Monday, December 30, 2019

2019 Year in Review

Life is full of surprises, and 2019 was proof of that for me.  As an obsessive-compulsive who loves to plan, I hate surprises.  But how you handle these unexpected situations goes a long way towards your long term happiness as a person.  I took the potential bad situation I was given in 2019 and turned it into several opportunities.
Ohoopee Match Club, my favorite course played in 2019
Plans did have to change, and I hated that, but overall I was very happy with how 2019 turned out.  I went places I hadn't planned on going when the year began.  I was given opportunities to play courses I had been trying to play for years, and I was able to have an experience that I had always wanted to in my professional life.
Austin Country Club, Par five 3rd hole
My year in golf travel began with a trip to Texas where I played golf in what I call "The Big Triangle" of Dallas, Austin, and Houston.  Four courses designed by Coore & Crenshaw and a municipal course on the verge of extinction were some of the highlights.  Write up is here: Texas Trip
Bluejack National, Par three 12th hole
While I was in Texas, I got some news that dramatically changed my plans for 2019.  The golf course where I had been the Head Golf Professional for the past four years was closing on February 1st.  The news wasn't exactly a surprise given that we had lost our greens in the summer of 2018, and the debt holding organization that controlled us was facing a decision to spend a lot of money to re-grass the greens in the hope that it would entice a new owner to come forward.  They instead decided to shut the course down.
RIP to the course where I spent seven of the last eight years of my working life
In the months that followed, lots of people asked me why I stayed there for so long if I knew the end was coming.  The answer was simple:  For the only time in my life, I had a job where I was working four days a week, Wednesday to Saturday. And, because I had worked there for so long, I had four weeks vacation.  So, when you have spent your entire life as a golf professional working six days a week and sixty hours a week, and somebody gives you an opportunity that will allow you to do what makes you happy (traveling around the country to play golf), you stay there for as long as you possibly can!
RIP to the golf course that was far from the best in the area, but was still a fun place to play.
PGA National(Champions), Par three 17th Hole
While I was looking for a new job, my focus shifted to courses within driving distance.  I started with rescheduling my trip to Florida from March to February.  A great day in Fort Myers and a visit to a PGA Tour venue 10 days before the tournament were some of the highlights.  Write up is here: Florida Spring Trip
Country Club of Orlando, Par three 17th Hole
Mountain Brook Club, Par five 9th Hole
The month of March saw the first of many trips that I hadn't planned on taking in 2019 but were on my long term agenda.  I headed to Alabama to play all of the noteworthy courses in the state that I hadn't yet played.  The trip took me to a couple sites on the Robert Trent Jones Trail and the Huntsville area.  Trip review is here:  Alabama Trip
Old Overton Club, Par four 11th Hole
Spring Creek Ranch, Par three 13th Hole
After a couple weekend trips to Maryland and Georgia to finish March, I began the month of April with a trip to the Nashville and Memphis areas of Tennessee.  Donald Ross courses were the main motivation for the trip, but a visit to a very historic PGA Tour venue was also a great surprise.  Trip review is here:  Tennessee Trip
TPC Southwind, Par three 8th Hole
Allegheny Country Club, Par five 10th Hole
April included a long weekend trip with my wife to Pittsburgh which was a highlight of the year because of our visit to PNC Park and some fantastic courses on wonderfully undulating property in the hills west of Pittsburgh.  Trip review is here:  Pittsburgh Trip
PNC Park
Springfield Country Club, Par three 9th Hole
Before starting my new job in May, the last trip I took was to Ohio to play several Donald Ross courses.  This trip was on the agenda for 2019 but had to be shortened by a couple days from what was originally planned.  This trip pushed me over the halfway point in my quest to play every course designed by Donald Ross.  Trip review is here:  Donald Ross Trip  
Maketewah Country Club, Par four 17th Hole
Now that we're about at the halfway point of my golf year, let's talk about my favorite part of this blog post, the statistics.

New Courses Played:       190
States Played in:               15
9 Hole Courses played:    27

Top 10 Courses by Architect

29   Donald Ross
11   Tom Fazio
8     Jack Nicklaus
7     George Cobb
7     Tom Bendelow
6     Pete Dye
6     Robert Trent Jones
5     Bob Cupp
5     Dick Wilson
5     Rees Jones

Top 10 Courses by State

34    North Carolina
20    Georgia
17    Florida
16    Texas
14    Colorado
14    South Carolina
14    Virginia
11    Tennessee
10    Alabama
9      Ohio

Milestones Reached

1.  200 golf courses played designed by Donald Ross
2.  100 golf courses played designed by Tom Fazio
The irony is not lost on me that I reached the above two milestones in the same year
3.  50 golf courses played in GA
Z-I played a course that starts with Z in 2019, leaving X as the only letter I haven't played.

Favorite Course:                 Ohoopee Match Club
Least Favorite Course:      Red Bird
Most Overrated:                 PGA National Champions
Most Underrated:               Frost Creek

Favorite Par 3:  15th Hole-Highlands Falls
Favorite Par 4:  8th hole-Springfield(Ohio)
Favorite Par 5:  18th Hole-Ironbridge 

What's in a name

A fun breakdown of golf course names from 2019
(41)Landforms: Bridge, Canyon, Cliff, Crest, Farm, Field, Forest, Fort, Glen, Hill, Mountain, Point, Pointe, Ranch, Ridge, Shore, Town, Valley, Vineyard, Woods
(34)Water: Bayou, Beach, Brook, Cove, Creek, Falls, Harbour, Lake, River, Sound, Spring, Stream
(11)Trees: Aspen, Cedar, Cypress, Hickory, Holly, Loblolly, Oak, Pine
(11)Animals: Bear, Bird, Eagle, Elk, Frog, Horse, Ibis, Lion, Turtle, Wildcat
(9)Directions: North, South, West
(9)Colors: Blue, Gold, Green, Grey, Red, White
(8)The word "National"
(7)Object/Man Made: Boot, Bridge, Cabin, Feather, Fork, Gate, 
(5)The word "Old"
(5)The word "Links"
(3)States: Georgia, Texas, Virginia
(3)Food: Apple, Cherry
Alphabet-All letters except X, Y

Best Scores

66- Athens, Burlingame, Smokey Mountain
67- Kingwood, Nassau, The Vineyards
68- CommonGround, Cummings Cove, Dayton, Maggie Valley

Worst Scores

81-Ohoopee Match Club
79-Austin Golf Club

Highlands Falls CC, par three 15th Hole
As I began the process of finding a new job in February I was noticing several jobs available in the Mountains of North Carolina.  I have always wanted to work in the Mountains for a season but year round jobs or relationships had always prevented me from doing it.  With the encouragement of my very supportive wife, I was able to find a position at Highlands Falls in the Mountains of Western North Carolina.  Details of the golf courses I played while in the mountains this summer are available here: Mountains Post
CC of Sapphire Valley, Par three 8th Hole
Cherry Hills CC, Par four 14th Hole
My annual trip with my buddy from Florida centered on Colorado this year but an unexpected snow storm gave us a surprisingly pleasant detour to New Mexico.  One of Flynn's best courses was the highlight of the trip but a course we played in the mountains with snow everywhere was the real surprise of 2019.  Our journey through Colorado is here:  Colorado Trip
Frost Creek, Par four 10th Hole
Atlantic Golf Club, Par four 1st Hole
For our big vacation this year, my wife and I took a road trip to Long Island with stops along the way in Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey.  We had great weather for my wife's first and most certainly not last, visit to The Hamptons.  Trip review is here:  New York Road Trip
Montclair #1, Par five 6th Hole
Terrace Nine at St. Clair Country Club
My goal of playing one hundred 9-hole courses really took a step forward in 2019.  I played 27 new 9-hole courses, more than double what I played in 2018.  9-hole courses are mostly forgotten and dismissed in the world of golf and 2019 was another reminder that this thinking is wrong.
Vestavia Country Club Par 3 Course
Since I played a record 190 new courses this year, one eighteen hole eclectic didn't seem like enough so I decided to do one for par 3's, 4's, and 5's this year.  It was tremendous fun putting it together.
Par 3's 1 to 9
Par 3's 1 to 9, from Top L to R Cherry Hills Par 3, Montour Heights, Allegheny, Mountainbrook, Nassau, Capital City Crabapple, Sewickley Heights, Frost Creek, Springfield 
Par 3's 10 to 18
Par 3's 10 to 18 from Top L to R Cordillera Valley, Atlantic, Bluejack National, CC of Orlando, Jefferson Landing, Highlands Falls, Ohoopee, Westhampton, Dayton
Par 4's 1 to 9
Par 4's 1 to 9 From Top L to R Cherry Hills, Zanesville, Old Edwards, Old Toccoa Farm, Aspen Glen, Highlands Falls, Frost Creek, Springfield, Vestavia
Par 4's 10 to 18
Par 4's 10 to 18 From Top L to R Crestmont, The Bridge, Spring Creek Ranch, Westbrook, Atlantic, Boot Ranch, PGA National Champions, Maketewah, The Foundry
Par 5's 1 to 9
Par 5's 1 to 9 From Top L to R Crestmont, CommonGround, Austin CC, The Frog, Smokey Mountain, Montclair #1, Ohoopee, Edgemont, Mountain Brook

Par 5's 10 to 18
Par 5's 10 to 18 From Top L to R Allegheny, Lakota Canyon Ranch, Atlanta Athletic Club Highlands, Atlantic, Trinity Forest, Cherokee Town North, Pradera, Cherry Hills, Ironbridge
Scorecards had to be 3 pictures this year with 2 bonus pics of my cats helping

White-lots of courses with just White flags this year

Unlike previous years, I don't have very much set in stone for 2020.  The two trips I do have on the books are a trip to the Panhandle of Florida with my wife and my traditional trip to Texas in February, this time concentrating on the Houston area.  I am hopeful that a trip to the Midwest with my wife will work for 2020 and a trip to Bandon with friends will also happen in 2020.  Beyond that I will embrace what the year brings me and enjoy every course I get to play!

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