I’ve played rounds with countless major champions, attended all four majors, interviewed just about every prominent figure in the game, played Royal Melbourne’s composite course the day after the 2011 Presidents Cup and many of my dream 18. So what’s left on my “Bucket List” of golf experiences? Here’s my five (leave your five in the comments below!):
Play with a POTUS
One of the cooler scenes I’ve experienced covering a golf tournament is Presidents Clinton, Bush 41, and Obama holding court on the first tee at the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National. It got me thinking that it would be quite the experience to tee it up with one of the former Commanders-in-Chief—whichever party, I’m not picky. I do subscribe to the belief that you can learn a lot about a person by playing a round of golf and I think it would be especially telling with someone of that stature. Plus, I’d have a lifetime of stories to tell about the time I took an Andrew Jackson off the president. The only thing cooler? Having the autographed bill in my wallet as proof.
Pine Valley’s Crump Cup
It happens once a year: The public is invited to attend the George Arthur Crump Cup Memorial Tournament at Pine Valley. On a Sunday in late September, the club’s chain-link gate entrance swings open to allow a yellow school bus full of golf fans to walk on hallowed ground and view the final match of the four-day, mid-amateur competition. I can’t think of another private club in the country with such a standing tradition. Can you?
For me and a generation of golf fans and architecture geeks, Pine Valley has ranked as the de facto No. 1 golf course in the country. Its charm remains very much shrouded in mystery. I’m dying to play there—if anyone ever needs a fourth, I’m your man—but the next best thing is to walk its ground, study its nuances and experience the best barometer of the course’s inherent difficulty, constant pressure, and ability to give top mid-ams fits.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament
I’ve played in several pro-ams and if you get the right partner (you can’t do better than Peter Jacobsen, who will regale you with stories you can repeat to your friends for the next 10 years, give you a read on a putt, and a lesson after the round to fix your chili-dipping) there’s nothing better. But I’ve only played in a Wednesday hit-n-giggle. For me, the dream is to be inside the ropes in the heat of competition and sharing a scorecard with a PGA Tour pro in a tournament-within-a-tournament. What began as Bing Crosby’s Clambake is one of the most coveted invites in all of sports by celebrities and business moguls. Add in that you’re playing Pebble Beach, Spyglass, and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club and you’re talking about an experience that is priceless.
Buddies Trip to the Greatest Show on Grass
I’ve been a regular to the Waste Management Phoenix Open for more than a decade. So why is it appearing on my short list? Well, have you ever been the only sober person at a party? That’s what it is like to be working press at the event while every one is getting their party on. One year, I’d like to see how the other half live.
It all starts by choosing the right place to stay. I like the retro vibe at Hotel Valley Ho in Downtown Scottsdale, the swanky Mountain Shadows Resort in the heart of Paradise Valley, or the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which is party central during tournament week. I’d tee it up in the morning at Troon North or We-Ko-Pa, or maybe a quick spin around the 18-hole, par-3 course Mountain Shadows… Choices abound. Once you get to TPC Scottsdale, hanging at the par-three 16th hole is a riot. Hearing a voice over a loudspeaker ask attendees for “Quiet please,” before tee shots is as effective as telling shoppers not to run when the doors open at Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
I’d also work in some spring training Cactus League baseball and for some, when the last putt drops, the fun just begins with live music at The Bird’s Nest. The Thunderbirds, the host philanthropic committee, always score some big acts and they sure know how to throw a party.
Win the Media Lottery at the Masters
While I wait for the letter inviting me to become a member at Augusta National Golf Club, I’ll settle for winning the annual media lottery at the Masters. Somewhere between 8-10 foursomes are selected at random and green-lighted to drive down Magnolia Lane, escorted to the Champions’ Locker Room and given a locker and a caddie for the day. Cameras are even permitted. All working press are allowed to enter the lottery as long as they haven’t played the course in the past seven years. I don’t have that problem since I’m something like 0-for-7. I’ve had friends get picked in their first try and one who hadn’t played golf in more than 10 years go out and shoot the most enjoyable triple-digit round of his life and yet my wait continues. No, I’m not bitter. Not at all. Because next time, it’s my turn! #ThenIcanDieInPeace
What five items are on your golf bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!