So I am back in the Commonwealth, and my whirlwind tour of the country is drawing to a close. As you will note, however, I have only thus far written about my travels from Buffalo through New England, the Mid-Atlantic, South, and Southwest. Last writing I did was about Oatman, Arizona. That means I have all of California, the Northwest, Plains and Midwest to write about. I also have a ton of golf to write about as well. Last round I wrote about was in Nevada. Still gotta write about golf from CA through OH as well.
While I was golfing at Torrey Pines in San Diego, my phone had run out of battery life, and I had lamented that fact to Mike, one of the guys I was playing with when we reached a particularly gorgeous scene overlooking the ocean. He told me not to worry, gesturing to the side of his head, and reminding me that the only photo I needed was in there. Not in his head, but in mine, of course. Indeed, while the traveling itself will soon be over, the full experience that comes with travel – the recounting of the time spent on the road, the sharing of wisdom garnered throughout the States with those who’ve never been to places I have, and the comparing of experiences I have had with others who may have been where I have been, will never end.
Don’t worry, friends and readers, though I am about to land in Lebanon late this evening, I have all the notes and pictures I need to get you through the next few weeks – I will unleash a steady diet of writing until I have finally recounted the minutest detail of my travails.
I do hope I haven’t let anyone down with the relative lack of extensive entries here in the last few weeks, but the truth is that I had begun to be just the slightest bit exhausted. 7 weeks on the road, with golf either every or every other day, and hours upon hours of driving between takes a toll on me. Add to that the exploring and other tidbits of traveling I’ve attempted to do, and I have come to look forward to those bed sheets when, eventually, I found them. Just laying in bed watching TV was phenomenally relaxing the last few days.
Other than the ominous exhaustion which is beginning to wear on me, I am in fine shape physically. A few weeks ago, my back was worn out at the constant stresses I subjected it to with every massive swing. I began taking an ibuprofen before each round. Doing so really made the rounds more enjoyable, and although my back was still sore upon my first swing of the day, taking the ibuprofen before the round reduced the number of holes it took me to fully loosen up from 6-7 to 1-2. Maybe I won’t take any before my final round? Who knows.
Regarding that final round, I am beyond nervous about it. I’m sure it won’t be just my dad and uncles watching on the first tee, and I’m almost certain that I will duff the ball so hard, if I even make contact. I’ve been playing really great golf the last 5 rounds, and more than anything, I want to have an awesome finishing round at Fairview, a course which I have never bested 83 at. My last 5 rounds are 77, 78, 75, 78 and 75. It is looking good – but I will have some nerves to shake off. I am playing, undoubtedly, the best golf of my life, and can now boast a 7.8 handicap — the lowest my cap has ever been, and a full .2 lower than my uncle, “#1 son,” Bob has ever been. I have finally caught you, Uncle Bob! Fitting that I finally get down below an 8 just before my final round of the trip.
I rarely feel pressure on the golf course. Indeed, that is a massive part of the appeal of the game for me. But on that first tee on Saturday morning, my knees will be shaking. My Dad and Uncles have seen me play before, but how much do I want to get up there and stroke a 300 yarder down the middle? A lot. A LOT. I’m hoping it’s just us four at the first tee. Hole 1 at Fairview is a 310 yard, downhill dogleg left par 4. A hole that makes me drool. Last time I played at Fairview, I duffed my tee shot on 1, but ended up parring the hole anyway, and shooting an 83. Why couldn’t I have just gotten the ball off the ground? I know why. I was trying to hit it 310 miles, not 310 yards. Just one tee shot, Alex. Just one shot to show everyone how good you’ve become.
I will write more about how well I’ve been playing lately at a later date, but the numbers should speak to it. Yesterday, I played at the magnificent Roseland Golf & Curling Club in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The course hosted a Canadian PGA Tour event from ’79-’91, and again in 2012. It’s municipal, and very well maintained. I shot a 78. Granted, the course wasn’t in tour shape, but still… I shot a 78 at a course where pros played. And today, I had a 40/35 split at the marvelously delightful Sunny Hills Golf and Recreation in Kent, Ohio. I won’t even do this place the disservice of beginning to describe how splendid the layout was at this time – just know that it was easily among my 5 favorite courses on the trip. Also know that the par was 35/36 – meaning I was under par on the back! Took me until my 98th 9 of the trip – but I finally made it through a side under par. Pretty cool feeling.
Just a few last notes, and thank yous from the past week or so:
– I will be giving ALL donated money to the ADAA when I stop accepting donations. I was not as aggressive at raising money as others would have been, but this trip very quickly turned into something very personal and unique, and enjoying my unique experience of travel became my focus, not raising money. I will, however, continue to accept donations at both my PayPal and GoFundMe sites until September 14. On the 15th – I will be withdrawing all of the money from both, and writing a check to the ADAA for the total amounts received. I will let you all know the final amount, but right now, it’s something close to $1500.00.
– Pat Farley, for hosting me in Madison, for buying me some range balls and a few beers at the range so I could goof around at the range like a kid again, and for picking up the tabs as we barhopped around Madison
– Devin Farley, for suggesting that I contact Pat, his brother, whom I had never met before about staying with him, and, presumably, about singing my praises to Pat
– Rick (unsure of last name right now), for playing the back 9 with me in Madison with an unbelievably positive attitude and energy. Also thanks for the drink, ball marker and divot tool from Maple Bluff CC
– Ben and Ashlea Klahr, for allowing my to crash on their “fyoo-ton” in downtown Chicago, for dinner and drinks as we meandered through West River, and for the always stimulating and thought-provoking, yet comforting conversation we have always shared. You guys are stellar, and we do not see enough of each other.
– Rachel Miller, my amazingly brilliant cousin, for hosting me on my second night in Chicago, for dinner and drinks, and for phenomenal conversation about a wide variety of topics.
– David, Julie and Liam Bird, for hosting me in Elkhart, Indiana for 2 nights. Hospitable by the very definition of the word, they were happily welcoming to a stranger, known only through David’s brother. They fed me well, gave me a comfy bed to sleep in, and were excited to converse with me about anything that came up. A stellar family, and one that I’m glad to have gotten to know.
– Robert Bird, for hooking me up with his brother in Elkhart. Even though we vary in age by a pretty wide margin and only really hung out over the course of a few summers working together, he’s always been a great friend. One of my most reliable friends with regards to checking in with me on the trip, always good for a Stern joke or a picture of the E-house where I used to, and he still occasionally does, work.
– Dean Leazenby, for taking me on the pristine Christiana Creek Country Club in Elkhart as his guest, for guiding me around the course, for lunch and a drink at the turn, and for playing witness to the greatest stretch of golf in my life (5 birdies in 13 holes, and -1 over a 15 hole stretch)… perhaps importantly, a tweaked back forced him to retire for the day on the 17th tee. I was +2 at that point. I doubled the last two holes. I NEEDED HIM TO PLAY!
– Elizabeth and Mark Hoffman, for their incredibly generous donation of $150.00!
More later – now back to sweet home, Lebanon.