After Minneapolis, it was time to jump on the golf horse and giddy up. I only had a couple weeks left before snow started to fall on my remaining states. When I had originally planned the journey, these were the danger states. Winter and the end of the season were going to be near.
Some of the courses I reached out to were already closed for the season. I jumped in The RGV, found the warm spots and golfed hard and fast. First up in the danger states was North Dakota.
The very first thing I heard in North Dakota was “You’re wearing gloves to golf today? You must not be from around here.” It was 40 degrees. They are hardcore in Fargo. That guy probably wears a tank top and golfs in the snow. I would warm up nicely to North Dakota at Fargo Country Club.
After blazing across the state, I had stopped at Hawktree Golf Club for a round at one of the state’s best golf courses. Hawktree is a Jim Engh design and it did not disappoint.
Afterwards, I stopped by for an appearance on the WIngin’ it Wednesday radio show with Jesse Rostvedt.
With North Dakota in my rear view mirror, I found a pocket of perfect golfing weather down in South Dakota. The even better news was that I had Sutton Bay on the calendar. Back in 2009, the course sunk into nearby Lake Oahe, not to be deterred, Graham Marsh built a true gem on the higher and more stable land.
The course would certainly get more acclaim if it was in a more populated area. The course has a pure links feel to it and reminded me of places like Bandon Dunes and Sand Valley. I went around twice it was so good.
You know what else is in South Dakota? Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota. The RGV Tour has provided me the opportunity to see pretty much all of America’s notable landmarks. I was not going to miss the opportunity to pound golf balls at those large presidential heads. Unfortunately, golfing is frowned upon at Mount Rushmore and I had to fake it.
For the final round in South Dakota, I visited The Golf Club at Red Rock. It’s a wild little golf course in Rapid City with several dramatic holes. I was particularly fond of the final 2 finishing holes. I was not fond of the lip outs on the final two holes.
As I pulled into Wyoming, I was on the verge of golfing history. In my lifetime, I had played golf in 49 states and Wyoming was the final state in the quest for golf in all 50 states. I half expected something awful to happen that would prevent me from completing the deed. But nothing would stand in my way. Like a true golf stud, I calmly made bogie on the 18th hole and raised my hands in victory!
With sunny weather everywhere and most importantly, no snow, I decided to double dip in Wyoming at The Powder Horn. After months of midwest, I was finally getting some mountain views to go with those birdies.
I left the state of Wyoming a different man. I had golfed all of the states in America and even made a birdie in each one. I immediately updated LinkedIn with my new accomplishment. Now it’s time to sit back and watch the job offers roll in.
With Wyoming in my rearview mirror, it was time to get nasty with Montana. I had time for two stops in Montana. The RGV Tour would golf Yellow Stone Country Club in Billings and then Black Bull in Bozeman. I would wrestle good with Yellow Stone but the real match would go down in Bozeman.
After an up and down front nine at Black Bull, the sparks would fly on the 10th hole. Into a blazing cold wind, I had 102 yards left for my approach into the par 5. My wedges had been wonky all day long, but this one headed right for the flag and would find the bottom of the hole for an eagle! That is 4 hole outs from over 100 yards on the tour. We have 11 eagles, but still no hole outs on par 3’s.
Out here on the RGV Tour, I insist that we keep things real. The best way to get into the soul of the golf scene is to visit the local municipalities to see how the real people play real golf. Places like PInecrest in Idaho Falls are just as much a part of the American golf landscape as the top 100 courses are. Tim was one of the most energetic head pros that I had met during my travels and the course was classic good.
With no time to hit some of the gems that exist in Western Idaho, I moved onto Utah. Salt Lake City has some serious golf courses and I was able to find a couple that were still open for the season. I had time for 2 private courses and 2 public ones. The public stops were at Valley View and Thanksgiving Point. The private courses were Red Ledges and The Country Club of Salt Lake.
Red Ledges is a dramatic Jack Nicklaus design with some of the most difficult greens that I have witnessed from Nicklaus. More importantly, my caddy that day was one heck of a gentleman and previously a firefighter in NYC on 9/11. It was a saddening and humbling experience to listen to his story. However, I couldn’t have been happier that he was able to join me for a seriously good time on the links. The RGV tour has welcomed some fantastic people and John was certainly one of them.
Only a handful of golf clubs were founded before 1900 and The Country Club of Salt Lake is one of those clubs. Since 1899, The Country Club has been delighting golfers. It would delight the RGV Tour in early November of 2018.
In a matter of several weeks, I had covered 6 massive states in the middle of America. The best part is that the weather had cooperated. The snow was supposed to fly but it hadn’t. Would Colorado cooperate? Would I make it to Nebraska? The tour headed into Colorado to find out.