2020 was a tough year for all of us. Covid-19 changed our lives and we all had to adapt to the situation. I had to cancel trips because of quarantine rules, flights being canceled, and courses only allowing member play during the height of the pandemic. Overall, I still had a very good year despite the challenges. The main highlight being my trip to Southern California that I was fortunate to take right before the pandemic made its full impact.
|Bel-Air Country Club. My favorite experience of 2020|
A big theme of the year for me this year was exercising the demon of missed opportunity. I played golf courses in Southern California and Florida where I was forced to cancel a tee time many years ago and had been living with that regret for several years. Both courses were worth the wait and were a good reminder that you shouldn't dwell on missed opportunities because you never know when you will have a chance to get it again.
|Palma Ceia, one of a few courses where I got a second chance after having to cancel a time many years ago|
One of the big things I took from 2020 was the positive impact on golf that the pandemic had. The golf course where I work had its best year ever in terms of rounds. Friends of mine that work at public courses had record years for revenue and rounds. As horrible as the pandemic is, it is nice to see that more people are trying the sport that I love.
|This is the sign in the front of the tiny golf shop of a wonderful Mom & Pop course in NC that I played this year.|
FLORIDA PANHANDLE TRIP
|Camp Creek Golf Club, Short par four 13th hole|
My golf year kicked off with a trip to the Florida Panhandle with my wife. We drove and made stops along the way at some very nice courses in Georgia and Alabama. Trip profile is here: Panhandle Trip
|Kinderlou Forest, par five 3rd hole|
Perhaps the best thing to happen on the trip was that I got my second hole in one. I waited 31 years to get my first, so the eight years to get my second didn't seem so bad. The bonus this time is that my wife got to see it. She was having surgery when I got my first and she is actually responsible for it. I was going to sit in the waiting room and she told me to get out and go play golf. Thanks Honey! This one came at the 7th Hole at Origins Golf Club.
|2nd Hole in One and, before you ask, I'm not a fan of those leaning down while holding up one finger pictures I see all over social media when somebody gets one. So this is what mine looks like|
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TRIP
|PGA West, the infamous Island green 17th hole|
|The Madison Club, par three 5th hole|
|Bella Collina, par three 11th hole|
Right before the virus became a serious problem on the East coast, I headed to Central Florida for my semi-annual visit to Streamsong. This trip was highlighted by a round at Palma Ceia, a course where I exercised the demon of missed opportunity as referenced earlier. Profile is here: Central Florida Trip
|Reunion Resort, Palmer course, par four 7th hole|
|Cedar Rock, par five 9th hole|
As the virus ragged through the country in the middle part of the year, I found myself making day trips to courses in North and South Carolina with my wife. These trips were very enjoyable and often involved courses I knew very little about. I decided to do a blog post about these trips and you can read it here: Virus Travels
|Deep Springs, par five 18th hole|
New Courses Played: 130
Top 10 Courses by Architect
21 Donald Ross
6 Tom Fazio
6 Jack Nicklaus
5 Davis Love III
4 Arnold Palmer
4 Bob Cupp
Top 10 Courses by State
1. 300 golf courses played in NC
2. 150 golf courses played in PA
4. 50 golf courses played in OH
Favorite Course: Can't mention favorite on Social Media, runner up was Bel-Air CC
Least Favorite Course: Dan Valley
Most Overrated: PGA West Stadium
Most Underrated: University of Michigan
Favorite Par 3: 8th Hole-Ozark National
Favorite Par 4: 18th Hole-Bel-Air
Favorite Par 5: 4th Hole-Longue Vue
What's in a name
A fun breakdown of golf course names from 2020
(37)Landforms: Crest, Dune, Field, Forest, Garden, Hill, Hollow, Island, Knob, Mountain, Park, Plantation, Ranch, Ridge, Rock, Shore, Valley
(24)Water: Beach, Creek, Falls, Lake, River, Sea, Spring
|(12)Directions: East, North, South, West|
(10)Trees: Cedar, Magnolia, Oak, Pine, Willow
|(9)Animals: Bear, Beaver, Buffalo, Crow, Elk, Goat, Raven, Sandpiper, Shark|
|(7)Object/Man Made: Cobblestone, Limestone, Pebble, Stadium, Tavern, Tooth, Wall|
|(2)The word "Links"|
|(2)Food: Plum, Pudding|
|Alphabet-All letters except J, V, X, Z|
68-Hillcrest, Mohawk, Shepherd's Hollow, Warren Valley(East)
DEEP SOUTH ROAD TRIP
|Barnsley Resort, par three 13th hole|
|Mossy Oak, par four 3rd hole in the fog|
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE OF 2020
I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my favorite experience from 2020 which was playing at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles. Playing at Bel-Air is one of the most unique experiences in golf because of the journey you take just to get around the course. During a round at Bel-Air you will take 4 tunnels, a suspension bridge, and an elevator, all to play 18 holes. The fact that George Thomas actually routed this course through canyons is a masterful achievement of golf architecture.
|The famous Mae West Mounds in front of the 13th hole, restored by Tom Doak.|
The first tunnel comes after the 5th hole. Fun fact about this tunnel is that when the first golf carts were invented for use in Palm Springs, the designer measured the width of this tunnel to determine how wide the carts would be. Those dimensions are still the standard used today.
The second tunnel is the one that takes you from the ninth green into the clubhouse, where you take an elevator to get up to the 10th tee. Another fun fact is that Bel-Air recently decided to undertake a substantial renovation of the clubhouse in part because there are over 20 different levels that exist in the clubhouse, a product of adding so many things over time. The goal is to only have 3 levels post-renovation.
|Photo courtesy of Jon Cavalier|
The Suspension bridge takes you from the 10th tee to the 10th green. Amazing views of Los Angeles can be had from this spot. See the photo at the top of this blog post for said views.
The third tunnel takes you from the 10th green to the 11th tee where you play the next six holes through canyons.
|Photo courtesy of Jon Cavalier|
|Photo courtesy of Jon Cavalier|
|University of Michigan, par four 6th hole|
|Sylvania, par three 9th in foreground, 8th green back left, 3rd green back right|
|Ozark National, par three 8th hole|
Another casualty of the virus was my planned trip to Lake Tahoe in September, not because of safety, but because the airline kept canceling my flights and re-routing me to the point there was no way I could get there or back on time. I was determined to use the time off so my wife generously agreed to help me with a driving trip to Missouri. The trip included most of the courses at Big Cedar Lodge, including that one guy's first public course design. My Missouri adventures can be found here: Missouri Trip
|Payne's Valley, par three 5th hole|
FLORIDA WINTER TRIP
|Streamsong Red, Biarritz Par three 16th hole|
My year in golf concluded with another trip to Central Florida. Besides the usual destination of Streamsong, I was able to play the courses at the World Golf Village for the first time and check out a private club in Georgia where lots of tour pros reside. Perhaps the most exciting part of the trip was the opportunity to play one of the Streamsong courses by myself for the first time. Last trip of 2020 is here: Florida Winter Trip
|Frederica, par five 18th hole|
|Top L to R: #1-Mountaintop, #2-Pilot Knob, #3-Sylvania, #4-Westwood, #5-Bel-Air, #6-Goat Hill, #7-Denison at Granville, #8-Ozark National, #9-Youngstown|
|Top L to R, #10-Longue Vue, #11-Manakiki, #12-Western, #13-Palma Ceia, #14-University of Michigan, #15-Torrey Pines North, #16-La Quinta Mountain, #17-PGA West Stadium, #18-Grosse Ille|
|Top L to R, #1-Troubadour, #2-Saticoy, #3-Shepherd's Hollow, #4-Torrey Pines South, #5-Grosse Ille, #6-University of Michigan, #7-Black Mountain, #8-Country Club of Mobile, #9-Greenville Country Club Riverside|
|Top L to R, #10-Elks, #11-Tanglewood Reynolds, #12-Sylvania, #13-Lancaster, #14-Brushy Mountain, #15-St. Albans Tavern Creek, #16-Devil's Knob, #17-, #18-Bel-Air|
|Top L to R, #1-Bel-Air, #2-Blessings, #3-Nevillewood, #4-Longue Vue, #5-Mossy Oak, #6-McLemore, #7-Westbrook, #8-Rancho Santa Fe, #9-Cedar Rock|
|Top L to R, #10-Barnsley Resort, #11-Mohawk, #12-Manakiki, #13-Shepherd's Hollow, #14-Buffalo Ridge Springs, #15-Western, #16-PGA West Stadium, #17-Black Mountain, #18-Lexington|
I am determined to get 2021 started right so I have trips to Houston and Scottsdale on the books for January and February. March could bring a return trip to Florida if things work out right. As to the rest of the year, I really don't know yet. If things progress well with the virus and Canada opens its border we might try Cabot this year, and if not, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park are an attractive alternative.