Pete Dye course.  PB has a style all his own. The course is located only 3 miles from the Daniel Boone home, hence the name.

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    With one last day in Missouri, I decided to head to Branson and figure out what all the fuss was up there.  As it turns out, they are fussing about for good reason.   The design team of Coore & Crenshaw currently has a project under construction and you also have another 18 holes in the works from Mr Tiger Woods.  With some good stuff already in place, Branson will be a serious place to put on your calendar as a future golf destination.  Just give it a year or two.

    Right now, you have Buffalo Ridge Golf Club and two par 3 layouts.  The Gary Player par 3 was closed for the upcoming Legends of Golf tournament, but the Top of The Rock was ready to rock the golf party.

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    While the nine hole par 3 course will certainly impress, what grabs your attention immediately is the giant sink hole next to the driving range.  In May of 2015, the foreground of the picture above used to be a Tom Watson designed putting green.  After heavy rainfalls, a sinkhole 40 feet deep and 70 feet wide opened up below the putting green.  Property owner and Bass Pro Shops founder, Johnny Morris decided to explore.  Today, crews have removed 70,215 truckloads of dirt and rock and exposed a "Cathedral of Nature" 350 feet wide and 200 feet deep.  It is certainly a site to behold.

     The driving range at The Top of The Rock is one of the most fun driving ranges that I have ever visited.

    The driving range at The Top of The Rock is one of the most fun driving ranges that I have ever visited.

     Super sweet  sinkhole action.

    Super sweet  sinkhole action.

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    With The Top of The Rock preparing for the Legends of Golf tournament, we were treated to some excellent course conditions.  Each one of the 9 holes is visually impressive and has is it's own style.  A lot of money and attention to detail was put into the course and it pays off.  The Top of The Rock is just as much fun to play as it is to look at..  

    I will leave you with some shots from the RGV Tour's round on The Rock.  I gotta head south and find some spring weather in Arkansas.

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    Texas Time

    At the beginning of this trip, one of the states that I was looking forward to the most was Texas.  Texas is big and I was ready for it.  First up on the agenda was the site of the PGA Tour's Valero Texas Open, TPC San Antonio.  They have two courses at TPC San Antonio and I golfed em both hard.

     The finishing hole on TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course

    The finishing hole on TPC San Antonio's Oaks Course

     The rock outcroppings give the Oaks course some character

    The rock outcroppings give the Oaks course some character

    The JW Marriott has a pretty awesome family resort on the property.  In one of my few regrets on this trip, I managed to NOT go down the waterslide.  RGV Tour life lesson:  If you see  a waterslide, always go down the waterslide.  Think about it, have you ever not had fun on a waterslide?  

    I decided to golf my regrets away at nearby Cordillera Ranch.  Cordillera is a Nicklaus design and a mighty fine one.  It boasts the "Most beautiful par 3 in Texas."  It is pretty damn good and I didn't run into anybody disputing this claim.  Although, the 15th hole at Whispering Pines is quietly keeping it's mouth shut.

     Although the view from the tee box is stunning, I found the shot from behind the green on "Texas' most beautiful par 3" to be just as good.

    Although the view from the tee box is stunning, I found the shot from behind the green on "Texas' most beautiful par 3" to be just as good.

    Next up the Tour headed out of San Antonio and into the Golf Club of Houston.  While the PGA Tour was getting ready for the Shell Houston Open we took advantage of the excellent conditions.  On this RGV Tour stop, we played for $50 birdies, $25 going to the First Tee of Houston and $25 to the First Tee of Greater Seattle.  After vowing that I was going to make 18 birdies and set the course record. I made exactly 0 birdies on the day.  However, our group made 5 birdies in total and a hefty donation was made to the First Tee.

     During the Shell Houston Open, this is where the golf party is at.

    During the Shell Houston Open, this is where the golf party is at.

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    This was also my first experience with the concept of Hammer.  It is basically your normal betting game but any time you say the word "Hammer" it doubles the bet.  So say you shank one into the woods and your competitor asks you "Who was that rapper in the '90's with those baggy pants?" As soon as you say MC Hammer, BAM!  You just doubled the bet on your shank into the woods.  Fun, right?  A big thanks to Corey, Matt, and Steve for their generosity and putting on a top notch RGV Tour stop.  This is also an excellent place to plug my favorite Driver, The Hammer X Driver.

    The original on the left, the remake on the right.

    Next up was Whispering Pines and boy is it ever worth the drive out to Trinity, Texas.  The course starts out great and moves along very nicely until about he 12th hole.  When it makes that turn at 12, Whispering Pines hits the golf gas hard.  Here are a couple of shots from that ride home.  Wooowee.  Whispering Pines also features a magnificent short par 3 course called The Needler.  It is not to be missed.

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    On my visit to the Houston area, I got a chance to visit Tiger Woods' first US design at Bluejack National.  Because what's a golf blog post without some Tiger Woods in it?  The atmosphere is very fun and family oriented.  They have this thing called the Fort. The Fort is what I would describe as kid heaven.  Here is the short list of the things on the property that would make any kid squeal with joy.

    • Waterslides (coming soon)
    • Miniature replica of Fenway Park
    • Free pin ball machines
    • Zip Lines (also coming soon)
    • Playstations with giant big screens
    • Miniature football field
    • Ping pong
    • Air hockey

    Bluejack also does an excellent job of taking advantage of it's "Tigerness."  They have the "Frank" tees for the kiddos, Frank is what Tiger calls his driver cover.  There is even a "Tiger Stinger" bullseye on the range.  I fired 2 irons at it for about 15 minutes and only managed to hit the pole once.  Throughout your visit, you are consistently reminded of Mr Woods and it is a pleasure.  It must be noted that Tiger did have some assistance from Beau Welling on the design of Bluejack National.

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    So it is certainly not all about the golf course at Blue Jack National.  But it could be as Tiger and Beau have designed an excellent place to play.  The course provides the player with a lot of wide open spaces to play to and even poor shots are given chances to recover.  Importance is placed on angles and the slopes around the green.  On his first attempt at golf course design, Bluejack is a wildly successful effort from Tiger Woods. The course has drawn comparison's to Augusta National and the pictures below should show you why.

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    Next up on the Texas agenda was Colonial Country Club, one of the longest running PGA Tour stops.  For 72 years, the pros have been taking on Colonial and the course is filled with history.  Most notably, Ben Hogan won the tournament a record 5 times.  In 2003, Anika Sorenstam became the first woman to compete on the PGA Tour by teeing it up at Colonial.  

    On March of 2018, The RGV Tour would look to make some history of it's own.  After talking about aces on the tee box, Matt Burke would take dead aim at the par 3 8th.  For a second, time would stand still as the golf ball took a dead eye tractor beam towards the bottom of the cup.  Unfortunately, the ace was not to be as the group in front of us would report that Matt's golf ball would lip out.  The hole in one hunt marches on.

     The 8th hole at Colonial.  The dormant grasses here will be a bright green by the time the tour rolls through town.

    The 8th hole at Colonial.  The dormant grasses here will be a bright green by the time the tour rolls through town.

    After the near miss at Colonial, it was time to get our NFL on at the Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, TX.  Joining the Tour was Dallas Cowboy Wide Receiver, Brice Butler.  Although, it's obviously not his sport of choice, Brice has a passion for the game and makes a pretty good move at the golf ball.  He has only been playing for several years and is already looking to break 80.  Local golfing stud, Jeff Brand and I matched Brice's enthusiasm and we would have one hell of a good time.  

    RGV Tour highlights: Jeff and I would push 2 holes in a row each making back to back birdies.

    Shameless plug:  I would eagle the 1st hole using my Callaway Rogue Driver for the first time.

     Brice Butler looks to save par.

    Brice Butler looks to save par.

     Brice Butler realizes that the struggles on the RGV Tour are real.

    Brice Butler realizes that the struggles on the RGV Tour are real.

    With only one round of golf remaining in Texas, I decided that Dallas National would make a pretty good swan song.  I was right.  Home to Jordan Spieth, Dallas National is one of the state's finest.  The course is unusually hilly for the Dallas area and Tom Fazio took full advantage of the terrain by building an excellent place to play.

    It turns out that we would miss Jordan by just one day.  He reportedly had a pretty smooth 66 out there.  Neither member of our twosome would sniff 66, but we did thoroughly enjoy one of the best walks in Texas.

     The 3rd hole at Tom Fazio's Dallas National

    The 3rd hole at Tom Fazio's Dallas National

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    The Many Phases of Arizona

    Arizona can broken down into 3 phases with 3 sub phases and 1 trans phase.

    • Phase 1:  The Chelsea Pezzola Phase

    • Phase 2:  The Golf Bros Phase

    • Phase 3: The Wife Phase

      • Grand Canyon

      • Antelope Canyon

        • Horseshoe Bend

      • White Sands National Monumen

    Phase 1:  The Chelsea Pezzola Phase

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    If you take one look at Chelsea's Instagram page, you might not realize how much fun she is to play golf with.  However I would rate her fun score at 9.5/10.  On this scale, anything above a 6 is hilarious and 10 is Bill Murray.

    We went for a full 36 at Desert Mountain's Geronimo and Chiricahua courses.  Chelsea tried to quit after 34 holes, but I gave her a weird look and she quickly came to her senses. (she finished birdie, par)

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    There are 6 Jack Nicklaus designed courses at Desert Mountain and it is an excellent place to get in a round... or 12.

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    Other highlights from the Chelsea phase include the podcast where we talk about her singleness, Taco Bell, and gambling for burritos.  In an encore performance, Chelsea invited me out to play Mountain Shadows, an excellent little par 3 course.  During the round she posed on the green. Afterwards, she posed on top of the RGV.  What a poser, that Chelsea Pezzola.

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      Chelsea is the reigning queen of "Best RGV rooftop pose"  Check out the stats on the  RGV Tour Tracks page.

    Chelsea is the reigning queen of "Best RGV rooftop pose"  Check out the stats on the RGV Tour Tracks page.

    Phase 2: The Golf Bros Phase

    When Chelsea took off for Vegas, the Golf Bros rolled into town...  Rolled into town on Phat Bikes.  That's right, you can strap your golf clubs to the back of these hogs and go play some golf.  We tried to record a podcast with this crew, but it was left on the cutting room floor due to nudity, profanity, and man on man wrestling.

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    No horsing around with @phatgolf on the RGV Tour today.

    A post shared by Patrick Koenig (@pjkoenig) on

    I talk a little about the Phat Bikes on the podcast, but in short, these things are a lot of fun to ride.  They are easy to learn, it's literally like riding a bike.  Plus, it's always cool to pop a wheelie.  Just about everyone who saw us on them said the exact same thing "Woah, those are awesome."  My only gripe is that they limit the speed, so you can't go 55mph down the fairway.

    Note to readers: When gambling with "Captain Joe" and he says "We will play for lunch."  He is talking about a $200 lunch.  As you may have guessed, our team did not win.

    After some time on the Phat Bikes, we headed over to the always classic, Troon North for some twilight golf.  As the sun set over the desert, the last putt dropped on another day of 36 on the RGV Tour.

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    In one of the all time coolest moves, we had an RGV Tour player that was expecting the birth of his second child at any moment.  In a real Phil Mickelson type move, he joined the tour at Wickenburg Ranch, awaiting the call for labor at any moment.  I am not making this stuff up people, RGV Tour players are the real deal.  Thank you Kyle Barthelson, for showing us all what it means to golf hard.

     Baby or Birdie, not sure.

    Baby or Birdie, not sure.

     Mow game = good at Wickenburg Ranch

    Mow game = good at Wickenburg Ranch

    Shane Bacon would also invite me out to Phoenix Country Club to show me around, I didn't do much that afternoon, but here is a list of the RGV Tour records that Shane set in just one afternoon.  All in 18 holes.

    • RGV ball speed record of 185.6 mph. 
    • Best looking golfer to join the RGV Tour
    • Best divot
    • Best comeback on top of a current ongoing comeback
    • Best hand speed release pattern with rotation transfer through impact
    • Longest drive - somewhere around 2 miles.
    • Best calves
      If Shane Bacon (SB) was a stock on the NYSE, I would buy it. 

    If Shane Bacon (SB) was a stock on the NYSE, I would buy it. 

    Phase 3: The Wife Phase

    Hopefully in this phase, you will get a glimpse of how amazing my wife is.  Since she stood by for a couple days as the golfing commenced in Arizona, I figured it was necessary to give her a break and do some non golfing activities.  She planned and coordinated 3 activities... the 3 sub phases of The Wife Phase, if you will.  The RGV Tour has many layers, folks.  So pay attention, it is gonna get confusing.

    • Sub Phase 1:  The Grand Canyon
      The wife, Jenny, in front of the Grand Canyon.  I would like to argue that Jenny is more amazing than the Grand Canyon.

    The wife, Jenny, in front of the Grand Canyon.  I would like to argue that Jenny is more amazing than the Grand Canyon.

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    That's me out there on the edge of the Grand Canyon, since it's about 300 miles long, it's not highly regulated and you can get to the edge pretty easily.  Just looking at this picture makes we want to go to me knees and crawl back to safety.

    • Sub Phase 2:  Antelope Canyon
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    Our tour guide was wildly enthusiastic and did a great job of moving us through a very busy canyon while showing us the best spots for photos.  For photographers reading this, Antelope Canyon does have a special photographer's tour that allows you to take your time and get specific with your shots.

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    Antelope Canyon is an amazing place, it's about 20-30 feet down into the desert floor that has eroded the sandstone over time.  How much time?  Each inch down takes the rainwater about 1,000 years to erode.

    Trans phase 1 of Sub phase 2: Horseshoe Bend:

     After spending the night in a WalMart parking lot, we got up early to take a look at Horseshoe Bend.

    After spending the night in a WalMart parking lot, we got up early to take a look at Horseshoe Bend.

    • Sub Phase 3:  White Sands National Monument

    White Sands National Monument was easily my favorite phase and probably my favorite thing that I have done so far on this trip.  With sand as far as you can see, the wife and I skipped across the white dunes on our bare feet.  Technically, White Sands is in New Mexico, but it still falls under the 3rd Arizona sub phase according to Tour protocol.

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    Naturally, I recognized the sandy tundra as the perfect canvas for a golf course and I pulled out my RGV Tour pin flag and constructed my own little 12 hole course.  Jenny and I made a video of several of the holes.  

    After we finished up at White Sands, we made the 9 hour drive across the western part of Texas and into San Antonio.  My wife purposely signed up for this portion so she could help me with the drive.  What an angel.  Unfortunately, I had to drop Jenny off at the airport as I journeyed into the heart of Texas.

    Southern California

    With the PGA Tour following the RGV Tour around, I was forced to find some alternatives outside of Riviera.  The best option for great public golf in LA is Rustic Canyon.  I met up with a rowdy group of RGV Tour players and we golfed real hard to start of the Southern California leg of the RGV Tour.

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    One of the most difficult parts of running the RGV Tour is scheduling deliveries for pickup.  Fortunately, my college friend, Jason Hees lives in LA and had agreed to be my very first delivery station.  This is where I picked up some SIC cups and some Holderness & Bourne polos for the first leg of my tour.  Those SIC cups keep water cold for what feels like weeks and H&B make one of the world's greatest polos.

    As RGV Tour players make donations to the First Tee, I am handing out some of the products from brands that support the RGV Tour.  Let it be known that I only work with companies and people that I like, this way I can fully get behind the products that The RGV Tour supports.  The Tour has a strict "No Jabronis" policy.

    At Shady Canyon, the Tour encountered it's first milestone in terms of outstanding play.  That play was by a man named Kevin Baker.  Kevin shot a 61 that included the most nonchalant hole-out eagle that I have ever seen.  Not only is that an RGV Tour record, but it's the best round of golf that I have ever witnessed.

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    After LA, it was time to visit the "Most Interesting Man in the Desert," Channing Benjamin.  Channing is one of my favorite golf photographers and was an obvious easy choice for a podcast.  On the show, we jump into Channing's former life with N Sync and Britney Spears.  After our chat, he showed me the ropes at The Tradition and even found me a spot to park for a couple days in the desert.

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    Channing is a blast to play with because we think pretty much the same way when it comes to golf and photography.  He also knows how to capture a pretty good high kick.

    Also in the desert, you will find the world's greatest caddie, Tony Shuster.  As far as golf nuts go, Tony is probably on the same level as me.  It's not everyday that you run into a golfer that can say with certainty, "Golf Saved My Life."  Tony also runs the Muni Madness skins game at the Lights at Indio.  We talk about it all on the pod... easily one of my favorite golf conversations that I have had in a while.

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    After my time in the desert, it was time to head back over to the coast for one last glimpse of the ocean in San Diego.  Naturally, I found my way out onto Torrey Pines.  I would find my first eagle of the trip on #6.  #4 is shown below.

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    One of my favorite moments on tour came the next day when I went to play the often talked about Goat Hill Park.  As I walked off of the 18th green in near total darkness.  I heard a voice "Hey are you the RV Golf Guy?"  "Yes, that's me."  It turns out amateurgolf.com was doing a story on the course and they noticed my RGV from social media in the parking lot.  We did a quick pop up interview and I gave em a tour of the ride.  Afterwards, they even made generous donations to the First Tee!  The full writeup can be seen here.

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    It also must be noted that I played the Bridges of Rancho Santa Fe and my high kicks appear to be in good from during the early stages of the RGV Tour.

    On my way out of California, I paid a quick visit to The Cabazon Dinosaurs.  I freaking love that place, most people are like "eh" but I go crazy for that big fake T-Rex.  The dinosaurs are from Pee Wee's Big Adventure and for whatever reason, they hold a special place in my heart.

    Entering the Golf Mecca of the world

    I had been waiting to get my camera over this piece of land for quite some time and when I first got up in the air, it did not disappoint.  The RGV Tour started out strong in Monterey with some great aerial footage and with the PGA Tour in town, it was a hot spot to be.

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    There are many outstanding options to chose from, but, it would be hard to find a better bang for your buck than at Pacific Grove.  With a back nine that rests right on the Pacific Ocean, you will get your greens fees worth in views alone.  The course is sandy, fun, and easily the purest links golf on the Monterey Peninsula.  The Monterey Bay Golf Academy even donated a free lesson to the RGV Tour, which we gave away on Twitter.  It was a great day at Pacific Grove

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    After a great day at the ATT Pro Am, I strolled around Spanish Bay to catch some amazing sunset shots.  We even bumped into a couple of fans as we strolled the sun glazed fairways.

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    The recent renovation of Poppy Hills is such a drastic improvement that it earned a coveted Tour stop on the RGV Tour.  

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    Before the tour bounced out of town, I visited Tehama.  Home to Clint Eastwood, the course is set up in the hills of Carmel and offers stunning views on just about every tee box. We made some birdies and told some golf stories.  It is always tough to leave Monterey, but Southern California was calling.

    A big thanks to Scott Rosa and his family for letting me park the RGV in their driveway for several days.  It is people like Scott that breathe life into the Tour!

    Bay Area Showdown

    With a wide range of excellent golf to play in the San Francisco area, it was going to be tough to narrow down the choices.  The tour ended up with a handful of excellent stops.  Having lived in the bay area for years, it was great to meet some old friends and do some fly overs on some of my old stomping grounds. 

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    Lincoln Park was right next to my old apartment in San Francisco and I golf it hard and often.  It was great to get back and get above it to see the view.  The most note worthy hole is 17 a 200+ yard par 3 with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It is the best place to hit a golf ball with a view of the iconic bridge.

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    Things got serious on the RGV Tour with a visit to Cal Club.  If there were a showdown between the best clubs and courses in San Francisco, I am confident that the Cal Club would emerge victorious.

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    After taking a shower in the parking lot of the Olympic Club, (seriously) I decided to step out of the RGV and play some golf.  We had some fantastic tour players join for an all world twilight session.  Afterwards, Joey The Cat made an appearance on the podcast.

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    The RGV Tour paid a quick visit to local Alister Mackenzie course Sharp Park.  Although almost nothing of the original routing and design remain, it still has the Mackenzie credit.  There were rumors of Tom Doak stepping in to revive the golf course, but the course has been entrenched in legal battles regarding the preservation of the local wildlife.

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    As the RGV Tour rolled out of town on its way to Monterey, I had to make a quick stop at Half Moon Bay Golf Links.  Not only is it a stunner from the sky but it is also the site of my very last round of golf as a California resident.  You can feel the spirit of Arnold Palmer on the 18th green and they even filmed one of those American Pie movies here.