Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Budget.

After disappointing news from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I have begun efforts to reach an agreement with another charity in the area of cancer research, and am hoping to have something finalized as soon as possible.  My efforts to reach some sort of agreement regarding youth golf are not going well as calls and emails remain unreturned.  I will maintain efforts to get both of the charities I’m working with now to become involved, but if I am unable, I will raise money solely for the ADAA while on the trip, and will be glad to do so.  At some point, I need to stop working on getting further charities involved, and embark.

Accordingly, I have etched my leaving date in stone.  I will be leaving Sunday, July 14.  This will have the trip ending at the end of August, still fully within the throes of summer, and will give me 18 days to hopefully iron out relationships with one or two more charities, and to work on getting more media coverage for the trip.

July 14 it is!

On to the budget!  I have set it at $8,000.00.  Most people I’ve discussed this with feel it to be a low estimate for the cost.  Allow me then, to elaborate on how I got to this number, and hopefully you will be able to sleep peacefully knowing that that number is a sound one.  There are four main categories which will comprise the majority of my spending: accommodations, food, fuel, and golf.  Of course, there will be miscellaneous expenses associated with travel, and I have addressed those as well.

Accommodations:  $60 / night ($2940).  There are Days Inns and Motel 6’s all throughout this country, and even if it was necessitated that I stay in a hotel during every night of the trip, I believe that this number would be easily attainable.  However, I have places to stay in Athens (GA), Las Vegas, San Diego, Madison, Chicago and Elkhart (IN), at this time, and anticipate that at least a few other offers or opportunities will present themselves as the trip progresses.  That’s six nights at no cost.  Coupled with my anticipated six or seven days sleeping in my Jetta in campgrounds, I’m realistically looking at about 35 nights in hotels, which gives me $84/night for when I am staying in hotels.  This is without doubt easily, easily attainable.  I’m expecting to come in under budget for accommodations.

Food: $20 / day ($980).  This has been the part of the budget which has come under fire for being unrealistic with any sort of frequency.  Frankly, I think it is a high estimate, but I could be wrong.  The only time I was given a per diem, I had $25 / day, and I had to find ways to use all $25.  Most hotels will have at least a rudimentary continental breakfast station, and most of my breakfasts will be at no cost beyond the cost of accommodations which I’ve already budgeted for.  The plan is to take a cooler with ice in it along for the trip, and to make stops at grocery stores along the way to stock up on fruits, veggies and yogurt for snacks, and bread, lunch meats and PB / Jelly for meals.  Of course, I am anticipating that my consumption of Gatorade and water will be massive during the trip, and have figured this into the budget as well.  Nothing I’m going to be buying is expensive, and I should easily be able to eat for well under my $20 / pay going this route.  The reason it is as high as $20 is that I will certainly want to eat at some restaurants on the trip; bring on the greasy spoon diners and grimy BBQ joints!

Golf: $40 / round ($1960).  This one was pretty easy to figure out.  When I began picking out potential courses, I kept track of the rates on the day of the week I would be playing there, and added up the lowest number for each state and the highest number for each state.  For the tiny minority of courses which did not list rates online, I used my best judgement given the prices of other nearby courses and the relative prestige of the course (as best I could through the web) to guesstimate the price.  I ended up with a range of $35 / day on the low end to $43 / day on the high end.  I have no concerns at coming in under budget for golf.  All of these rates were for riding as well.  While I don’t like to do it, I am easily capable of walking 18 holes.  I’ll want to conserve energy, and play quickly, and so don’t anticipate walking with any frequency, but imagine that I will walk about 5 rounds during the trip.  That should save anywhere from $50-$100 depending on the courses where I walk.

Fuel ($1250).  Another one that was pretty easy to calculate.  The trip figures to take about 10,000 miles to complete.  I added another 1,000 on for deviations.  Hoping not to get off path by the full 10%, but it’s not unwise to budget for some extra driving.  My Jetta TDI is a highway workhorse, and has regularly achieved 45+ mpg at 60 mph, and 42+ mpg at 70 mph.  Again playing it conservatively, I gave myself an average rate of fuel consumption of 40 mpg.  I highly overestimated what a gallon of diesel will cost, and figured $4.50 / gallon.  Do the dividing and multiplying, and you get just under $1250.

To review:

Accommodations: $2940

Food:                    $980

Golf:                      $1960

Fuel:                     $1250

Add these numbers up and you get $7,130.00.  It would be extremely naive to fail to budget for miscellaneous costs, and that is what the remaining $870 is budgeted for.  I am currently on my folks EZ Pass account, and it’s my hope that they will pick up the cost of the tolls I accrue while using EZ Pass, but if they do not, that will likely be at least a few hundred.  Golf balls and a golf glove will be another one – two hundred.  These are just a few of the expected miscellaneous costs.  I think approximately $1000 for miscellany is fair.

So there it is, that’s how I’m doing this all for $8,000.00.  If you think I’ve left anything out or am way off base regarding anything, let me know!

As always, please consider a donation.  At the least, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America will be benefiting.  If you don’t know someone who has struggled with or is struggling seriously with one of these conditions, you don’t get out enough.  The problem is pervasive, particularly among youth.

Tell everyone you know, and check back often for updates.  I’m going to do my best to keep these entries just a little bit shorter as time goes on.

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Teeing it forward while we’re all young, and the US Open

The greatest athletic tournament in the world was contested last week in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.  The U.S. Open has always been a tremendous display of the best golfers in the world at their best, and worst, and this year’s Open was no exception.

Justin Rose of England won the event, and he deserved to.  He was the most consistent player throughout the week, particularly on Sunday.  However, I think the story most golf fans are taking from the event is the tragic sixth US Open 2nd place finish by lefty, everyone’s favorite runner up, Phil Mickelson.  Our man isn’t getting any younger, but still hits the ball a ton and plays with an awe-inspiring amount of creativity.  Hopefully he’ll have another shot at the Open, and it’s likely that he will.  I think what endears Phil Mickelson to a lot of people is how relatable he is, both on the course and in his interviews off the course.  During Sunday’s round, what he hoped would be the one that finally got him the US Open championship, and which I’m sure he approached as the most important round of his life, he made 2 double bogeys in the first 5 holes.  The man struggles at times, like we all do, on the course.  Yet by the 10th hole, he was still very much in contention.  He put his pitch shot in from about 75 yards, making an eagle, and proceeded to hop up and down uncontrollably with his arms barely lifted above his shoulders, a look of childish excitement on his face.  It was what any of us regular golfers would do in the same situation.  In the end, the man loses the tournament, and is of course interviewed following the round.  Never mind the words, his face told you what you needed to know.  Nearly in tears, defeated; yet clearly gave his best effort.  He gave his best effort, and it wasn’t enough.  As disappointing as that is, it’s an emotion we’ve all experienced.  To see it worn so clearly on a professional’s face, regardless of that profession, is strangely comforting.

It wasn’t just Phil’s tragic failure that made this open, or has made this event, the best golf tournament there is.  Open to any golfer with a -1.4 or lower handicap, the Open truly is the “United States Open.”  The fact that it’s truly available to anyone who has near the skill level of a professional ought to immediately endear the tournament to anyone.  Over 9,000 players attempted to qualify this year, and several amateurs made the cut and stayed around for the weekend.  One amateur, Michael Kim, ended up just 9 strokes off the lead, finishing tied for 17th place.

While there were amateurs playing like professionals, there were also professionals playing like amateurs.  It always happens at the US Open, and it’s great to see.  Inside of every professional are some terrible shots, just as in every duffer there’s a magical shot waiting to come out.  It’s important to see bad shots on TV, they reaffirm that these guys are human, and that they are very, very good at the same time.  Not only is it fun to see the bad shots, it’s fun to see the aftermath.  In one 10 minute stretch during the early portions of the leaders’ rounds on Sunday, Rory McIlroy broke a club out of frustration, Steve Stricker shanked what one commentator described as a “hozzle-rocket” directly to the right out of bounds after he had already hit his drive OB, and Luke Donald double crossed a drive so far to the left that his ball ended up hitting a poor young standard bearer who was catching a moment of rest on a nearby hole.  These are the actions and reactions of regular guys.  Looking at just my two most regular golfing buddies, there is a parallel for each here; I broke my old 5 iron over my knee 2 summers ago after making an 8 on a par 3 and yanking my next drive OB (an EIGHT.  On a par THREE.  I should have just quit, you know?); my buddy Paul double-crossed a drive and hit a fellow golfer in the next last season (the guy was okay!); and my buddy Marty is legendary for his ability to shank shots to the right OB.  In Rory, Steve and Luke, there was a little bit of Alex, Paul and Marty; and in a nutshell, that is what makes the US Open great.

Most intriguing for the moderately skilled amateur golfer, however, was the USGA’s stepping up to promote two of their initiatives “Tee It Forward,” and “While We’re Young,” both of which ultimately address slow play.  If you didn’t catch any of the commercials, you can check them out here:

Tee it forward commercial

While we’re young commercial

Nothing is more enraging than slow play, and I am very pleased that the USGA is taking steps to not only publicize the concern at the best time (the US Open is the only tournament that a great majority of duffers, hackers and noobs will watch in the year), but also to provide useful advice for how to improve it.  I feel that the ad campaign was a smashing success.

The While We’re Young ads are pretty straight forward – one humorously showing Tiger lining up, and subsequently missing, a short putt at a mini-golf course, much to the chagrin of the children behind him waiting to play.  We’ve all been behind duffers who “think it’s a major,” and it can be infuriating.  That being said, I don’t think anyone is asking that you not take your time, concentrate and make the best shot you can (after all, it is generally a much quicker round if you are hitting better shots), there are just a bunch of things you can do to improve the pace.  Just one tiny example of this would be recognizing that the first player to hole their putt ought to immediately grab the flag, and any of his or her playing partner’s clubs which are lying on the green; enabling the group to move on immediately once everyone has completed their putts.  It seems simple, but it’s often that I’m the only one on the course doing this.  I also wish more riders would recognize that the primary advantage of having the cart ought to be quicker play, not not having to walk.  Two players in a cart need to adopt the drop off strategy far more than is done.  Riders who don’t are often as slow or slower than walkers.  Talk about irritating.

Perhaps the biggest implementation most players could make to improve pace, however, would be the subject of the Tee it Forward campaign; and that would be to play from the appropriate set of tees.  Jack Nicklaus lets us all know that he doesn’t hit the ball as far as he used to, and enjoys making birdies; so he has moved forward.  Seems simple enough, and a lot of old guys have already figured this out.  The USGA is doing it’s best to address strong minded younger players (almost always men – women have a set of tees, and they almost unwaveringly play from them – kudos to you, ladies!) to set aside pride and pick the best set of tees for their game.

It is very deflating to stand on the first tee, see someone teeing it up from the whites, or, god help us all, the blues, and proceed to hit a poor shot as the result from an even poorer swing.  We all hit bad shots, and are entitled to do so, but some of the all arms, hunched over, choked up on the club swings I see knocking it from the whites are cringe worthy.  These players need to be going from the front tees.  And the rest of us need to positively encourage it, and do nothing to stigmatize it.

The USGA’s approach is a good start; and their tee it forward program homepage lists the benefits: 56% of participants are more likely to play again, 85% had more fun (isn’t that the goal?), and a staggering 93% will “tee it forward” again.  It’s not a perfect initiative though, as not every course even has the teeing the options to make the system work.  The vast majority of municipal and public courses have the standard 3 sets of tees: red for the ladies, white for the men, and blue for the players.  Some will add a 4th set, gold, for the old men and junior boys.  Sounds great, but we all know how these tees are usually set up: on nearly every hole, the blue tees are simply set 10-20 yards back from the white tees, on the same tee box, while the golds, if there are a set, are put just a few steps behind the red tees.  In actuality, then, most courses with 4 sets of tees have, essentially, 2 sets of tees.  There may be a hole or two where the blues are set way back, but on the vast majority, it’s a 1 club difference between the whites and blues.  What the course is asking those looking to “tee it forward” to do, then, is to tee up from the reds.  While the program requires swallowing some pride, that is an awfully big pill to swallow for a lot of guys.

I’m sure you see where I’m going here: add a truly “middle” set of tees on most holes.  Put something halfway between the blues and reds, give shorter hitters a fighters chance.  Believe me, I know this is a pipe dream; tee boxes are expensive and time consuming to build, and it may be difficult for courses to get regular customers to move up.  Still though, I can dream, right?  More realistically though, courses could make it much easier for shorter hitters by identifying four or five longer holes for new tee boxes, and starting there.  Focus on those 420-450 yard par 4s.  Short hitters have no shot at these holes unless they hit the two best shots of their lives.  Most courses only have 2 or 3 of these holes, and only 1 or 2 par 5’s in excess of 540 yards.  Make these par 4’s 370-400 for the short hitters, and make the par 5’s around 490.  It’s just a few tee boxes, and you can leave the whites where they are at for the holes that aren’t beasts.

Despite the above, there are many public, and even a few municipal courses out there with five sets of tees, each separated by 400-600+ yards by the time your 18 are done.  For these courses, the initiative works great.  The USGA offers a “self assessment” where a player can enter the clubs they use for their approach shot throughout the round into a chart.  Once they’ve done so, they submit their entries, and are given an index which indicates whether they ought to “tee it forward,” are at the right place, or could stand to move back and still have fun.  The link is below:

Find out where you should be teeing from!

I decided to give it a whirl to make sure I haven’t been chronically and fatally overestimating my own ability to mash.  On a scale where anything below 6.1 means move forward, and anything above 8.4 means you can move back, I registered numbers of 7.9, 9.1, 7.2, 8.5 and 9.1 during my last 5 rounds, all of which were played from the furthest set of tees offered by the course.  Glorious numbers!  My status as a MASHER was confirmed!  At my next available opportunity, I was going to be sure to try it out, and, if possible, move myself back.

I played a round yesterday morning at the Buffalo Tournament Club, a fine public course most well known for it’s massive, undulating, and well kept greens about 15 miles east of Buffalo.  BTC has 5 sets of tees, and the gaps between them are impressive.  I always played from the middle, “Intermediate” set of tees, which measure 6370 yards.  The two primary reasons I never felt like moving back to the “Championship” set of tees, which measures 6858 yards, were, first, that I didn’t think, even with my ability to pound drives, that I had the game to play from back there.  Second, if I was able to get past the first, was that I didn’t want to seem like a douche to other players.  You know, the “who does this fat kid with the hair and super short backswing think he is?”

Setting aside these fears, I gripped and ripped from the Championship tees yesterday.  And you know what?  I found the round to be one of the most satisfying I’ve played at BTC.  I shot an 86, which could easily have been better had I not made a 6 on the 169 yard par 3 12th.  I found that playing par 4’s with lengths of 418, 432, 436, 415 and 425 instead of 383, 416, 403, 346 and 396 respectively made for a round that was far more challenging and enjoyable.

So, in the end, the “tee it forward” program actually got someone to “tee it backward.”  I’m not going to call it regression.  The goal is for everyone to have more fun, right?  All mild patting of myself on the back aside, there is one huge gripe I have with the “tee it forward” program, and that is the suggestion that all players in the group play from the same set of tees.  In response to the F’ly AQ “should players of differing abilities within the same group play from different sets of tees,” the deflating response is “Recommend the group select tee markers that are most appropriate for a majority of the players, while ensuring that the weakest player could still enjoy the experience.”

C’mon now.  There are several of my most common and favorite playing partners whom I regularly hit the ball 75-100+ yards further than off the tee.  To ask me to move up to their ideal set of tees is as silly as asking them to move back to my ideal set of tees.  I always sort of thought  that the reason there were different sets of tees was so that, if there were appreciable differences between them, and if the dynamic of the group allowed it, each player in the group could indeed play from where they are most comfortable.

And so, at BTC, in direct defiance of the USGA’s wishes, my buddy teed it up from the Intermediate set of tees.  He shot a 93, which was one of his best rounds of the year.  He enjoyed his round as much as I enjoyed mine.  We both played from the set of tees that was most appropriate for us, which I think the real goal of “tee it forward” ought to be.  I haven’t ignored the fact that the primary goal of tee it forward is to improve pace.  I think that you can easily play at a reasonable pace while also having the players in a group play from different sets of tees.  Marty and I played at a great pace, finishing in under four hours.  We were never more than a shot behind the group in front of us, and never more than a shot in front of the group behind us.  All it took was one of us walking to our tee while the other was setting up, or one of us dropping the other off at our tee.  Simple, really.

Check out tee it forward, and their self assessment tool, and give it a try.

By far the “golfiest” entry to date, this one is going to be the prototype for entries related directly to and concerning only the game.  It’s a week since the Open, and it’s accordingly obvious that these thoughts have been festering for that length of time.  I’m going to do my best to feel out what the appropriate frequency of these entries is.  Clearly, it was one for the golf dorks, and I promise to the rest of you that these will not become a fixture.  But for the golf dorks, rest assured that this won’t be the only one.

As promised, the next few entries will indeed focus on my golf game, logistics of the trip, and charity.

A final note: to date, I have secured $495 in donations!  An amazing figure at this juncture!  Absolutely amazing.  Huge, huge thanks to everyone who has donated.  To anyone who has not, please consider doing so if you are able.  Anxiety and Depression are real, terrible conditions which affect millions.  Furthering their acuteness is the stigma associated with having these conditions.  People who’ve never struggled with them are so very quick to make well intended but ultimately insulting suggestions to “cheer up.”  More on these topics later.  As always, if you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions, please do let me know.  Finally, let everyone you know about the project.

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Donations accounts up and running – Please consider donating!

Today was a very busy day, between being interviewed by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, and looking extremely dashing for the photographer, and working to establish the methods by which you may donate to the trip.

Briefly, you can make a 1 time donation via PayPal.  All PayPal donations will be split, 25% to fund the trip and 75% to the charities I am working with.  You may also make a donation directly to me, to fund the trip, via the gofundme.com page I have set up.  All donations made at this page will be used 100% to fund the trip.  If you wish to donate to me solely via gofundme, I kindly ask that you consider making a direct donation to one of the charities I will be working with.

Regardless of the source of the donation, if and when the trip becomes fully funded, ALL excess donations will be devoted entirely to the charities with which I will be working.

Regarding the kindness of people, mere minutes had passed before I was given my first donations, from dear friends Indra Peters and Marty Tonge.  The abundant generosity and quick response of these individuals nearly brought tears to my eyes.  Love you guys.

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10,000 miles. 172 hours.

After the obvious, and more mundane, first step of working up a rough budget for the trip, and making sure I could afford it, the first exciting step was to actually plot my way across the country; to determine how exactly it would be that I set foot in each of our great 48 contiguous states and capital region.

For every one young man who is going to play a round in each state, there are thousands of people who have merely driven through each of the 48 lower states on less ambitious journeys of their own.  I browsed some forums, focusing on the routes of my fellow travelers who seemed most concerned with breaking records regarding the shortest amount of time to get through all 48 states.  Not that I’m looking to break any records, but a quick way through all 48 is most certainly desirable, given that I’m also going to be golfing, and writing, substantially during the trip.  I love driving, and so am not overly concerned about the overwhelming amount of it I will be doing, but am looking to keep the hours behind the wheel to a reasonable number.  That being said, the quickest route was not always an absolute priority in planning the trip either.  Please pardon the cliche, but the journey itself is as rewarding as merely reaching the destination.

The following route and itinerary, of course, is tentative, and will serve as a guideline for my travels, rather than as a rigid guideline to be followed religiously.  Indeed, the romantic appeal of spur of the moment, seat of the pants free and open travel was one of the primary motivating factors in deciding to do the trip in the first place, and I will be looking to maintain a spirit of spontaneity during my trip.  That being said, I do need to actually get to all 48 and DC, so I won’t be straying too far from the purple line.

Complicating matters, of course, is the fact that I will be golfing in each state!  It’s not merely a matter of getting to each state; I’ve gotta find a way that gets close enough to the ideal golf course in each state.  In planning my way through the smaller states, I picked a beginning point and ending point for each day, and if the trip ended up going through another state, I targeted midsize cities (using a very flexible definition… think populations between 10,000 and 250,000, for the most part) to play my round in, as these cities generally have a nice selection of affordable golf courses, yet aren’t large enough to present significant traffic or travel issues.  Once I got further to the south and out west, where the states are a little bit bigger, I switched to planning my trip with the intent of playing a round early in the morning, then driving to the next state with the remainder of the day, and repeating.  Early play is advantageous as AM rounds are notoriously quicker than afternoon ones.  Early rounds will also allow me to get on the road at or near noon most days, giving me a full day of light to get to the next city.  I want to avoid late night driving as much as possible, as I will be tired enough and don’t need the starry, starry nights to add to my desire to slumber.

While I’m only playing 1 round in each state, there are tournaments; there will be maintenance days, and it is naive to think I will be able to get on the course of my choice every day.  In each city, or more accurately, in each metropolitan area in which I’ll be playing, therefore, I meticulously identified between 2 and 4 courses which meet the ideal criteria.  There are a few states where there will only be 1 course in the area of the state I’m in, and those days will require that I call a week or so ahead to make sure I can get on.  I’m looking to play at primarily municipal courses or affordable public courses, rather than nicer, newer and more prestigious courses.  Not only are munis and cheap publics, well, cheaper, but they are also usually less challenging and quicker to play.  Of course, I’m not afraid of a challenge, but I do not want to play brutally tough courses every day – I’m going to need some days where the course is 6000 from the tips, straight, and has few obstacles.  I will be exhausted, and the goal isn’t to develop myself into a scratch golfer, but rather to finish the trip.  For my psyche, I will need some good scores, and courses which will offer them are welcome on the trip.  That being said, I’m not going to dip into 9 hole courses, par 3 courses or executive courses.  I’m using 5800 yards as a rough guideline for minimum length of the course, and will try not to play anything less than a par 70.  There are a lot of par 68 and par 69 municipal courses, and playing one or two is a distinct possibility.  There are also affordable, challenging, and charming municipals everywhere (See my Durant Eastman review below), and it’s my hope that I’ll end up at them more frequently than the less challenging municipals.  I’m trying to keep the average cost of the rounds below $40, and of course, factored this in to my course selection as well.  While I am, surprisingly, able to walk 18 holes (had to do so last Saturday – and passed with flying colors!), the humungous benefit of riding will be very appreciated on the trip, and I plan on riding the vast majority of rounds.

Now that you’ve got some background on the thought processes of the planning, feast your eyes on the plan itself!  Googlemaps only allows 25 destinations, so I will be using 2 screenshots to help visualize my way around the country.  If you will, consider these a “first half” and “second half” of the trip, even though the only planned period of sustained rest beyond 1 day will be in California, well into the “second half” of the trip.

FIRST HALF:

Image

I will be departing from Buffalo, New York, and will be making a clockwise trip.  While there is value in driving through the plains early on in the trip when the prospect of the trip will still be visceral and fresh, I ended up deciding that there is more value in going through the smaller states first.  The primary motivation for doing this is that I will be able to play two rounds in one day in many cases while in the eastern time zone.  This, of course, gives me some days off in the latter portions of the trip, when I will undoubtedly be very fatigued.

I will be starting the trip on a Sunday, the earliest possible starting date being June 30, with the latest being July 14.  There are a few reasons why I decided to start on a Sunday.  First, I wanted to kick the trip off with a round with my golfing buddies here in Western New York, and starting on a weekend enables my friends to be available to join me on the inaugural round.  Second, I will be playing 36 holes each on days 2, 3, and 4 of the trip, and will want to take advantage of the lower weekday rates when I will be playing the most golf.  It’s also easier to get on the courses on weekdays; which will be of crucial importance on the 36 hole days.

I’m looking to play the first round approximately an hour east of Buffalo; far enough that I’ve got a good start for the trip to Vermont the next day, yet close enough that my buds will join me.  I’m targeting something around Batavia, New York.  Batavia is a town divided by the interstate, and has several affordable choices to play at.

After my first round in Central New York, the trip begins in earnest as I’m making the trek to Bennington, Vermont that very afternoon.  Days 2, 3 and 4 will be grueling, as each will feature 36 holes of golf with moderate amounts of driving during the day.  During this early part of the trip, I will be traveling east through southern Vermont and New Hampshire on through to southern Maine during day 2, from southern Maine through Massachusetts on to Rhode Island on day 3, and from Rhode Island through Connecticut all the way to the eastern suburbs of Philadelphia on day 4.

Days 5, 6 and 7 will feature rounds in New Jersey on day 5, in Delaware and DC on day 6, and in Maryland and West Virginia on day 7, prior to finally having a day of rest on day 8, the only plan being to enjoy the beautiful drive from the farthest southwestern corner of the mighty northeast on through to the southwestern slip of Virginia.

In negotiating the states of the mid and southern Atlantic, the best plan is to pinball between the westernmost portions of these states, and the easternmost portions of Kentucky and Tennessee.  Days 9, 10 and 11 are very full, with day 9 being a 36 hole day with rounds in Virginia and Kentucky, day 10 featuring a round in Tennessee, and day 11 being another 36 hole day, with a round in each of the Carolinas.

From here, it gets somewhat predictable for a few days – the only direction to go from here is south.  I’ll be traveling through Georgia and Alabama to Florida, and by the end of day 13, I will have 20 rounds in.  Leaving the panhandle of Florida, I’m heading west through the gulf coast of Alabama and Mississippi (I’ll already have played in Alabama, making this trip a relatively quick one) and will be taking my first substantial rest in New Orleans on days 14 and 15 of the trip.

From New Orleans it will be north-northwest, as I needed to get Kansas and Missouri out of the way at this point on the trip, as to get them from the north later in the trip would require more driving than I’d prefer at that point on the trip.  From New Orleans, the path will take me through Shreveport to Fayetteville, Arkansas and on to Joplin, Missouri from there.

And so the “first half” of the trip will be completed in just 18 days, and I will have 24 rounds in by this point.

SECOND HALF:

Image

These states are a lot bigger, and the line does most of the explaining.  From Joplin, I will essentially be heading west, making the appropriate deviations to hit the states along the way until I get to St. George, Utah.  The plan is to play in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah, in that order, over the course of 7 days.  New Mexico and Colorado will be easier, as both states do have courses quite close to the 4 corners.  Arizona and Utah are less agreeable, as there are scarce few settlements in northern Arizona and southern Utah.  Page, Arizona is the last stop before St. George.

Nearly through the flyover states and back kinda near a coast, I’m heading southwest through Las Vegas to San Diego.  While in San Diego, I’m going to try my best to get on at Torrey Pines.  I did want to take in one round at a world renowned course, and I think Torrey fits the bill: it’s beautiful, has a US Open pedigree, is open to the public, and, given the prestige of the course, is reasonably affordable.  Additionally, I spoke to a friend in San Diego who confirmed that it isn’t unthinkable that a single player would be somewhat easily able to get on.  Of course, I’ll be calling them in some advance to see if indeed I’ll be able to get on.

Regarding California, you can forget the purple line above.  I love driving, have always loved driving, and am looking forward to the drive all the way up the coast on Route 1 nearly as much as the trip itself.  I’m going to take four or five days to make the trip – I’ll need some time off from golf, and also want to enjoy a drive which I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to make again.  It’s going to be a nice leisurely cruise up the coast on to Crescent City.  I’m hoping to take in at least one ball game in California, as I love baseball and will not be going on the yearly baseball trip I’ve come to look forward to.

From northern California, I’m driving diagonally across Oregon through to southeastern Washington.  As Montana is massive, I’m going to do my best to play in Washington and Idaho in the same day, in order to keep an entire day devoted to Montana.  The prospect of Wyoming was looming large in planning – as the state is isolated and has no major population centers near any borders I’ll be near.  Nevertheless, I have to get there, and will be doing so immediately following Montana.

From Wyoming, the line pretty much tells it all – there will be 2 for 1 days in North Dakota / Minnesota and Nebraska / Iowa.  South Sioux City, Nebraska and Sioux City, Iowa is the last planned 36 hole day, and is scheduled to tentatively take place on the 39th day of the trip.

The plateau of the trip now well behind me, I will round out the trip with stops in Madison, Chicago, Elkhart (Indiana), Coldwater (Michigan), and Canton, Ohio.  If all goes according to plan, I will play my 48th round in Canton on day 46 of the trip, having had 11 days of rest / no golf sprinkled throughout.

The trip will end in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, my hometown, at Fairview Golf Course.  Within walking distance of the house I grew up in, Fairview has always been one of my favorites, and I think it will be a fitting end to the trip to end at the course I’ve played more than any other in my life.  I’m sure the old man will join me, and I look forward immensely to that final putt on the breathtaking downhill par 3 18th.

In all, the plotted course measures in at just slightly over 10,000 miles, and will require about 172 hours of driving.  Over the course of 49 days, that’s not even four hours per day, which strikes me as an entirely reasonable amount of driving to do.

Image

This is the mighty steed upon which I will be riding for the trip.  It’s a 2009 VW Jetta with Volkswagen’s stellar 2.0 liter turbo charged directly injected diesel engine.  It’s got about 64,000 miles on it, and has a 6 speed manual transmission.  It’s a great thing that I enjoy shifting my own gears, because I’m going to be doing a lot of it.  I put some phenomenally grippy Continental Extreme Contact DW tires on it two summers ago, which coupled with the manual transmission results in a car that is an absolute joy to drive.  I look forward to carving corners where applicable.  Most importantly, that little diesel wonder that Volkswagen developed is a fuel sipper.  Even an irresponsible pace will result in at least 40 miles per gallon, and anything lower than that on the trip will be a very disappointing surprise.  With a vigilant right foot and steady pace, the car has routinely delivered me highway efficiency in the 43-45 miles per gallon range.

Don’t hold me to this itinerary, it’s tentative and serves as a skeleton to be fleshed in along the way.  Any changes will be noted as they occur, and you can follow the itinerary more closely on the itinerary page clickable above.

As usual, please leave any feedback you may have, and refer the project to anyone you know who may find inspiration or entertainment in what I am doing.  You can subscribe via email to receive automatic updates if you’re not the daily checking type, and I encourage you to do so.

The next few entries will be regarding my golf game, and the logistics of travel.  There will also be a more fully developed entry regarding the charity element of the trip as soon as I’ve finalized the relationships with the charities I hope to work with, although there will be a preliminary entry on this topic in the very near future.

Finally, I will be appearing in The Buffalo News tomorrow – I will link the article for your consumption and distribution.  For the locals – buy a copy to frame!

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The charming Green Tree Golf Course; municipal golf in the charming southern New Jersey

I am back from my time off the grid in New Jersey, which was spent largely on the cape, that tiny strip of land on the farthest southern edge of the Garden State.  I was able to sneak in a round of golf, accompanied by the old man to boot.

The cape and areas just slightly to the north are not the friendliest to the budget minded golfer, as the limited useable real estate coupled with the resort nature of the area has limited the extant golf courses to very nice, and accordingly pricey, tracks.  Nevertheless, for someone on vacation in this seeming enclave of Philadelphia, there is plenty of golf to be played.

With a more reasonably priced round of golf on our agenda, my father and I targeted Green Tree Golf Course, about 40 miles north of Wildwood and 20 west of Atlantic City, as the perfect place to play.  The course is a municipal one, owned and operated by Atlantic County.  Being in a coastal area of the northeast, the greens fees were a slight bit higher than some other regions of the country, but were still very reasonable.

In eager anticipation of the round, we decided that Monday would be the best bet, as the locals would be back to work and the rates would be a little bit cheaper.  The weekend in Wildwood was absolutely gorgeous.  Both days were sunny and warm, other than a brief afternoon shower on Saturday, and would have been excellent for golf.

Instead, we enjoyed the boardwalk, took in a parade, rented a surrey (a double wide bicycle with a roof and steering wheel, available with 1, 2 or 3 rows) and did all of those things you do down at the southern Jersey Shore.  It had been several years since I made my way to southern Jersey, and I was made comfortably aware that the area has retained it’s very Philadelphian feel.  The dialect of the locals mirrors that of the massive wave of Philadelphians and others of the Delaware Valley making their annual trek “down the shore” for a vacation.  Scrapple is widely available; the man who rented us our surrey was delighted when he saw that the license I gave him as a deposit was from New York but that I was also wearing a Phillies hat; and several “how ya doing?” greetings upon entering businesses and restaurants were returned with “better than the Phils.”  Southern New Jersey is still as charming as it’s ever been.

Monday morning had arrived, and our fears of the approaching rain were not yet confirmed on the ground.  The day was dreary, and while the forecast called for an amazing 1 to 2 inches of rain for most of southern New Jersey, it was not yet raining in Wildwood.  After analysis after amateur analysis of the radar, we agreed that the first system would be passing just north of the golf course, about 3.5 hours ahead of the second system, which would certainly find it’s way to the links.

So, on a day when the forecast was positively terrible for golf, we hopped in my car and headed north to Egg Harbor Township, in a quest to sneak in 18 holes during those 3.5 hours.  Half an hour up the Parkway and fifteen minutes to the west through the very rural forested marshlands that dominate inland southern New Jersey, and we had arrived at the course, one of just four vehicles in the lot.

It was not yet raining, but to claim that the skies looked anything other than ominous would be greatly dishonest.  We made our way to the clubhouse, discussed the weather one last time, and finally decided to check in and pay our weekday riding, non-resident rate of $36.

After riding up to the first tee, we had a nice short talk with the starter, an elderly gentleman with that distinct heavy Philadelphian accent.  We got a few tips on nearby holes, and also learned that the course was privately owned for a long, long time before finally being purchased by the county within somewhat recent memory.  According to the starter, the condition of the course had improved mightily under direction of the county.

The first hole is a short dogleg right par 5, measuring approximately 210 to 220 yards to the dogleg from the white tees, per the starter.  I teed it up from the blues, the starter notifying me that I was now about 240 to the turn, and hit a big high fade that didn’t fade quite enough and I found myself through the fairway in the woods and our round was underway.

In addition to the price, a significant reason we had chosen Green Tree was due to the length of the course.  My old man is nearing 60, and has had bad knees for years.  He doesn’t get out to golf as much as I think he should, and this was his first time out this year.  At 5574 yards from the blue tees and a very reasonable 5347 from the whites, this course was a perfect length for him.

Diminutive in length, Green Tree does manage to present some obstacles to scoring well.  An incredible sixteen out of eighteen holes have water, and a majority of the holes are pretty tight.  The course was built in a wooded, marshy area typical of the region, and the amount of water on the course and the tightness of the holes is accordingly not surprising.  To reach it’s par of 72, the course has 4 par 3 holes, 11 par 4’s, just 2 par 5’s and a very rare par 6 hole.

In the 676 yard, par 6 3rd hole, Green Tree has a signature hole worthy of any golf course.  As is typical of the course, the fairway on 3 is lined with trees on both sides, but is wide enough to allow a slight draw or fade to play just fine.  There is a meandering creek which protrudes about halfway into the fairway from the left about 320 yards from the blue tees.  From here, the massive hole moves ever so slightly up a hill, and dog legs to the left after about 520 yards.  A large green sloping from left to right awaits.  A three shot hole for even massive hitters, it took me a driver, 5 iron and 7 iron to get home, but I was left with an 8 foot downhill twister for eagle, which I disappointingly missed, having never given it a chance.  The shame of not even trying to make the eagle was quickly dissipated with a tap in birdie.  My old man, meanwhile, had matriculated his ball down the fairway and did end up having a long par putt.  Unfortunately, he 3 putted, and after 3 holes, we stood at 1 and 5 over respectively.

The 4th is a short par 3, but has a small pond just in front of the green.  Interestingly, all 4 par 3’s on the course have water just in front of the green.  While the par 3’s measure just 105, 147, 152 and 175 yards from the blue tees, there is no duffing your way onto the green on any of them – you gotta hit a nice high and soft shot to get on any of the 4.  I didn’t lose a ball on any of the par 3’s, hitting 2 of them, and narrowly missing the other 2.  If your ball ends up dry, the only of the par 3’s which will challenge you if you miss the green is the 175 yard 15th – there are trees to all sides and the apron to the rear of the green, which itself slopes heavily from back to front, features heavy rough.  I bombed a 6 iron over the green here and had to pitch my ball down to the front of the green.  It was the only par 3 I bogied.

If the well protected par 3’s and massive par 6 aren’t distinctive enough for Green Tree, the course could stand as a model for short yet challenging par 4’s.  There are an incredible 6 par 4’s under 300 yards.  Of them, only 1 doesn’t have water, however, and several of the holes are doglegs.  The 12th and 13th feature both obstacles, but can easily be tamed with well placed tee shots.

By the time we had reached the 17th tee, luck was still on our side as it had not yet begun raining, but the skies were darkening, and we didn’t have much time left.  17 is a 90 degree dogleg left which purportedly measures 215 yards to the bend, and other 120 in from there.  As the rain slowly began falling, I teed up a 5 wood with the intent of drawing one slightly around the bend.  Instead, I hit a towering high hook into the heavy woods guarding the dogleg, and as the ball soared amongst the leaves, I abandoned my hopes of finishing strong.

The rain continued to intensify as we drove past the dogleg.  Then, all of a sudden, we saw my ball, resting just 30 yards shy of the green!  The golf gods had blessed the sphere, guiding it with caring hands either over, through or around the woods!  However, the gods proved themselves vengeful as well, as the skies opened up and the deluge began as we made our approach to the par 5 18th green.  In a massive downpour, we finished our round, myself having shot a 78, my father having shot a 102.  Not too bad for an old guy with bad knees on his first round of the year.

With a course rating of just 67.2 and a slope rating of 112 from the blue tees, Green Tree is not the most challenging course in the world.  Were it not for the water on nearly every hole and the general tightness of the course, I suspect that these ratings would be significantly lower, as these are the only defenses many of the holes have.

Despite the relative ease of the course, it was a solid municipal experience.  The course was well maintained and the staff was very friendly.  Green Tree is great for beginners looking for a little more of a challenge, or for older players who don’t hit it quite as far as they used to.  For better players, there is still some shot making to be done here, and you aren’t making a good score if you don’t manage the course well, thanks in large part to the ponds which dot the entire course.

http://greentree.aclink.org/

This was my second very positive municipal experience in the last week, and I left the course very encouraged at the prospect of playing a majority municipal courses on the approaching trip.  It was also possibly my last round with my old man before the trip, and I was glad to get out on the links with him before I leave.  My father will always be my favorite playing partner, and the times when it’s just us two on the course are always special.

This is likely the last course review I will be writing before I leave as well, as I will begin shifting to information more pertinent to the trip itself.  Look for the itinerary to be updated either later this evening or Saturday morning.

Finally, don’t expect entries about courses or rounds during my trip to be this extensive, as I will most assuredly not have the time to get into this level of detail.  Speaking to the length of this entry, it was largely the result of a poorly cobbled together blend of describing both the area and the course and round.  As someone who has been vacationing in New Jersey my entire life, I felt that I had the responsibility to do more than simply say I golfed in southern New Jersey; I had to take a few extra turns to do my best to endear the region to you.  Southern New Jersey really is a great place, and I would highly recommend visiting it to anyone.

While on the trip, I am going to do my best to keep entries about the courses and rounds to golf, while entries related to travel will be related to, well, travel; about the area, the drives and vistas I will surely encounter; about the people I meet and the experiences I will have.  Of course, there will be some blurring of the lines.

As usual, please leave any feedback you may have, and please spread this blog far and wide.

Details on itinerary will be posted next, followed by details on the involvement of charities.  Stay tuned.

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Going off the grid for a few

After an encouragingly quick six hour drive from Buffalo to Lebanon, PA yesterday, I have a blink of the eye three hour drive down to the southern Jersey shore this morning.  The occasional drives I’ve made from Buffalo to Lebanon and back over the past five years will come in handy on the trip; indeed, those six hours flew by.  The shorter these drives will feel, the better.

Anyhow, I just wanted to post a quick update as I will be in southern New Jersey for the next four or five days, with very limited internet access.  I do hope to get a round in at a muni during my stay, and will take another crack at getting down the perfect, succinct course review I’ll need for the trip.

Please check back early to mid next week for updates on the itinerary and opportunities to support my endeavor and several charities I will be teaming up with.  The itinerary is completed, just needs to be posted.  Don’t you worry – I’m not that irresponsible.

Cheers.

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Durand Eastman Golf Course – A Shining Standard of Public Golf

Nestled in the woods and on the hills just south of Lake Ontario in what amounts to an enclave of Rochester about 20 minutes north-northeast of downtown, within Irondequoit, New York (See this map: http://www.mapworksinc.com/online_map.php?map_id=4&zoom_level=level_1&grid=AC-10#map), lies the phenomenal Durand Eastman Golf Course.  Durand Eastman is one of three 18 hole courses which are run and maintained by Golf The Parks, which appears to be either a department of the Monroe County Parks System, or a private company charged with running and maintaining the courses, which are all located within Monroe County public parks.  While the websites for both the Monroe County Parks and Golf The Parks do little to clarify the exact relationship between the two, the pricing of the courses is extremely reasonable, and the feel of both Durand and Churchville, which I played several times last season, is decidedly Municipal.

The Durand Eastman Golf Club, which is not directly affiliated with the course, but does maintain a detailed and passionate website devoted to the club’s home course, traces the lineage of the course to the late 1910’s, claiming that the first 9 holes were built in 1917.  The club also claims the legendary Donald J. Ross as the potential architect of the original 9, but remains non-committed to his involvement.  Golf The Parks’ website states that the course was built in 1934, and was designed by the also legendary Robert Trent Jones.  The DEGC confirms Jones’ involvement in the architecture of the course as currently laid out, and provides a reader with all the detail they will undoubtedly desire regarding the evolution of the course after having played a few rounds.

Ross and Trent Jones are legends of golf course design, and Durand Eastman stands as a glowing example of early twentieth century American public golf.  While there have certainly been alterations to the course over the years, and some of the original design elements may have eroded during the passage of time, the course that remains is both very challenging yet eminently playable, offering breathtaking views of the park and course.

Measuring just 6029 yards from the farthest set of tees, for a par of 70, what Durand Eastman lacks in length it more than makes up for in requiring accuracy, ball placement, and shot-making if a player is going to score well.  In addition to the traditional blue tees for the back markers, there is a set of white tee markers measuring 5785 yards for the less aspiring player, as well as a set of red tees, measuring 5159 yards, for the ladies and juniors.  At first glance of the scorecard, it is easy to become very excited about the prospect of scoring well at a course featuring no hole longer than 469 yards, two par 4’s under 270 yards, three more under 360 yards, and two par 3’s under 140 yards.

Stepping up to the first tee should allay any concerns you may have about having a walk in the park ahead of you.  The view from the blue tees on 1 alone will convince you to play from the blues the rest of the way, if you were not convinced by the length before you began.  That being said, even if you are a big hitter, there is no shame in teeing it up from the whites at this course, as it is plenty challenging regardless of where you’re starting from.  I chose to play the blue tees, and was rewarded with a breathtaking view to start my round.  Hole 1 is a 436 yard, dogleg left par 4.  From the blues, you hit your drive from a very elevated tee offering you a majestic view of your long, straight drive towards the creek that will rear it’s head on nearly half the par 4’s on the front nine.  In my case, however, the only view I had was of a terribly duck hooked low liner into the woods on the left.  My round was under way, in a far less than spectacular manner.  I tripled 1, and moved on to the second hole in awe of both the beauty and challenge of the course.

I parred hole 2, a 388 yard slight dogleg right par 4, a beautiful hole in it’s own right, protected along the right and in front of the green by the same creek on hole 1, and featuring an approach to a small green well protected by moguls.  I moved on to hole 3 – one of the more intimidating par 3’s I’ve played in a while.

3 tee

Hole 3 measures 178 yards from the blue tees – and is very narrow.  As you can see, there is no room to miss to the left, to the right or long.  The green is small and slopes moderately from back to front.  My buddy and I were playing behind a threesome, two of whom were riding, one walking, who were playing behind two naive beginners (I only say naive because any beginner who plays here has no idea what they are in for) who were walking.  Not surprisingly, we had several minutes to stand on this tee in fear of the inevitable results.  Playing for my standard high draw, I laced a 6 iron over the left edge of the trees on the right, and just missed the green short and to the right.  A chip and a putt later, and I walked away with a very satisfying par.

The next several holes are are short to medium length par 4’s, each either zigging to the left or zagging to the right.  Precise tee shots and calculated approaches are required to approach par.  Both 4 and 5 are rarities at Durand in that they do allow you to miss, even if only slightly, to the right, while 6 requires a demanding downhill tee shot to a narrow fairway lined thickly with trees to both sides.

Having fumbled my way through these holes, I was struck with both intrigue and opportunity standing on the 7th tee.  Hole 7 measures just 263 yards, yet is wrought with challenge.  Both the tee and green are elevated, ensuring that the only way to drive the green is to fly it the entire way there.  Making matters worse for the masher are the marshlands and woods to the right the entire way, and the OB to the left.  The green is nestled in a grove of trees, and only the left side of the green is visible from the tee.  Feeling aggressive, I gripped and ripped on the tee, and shouted fore as my shot was blasted, and fading nicely towards the green.  After my buddy had reached the green, he exclaimed “I hate you” as he saw my ball resting comfortably 25 feet below the hole, leaving me an uphill eagle putt.  A nice lag and tap in later, and I was rewarded for my aggressiveness with a birdie in my first round at Durand.

Hole 8 is a short, downhill par 3 played to a small green, a brief respite before the storm of hole 9.  At just 434 yards, the par 5 9th is reachable in two only by the most precise players.  The tee shot is not playable with a driver for any but the shortest hitters, as the fairway turns sharply to the left, narrowing between thick forest along the way.  The fairway is cut out of a valley, and failing to land the ball in the 5 yards of flat land in the center of the fairway will leave you with a side-hill lie.  I took my triple, complete with an approach shot which sailed out of bounds to the right and a three putt on this hot-dog shaped green, and moved to the back 9 questioning my motivation in coming to play Durand.

As much as such a spectacularly designed course such as Durand can have a straight forward typical hole, Durand does have the 10th, a straight 393 yard par 4.  11 is simply brutal, with a creek and trees running down the left side of the fairway, requiring a tee shot of at least 250 yards to give you an angle at the small, highly sloping green.

The great challenge of Durand Eastman is in it’s fierce insistence that you not only select the right shot, but actually make the right shot on each and every shot if you’re looking to score well.  Hole 12 is a fine example of this.  Despite measuring just 266 yards, the green is essentially unreachable by all other than those able to impart a severe hook (righties) or slice (lefties).  Another elevated, sloping green backed by an amphitheater awaits.

I’m going to take this opportunity to use a few photos to illustrate some of the design elements of Durant Eastman.

12 green

This is the 12th green, as viewed from the 13th tee.  The approach on 12 would be coming from 9:30ish on a clock on this picture.  Take note of both the elevation change from previous green to next tee, as well as the proximity from previous green to next tee.  As is more typical of older classic American golf courses, there is not a lot of distance between green and tee.  If you do feel like walking a hilly course, Durand is nice in that you will not be hiking very far between holes, even if you are certainly hiking along the way.

13 from tee

Moving to 13, you’re faced with yet another elevated tee to a narrow fairway.  I want to point out the other tee markers on this hole are to the right, not the left, effectively taking a shot to the right side of the fairway out of play.  A mid length drive down the left side left me with about 230 yards into the par 5, albeit around those trees jutting out from the left which appear to be just in front of the green.

I made my par, and moved to 14, a short par 3 which interestingly has two greens, the use of which alternates.  We were playing the far shorter hole, and I made my 12 foot downhill putt for my 2nd birdie, and moved on to 15.  15 is another narrow, tree lined par 4, playing to a severely undulating green.  The green features plateaus in the front left and right, with a valley between them running down to the latter half of the green.  In my estimation the toughest green on the course, today’s pin spot was right in the middle, at the most forgiving spot on the green.  I made another par, and found myself in a nice stretch at 1 under par the last 3 holes.

The course ends with two medium length par 4s sandwiching a long downhill par 3.  16 requires either an iron or hybrid off the tee as the dog leg is severe and protected by heavy wooding.   A long, narrow, three tiered green awaits.  17 measures 201 yards, and is likely the most simply designed hole on the course.  18 is a beautiful finishing hole, a slight dogleg right 428 yard par 4.  Of course, a creek meanders across the target area from short and left to long and right, while a large oak tree is lying in wait to suck up any stray drives sent to the left.

If you were merely browsing the hole by hole, all you really need to know about Durand is that it is narrow, features many elevated tees and greens, and forces you to plan your hole out tightly from tee to green.  The course lacks bunkers, and doesn’t really need them as the difficulty level is high enough already.

I ended up shooting an 88, a very up and down round featuring both 2 birdies and 2 triple bogeys.  While I was hoping to shoot closer to my average of 85, I didn’t leave upset given the difficulty of the course, and the fact that it was my first time playing there.  However, the classic American charm of the course, coupled with it’s challenge, beautiful views and great condition would have had me singing the praises of Durand Eastman even if I had shot a 98.

I got all of this for just $30, including my silky smooth and opened up electric power cart.  No detail is overlooked at Durand Eastman – the carts are quiet, powerful and smooth, the staff was friendly and accommodating for some out of towners, there is nice snack bar at the turn, and there is also a small but exquisite banquet hall called “Jack’s Place,” located in the clubhouse.  The clubhouse has a small pro-shop with a small selection of both equipment and clothing, and features hardwood floors.

Incredibly, all of this is pulled off without the slightest hint of pretension.  Indeed, this is what had me most impressed with my experience at Durand Eastman.  The course gives you literally everything you would want in a golf experience, excepting a driving range, and lacks everything you don’t want.

Durand Eastman is a fantastic public golf experience.  Short enough to entice beginners, yet challenging enough to feature a course rating (70.7) higher than par (70), a feat rarely reserved for municipal courses, Durand Eastman is a spectacle to behold.  You’ll immediately feel welcome, and the price can not be beaten.  This is a great model for any municipal course, and any municipality ought to be very proud of a course even half as endearing as Durant Eastman is.  In one of the must play courses of Central and Western New York, Monroe County has an awful lot to be proud of.

http://www.durandeastmangolfclub.org

http://www.golftheparks.com

Please note that this is NOT one of the 49 rounds in 49 days.  Rather, I’m experimenting with course and round descriptions.  Did you like the integration of the two, or would you prefer more on my round or the course?  Leave a comment, let me know!

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