Reader’s Tee | September 2008
Celebration at Carnoustie
Just returned from an unforgettable trip to Scotland with three friends to celebrate our fortieth birthdays, which all fall in this calendar year. We played seven rounds in five days and enjoyed every minute, even in mostly brutal winds. We played Kingsbarns twice, Carnoustie, the Dukes, North Berwick and the New and Old Courses at St. Andrews. Without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime!
Tripp Devers Evergreen, Colorado
And Rhode Island makes Fifty
A little over five years ago, I realized I’d played golf in most of the states—I only had a few left. I decided it was time to set a goal and finish the task of playing in all fifty of them. I whittled away at those that remained, playing in Alaska, Louisiana and Mississippi last year, leaving only five in the northeast: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island. In mid-May, my wife and I joined friends from Augusta, Georgia, at the Villa Roma Resort near Liberty, New York, and I played in those last five states. One day, I played a very quick eighteen alone at Mount Anthony Country Club in Bennington, Vermont, followed by another eighteen a few miles south near Williamstown, Massachusetts, at Waubeeka Golf Links, finishing thirty-six holes in two states in a little more than four hours, counting driving time. I walked the majority of the time (as I do five rounds a week all summer here in Breckenridge). On May 11, I played in my fiftieth state with a trip around North Kingstown Golf Course in Rhode Island. I saved the smallest state for last.
Charlie Simpson Breckenridge, Colorado
Lucky Cods at County Down
Three years ago, a group of us affectionately known as the Cods (Papa, Doctor, Eye, Dry, Bear, Machine, Quad and Mountain), playing out of Black Creek Club in Chattanooga, Tennessee, journeyed to Ireland and played Doonbeg, Ballybunion (Old and Cashen), Lahinch, Portmarnock, Island Golf Club, the European Club, Royal County Down and the K Club. We recently returned from another trip, this time to Scotland, where we played St. Andrews (New and Old), Kingsbarns, Carnoustie, Muirfield, North Berwick, Dundonald Links, Turnberry, Royal Troon and Prestwick. Having a home course that features such classic hole designs as the Redan, Biarritz, Cape and Double Plateau only made these trips more enjoyable and meaningful. We are indeed some lucky Cods!
J. Clay “Dry Cod” Crumbliss Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Gathering at Kohler
My three closest friends and I have known each other since the third grade. After graduating from college, we made a pact to get together once a year for an annual golf competition we call the Gathering. It’s not easy to coordinate schedules for four businessmen living in four separate parts of the country, but we somehow manage to make it happen every year. In May we celebrated our fourteenth Gathering by playing all of the fabulous resort courses in Kohler, Wisconsin. Our round at the Straits Course at Whistling Straits was one of the most memorable moments in my golf life. It was fifty degrees and rainy and we had wind gusts making a three-club difference on shot selection—the way I imagine the game was meant to be played. I was the only brave soul to play in shorts, while my friend Jon looks like he’s about to hit the ski slopes! Sadly I can report winning only one of the four matches during the week (an off year, I assure you!), but the collected memories will always remind me that our friendly competition is not the main catalyst bringing us together every year.
Ken Kendra Siler City, North Carolina
South African Adventure
In January I was in Cape Town, South Africa, and decided to play golf at the Mowbray Golf Club, a beautiful course at the foot of Table Mountain and the site of seven South African Opens. On the first tee, I was paired with two members who happened to be brothers. They could not have been more hospitable and welcoming to me as a visitor. Their father had been a caddie at the club. Jack had just turned pro and was about to make his way to the European Tour qualifying events. To play with a professional was inspiring, but the thing I took away most from the day was the easy conversation and warm camaraderie we shared. I asked Jack what event he would most like to win and why, and I expected him to say the Masters or the Open, but he chose the South African Open, saying he hoped he could be a role model for his countrymen. In my opinion, he is well on his way. These brothers were decent and fun-loving, and I could not have asked for better partners. A guess as to their father’s golf idol: Jack’s brother’s name is Nicholas. (No kidding!)
Gordon Bingham, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Fans of Friar’s Head
In June, five of us who were housemates in college several years ago (thirty, for those who are counting) decided to forgo our traditional “return to campus” reunion and got together at a spectacular setting: Friar’s Head on the North Fork of Long Island. This masterpiece by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw is truly a sight to behold. Although it proved to be a difficult challenge for the four guests, our host was smart enough to select the appropriate tees, and the pro was gracious enough to allow the fivesome. The weather cooperated and provided wonderful views of Long Island Sound and Connecticut. The natural dunes and old sand hills make for one great golf course to be shared over two gorgeous days by five longtime friends. We look forward to doing it again next year!
Colin Whipkey Marlton, New Jersey
Mid Ocean Man
In May my wife and I took our daughters on a cruise to Bermuda. The ladies shopped and took in some spa treatments on board, and I headed for the links. I had the opportunity to play the Mid Ocean Club, home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and the Tucker’s Point Club. Both are excellent tracks with some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen from a tee box. Bermuda was a great destination, and I hope to go back some day and try out some of the other courses as well.
Randy Black Preston, Connecticut
The USGA Museum (Time Traveling, July/August) is not the country’s oldest sports museum. The Golf Museum in Newport News, Virginia, opened four years earlier, in 1932.
From Motown to the Cliffs of Moher
It just doesn’t get any better than this: a bunch of recent Ford Motor retirees and golf buddies on a trip to southwest Ireland to play the courses only that country can offer. What an amazing sight! We had just arrived in the morning and were on our way to play Doonbeg. Our trip included rounds at Lahinch, Killarney, Tralee, Ballybunion, Waterville and Adare—all premier courses. Yes, the golf was great, but equally special was the beauty of that wonderful country, with people who are so friendly and pubs that are so much fun. To experience it all with guys you worked with for thirty-plus years was very, very special. What a super retirement gift, with memories we will never forget.
Jack Palumbo Plymouth, Michigan
All Hail Western Gailes
To celebrate our fortieth birthdays, my buddy Doug “Cooney” Jaworski and I took a weeklong trip to play some of the great Scottish layouts, including St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and the Ailsa Course at Turnberry. We played our final round at Western Gailes, a fine links north of Troon that is often used for Open qualifying. As a special treat, Henry, the starter at Western Gailes, joined us as we came to the green at the par-five sixth (which I birdied!) and for a few holes provided some commentary on the course and on our play. The fine weather stayed with us the entire day, helping to make it a very memorable round. With plenty of sand dunes, pot bunkers and a few burns weaved throughout it, I believe Western Gailes is a must-play for anyone looking to enjoy a good round on a quiet links that’s loaded with character.
Bill Crombie Atlanta, Georgia
The Winds of Kapalua
Last July my best pals, Martin and Rich, and I enjoyed three days at Kapalua Resort on Maui, and all the more so with the wind. It was great to play like Tiger and go driver-wedge on some of the holes, even better on the par-five eighteenth, which I hit in two with a seven-iron. It took all three of us to replace the flagstick on that hole; you should have seen the putts! For those who haven’t played there, it’s a must. And bring your camera!
Mike Leonte Rancho Mirage, California
Old and Upside Down
I’ve dreamed of standing on the first tee at the Old Course since I was old enough to understand its history. As we drive to St. Andrews, I think of the generations of players who have come before me over the centuries. With ten minutes to go, we walk toward the starter’s box, and I have butterflies in my stomach. I bend down to tighten the laces on my golf spikes and it hits me: I’m not dreaming. I roll a few putts on the practice green, and a moment later our time has come. When it’s my turn to cross the Swilcan Bridge, I do so upside down (which I recommend trying).
Grant Hendricks Bay Shore, New York