I absolutely love statistics. I track almost every stat on the golf course and input it into one of those handicap software programs: fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts, sand saves.
I figure that if I can dissect those numbers and pinpoint my weaknesses, I may be able to knock a stroke or two off my score next time around.
I’ve improved every year since taking the game up again in 1999 so I’m not going to deviate from what has become the norm.
I have another little quirk as well when I play outside my home club.
Some guys collect ball markers from courses they visit. Others pick up those logoed golf balls as a memento.
I collect scorecards and if possible, yardage books from every course I play. I also try to take a few pictures at every course I play.
Taking pictures proves to be difficult sometimes because you don’t want to hold things up out there. It’s also tough at these courses that force you to ride a cart, which I absolutely hate by the way. Golf is a game best enjoyed on foot.
But that’s a debate for another time.
I’ve had plaques done up for a number of my great golf experiences, with my scorecard and some of the pictures all matted in. They’re great for the office walls and they offer a reminder of why you’re working so hard – so you can get back out there and play again as soon as possible.
I was reminiscing a bit last night, going through all of the old scorecards and I jotted a couple of things down. Based on my collection, I’ve played 64 golf courses other than St. Catharines over the past seven years and 130 total rounds at those places – a staggering number for a guy who seemingly plays 75% of his golf at his home course.
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the great experiences I’ve had traveling to different courses over the years!
We’ll start with the golf trip that really got me back into the game in 2000. Let’s set it up…
I had terminated my long-standing membership at St. Catharines G&CC because of my huge workload and the fact that country club golf was way too expensive for a 26 year old a few years out of university. I wasn’t playing much at all but decided to go on a road-trip through the mid-western US with three friends, playing in a different state each day and camping to keep costs down.
We started with an outing at the unremarkable Sutton Creek G&CC outside of Windsor, Ontario, a Robert Heaslip design. I started the vacation off with a wonderful triple bogey on the 520-yard par five opener on my way to an 85, a score that just a bit higher than average for me at that point.
I probably was about an 8 handicap back in 2000.
We stayed at a campground outside of Windsor that night and the next morning ventured across the border and into Michigan. We drove to Jackson to play the delightful Cascades Golf Club, a Tom Bendelow design from the late-1920’s. Gorgeous rolling terrain and tree-lined fairways that demanded accuracy off the tee.
I played spectacular golf that day. I went out with a 3-over par 40 but then got red hot, notching birdies at the 10th, 11th and 14th holes with a bogey in-between at 13. I bogeyed the tremendously difficult par-four 17th hole, a severe dogleg right that punishes those who’ve never played the course before due to a semi-blind tee shot. I cursed my way up 18 and bogeyed that too for a superb +3 75, easily my best score in years.
The next day we were scheduled to play a non-descript course in another state. However, fate intervened on our travels and we ended up at a different place…
The course opened one year earlier, although I don’t think it got much play in ’99. Interestingly, there was no par rating for any of the holes on the golf course…
Who’s going to take a guess on the name of the course? It’s a pretty cool story about how we arrived and I’ll talk about it tomorrow.