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Welcomes the World
TRUE LINKS OF THE WEST COAST PART 1 • The Pacific NW
MIDWEST MARVELS & MUST PLAYS America’s True North
EXPERIENCE THE GULF SOUTH Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
NO. 7 • THREETOPS AT TREETOPS RESORT Voted North America’s No. 1 par 3 course
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A DREAM MICHIGAN GOLF VACATION, Titleist Golf Equipment, Leupold Rangefinder & MORE! SEE PAGE 33
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With award-winning dining experiences, a booming craft beer scene and exceptional year-round golf on courses along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, plus Jerry Pate’s Kiva Dunes and Arnold Palmer’s Craft Farms in Gulf Shores, from the mountains to the coast, you can take it all in.
Kiva Dunes Golf & Beach Resort, Gulf Shores
4 6 26 28 40
TEEING OFF • Our Publisher’s Perspective
GLOBAL GOLFER • Safe COVID travel ideas • Tony Dear’s 2021 view
• Stretch Then Swing
LEUPOLD RANGEFINDERS 19TH HOLE
2BAR SPIRITS IN SEATTLE PRODUCT FOCUS
RADMOR GOLF • Sustainable Style
• Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail • Old Kinderhook
SSM HEALTH PRODUCT FOCUS
• Top Whiskey Choices
PART 1 — PART 2 IN MAY • Chambers Bay • Gearhart Golf Links • Bandon Dunes
• Treetops Golf Resort • Gaylord Golf Mecca
• Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail • Kentucky State Parks Golf Courses
• Kansas: Prairie Band & Firekeeper • Oklahoma: Shangri-La Resort • Minnesota: State of Golf
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PRIZES AND SWAG • Dream Michigan Golf Vacation • Titleist Golf Equipment • Leupold Rangefinders PHOTO ON THIS PAGE
The beautiful course at West Point, Miss., Mossy Oak Read More Inside
ON THE COVER No. 7 • Threetops at Treetops Resort Voted North America’s No. 1 par 3 course Read More Inside
• Sweet Home Alabama • Glorious Mississippi
D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 3
TEEING OFF VOLUME 13 • ISSUE 1 • 2021
Destination Golfer is published and owned by Varsity Communications, Inc.
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EDITORIAL STAFF P U B LI SH ER S Kirk Tourtillotte & Dick Stephens A RT D I R EC TI O N & GR A P H I C D ESI G N Robert Becker CO NTR I B UTI NG ED I TO R Tony Dear STA F F WR I TER S Mike Kord & Simon McMahon Stephens EDI TO R EM ER I T U S Brian Beaky FOR EDI TO R I A L SU B M I SSI O N S email@example.com
ADVERTISING & MARKETING STAFF GOLF MA R K ETI NG MAN AG ER Simon Dubiel FOR ADVERTISING & ACCOUNTING INQUIRIES CONTACT Kirk Tourtillotte • (206) 930-2400 firstname.lastname@example.org COPYRIGHT 2021 Destination Golfer. PUBLISHED IN THE USA. All rights reserved. Articles, photos, advertising and /or graphics may not be reprinted without the written permission of the publisher. Advertising and editorial contained herein does not constitute endorsement of Destination Golfer or Varsity Communications, Inc. Publisher reserves the right to edit letters, photos and copy submitted and publish only excerpts. The publisher has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all material contained in this issue. However, as unpredictable changes and errors do occur, the publisher can assume no liability for errors, omissions or changes. All photos are courtesy of the course or individual unless otherwise noted.
PROUD CHARTER MEMBER
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Golf’s booming — 2021 trips abound for golfers ready to hit the highways and byways
BY KIRK TOURTILLOTTE PUBLISHER
s anyone else ready for 2021? I know we are here at Destination Golfer. Like many of you, I have played more than my fair share of golf since the pandemic hit like millions of other golfing Americans. I just haven’t traveled much from my home to play so I could stay safe. But, I am ready to do it big in 2021 and publishing Destination Golfer has only whetted my appetite even more. My wife and I are snow birding in Palm Springs for February and March and we are loving it. It’s something we’ve always dreamed of. We’re blessed to get out of the winter cold of Seattle into the sunshine here in the desert and getting to play golf! Although, I am bit rusty after a two month layoff. I’m hoping like all of you, to enjoy more destination golf this year as we look to put this pandemic in the rear view mirror. If COVID has hit your household, I pray that you and your family are healthy and safe. We have great news about our publication as we are going fully digital and will be publishing twice for the first time ever with issues in March and May. And, reaching a new readership that is our largest yet. Our March issue is featuring a fandango travelogue by my business partner Dick Stephens. His trek took him from Seattle to Pebble Beach — playing all the West Coast links courses in a two-week span. Something I’m sure that has never been done before. It’s a great read and part one features his start in Chambers Bay, Wash., with a layover at Bandon Dunes, Ore. Part two, will
showcase the California coast in our May issue. We also take a deep dive into Michigan golf featuring our friends from Gaylord Golf Mecca and all their scenic resorts and courses. Michigan golf in the summer is gaining in global popularity. We continue our Midwest focus with a drive through Kentuckiana. We tip our visor to the Pete Dye Golf Trail in Indiana featuring French Lick and a snapshot the Kentucky State Parks golf courses. We can never forget how fun lake life is as we travel to the Lake of the Ozarks including playing Old Kinderhook, Lodge of Four Seasons and others. A quick swing west to Kansas lands you at Prairie Band Casino & Resort and their spectacular course designed by Notah Begay named Firekeeper. We finish up this issue with a trip south along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama and then swing over to Mississippi where golf pairs perfectly with music, food and drink — with a gulf flair. There are also some observations on how we return to travel in the post COVID world and how the pandemic has changed our golfing lives. We will miss our longtime editor and friend Brian Beaky, who ran this magazine since we launched it over a decade ago. He’s a stalwart and we wish him well. And, we warmly welcome our English gentleman journalist Tony Dear as our 2021 editor. Enjoy his Global Golfer piece he penned. His styling has been fun and welcomed. Whatever your plans are in 2021, I wish you good health and of course — hit ‘em straight!
NE02W 1 2
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Foreign and Domestic
Safe planning can bring the world to you in 2021
an I travel in 2021? Where can I travel? How do I find the information I need to travel safely and responsibly during these everchanging times? As someone who has traveled several times over the past year, I can help navigate these questions for you. Of course rules and policies can and do change. Always check the official resources for the most up to date information. Each state has its own rules on traveling there and what services are open. If you know where you want to go, one of the quickest ways to find current information is on that state’s official tourism board website. For example, it’s important to know that Hawaii requires proof of a negative COVID test that was properly performed by an approved location. If your test is not from a place on their list you will not be allowed on the plane. There are several countries currently open to American travelers. Mexico is popular as people are traveling south of the border. There are few requirements for entry and many want to escape to the warmth climate found there. Tanzania is also open with no entry requirements — my spouse and I traveled there in October for a safari. It was just our driver, the Safari animals and us. We were respectful of social distance and it was an amazing trip. Many other countries allow entry with proof of a negative COVID test. Some allow entry with quarantine upon arrival. This can still work if you 6 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
BY MICHELLE WICKS CYPHER
plan on staying long term. Some countries offer options to encourage telecommuters to stay and work for six months or longer. In that case, after quarantining for two weeks, you are there living as a local and following the same COVID protocols as the residents. Rules and restrictions often are modified so it is important to monitor the situation closely before and while traveling. You can mitigate the risks even when it is not required. Be responsible and have a COVID test before you embark on your journey. You can do an antigen test, which provides quick results so you know you are negative before you depart. Additional precautions we took included outdoor dining where proper steps were taken by the eateries. We also love activities such as hiking, golfing, and time on the beach. To be responsible we always wore our masks, maintained social distance, washed our hands and used sanitizer. Before traveling, be prepared to quarantine if you do contract COVID or have symptoms. You should have insurance to cover your care and unexpected costs. Be mindful if your employer demands that you quarantine upon return. For international travel, you are required to have a negative COVID test to board the plane back into the U.S. so you need to know where you can get tested once you are there. Don’t forget to pack plenty of masks and sanitizer. TSA allows you to
carry 12 ounces on board and extra medications in case of quarantine. Many airlines have reduced or eliminated food service during COVID — pack food and an empty water bottle to fill once you are through security in the airport. As a participant in the Book with Confidence Program, I had access to their 55-page document, which walks through traveling every step of the way. It covers essential items you need to know regarding flights, baggage claim and ground transfer upon arrival. It also covers best practices while dining and even how to properly enjoy the beach. Again, please don’t view this story as the exhaustive source of information but as motivation to gather all you need to know to travel safely. The resources are there. Many are easy but you might need to be a bit vigilant in pulling together all you need to know so you can enjoy globetrotting during these interesting times. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Wicks Cypher is a professional travel agent who has circled the globe. She writes and shares her expertise with her clients and friends via her business Travel There and Back. Among many travel services, her and her husband Michael focus on designing golfspecific experiences. They can be found at TravelThereAndBack.com or on social media.
#1 Course in Kansas you can play! Whether it be a single outing or a large golf group, enjoy one of our STAY & PLAY packages. Sculpted in harmony with nature and featuring stunning course conditions, it is easy to see why the nationally recognized 18-hole Awardwinning Firekeeper Golf Course has surprised even the most experienced players. To book your STAY & PLAY and Tee Times Package, call Chele Kuhn at 785-966-7742.
FirekeeperGolf.com • 12524 150th Road • Mayetta, KS 785-966-2100 • North of Topeka, Kansas off Highway 75 PrairieBand.com
Where will 2021 lead us? Purgatory Golf Club • Noblesville, Ind.
Waxing about good mates, good Scotch & global travel that lies ahead
’m looking outside my window at a couple of feet of snow. I don’t know if that’s the official depth, but in our house, we measure snowfall by the circular column of cold, white stuff that sits on top of the circular table on our deck. As well as this snow — stuff I stopped enjoying about, ooh, 30 years ago — the temperature has averaged less than 25 degrees for the last few days. There probably has been a sunny day or two somewhere along the line, but really it feels like the sky has been a solid, dark grey since September. And, what’s more, this miserable pandemic continues to wreck lives. It’s a gloomy state of affairs and no mistake. But at Destination Golfer, we refuse to succumb to melancholy, become downcast, or lose heart. Even if we’re not traveling to play golf right now (many people are by the way, just read our piece Globetrotting’ piece on page 6), the thought that we will again sometime fills our collective heart with hope. Thanks to the brilliance of medical researchers, and the unwavering reliability of nurses and doctors all over our country and throughout the world, people are being given vaccinations that will eventually bring this sorry period to an end. And when it is finally over, we’ll be free to span the United States and cross the globe golf clubs in tow. We’ll play bucket-list courses, stay in fancy digs, eat and drink more than we should, learn local cuss words for poor shots, celebrate birdies with a zeal that has sat dormant for too long, broaden our horizons, and make new friends wherever we go. 8 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
BY TONY DEAR
But where will you go? I reach a milestone birthday this year. I won’t come right out and say what it is, but if I mentioned I’ll become eligible for the Champions Tour, you could make a pretty educated guess at what the number is. Such a moment deserves a special celebration. Indeed, to commemorate getting this far, I was planning on returning to Britain, where I come from, and knocking off a few courses, old and new, with my oldest and dearest golf buddy, well, mate. The place I am most looking forward to returning to is the Machrie on the island of Islay (pronounced ‘eye-ler’), off the west coast of Scotland. Twenty-five years ago — could be more actually — this mate and I visited Islay as the guest of a Machrie member and spent a week playing golf by day (sometimes 54 holes) and sampling Islay malts by night. The course, without doubt, was the most enjoyable golf course in the world, provided you liked extreme quirk and didn’t mind blind — a lot of blind. It was one crazy hole over, round, and through the dunes after another, and we loved every second of it. An English architect named David Russell has since reduced the quirk and removed some of the blind, but word is if you loved it before you’ll love it even more now. Something else that’s changed are the accommodations. There weren’t many 25 years ago, but there’s a fancy new hotel now and the whole operation is rather polished I hear. I enjoyed our humble digs and unsophisticated meals (haggis and black pudding from the local store, with gallons of Irn-Bru) last
time, but I don’t suppose I’ll mind a chef-cooked meal and comfy bed overlooking the links when I do eventually make it back. What won’t have changed, of course, is the whisky. Laphroaig is an acquired taste that I certainly acquired in my youth, but I fear I might have gone too long without it to enjoy its overwhelming peatiness now. Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Bowmore, and Caol Ila on the other hand… Back in the States, there are a dozen places I could go. I’d go back to Bandon Dunes a seventh (eighth?) time at the drop of a hat, but there are several places I’ve not visited and would like to. How about Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, which looks incredible? I’ve played some great courses in Michigan, but there are plenty more I’d like to see. I wrote about Kentucky’s system of State Park courses in Links Magazine recently so I know how highly they’re rated, and I’d like to play them all. So many places to go and courses to see, and soon…all the time in the world to play them. PUBLISHER’S NOTE: It’s with great excitement that we welcome acclaimed golf journalist Tony Dear as editor for our two 2021 issues. After 10 years at the editorial helm, Brian Beaky has moved on to an exciting life as an educator. He played a major role in developing DG and his impacts are immeasurable. Tony has written for Links Magazine, Cascade Golfer, Golf World, The Open Championship Magazine and has authored five books including “Good Golf Made Easy” and “The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes.”
Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail The Golf Club At Deer Chase • Linn Creek, Mo.
13-track trek has become a bucket list stop
hen you combine stunning courses designed by some of the biggest names in golf with a beautiful lakeside resort setting, you have the makings of one of the best golf destinations in the Midwest. And, that’s just what golfers will find at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail. The Golf Trail’s 13 superb courses appeal to golfers of all skill levels. The well-manicured courses are carved from the rolling Ozark hills, and feature tree-lined, undulating fairways and impressive elevation changes with some beautiful views of the shimmering water of the lake. And, each course offers its own unique setting and set of challenges that bring visitors from across the country to central Missouri. According to Paul Leahy, president of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Council and director of golf at Margaritaville Lake Resort, the Lake of the Ozarks rivals any golf destination in the country. “When you consider that we have more than a dozen outstanding courses crafted by some legendary golfers and designers and at some of the most affordable rates you’ll find, it’s hard to beat what the Lake area has to offer for golfers and their families,” Leahy says. “It’s the quality, convenience and affordability that make the Lake of the Ozarks the go-to place for golf.” Recognized as the “Best Golf Weekend Getaway” by AAA’s Best of the Midwest magazine, the Lake of the Ozarks has a well-earned reputation for providing top-notch golf and accommodations year-around. “We’ve heard time and time
BY KYLE WAYNE STEWART SPECIAL TO DG
again from visiting golfers from all over the U.S. that they had considered going to Florida, California, Arizona or Alabama, but when they looked at the travel time and expense, the Lake of the Ozarks made the most sense. For many, it’s the perfect fit,” says Leahy. The courses are spread throughout the lake area yet conveniently located within a five to 30-minute drive from one another. That makes it easy to play two different courses in a day, or all 13 over an enjoyable extended stay. For a golf getaway of any length, the golf trail’s lodging members specialize in booking moneysaving golf getaway packages where all a golfer
has to do is make one phone call to the accommodation of his or her choice to have their lodging and tee times booked for them — all for a price that’s lower than booking golf and lodging separately. And, when the round is over, there’s plenty of fun and entertainment to be had at what USA Today named the “Best Recreation Lake in the Nation.” With over 200 restaurants and bars, there really is no shortage of options when it comes to dining and nightlife. For more information on the courses and accommodations along the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail, or to start planning your Golf Trail Getaway today, visit lakeoftheozarksgolftrail.org.
Osage National Golf Resort • Osage Beach, Mo.
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Old Kinderhook sets the bar for 2021 Old Kinderhook • Camdenton, Mo.
Perseverance thru COVID, hope springs eternal for this destination jewel
e’re no doubt missing a few important details from the story, but the Old Kinderhook Resort, five miles west of Camdenton, Mo., basically got its distinctive name thanks to a connection with the eighth President of the United States. Martin Van Buren, the former Vice President and Governor of New York, and a co-founder of the Democrat Party, was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, N.Y. In an attempt to gain his favor, the Show Me State more or less named its entire southern half Kinderhook County (apparently the attempt to woo the President wasn’t terribly fruitful, however, as Kinderhook was renamed Camden County just two years later). The resort’s original developers chose to link their project to that time in the area’s history, and the 750-acre playground at the southern end of the 93-mile Osage River Channel that forms the major part of the Lake of the Ozarks, has retained the name ever since it opened in 1999. And it’s a name that, in the last year, has reached more corners of the country than ever before. “Obviously, when the pandemic began and things started to shut down it didn’t look good,” says Old Kinderhook’s Director of Hotel and Marketing Jasen Jones. “But when we re-opened bookings just soared. I think when people heard we were open they saw us as a little oasis of normality. They just wanted to get away.” Throughout 2020, Old Kinderhook welcomed travelers from places rarely represented on the visitor list. “We saw a lot of people from Chicago, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota,” says Jones. “Places from where we traditionally don’t see a lot of business. Our group bookings have dipped a little because of health restrictions, but
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our transient business is up 30 percent.” It’s the same story on the golf course, a Tom Weiskopf design that scores a 95 percent approval rating with readers at GolfPass.com, and which Golfweek recently named the fifth best publicaccess course in the state. At just over 20 years of age, the course was beginning to show its first signs of wear at the beginning of 2020. Head Superintendent Charlie Boldreghini together with his maintenance team and the pro shop staff under Head Professional Jason Woods, took the opportunity to rebuild a dozen bunkers and remove a few more during the slow period in March and April when rounds were significantly down. “The course has held up really well and is invariably in great shape,” says Woods. “The fairways are a nice, tight zoysia and the bentgrass greens are some of the best in the state. But some of the bunkers weren’t looking their best.” The region around Old Kinderhook can get its share of heavy rain — sometimes as much as an inch in 30 minutes — and steep bunker faces don’t fare well in a downpour. “Some of the bunkers were being washed out,” says Woods, “and getting them back in playing shape every time proved expensive and took a lot of time.” So Woods identified the bunkers that saw the most play, and got to work. “We dug them out, fixed the drainage, and softened their faces,” he says. These modifications were well-received and reviews support the tweaks. Old Kinderhook recorded 28,000 rounds last year — a very impressive figure for any course in a remote location (180 miles to St. Louis, 150 to Kansas City, and 75 to Springfield), but especially true for one that saw so little play in the first five
months of the year. “We started to pick up again the middle of May and really haven’t slowed down since,” says Woods, echoing Jasen Jones’s words. Jones is bullish on this summer’s prospects. “I think people are more eager than ever before to take some time away from everyday life,” he says. “Whether they come for the golf, boating on the Niangua Arm, a day at the spa, or a meal in our award-winning restaurant the Trophy Room, they are assured some relaxing downtime.” And there’s plenty more to see and do outside of Old Kinderhook’s gates. Just five miles southeast of the resort is the Ha Ha Tonka State Park described as a geological wonderland featuring sinkholes, caves, a huge natural bridge, a large spring, and the ruins of a turn-of-the-century castle. Built by Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder, the castle was gutted by fire in 1942 and purchased by the state in the 1970s since when it has been a popular feature of the park. Then there’s the Ozarks Amphitheater, which has some great shows lined up, hundreds of miles of trails, Ballparks National — an amazing fivediamond baseball/softball tournament facility that opened in September 2020, and Bridal Cave at Thunder Mountain — an ancient underground cave system near Camdenton that’s steeped in Native American folklore and where over 3,000 weddings have been performed. “Actually, my wife and I are renewing our vows there later this year,” says Jones. This year would be a great time to renew your association with the Lake of the Ozarks region, and the fabulous Old Kinderhook Resort in particular. And, if you’ve not been before, go to OldKinderhook.com and begin your journey.
ear H T
Homemade Bucket List Hits All 12 True Links Courses On The Pacific Coast
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Fletcher Stephens carries his dad’s bag on the first leg of a 12-course journey at Chambers Bay as the sun sets on Puget Sound.
PART 1: The Pacific Northwest
A wanderlust journey of self-reflection and 2,000 miles of the road, rounds and memories BY DICK STEPHENS DG PUBLISHER
he term “bucket list” isn’t one I remember hearing much when I was a boy. But, as I age, I find myself not only hearing about bucket lists, but thinking about them, making them and pining for every opportunity to execute them. I looked up the origin of the expression and, at least according to Phrases.org, it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. “The expression came into wide use following the release of the film ‘Bucket List,’ in December 2007. The first authenticated use of the phrase is found in a UPI Newswire post in June 2006.” If you stop reading this now, at least you picked up that little nugget, right? As for bucket lists, I have been fortunate enough to make and experience a few. As a young man, I covered, watched and even played soccer in The Netherlands, England, Germany and Austria. Over the course of three separate trips, I breathed in what it was truly like to see packed Dutch First Division, Premier
League and Bundesliga stadia and feel the concussion of chants and drums and crowds bang and echo off the walls of my heart. To sing and saunter out of a stadium and into the streets of Munich or Amsterdam with 50,000 people I would never see again was an experience that still stirs me in a sensual way. Shoot, one time, I got so caught up in the moment that I lost my friend Doug Andreassen, wound up in a bar full of Polish soccer fanatics and drank until dawn. Another bucket list was to watch not one, but four of my favorite rock bands enshrined in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. To see Pearl Jam, Yes, ELO and Journey all enter the Hall on the same night with my younger brother, Spencer, in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — and be packed like sardines with 18,000 other fanatics who, just like we, came from all over the globe for one night of harmony — was poetry, not music. Traveling to Scotland, the birthplace of
golf, with my father, to see and play and feel St. Andrews and Carnoustie was like being teleported back in time. Longtime readers of Destination Golfer have heard me speak fondly of that trip before. I’ve also had the fortune to travel to Ireland with my business partner, Kirk Tourtillotte, and play Royal County Down, The K Club, The European, Ardglass and others. Finally seeing how green and lush Ireland was for a hundred miles in every direction was divine. By now, perhaps, you are saying,”Shut up, already! You’ve had more than your share, dude.” And, indeed, I have. I am beyond blessed. Sports and culinary lifestyle projects have presented many an avenue and I have walked miles and miles down these paths. And, during these treks, I have taken the road less traveled whenever it appears. When I am hanging over the edge is when I am most happy. I am more Jack Kerouac and Rick Steves than a paint-by-numbers kind of guy.
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Gearhart Golf Links
Sheep Ranch Bandon Dunes Pacific Dunes Bandon Trails Old Macdonald Bandon Preserve
“My 2,000-mile wanderlust trip was more than a getaway: it was a life-saver.”
The Sea Ranch Golf Links
Half Moon Bay Ocean Course 1,027 Miles
Pebble Beach Golf Links The Links At Spanish Bay
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Spyglass Hill Golf Club
anderlust is one of my favorite words. So, when COVID-19 hit, my life as I knew it crashed into a million pieces. One by one, the tsunami swallowed pro sports, golf, restaurants, event venues, crowds and life, capsizing my little boat. For a span of time, I, too, felt like I was underwater, just like millions of other Americans, wondering if I would break the surface and be able to breathe real air again. Sound dramatic? It was for me. I was unsure, like I am still today, when and where life as I loved it was it going to return. My little boat washed ashore, though, and it’s slowly drying out. Some of my mates paddled to safety, some made it back to the mainland, some are still recovering and some are still waiting for their next ship to come in. Me? I have my family, my friends and some lifelines, like golf and Destination Golfer, to help me through this. Like the Gloria Gaynor classic my mom pounded into me as a child of the ‘70s, “I Will Survive.” After weeks of quarantine, masks, Zoom meetings, home schooling, wearing sweats and slippers and seeing wet spring days stretch into what was a really lovely summer of sun, I had to do something. I was going stir-crazy. My family saw it, too. I needed an elixir to take the edge off. I needed a COVID-proof bucket list that wasn’t dependent on an airplane. I needed the wind in my hair and a ribbon of highway to drive. I wanted to feel alive, to hear and see the ocean, mountains, new places and new faces, and wake up each day with more miles behind me. Miles, though, that take me to something meaningful and sustaining. I will never be a historical figure — and I don’t wish to be. But, perhaps what I set out to do may be unique enough to stake my claim to a new adventure. It’s not a moon landing. But, it kept me afloat and it helped me to dry out. This is a story about escape, and discovery, and finding places where I could just BE.
riginally, my plan was simple — one long, hot day of July golf at Chambers Bay, where the sun doesn’t set until 9:50 p.m. I slept on it, and when I woke the next morning, I thought, What if I kept on driving and went a little further? I poured a coffee, pulled my 1997 Rand McNally
“In that single moment, with that single thought, my next great bucket list was born.”
“According to golf purists, a links course is one built on sand, that “links” a large body of water to the land, and maintains the land’s natural qualities.”
Approach to 1st green on Spanish Bay.
“To my knowledge, no one has played all these in one fell swoop, the way I intended to. If someone has, I’d love to sit with them and swap stories. Most are public, but Cypress is as exclusive as they come. Unless you know a guy that knows a guy, you can scratch it off your list.”
The funky cool on-course Clam Bed Bar at Gearhart Golf Links.
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Road Atlas off my shelf, sat in my robe on the back deck and skimmed all the way down the coast to Bandon Dunes, mentally adding up the 378 miles between University Place and Bandon. Hmmmmm, I thought. All links courses. What are the other links courses I know of on the West Coast? Pebble Beach, for sure, which I’d never played. Were there others? In that single moment, with that single thought, my next great bucket list was born. I kept skimming the map, looking at literally every square inch all the way down the coast, clear to San Diego. Surely, there had to be plenty of authentic coastal links courses that I had never even heard of. George Peper’s book, True Links, is THE bible on real links courses in the world. I checked it first, then hit up Wikipedia to see what newer courses may have been left out. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that the coastal links pipeline dries out in Pebble Beach. Despite more than 400 miles of coastline between Pebble and Mexico, there wasn’t a single authentic American links course south of those hallowed fairways. It’s probably worth taking a second to define an authentic links course. According to golf purists, a links course is one built on sand, that “links” a large body of water to the land, and maintains the land’s natural qualities. I was surprised to see that, according to Peper and Wikipedia, legendary tracks like Torrey Pines, Poppy Hills and Monarch Beach weren’t on the list, while others I’d never heard of — like The Sea Ranch Golf Links — were. I can do this, I thought. I’m gonna play ‘em all. I took out a pen and wrote the names of each the true links courses right on my map — Chambers Bay, Gearhart Golf Links, the five courses at Bandon Dunes (Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and the new Sheep Ranch), The Sea Ranch Golf Links, Half Moon Bay Ocean Course, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, and the rarest of them all, Cypress Point. To my knowledge, no one has played all these in one fell swoop, the way I intended to. My next great bucket list was on.
Chambers Bay University Place, Wash. • LEG 1 • MILE 0
Chambers Bay • No. 13
“It’s familiar, challenging to master, and has hundreds of different little humps and outcroppings that make each round unique, no matter how many times you play it.”
know of no other publication in the world that has covered Chambers Bay more than Destination Golfer. Chambers Bay, for me, is what a favorite rock face is to a climber. It’s familiar, challenging to master, and has hundreds of different little humps and outcroppings that make each round unique, no matter how many times you play it. Chambers is near and dear to my heart. I was a member of the first public foursome to ever play the course. I’ve watched a friend spread his dad’s ashes there. I’ve stood on the 15th tee box with Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and learned how and why he did what he did to the hole, and why the Lone Fir is so important. I covered the U.S. Open and
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the U.S. Amateur. We’ve kicked off our Cascade Golfer Cup at Chambers nearly every year for the last decade. I have two eagles on the 557-yard eighth hole – and also two snowmen on the same hole. I love playing it so much because it feels like an accomplishment just to physically walk it. And, without a doubt, the closing stretch of four holes are one aof greatest closing stretches in the sport. Now, it holds a special place for a new reason. It will be forever etched in my mind as the place where, on a 90-degree Friday, my son and I teed off at 4:30 p.m. and watched the greatest twilight of sun, sea, dusk and sunset I will ever know or feel, as I launched myself on an adventure I will
never forget. My son carried my bag on what might be one of the hardest loops for a caddie on the planet. He did it with grace and pride, and he even dropped a birdie putt on the par-5 first. I took what, for me, were the most important photos and memories of the game I’ve ever had — my son carrying my bag with his whole life in front of him, Puget Sound backdropping his ever-growing frame as the sun set behind us. My dad taught me how to play and embrace the game of golf, and I hope that this day was just as memorable for my son as it was for me. The fact that he tacked the scorecard on his wall alongside other things that are important to him, made me feel about 10 feet tall.
Gearhart Golf Links Gearhart, Ore. • LEG 2 • MILE 158
f you asked 50 freak golfers to name the true links courses on the West Coast, maybe 10 would be able to name Gearhart. If you asked the same 50 to name the oldest course west of the Mississippi? Good luck getting even one to come up with the correct answer. The fact is that golfers have been playing on the dunes of this hidden jewel since 1892 – 128 years. Dude!? The place is living history. With a design that Robert Livingstone, H. Chandler Egan and Bill Robinson all lay claim to, this course has iterations of golf that define the sport. Egan is the godfather of golf architecture in the Northwest, having penciled beauties all over Oregon, like Waverley and Eastmoreland, plus many courses in Spokane. Egan also played a huge part with Alistair Mackenzie in early redesigns of Pebble Beach. All this just underscores this jewel of a track. Besides the history, Gearhart has some super-cool funkiness woven into it. For starters, it’s built on sand, with the Pacific Ocean right across the street, and elk, deer and incredible coastal waterfowl everywhere you look.
Second, it’s the childhood home of America’s father of modern cuisine, James Beard. He spent his summers in Clatsop County and his love of fish, game meats, native greens and wild berries started right there. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life immersed in the culture and wake of this man as a producer of the James Beard Taste America dinners and cocktail parties all throughout the west. Seeing the prairies and piers that gave Mr. Beard inspirations for the life he launched really connected a few dots. Finally, the McMenamin’s Grand Hotel sits right above the clubhouse like a cherry atop a sundae. The themed bedrooms, Sand Trap Pub and on-course, walk-in Sand Bar make this a real destination. Their decks, patios and fire pits all touch the course, and the roller-coaster putting course makes it a place that is all golf, all fun, all the time. It’s history
“... the course, and the rollercoaster putting course makes it a place that is all golf, all fun, all the time. It’s history meets beach life, and it’s cozy and affordable.”
meets beach life, and it’s cozy and affordable. My favorite holes were the par-4 14th, with the craziest and coolest blind shot to an elevated green, and the par-5 18th, which is everything you want a home hole to be — three shots to the green, followed by infinite shots by the fire pits at the Pot Bunker Bar just a few steps away. This place alone is a super Seattle or Portland getaway. And, the Oregon towns of Astoria and Seaside, just 10 minutes away, only add to the potential to lose yourself in this golf Nirvana. Gearhart is also the home of the U.S. Hickory Open Championship, where the best wooden-shafted golfers in the world play the best of the best. This I gotta see. Not today, though. South on Highway 101 is more Valhalla. And, Gearhart turned out to be the perfect bridge from the polished Pacific Northwest to the rugged Pacific Coast. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 19
Bandon Dunes Bandon, Ore. • LEG 3, 4, 5, 6 AND 7 • MILE 396
riving, for me, is just as much a part of the journey as the golf. And, cruising down Highway 101 with the top down on a summer morning is an adrenaline rush like no other. For the past eight years, I’ve had a little ragtop in my garage. Nothing extravagant, but trusty, fast and fun. The joy of hugging the coastline ribbon of road for the rest of the week was as exhilarating for me as the links that lie ahead. Something magical happens as you begin to drive south from Gearhart. If you have ever driven across the huge bridge spanning from Washington to Oregon at Astoria — which is basically Seaside and Gearhart — you see how high the land rises above the rugged beach below. It’s markedly different than Washington State. Oregon’s coast is like a mini mountain range, with cliffs and gorges and massive rocks jutting out of the ocean like 100 kraken. It’s awe-inspiring and looks and feels like a Bob Ross painting. Leaving Gearhart, you have a quick decision to make — do you drive on 101 all the way to Bandon, or do you cut across to I-5 to shave 90 minutes off this leg of the trip? Being that I had a tee time at Sheep Ranch in just under six hours, and knowing that I had a lot of U.S. 101 left in front of me, I elected to take I-5 for some of the day’s trek. This was my fourth time at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and none of the experiences have been the same. I’d previously played all the other tracks there, but hadn’t yet played Sheep Ranch. We featured the course, which opened earlier this year,
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Where one great course leads to another
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D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 21
this summer, with a cover story written by friend and colleague Tony Dear. Tony killed it, and outlined the place really well. Rather than rehash or undermine his fine work, I’ll just share my own unique perspective. First off, finally getting to go through the previously locked gate into Sheep Ranch was a thrill. For many years, you had to know someone or get invited to go beyond the gate to the ranch. There was a lot of folklore and mystical aura swirling about the place for years. On my last two trips to Bandon, you could see the Sheep Ranch layout up north from Old Macdonald and from some places on Pacific Dunes. It was Bandon owner and visionary Mike Keiser’s little slice of heaven, or perhaps his own private aviary or clambake party spot. The time spanning the soft opening and actual opening seemed to take forever – but it was sooooooo worth it. It was an honor for me to even play it in the same year of it’s official opening. Driving all day to get there, knowing I had the last tee time of the day, I listened to podcasts about the place as the wind blew through my hair. I knew it was going to be heaven on Earth. From the resort’s central lodge hub, it’s a good 15-minute drive to Sheep Ranch. You can’t walk to it. One of the reasons why?
There is NO ocean links course I know of or have played that has so many holes that touch or are a stone’s throw to the cliffs or beach. Sheep Ranch has 12 holes that touch water! Most links have one, or a small handful of holes, that are touching the actual coast. Keiser has that much land he owns and had the vision and guts to bring this to life. In this case, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw managed to compose a masterpiece that keeps the ocean in play nearly all the way around. No disrespect to Bandon Trails, Bandon Preserve, Ozarks National or Cabot Cliffs (look out Nova Scotia, when the pandemic lifts, I’m heading your way) — Sheep Ranch is the duo’s magnum opus. Both men have said the same. If I hit balls all day, stretched and ate a protein lunch, or ran to the first tee and hit my first shot without a practice swing, it wouldn’t mean a bit of difference once I saw what was in front of me on hole No. 1. I played as a single and went off at 4:40 p.m., knowing the dusk and weather changes rolling in were going to be epic. When I looked down the fairway of the 549-yard par-5, I could only wonder what would happen to the ball after I hit it, because this downhill beauty appears to drop off the edge of the earth about 190 yards off the tee. It looks like
the band Kansas’ “Point of No Return” LP cover, not a golf course. You can practically see the curve of the Earth. I knew I’d find the ball on the other side, but as for what else I’d find, I could only imagine. Like all the courses at Bandon, afternoon wind is part of the experience. And, Mother Nature and the gales off the Pacific didn’t disappoint. The first hole is forgiving, and the green is right on the coast, which also plays a role in holes, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Yep, all of ‘em. You won’t even care what you score. The par is 34 on the outward nine, which I think is Coore/Crenshaw’s way of giving you two more chances to break 40. All you do is look, gasp and tighten your hat for two hours. I carded a 40 on the front nine, but it could have been a 36 or 56 and I wouldn’t have cared. It’s the most environmentally wrappedup round of golf I’ve played in my life. The 10th tee offers your first non-ocean look at the land, with an elevated, undulating green that marks a clear transition between the Hemingway Old Man and the Sea part of the round, and the John Krakauer Into Thin Air part. It’s exhilarating to see how quickly the course turns on you. The back nine has some of Pacific Dunes’ characteristics, but with its own unique twists. My best attempt
“You can practically see the curve of the Earth. I knew I’d find the ball on the other side, but as for what else I’d find, I could only imagine.”
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Heart and Soul
at words won’t do it justice. With the wind and clouds moving in, the temperature dropped 25 degrees on me between the time I started and the time I reached the 17th tee box. Shirtsleeves and sunscreen were replaced by three layers of clothes and wind so strong that it blew my bag over and tore my hat right off my head. I wore it backwards the rest of the round, just to be more aerodynamic. At 326 yards from the back tee, 17 comes north up the coast and looks short, but plays longer because of the wind. I crushed a driver and a hybrid and was 15 yards short of the green. I muscled out a par and thought I had invented fire. The home hole is another course masterpiece. Coore and Crenshaw know that half of the players that play Sheep Ranch each day will have the wind at their back; if that’s you, then let that driver rip and benefit from the 50 extra yards of run you’ll receive if you can clear the dogleg and hit the fairway. I hit an 8-iron approach and putted for eagle. This hole gives all players a “fish tale” to end your round, brushes you off, shakes your hand and says to come back again soon. Driving back to the central lodge, I had to buy a memoir and wear it as a badge of honor. McKee’s Pub is full of the best hot-air stories ever told, and a shot of Irish whiskey and a pint of Guinness salve all wounds. Bandon is sheer magic, and where I want my ashes spread. For a golfer, it’s Disneyworld, Disneyland, Epcot Center and the pyramids all wrapped in one. Now, with Sheep Ranch, it’s officially in first place among the world’s golf resorts. By the time I pulled the car out of Bandon’s parking lot, I had knocked off another five of the West Coast’s true links courses, having previously played Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old Macdonald and also the 13-hole Bandon Preserve. It was time to bid Oregon goodbye and head to California to finish off this marathon run.
PART 2: The California Coast Coming in the May issue of Destination Golfer
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in the swing of things.
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If an injury has taken you off the course, the SSM Health Sports Medicine team will help you get back to the game you love. As the premier sports medicine provider in the St. Louis region, our elite team of physicians, certified athletic trainers, and physical therapists collaborate to provide exclusive, direct access to comprehensive medical care for athletes of all ages. We work with SLUCare Physician Group of Saint Louis University, SSM Health Orthopedics, primary care, and physical therapy departments, as well as the physical medicine and rehab programs at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, to ensure you receive the best care possible for your unique injury. Get back in the swing of things with SSM Health Sports Medicine. Visit
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GOLF WELLNESS WITH
Stretch Then Swing Learn from SSM’s Titleist Performance Institute trained Physical Therapist
e have all heard the old adage “you are what you eat,” which refers to the nutrients that you put into your body dictate your overall health, function and performance in any activity. Similarly, one could say “you are how you train,” too. The way you move is important. Allowing your body to move in the correct manner will not only decrease your chances of injuries while competing in your favorite recreational activity, but it will also allow you to move in a pain free manner with all your daily activities. Rotational athletes are constantly moving their bodies through high velocity motions causing increased stress on tissues which can increase strain on the body. Whether your choice of sport is baseball, volleyball, or even cricket, if your body is not moving in an optimal manner, injury is bound to happen. Golfers are no exception. Whether you are a novice, weekend warrior or professional linkster, golfers undergo some of the quickest changes in body movement of any sport, and that precision of movement is key in preventing injuries. Our bodies are comprised of a system of joints that are either considered a stable joint or a mobile joint. When we confuse the two systems and change a stable joint into a mobile joint, injuries occur. For golfers, low back injuries are prevalent due to the simple fact that we are changing a stable joint (lumbar spine) into a mobile joint do to improper conditioning and stretching. The good news is that can be changed, and injuries can be prevented if we only take the time to stretch. By training your body in the proper manner, you can learn to not only swing your golf club pain free, but you can improve your overall mechanics allowing you to hit your ball farther, and without that wicked slice. Stretching is a key component in any sport and in life that is often overlooked. By allowing your body to stretch certain muscle groups, you are permitting for better and improved movement, especially as it pertains to your golf swing. In order to perform your best on and off the links you have to incorporate stretching into your daily regiment starting from the tips of your toes, to the top of your head. Low back spasms, neck strains, and shoulder injuries can all be lessened or even avoided if you just take the time to stretch properly before your next round. When it comes to stretching and golf, there is no shortage of exercises that you can complete to improve your performance. Golfers entire bodies are constantly under stress from back swing to follow through, and if you neglect stretching each body segment, break down will occur. If you are some one that suffers from mobility restrictions due to tight muscles, this could affect your game from the instant when you first address your ball. The good news is that physical therapy and improving your overall mobility can help. Below are body regions that are important to stretch before your next round in order to avoid injuries with advice on exercises that you can complete to enhance your game.
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Neck The neck is a vulnerable body part when it comes to the golf swing and can be the source of some tissue strains if there is restriction in movement. If you lack proper cervical flex and rotation, not only can that lead to injury, but also a poor golf shot. To ensure you have proper mobility and range of motion, make sure prior to your next round you complete some cervical flexion and rotation stretches. It is as simple as curling your chin to your chest in a controlled manner until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your neck, and then rotate your head side to side slowly in small motions. This will help to loosen up your cervical extensor muscles in order to minimize stress, and to allow you to keep focus on the ball during your swing.
Shoulders When a golfer lacks mobility in the shoulder girdle, this can lead to multiple poor swing characteristics, and shoulder pain. A golfer needs good shoulder external and internal rotation bilaterally in order to ensure a fluid backswing and follow through in order to not compromise both the labrum and rotator cuff. A stretch that can be completed prior to your swing is the standing prayers stretch. Take your golf club and place it in front of you with both hands on top of the handle with the club head on the ground, and then lean backwards while hinging at your waist until you feel a comfortable stretch across your shoulders. Some players will also feel a stretch across their lumbar spine, so don’t be surprised!
Thoracic & Lumbar Spine
Just like the shoulders, the hips are meant to move freely in three different planes and ensuring you have enough mobility through the hips will allow you to move more efficiently with golfing. In order to improve your swing and mechanics with golf, hip internal and external rotation are important as it pertains to both the backswing and follow through. If you do not have enough mobility in your hips, you will pull off early from hitting the ball causing many faulty swing mechanics. Stretching your hip girdle will allow you to address the ball better in all phases of the golf swing and will help you strike the ball straight each time. An easy stretch to complete in order to improve hip mobility is while standing just complete small circles with a straight leg in a clockwise and counter clockwise motion.
Low back strain, and other injuries are very common amongst golfers do to the simple fact that they lack the stability in the lumbar spine causing that region to move more than it is designed. The thoracic spine is a highly mobile joint in which one of its main motions is rotation. When golfing, no matter what phase of your swing, your thoracic spine is one of your main forces for rotation; however, too many golfers learn to rotate through their lumbar spine due to decreased overall core stability, or just having poor mobility along their thoracic spine do to improper training, or just through your daily activities. The exercise below addresses both concepts: the ability to retrain your body to rotate through the thoracic spine, while keep your lower abdominals engaged thus creating a stable base along the lumbar spine preventing excessive rotation. This is my favorite stretch to not only complete, but to educate golfers on how to properly move in order to minimize injury, and to improve overall mechanics with your swing. Not only will this open book stretch help with thoracic mobility, but also shoulder mobility. Learning to rotate more through your thoracic spine, and improving core stability will decrease back injuries, and strain along other regions of the body. You start by laying on your side with your arm straight in front of you. Keep your eyes on your hand and then allow your chest to open while lifting your arm to your side, while keeping your abs tight. You will feel a stretch in your middle back, and your low back should be stable with no pain.
olf is an amazing sport, but in order to compete at whatever level you choose pain free, one has to learn to move correctly. Everything in life is based on movement. Whether it is individual cells in our body, or how we swing a golf club, moving precisely and correctly will not only help you gain a few yards off your drive, but will ensure the ability to decrease stress on your body when playing your next round allowing you to avoid injuries. So next time when you find yourself on that golf course remember these little words, “Stretch Then Swing.” Take that extra time and complete a few stretches to improve your overall mechanics, and maybe even add a few more yards onto your drive by minimizing that slice for you have learned how to move more efficiently and effectively.
Kristopher Gordon is an SSM Health Physical Therapist located in Belleville, Ill. He specializes in treatment of golf injuries and is Titleist Performance Institute Medical 2 Certified. To make an appointment to see Kristopher or another SSM Health physical therapist visit ssmphysicaltherapy.com/ contact/find-a-location
D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 27
Lasered in with Leupold The traveling golfer’s best friend & 15th tool in the bag
he fastest way to shave strokes off your score, says Leupold, is by having all the facts. The Beaverton, Ore.-based company has been in the business of giving facts to land surveyors, engineers, the military and outdoorsmen, for 114 years. Leupold’s just won its 10th consecutive ‘Optics Manufacturer of the Year’ Award from the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers recently, and why it has always preferred laser to GPS. It certainly has its fans, but Leupold regards GPS as a decidedly inferior method for gauging distances. “GPS gives the distance to the front, middle and back of the green,” says Leupold leadership. “It’s a shotgun approach. Our GX rangefinders give you the exact distance to the pin — more of a sniper-rifle approach.” An engine comprising well-established Leupold technologies powers the 2021 GX line-up. Digital Signal Processing, which cuts out surrounding digital noise, and Digitally eNhanced Accuracy which gives you distances to within a tenth of a yard be it on a straight line on flat ground via Line of Sight and True Golf Range (TGR) by taking critical factors into account such as temperature, altitude, and slope all of which can influence the effective. After entering you average striking distances into the device, another Leupold trademark, Club Selector, can give you club recommendations based on your TGR. It’s like having your own caddie without the $100 tip. If you play a lot of rounds at high-end resort courses and take a caddie every time, a good quality rangefinder could save you quite a bit of money over time. These standard GX features, in concert with additional Leupold innovations, give the golfer a level of certainty and assuredness he might not get with other brands. And, as every golfer knows, even a nano-second’s indecision rarely ends well in this game. Pinhunter 3 eliminates false readings caused
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by unsteady hands. One-Touch Scan Mode allows you to range multiple targets with a single sweep simply by holding down the power button, enabling you to plot your way down a lengthy par 5 for instance. Fog Mode delivers fast and accurate readings no matter the weather. Prism-Lock Technology locates the flagstick’s in-built prism instantly and gives you an audible alert the moment it does, and Flag-Lock Technology identifies the pin rather than surrounding obstacles such as trees and bushes. It’s an impressive package by any measure. The flagship of the new GX family is the GX6c which, to put it mildly, has it all. An attractive (aluminum housing), durable (rugged rubber armor coating) device, it features every Leupold technology eliminating errors and guaranteeing accuracy. It features a bright, red OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display that is much easier to read than traditional LCDs, offers three reticles (pattern of lines in the eyepiece that aid measuring distances, locating objects, or aiming) – Cross, Criss-Cross, and Circle, and has a maximum reflective range of 700 yards. Image Stabilization Technology works in conjunction with Pinhunter 3 Laser Technology to reduce excess movement caused by shaky hands. The emphasis, as always with Leupold, is on accuracy. It’s waterproof, USGA legal (as always ensure rangefinders adhere to local rules), magnification is 6x, it features Fog Mode, and the battery will last for more than 4,000 actuations which, assuming you’re measuring twice on Par 4s and 5s and once of short holes, means it will last for about 125 rounds. The similarly feature-heavy GX-5c can actually ‘see’ 100 yards further than the 6c, giving it a total Reflective range of 800 yards. Slightly smaller and lighter than its big brother, the 5c offers three different reticles – Plus Point, Bracket Circle, and Bracket Circle Duplex. Next in line is the GX-3c, which could almost
be described, as GX-5c-lite. Everything is pretty much the same — size, weight, reticles, USGA conformity, battery life, Bright Red Display, Fog Mode, 6x magnification, 800-yard Reflective range, Scan Mode, Pinhunter 3, Prism Lock, and DNA. What it lacks though, and what makes it significantly more affordable, is TGR and Club Selector. Some will certainly miss that particular capability, but if weather conditions in your neighborhood are fairly consistent, your course is pretty flat, and you want to save yourself some money, the 3c will do just fine. At a slightly more attractive price-point still is the GX-2c, which is a great choice for those who want the features but don’t mind losing Leupold’s distinctive black/silver look and the Bright Red Display. The cosmetics may be different, and the display is less powerful (traditional LCD not OLED), but the accuracy remains constant, and the Reflective range extends to 800 yards while the pin/flag range is a more than adequate 350 yards (you won’t be able to range the pin from the tee on a 600-yard par 5, but we’re guessing you might need two, or more likely three, shots to reach the green). Battery life is strongest of all on the 2c (over 6,000 actuations), and the reticles on offer are Reticle with Plus Point, Diamond with Plus Point, and Diamond Plex. That leaves the entry-level, eminently affordable PinCaddie 3, which might not offer Leupold’s most powerful and up-to-date technologies but does feature PinHunter 2, Flag Lock, and Scan Mode in a lightweight polymer housing. Pin/Flag range is 300 yards and battery life extends beyond 5,000 actuations. Waterproof and USGA-compliant (remember those Local Rules), the PinCaddie 3 will ably serve a great many golfers needing accurate measurements to their target. Golf is booming and products are flying off the shelves, so go to LeupoldGolf.com and laser in on saving strokes today.
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Treetops Resort • Hole 8
Run to Michigan
America’s true north points to Gaylord where a dramatic experience awaits
t’s always a treat to play one great golf course. Finding a number of them in a relatively small area is a special phenomenon that applies to only a very few destinations around the world. One of them is Northern Michigan where, among the wide-open spaces, natural meadows, dramatic hills, crystal-blue waters, and towering trees you’ll find a collection of courses you won’t soon forget. The Gaylord Golf Mecca, in the middle of the mitten-shaped state, surrounds the quintessentially-quaint yet vibrant village of Gaylord and is home to a number of golf courses designed by some of the game’s great names. Legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. called the Mecca area, and specifically Treetops Resort, a place waiting for golf to find its way. Golf had in a modest way already found its way to Gaylord, but Jones, in an interview at the opening of the Masterpiece course at Treetops in 1987 and what essentially marked the start of the cooperative golf marketing effort known as the Gaylord Golf Mecca, was, in his way, pointing out he had found a perfect site on which to design a wonderful course. Rick Smith, then a 23-year-old fresh-faced, floppy haired PGA golf professional from Toledo armed with endless enthusiasm and a yet-to-be-discovered wide array of skills, nodded his head as Jones talked that day. “It’s so perfect here,” said the young man who would go on to design award-winning courses and gain mainstream golf fame by coaching Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, and others. “Just wait until you get out there and play.” 34 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
Treetops in its summer glory
Today’s Gaylord Golf Mecca, which has expanded from Treetops to nine welcoming resort area properties featuring 17 golf courses and 21 local lodging partners, awaits your play. Step to the many tees at Treetops, including the Masterpiece as well as three Smith designs (Tradition, Signature and Threetops). Smith has departed for other venues and accomplishments, but he admitted he soaked up all the design knowledge he could from Jones and international design star Tom Fazio, whose only Michigan creation called Premier is at Treetops, too. The Mecca is much more than Treetops Resort, though, and more is essentially what the Mecca offers along with the promise of comfortable temperatures over long summer days on the edge of the Eastern Time Zone. More than Jones, Fazio and Smith have their artistry included in the Mecca collection.
Wilfred Reid, a Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member who designed over 20 courses in the state as well as the Olympic Club in San Francisco, did original design work that remains a part of the classic Indian River Golf Club since redesigned by Michigan’s Warner Bowen. Rees Jones, one of Robert Trent Jones’ sons, created one of his personal favorites and an award-winning course at Black Lake Golf Club. Rick Robbins and PGA Tour player and NBC
golf analyst Gary Koch built The Tribute at Otsego Resort, a tribute to Northern Michigan golf and vistas. William Diddle of Indianapolis, a cofounder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, designed The Classic, the friendly course along the road at the resort. The Natural is considered some of the best work by Michigan Golf Hall of Fame designer Jerry Matthews and his associates who have worked on or designed countless courses mostly in Michigan. Matthews also designed nine of the holes at Lakes of the North to go with an original nine by Bill Newcomb, another Michigan designer. Don Childs, another prolific Michigan golf course designer, created The Pines at Michaywe’ and Gaylord Golf Club, shining-star parkland style courses that first brought quality golf to the area. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 35
Run to Michigan Treetops Resort • Fazio Premier
Beaver Creek Golf Club
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Black Lake Golf Club
The late Ron Otto, a Detroit businessman who invented the insulated garage door and later developed and owned Garland Lodge & Golf Resort, also became a golf course designer. His four popular designs at the resort are a clear reflection of his creative mind and talents. The Mecca is a collective reflection of many talents, and the current leaders believe it’s an unmatched collection of golf variety. “We might not be as well-known as maybe the Myrtle Beach area or the Alabama Golf Trail, but our courses rival in variety those bigger boys in the destination game and every year we are reaching out further and further to the golfers around the country,” said Judy Mason of The Pines at Michaywe’, president of the Gaylord Golf Mecca. “Those who want to have a great variety of different courses to play in natural settings with great weather will want to come here, and once they come they will want to come back.” Getting to Gaylord is easier than ever. After years of wooing golf enthusiasts in the golf centric Dallas/Ft. Worth area along with American Airlines, the Mecca, and its partner, nearby Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), started non-stop air service between Dallas/Fort Worth in 2017 making it easier for more southern state golfers to visit and escape the restrictive heat and humidity of their summers. The effort won a Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration. In addition to DFW, TVC airport has nearly a dozen other non-stops including a Destination Golfer favorite New York La Guardia Airport — bringing American golfers just a couple hours away from the Mecca. Paul Beachnau, executive director of the Mecca, called the honor fantastic and said the bonus has been direct feedback from Texas golfers who have made the pilgrimage to the Mecca. “They tell us that the golf courses in the Gaylord Golf Mecca are nicer than some of the nicest courses in Dallas,” he said. “I think sometimes we take it for granted. We might be spoiled in Michigan. We always felt we had a great product with great courses, and they confirm it for us.” Finally, upon arrival, golfers get more bang for their buck according to Kevin McKinley, the director of golf at Treetops Resort. He said even with the high-end pricing choices at Treetops, the price of a trip to the Mecca remains among the most affordable in the country. “Pound for pound it is less expensive than what people think it would be to the point some people not familiar with us look at the price quote and worry that it might not be good quality,” he said. “We get that from our Texas visitors all the time. “They can’t believe the price and the quality. I think sometimes the Mecca gets overlooked because of that. We have incredible variety, price and quality and we can fit any budget and give you the experience you want in the Mecca. I think that is why our return golf is so strong.”
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The Pines Golf Course
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: We wish to thank the Gaylord Tourism Bureau for their guidance and partnership on this story. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 37
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Aiming oil Seattle 2BAR Spirits one of America’s fastest growing craft whiskey distillers
BY SIMON MCMAHON STEPHENS
ourbon doesn’t necessarily scream Pacific Northwest, but instead conjures up images of something a little more southern. Nathan Kaiser is changing that. Born in Texas and raised on the family-owned 2BAR Ranch, Kaiser not only borrowed the name but also instilled his Texas roots, pride and work ethic into building his Seattle distillery. 2BAR Spirits was officially founded in 2010, and opened its doors to the public in October 2012. Apart from Kaiser, 2BAR has only one other employee (excluding the canine VP of Corporate Morale) — head distiller Maddie Kelly who has made something of a name
for herself in the trade. That such a small team should build what has become the largest privately owned craft distillery in Seattle shows how committed it is to creating an exceptional grain-to-glass experience. And the company is growing at such a pace, it’s literally selling whiskies faster than it can restock them. 2BAR’s main spirit is its ‘Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey’. The liquor is made grain-to-glass using 100 percent locally sourced Northwest grains. At 100 proof, it has subtle notes of butterscotch, vanilla, honey, dark chocolate, and cherry. Another favorite is the newly released Straight Bourbon Whiskey. A full-
flavored whiskey at 80 proof, it sips super smooth. Kaiser is a leader in the Washington Distillers Guild, and always looking to promote his adopted state and the Seattle spirit scene. And despite the pandemic, 2BAR’s popularity has grown rapidly. It mashes more than 20,000 pounds of grain per month with the expectation it will fill 145 full-size distilling barrels with just its flagship bourbon this year alone. With hard work and a fierce dedication to their craft, Kaiser and Kelly will continue producing quality, locally sourced spirits for years to come. Buy these exquisite whiskies at 2BARspirits.com. Cheers!
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Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail just gets better Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort • French Lick, Ind.
Birck-Boilermaker Golf Complex • West Lafayette, Ind.
olfers travel to Indiana to enjoy the scenic views and challenging courses designed by master architect, Indiana’s own Pete Dye. He, along with his wife Alice, created a golf course design legacy revered around the world. Indiana is honored to highlight seven Dye designs that together form the Pete Dye Golf Trail and provide an enjoyable challenge to golfers of all skill levels while capturing Dye’s signature design style. The Pete Dye Course at French Lick is the southern-most course on the trail and is a highlight of the opulent French Lick Resort. The hilltop course is located at the highest point in Indiana, offering panoramic views of the rugged,
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wooded landscape. Every season paints the rolling hills with exquisite color and new challenges. On the west side of the state, Birck-Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette boasts two Dye designs. He rerouted the Ackerman-Allen course, building two new holes and switching to bentgrass. The reimagined course opened in 2016, and has been attracting golfers from far and wide ever since. Dye’s other layout at the Birck-Boilermaker Golf Complex is the links-style Kampen Course, which challenges golfers with vast sand bunkers, native grasslands, ponds, and a natural celery bog. Dye designed the course to be environmentally-friendly, with incredible views of the sur-
rounding nature. In nearby Monticello, the Tippecanoe Country Club borders beautiful Lake Shafer and welcomes competitive golfers and casual golfers alike. This meticulously-groomed course, considered one of the finest in the state, extends to 6,850 scenic yards and is a favorite among trail regulars. There are more courses Indiana’s Pete Dye Golf Trail — this is just a few. If you complete all of the courses on the trail, you can receive a free Pete Dye Golf Trail pin flag — and bragging rights for life. The legacy of Pete Dye welcomes you to Indiana’s premier golf experience. Visit PeteDyeGolfTrail.com to plan your trip and book tee times.
General Burnside Island • Burnside, Ky.
Mountains to the bluegrass Kentucky State Parks Golf brings 13 dynamic course options
entucky is famed for bluegrass, bourbon, beautiful mountains, and thoroughbreds. Spurred by a renewed focus from the state park system, golf is now becoming a large part of Kentucky’s recreational reputation. Famed since 2001, Kentucky State Parks Golf Courses are situated in every region of the state, offering exciting championship play amid the pastoral beauty in one of the nation’s finest park systems. Each course offers an outstanding experience for players of all ages. These five courses have received Golf Digest honors: Grayson Lake, Pine Mountain, Dale Hollow, Yatesville Lake and Mineral Mound. Both Boots Randolph GC and Mineral Mound GC have benefitted from complete greens renovations from bentgrass to Bermuda. Boots Randolph plays along a flat valley with relatively few blind
spots. Blue Springs Creek meanders through the course, coming into play on nine holes. Mineral Mound, 30 miles to the north, is located on the shores of Lake Barkley, and was designed by Dr. Michel Hurdzan and Dana Fry. Four holes on the front-nine provide splendid views of the water. There are plenty of elevation changes and an abundance of on-course wildlife.
Kentucky offers 17 state resort parks, which is more than any other state. This wealth of resort parks has helped Kentucky develop what is largely considered the finest park system in the country. They were created to provide visitors with exceptional recreational opportunities amid unspoiled nature. Six of the 18-hole courses — Barren River, Kentucky Dam Village, Lake Barkley, Pennyrile Forest, Dale Hollow Lake, and Pine Mountain — can be found in the resort parks land. Attractively-priced packages include lodging and golf along with other activity options such as boating and fishing, and great dining. The state park resorts and golf courses are the perfect spot for a golf getaway. If you love to travel, their golf packages offer the perfect mix of championship play and relaxation in the peaceful surroundings of their park lodges. With 13 state park golf courses in a variety of settings, there really is something for everyone. Visit parks.ky.gov to view all theircourses, and pick your park. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 43
Mineral Mound • Eddyville, Ky.
PICK YOUR PARK. PICK YOUR PATH.
Whether you’re looking to rev up or wind down, we’ve got a place just for you. Nestled in some of the state’s most beautiful settings,
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offer a wide range of activities – from outdoor adventures to nature escapes – and accommodations from rustic campsites and cozy cabins to 17 full-service resort parks with restaurants. Plus, 13 nationally recognized state park golf courses get you out on the links to soak up incredible views.
Book your spring getaway at www.parks.ky.gov!
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Your home on the range The sun sets on Firekeeper GC in Mayetta, Kan.
Decadent upgrades enhance the Prairie Band gaming & golf experience in Kansas
hese are exciting times at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort in northeastern Kansas. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and located about 20 minutes north of Topeka, the hotel and casino are in the final stages of a major expansion that began in 2018 and should be completed in time for a grand opening on June 1 of this year. Since first opening its doors in 1998 with 297 guest bedrooms and 35,000 square feet of gaming space, the resort has forged a reputation for being one of the most exciting, comfortable, and entertaining in the state, if not the midwest. It is set to reach new heights later this year with the addition of more gaming space, a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and a hotel tower with 74 guest rooms including a number of exquisite suites. “There will also be an arcade, an exercise/fitness room, a Topgolf suite, and hospitality/meeting rooms,” says the resort’s Director of Hotel and Services, Roman Harjo. “We built a new 20-seat bar in the lobby during the first phase of construction, we’re adding a 24-hour coffee bar, and we will also be offering room service for the first time. All our gaming areas and machines will be state-of-the-art, and we’re adding adult-only sections to the public areas.” In short, come summer 2021, the Prairie Band Casino and Resort will feel very different, and be ready to wow guests with an entirely new look. Something that will remain very much the same, thank goodness, will be the re-
Firekeeper is a timeless layout designed by Jeff Brauer and Notah Begay III 46 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
sort’s superb Firekeeper Golf Course, which lies just across road from the resort. It was designed by acclaimed architect Jeff Brauer with an assist from Golf Channel and NBC golf analyst Notah Begay III, a Stanford University graduate and four-time winner on the PGA Tour. Actually, Begay’s contribution was considerably more than an assist. “Working with Notah was thoroughly enjoyable,” says Brauer. “He was very articulate about things he liked in golf design, which is not something I can say about every pro I’ve worked with. And, he showed a lot of commitment to the course and the client.” Brauer can’t say enough about that client either. “It was the perfect relationship,” he remembers. “The Prairie Band obviously had a great love for the land, and they trusted us to respect it. And besides a few very general instructions, they sat back and allowed us build what we considered the best possible.” Given the 100 percent approval rating on GolfPass and its elevated position in many publication Best-in-State rankings, it has clearly been a huge success. “The site was great,” says Brauer. “We had a nice mix of open land, scrub forest, and mature forest which enabled us to create a really interesting variety of holes.” Indeed, while much of the front nine is fairly open and exposed to the often strong prairie winds, and features some very attractive bunkering (including the Buffalo Bunker at the 6th), the back nine is mostly wooded and culminates with a fantastic long par 4 that gives golfers an intriguing choice of routes to the hole — a more direct but narrower option down the right, or a safer but longer journey to the left. Finish with a par or better at this memorable hole and your post-round beverage in the course’s clubhouse will taste that much better. And you can relive your achievement later that evening over a 30-ounce rib eye in the resort’s exceptional Three Fires Steakhouse, one of three great dining options. And even if it was only a par, keep celebrations going at the Casino Bar with a Prairie Band Imperial Lager brewed by Wichita’s Walnut River Brewing, or a finger or two of Crown Royal or Knob Creek from the Prairie Band’s own hand-selected single barrel. You can create your own end to a special day at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort. And with the resort’s expansion imminent, those days are only going to get better. Visit PrairieBand.com for information to plan your dream trip.
Real to virtual activities galore Shangri-La Golf Club • Afton, Okla.
Shangri-La Resort — heavenly amenities indoors & out
n 2021, Oklahoma’s premier golf destination will soar to new heights as a destination with a lot more than golf. Construction is nearing completion on a new $10.5 million activity park adjacent to Shangri-La Resort’s luxury resort hotel. Best known for its 27-holes of championship golf and luxury 119-room resort hotel, Shangri-La is continuing to expand its amenities to provide the ultimate year-round destination. The new activity park, opening April 2021, will include a new racquet club facility with outdoor tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball, sand volleyball, fire pits, a fishing pond, an outdoor event area, and a mini-Fenway Park replica which will offer Wiffle Ball, providing fun for kids of all ages. Another important outdoor feature is a replica of one of the original anchors from the USS Oklahoma battleship, which was the inspiration for the name of the new activity park, called The Anchor. It will stand proudly across from the new facility and display the names of the 429 personnel who served our country on this vessel when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941. The outdoor facilities are just part of the picture, though. The 11,000-square-foot indoor facility will feature Hologate’s state-of-the-art virtual reality golf simulators, shooting simulators, escape room games, arcade, pop-a-shot bas-
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ketball, billiards, ping-pong tables, shuffleboard, darts, several sporting event video screens, and the most inviting indoor-outdoor lounge area on Grand Lake. The golf simulators allow golfers to play all 27 holes of Shangri-La’s legendary course. There’s no need to worry about sudden inclement weather. If the weather does inhibit outdoor play, the entire Shangri-La course will still be available for play indoors! The Activity Park construction will bring the total investment of the resort facility to more than $75 million since Eddy Gibbs purchased the property in 2010. This addition of facilities at The Anchor will enable the resort to offer corporations more indoor space after their meeting sessions for team-building activities, entertainment, and extreme year-round enjoyment without being impacted by the weather. Currently, Shangri-La has 9,000 square feet of meeting space with a variety of outdoor venues for weddings and events. “We are expanding the recreational offerings to add to our popular championship golf course,” said Shangri-La President and CEO Barry Willingham. “We are also focused on providing more indoor entertainment options for our members and our hotel guests to make Shangri-La an attractive year-round destination for business groups and families.” Shangri-La’s hotel facilities are busy through-
out the year with its luxury hotel rooms, meeting and convention space. Additionally they offer: full-service medical spa, fitness center, steam room and sauna, indoor pool, and a huge sprawling outdoor resort pool with splash pad, tanning ledge, hot tub, food and beverage services, and fire pits. The resort also offers casual family-dining food and beverage services at Doc’s Bar & Grill, fine dining at The Summit Restaurant and Buffalo Bar, al fresco lakeside food and beverage service at the seasonally-operated Eddy’s Lakeside Bar, and a relaxed atmosphere at the Monkey Grind coffee shop, a proud purveyor of Starbucks coffee. At the full-service Shangri-La Marina located adjacent to the resort hotel, Sail Grand also offers yacht charters, boat and personal watercraft rentals, and parasailing adventures. Shangri-La has been honored as Oklahoma’s #1 Golf Destination by Midwest Golfing Magazine and to the list of Outstanding Lodging in Oklahoma by the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. The addition of The Anchor activity park in April 2021 makes it the perfect destination for any corporate event, golf outing, weekend getaway, or family vacation. There is truly something for everyone at Shangri-La Resort. To plan your own island life dream trip visit shangrilaok.com and set things in motion.
Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association
THE ALLIED GOLF ASSOCIATION SERVING GOLFERS AND CLUBS THROUGHOUT THE ST. LOUIS, CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS REGIONS
Providing the GHIN Handicap Service to 140+ Member Clubs under the World Handicap System Conduct ten (10) Metropolitan Championships each season Conduct USGA Qualifying for nine (9) USGA Championships each season Conduct the Amateur Series of Events for golfers of all ages and abilities Providing the USGA Course/Slope Rating service to our Member Clubs Regional authority on the Rules of Golf and Amateur Status
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Minnesota the land of 10,000 water hazards
The Heartland of Golf backs up their beauty with unmatched championship history
e always knew golf was as safe and healthy as any outdoor activity could be — social distancing is built in. Enjoy the Heartland of Golf as they coin it now in Minnesota. This year Minnesota’s golf leadership feel it’s going to be a perfect time to play golf and enjoy the benefits of golf and travel — Minnesota is a doable golf vacation of a lifetime. Plan your visit and play a bucket list of great courses.
The Wilderness at Fortune Bay • Tower, Minn.
Golf in Minnesota – A Great Story Home of 2016 & 2028 Ryder Cup Minnesota states their claim Minnesota has long been a favorite golf destination for great golf quality, variety and value. Plan your trip, bring your clubs and play where the world’s best players convene!
www.ExploreMinnesotaGolf.com 52 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
YOUR “BUCKET LIST” OF GOLF IN the HEARTLAND
Did you know Minnesota is the only state to have hosted all 13 USGA championships, the Walker Cup, Curtis Cup, Solheim Cup, PGA Championship for men and women and the Ryder Cup. And on the heels of the success of the cup in 2016 it’s returning in 2028.
Your bucket list is a click away Minnesota’s “bucket list” of must-play golf courses can be found with the Explore Minnesota Golf Alliance featuring the state’s top public courses and resort courses. The land of 10,000 water hazards has two great websites for you to stitch together a trip that meets you’re your needs. Nationally-known courses such as Chaska Town Course, Minnesota National Golf Course and StoneRidge Golf Club all appeal to men and women golfers of all abilities and budgets. And that just scratches the surface. Visit Minnesota’s variety and value at Explore MinnesotaGolf.com and StateOfGolf.com to stimulate your senses.
We’re Building Game Changers. We believe all kids deserve to feel excited to grow,
safe to fail and better equipped for whatever comes at them next. At First Tee, we do this by helping them develop their swing, but more importantly, their inner strength; with coaches who help them navigate the course as well as guide them through new challenges. Because we know what’s inside doesn’t just count; it changes the game.
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Experience some friendly competition
The APT will play one of their countless events at a midwestern favorite Old Kinderhook in August.
Pinehurst No. 2 beckons the final of Amateur Players Tour
very unique golf tour only for amateurs has expanded to 35 local chapters and will hold a national championship at Pinehurst Resort in October 2021. And, is open to you. The Amateur Players Tour is a members-only international golf society consisting of 35 local chapters organized throughout the United States and Canada. It invites men and women of all ages and skill levels who love the game of golf, enjoy participating in various competitive golf tournament formats, love to travel to play at new golf courses and facilities around the country. The APT fosters fellowship on and off the golf course with other golf fanatics who can’t get enough of the game, its history, course architecture and the spirit of competition. The APT is a option and improves upon the repetitive stroke play events out there and far too commonplace. One way they differentiate themselves is infusing elements of the private
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club experiences by changing up the tournament formats to include match play, Stableford scoring, team event formats, member-guest events, and more. Their focus is always on the player experience with a heavy emphasis on friendly competition. While the local chapter events are the heart and soul of their society’s calendar with competitive entry fees, the APT also provides its members with opportunities for higher end, more exclusive experiences at some of the nation’s top golf resorts and private clubs. These events are hosted and operated by the national office and open to entry by any member of the tour. The inaugural North American Championship will be held in October 2021 at the historic Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. Members from all over the continent will converge at Pinehurst to play a 54-hole stroke play tournament to crown their “Champion Golfers of the Year” in all divi-
sions. The APT will introduce a new format to the North American Championship that will provide each competitor in the field, regardless of their division, to earn the opportunity to play their final round on the storied Pinehurst No. 2 course. The APT pledges to rotate their North American Championship to a new famed host venue each year to give all of our members an opportunity to host and play in the season championship in their own backyard. Whether your accustomed to playing at altitude or at sea level, on Bermuda or bent grass, on tree-lined fairways or open, rolling terrain, our North American Championship will provide every member an equal opportunity to compete for the crown. Visit AmateurPlayersTour.com to connect with a local chapter owner in your area to find out more about how you can become a part of the APT and get more out of your tournament golf experience.
Radmor Golf wants you to save the planet — and look good doing it
he moment you walk into Radmor Golf, the new boutique in Seattle’s Pioneer Square downtown district, the collection of hats, polos, sweatshirts, and jackets pops out. But you might not immediately be able to put your finger on why. It’s all familiar, but new — like a cover song you’re starting to like more than the original. Explaining this business venture is going to take some unpacking. Rule No. 1 when buying golf attire: Make sure your clothes function properly during a round of golf. Rule No. 2: Make sure your clothes are comfortable. Radmor has added Rules 3 and 4: Make sure they look good, and make sure they’re sustainable. Radmor is the creation of cofounders Bob Conrad and Scott Morrison. They met as golfers on the University of Washington team in the early 1990s and became roommates and great friends shortly thereafter. Theirs is the first brand in golf-specific apparel to go green. It’s a subject Conrad and Morrison have grown increasingly passionate about in recent years. “What’s ironic is that golf is one of the few sports that’s played outside in nature in really idyllic surroundings,” Morrison says. “And yet at the same time, no one really understands that the clothes they’re wearing are destroying the earth in some way, shape, or form.”
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BY MIKE KORD SPECIAL TO DG
Instead of manufactured polyester, the synthetic fabric in every golfer’s wardrobe, Radmor is opting for high-end organic cotton, recycled ocean polyester, and nylon (think abandoned fishing nets). The cotton is produced under the auspices of the Better Cotton Initiative, a global sustainability program that minimizes the use of harmful chemicals and supports better conditions for workers. Radmor also uses Extra Long Staple (ELS) Pima cotton in its clothing. These longer fibers maintain strength and integrity — less fraying, wrinkling and fading. A shirt made of ELS cotton has fewer weak points. And when it does wear out, it will degrade in a small fraction of the time a polyester shirt will without leaching toxins. For you, that means a shirt that will look and feel
good for a longer lifespan. For the environment, it means one less piece of old plastic clothing clogging a landfill or worse. Polyester is a common plastic that was introduced as a cheaper way to make an impressive array of products, such as the computer you sit in front of, the range balls you hit, and the clothes in your closet. Being inorganic, these items won’t decompose for decades or possibly centuries. The shirt you wore on your last round could still be lingering like the undead well into the 23rd century. A 2019 investigation by The Guardian found that the equivalent of 68,000 shipping containers of plastic recycling was exported from the United States to developing countries that provide cheap labor and limited environmental regulation. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast accumulation of plastic and trash between California and Hawaii, is twice the size of Texas. Plastic is even found in the human digestive system. “We think there’s another way,” Morrison says. “There’s something we can do a little differently and explain a little differently.” Morrison was a redshirt sophomore from Palm Springs when Conrad showed up at UW as a promising freshman from nearby Sammamish. In a year, they would become Nos. 1 and 2 in the Hus-
ky program. In 1993, Morrison led the Huskies in stroke average. Conrad would take that crown for the next three years. They were never thrilled with golf clothes. After UW, Conrad played professionally for seven years, including on the Nationwide Tour, before working in commercial real estate. Morrison moved to New York City to embark on a two-decades-long career in the denim industry. Over time, Morrison realized the harm the clothing industry was doing to the environment. Greater demand meant more frequent shipping cycles, cheaper products, and micro-fiber shedding - the process by which our clothes deteriorate and work their way into everything: our lungs, our oceans, even our food. Morrison’s young son, Leo, was diagnosed with Bainbridge-Ropers Syndrome – an extremely rare neurological disorder – in 2017. Morrison started Leo’s Lighthouse Foundation, a nonprofit committed to supporting children living with BRS. Conrad was organizing a benefit tournament at Overlake Golf Club in Medina when he and Morrison revisited their college musings of starting their own apparel brand, only this time with a newfound disdain for the harm caused by synthetic clothing. “I just started joking around — why don’t we do this golf company thing we were talking about 25 years ago?” Conrad says. “During those conversations and doing research into the golf market, it was like, no one’s talking about sustainability.” Humor is often underappreciated for its ability to inspire. What started out as a passing quip spurred a series of meetings, texts and phone calls. They raised some money, Morrison moved back to the Seattle area with his family, and Radmor was born. Sustainability wasn’t the only topic up for discussion, though. “Back in college we talked about making clothes with super high-end cottons and really nice materials,” Conrad says. “Comfortable clothes you could wear playing golf, to work, on a date, and that just looked cool. You wouldn’t look like, you know, a golfer.” And then it becomes clear — Conrad had just scored a line between Radmor’s brick-and-mortar displays and the land of misfit clothes that golf shops have been for decades. Radmor’s style modernizes the traditional without going overboard. You won’t look like the 12-year-old grom at the skatepark, but you won’t look like 1970s Jack Nicklaus, either. That’s why this shop is different. “The shirts have some of the youthful qualities we want, but we could see our Dads wearing them too,” Conrad says. “And they’d love them. They might not care as much about the sustainability side, but they’ll know they’re getting a classic, high-quality shirt.” Morrison is influential on design and collaborates with a designer in Los Angeles who consults on colors, stripes and prints. “At the end of the day, we’re all consumers, right?” Morrison says. “You have to say ‘I like it. I like the way it looks. I like the way it fits. I could see me buying this 58 D ESTI N ATI ON G OL FE R
regardless of the sustainability piece’.” Morrison takes a swig from a can of Bodhizafa, and addresses the Titleist 2 in front of him on No. 4 at Pebble Beach. “Beautiful ocean to the right,” Conrad narrates. “Well, except for the plastic.” Thwack! — Morrison drives a tee shot onto the fairway. The store also features a Full Swing golf simulator. Passersby watch the store’s occupants play a hole or two through the front window, wave, and go on their way. Radmor is finding its home in Pioneer Square, a reminder of the city’s uproarious past and a promising signal of what’s ahead. The district was established in the 1850s and gained a reputation for its roughnecks, drunks, and miners stopping off en route to Alaska. The brothels, historians say, were legendary. It has lived to see the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the Great Depression, and two pandemics. It’s gritty, but with a distinctly urbane ethos. Pioneer Square is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and renowned for a mix of shops, bars, and restaurants that indulge locals and tourists alike. You can buy a pair of waxed leather shoes for $800, a bone-in ribeye for $80, or a cherry Slurpee for $2.95. Its charm endures. “Bob and I have been coming down here throughout most of our adult lives,” Morrison says. “We knew we wanted the shop to be downtown. We like the history of it, we love the legacy of it.” The problem on this winter day in early 2021 isn’t a rampant fire. It’s a worldwide virus. Weeks after going into business, factories were shut down and supply lines anchored with a suddenness neither of them had seen in their careers. The rhythm of the downtown retail core has slowed. Perhaps no sport presents its participants with as much anguish as golf. Every golfer knows the feeling of walking off a green in utter frustration. This time for good, they’ll say, only to rejuvenate upon the next birdie, fairway rocket, or sand save. No strangers to the resiliency golf — and business – demand, Conrad and Morrison have used the global slowdown as a chance to regroup, reset expectations, and ultimately refine their collections. “It’s given us some time to reflect on exactly how we want to present our line,” Conrad says. “And I think we’re making a much better shirt than we would have if we’d launched in August like we’d originally planned.” Golfers can buy Radmor attire at the store, online (www.radmorgolf.com) and at high-end pro shops. The store is a short walk to Lumen Field and T-Mobile Park, where the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners draw several million fans per year. You wouldn’t have to be a golfer to stop in and admire the clothes. The pandemic will subside. Sports fans will return. Pioneer Square will draw its usual assemblage of foodies, art walkers, and tourists. “We want Seattle to return to glory,” Conrad says. “And we want to be a part of it.”
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Bon Voyage! Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club • Gulf Shores, Ala.
Roll Tide, roll putts & rollin’ along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
weet Home Alabama is more than just a song or a movie although they both certainly evoke the spirit of the beautiful state. It’s also a mantra for the hard-working, friendly folks that travelers encounter along the way. From the bagboys and beverage cart girls on the worldclass golf courses to the servers and chefs in the award-winning restaurants, visitors are made to feel right at home, ensuring that time spent in Alabama is as sweet as the tea. As home to the original golf trail, modern and historic golf resorts, and long stretches of sugarwhite beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, Sweet Home Alabama is a golfing destination unlike any other. Both the incomparable Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and the Arnold Palmer-designed Craft Farms Resort in Gulf Shores put Alabama on
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the radar of traveling golf groups more than two decades ago. Since then, the addition of awardwinning hotels, spas, and luxurious resorts; exciting craft breweries with medal-quality beers; world-renowned bass fishing events and red snapper rodeos; and a thriving culinary scene, ranging from fresh Gulf seafood and a unique BBQ Trail to James Beard-recognized chefs and restaurants, have greatly enhanced the state’s reputation. Just a few of the golf resorts that make Alabama so special. The Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa in Birmingham boasts an RTJ Golf Trail golf course, luxurious spa and delectable dining. Pursell Farms is just 45 minutes south of Birmingham, which is a unique golf resort with lodging options ranging from a brand-new boutique inn, four-bedroom golf cot-
tages and an eight-bedroom lodge, along with the award-winning Farmlinks golf course. Another is the century-and-a-half-old Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa on Mobile Bay, considered the ‘queen of Southern resorts’. And one can’t forget to include Kiva Dunes in Gulf Shores, Alabama’s only Gulf-front golf resort offering a Jerry Patedesigned course, clubhouse, and fairway condominiums, as well as beach homes to rent. Here’s a snapshot of some of the golfing locales in the state to allow you to create a custom golf vacation to Sweet Home Alabama. Huntsville is a great place to start your Alabama golf journey, as the most northern location of the golf trail and home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. But there are also two more trails to enjoy while in the Rocket City. Wet your whis-
Kiva Dunes • Gulf Shores, Ala.
Lakewood Club • Point Clear, Ala.
tle on either the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail with 10 stops or the Downtown Huntsville Craft Coffee Trail with nine. Lodging options range from convenient hotels near golf to upscale accommodations downtown. Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham is home to two RTJ Golf Trail sites (Ross Bridge and Oxmoor Valley) and the state’s most luxurious golf resort at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa. You’ll also find the Barber Vintage Motor Sports Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, James Beard Award winning/nominated chefs and restaurants, four craft breweries and exciting nightlife options that only a city this size can offer. You can choose to stay on-site at Ross Bridge, at an historic downtown hotel, a boutique inn or any number of convenient branded lodging locales. The sister cities of Auburn-Opelika combine to create the coolest confluence of college meets small town in the South. It’s also home to what Jones considered his favorite location on his trail - Grand National, boasting 54 holes of scenic and challenging golf along a gleaming lake. These two small towns have an abundance of great eateries too, plus the Red Clay Brewery and the awardwinning John Emerald Distilling Company, both in downtown Opelika. Also, the Destination Golfer favorite Zazu Gatropub. When at Zazu, ask to eat on the veranda. Your overnight choices
include the on-site Marriott Golf Resort & Spa at Grand National, the on-campus Auburn University Hotel, and several hotels and B&Bs scattered around. Once called the Paris of the South, Mobile has long been the cultural center of the Gulf Coast, and you’ll find an authentic experience like nowhere else in the southern United States. As the birthplace of America’s original Mardi Gras, a good time is easy to find in this port city. Attractions include the USS Alabama Battleship, Bellingrath Gardens & Home, riverboat dinner cruises, the Dauphin Street entertainment district, and craft breweries. Not only is the RTJ Golf Trail’s most southern stop in Mobile the 54-hole Magnolia Grove, there are several other challenging courses to keep you in town a bit longer. And extending your stay will be easier if you choose either the historic Renaissance Battle House Hotel & Spa or the Renaissance Riverview Plaza, both of which are part of the RTJ Golf Trail collection of hotels and resorts. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are home to 32 miles of white, sandy beaches that border the pristine turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Add nine premier golf courses to numerous activity options including fishing, boating, kayaking and biking, and you’ll find there’s much more to this small
Capital Hill • Prattville, Ala.
beach town than meets the eye. Then, after a full day of fun in the sun, you can grab a hearty meal at one of the many locally owned restaurants that specialize in everything from fresh Gulf seafood to sweet Alabama BBQ. And don’t forget to wash down your meal and end your day with a cold beer at Big Beach Brewing Company or an infamous Bushwacker (aka adult milkshake) at the legendary Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar. At the end of the night, you’ll want a comfy place to lay your head and fortunately Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have an outstanding selection of accommodations from hi-rise condos and colorful beach houses to nationally branded hotels and resorts. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with its eight hotels/resorts and 26 courses at 11 sites throughout the state, and Coastal Alabama Golf, the booking entity for the Gulf Shores-Orange Beach area, are eager to put together customized golf packages for your foursome or group. Check out AlabamaGolfTours.com for sample itineraries and more information on how you can make Sweet Home Alabama your next golf destination or visit RTJGolf.com and CoastalAlabamaGolf.com to book today. D ES T I N AT I O N GO LFER 61
Glorious Mississippi Dancing Rabbit • Philadelphia, MS
The Magnolia state glimmers with Gulf golfing & gaming
he whole world knows about Mississippi at home and abroad because of the famed river. But the amazing state has become a global pin drop locale with weather and topography that is unparalleled. Mississippi has lush, rolling fairways throughout the state, where golf enthusiasts can perfect their swing, as well as enjoy unparalleled post-round entertainment, including casino gaming and the South’s only location for legal sports betting. Many courses have been designed by prominent names like: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Pate, Tom Fazio, Davis Love III and Bob Cupp.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Region
A premier coast course favorite is Fallen Oak, a Tom Fazio design exclusive to the highend Beau Rivage Resort, an MGM property. The 18-hole, par 72 championship layout offers an exciting challenge to the seasoned golfer, making it one of Mississippi’s most sought-after tee-times. Another coastal must-play is Biloxi’s Preserve Golf Club. The Preserve is surrounded by 1,800 acres of preserved coastal land. Awardwinning course designer and U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate designed the semi-private club’s 18 holes. The course is aligned with the Palace Casino and Resort, but is accessible to the public with tee times for all. Rounding out the coastal courses is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Grand Bear Golf Course. The signature course for Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino, Grand Bear is located in Saucier, approximately 20 miles north of Gulfport. Challenging yet beautiful, it is set on over 650 acres of rolling land in the piney woods of the DeSoto National Forest.
Approximately 90 miles northeast of Jackson, Dancing Rabbit Golf Club is built on the ancestral lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Located in the heart of the state’s Pine Region, the club features two courses — the Oaks and the Azaleas — that boast attractive features and thrilling terrain Designed by Fazio and Pate, each course sits adjacent to the Pearl River Casino Resort. Dancing Rabbit is a public facility that offers several golf packages. Natchez is home to the semi-private Beau Pré Country Club, situated on the banks of the Mississippi River. The Mike Young-designed course features a 90-foot clay bluff and beautiful, wooded terrain. Similarly attractive surroundings, undulating greens, and a couple of good-sized lakes are found at McComb’s Quail Hollow, located in Percy Quin State Park, an hour south of Jackson.
Less than an hour south of Memphis, Tunica serves as the gateway to the Mississippi Delta region, and is home to numerous music and gaming venues. Set among the gaming resorts is Tunica National GC, a Mark McCumber design with generous fairways, large greens, and preserved natural surroundings indigenous to the region. Tunica hotels and casinos offer special rates and golf packages for Tunica National year-round. Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point combines the essence of the Scottish Highlands with a graceful southern setting. Designed by Bob Cupp with help from Jerry Pate, the club hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in 2019. The spectacular, 445-yard Par 4 finishing hole, that sweeps left around a beautiful lake, is considered the signature hole. Just a mile to the west is Old Waverly’s sister course — Mossy Oak, designed by Gil Hanse who also created the 2016 Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro. Hanse’s undulating, minimalist design follows the natural lay of the land, and is dotted with mature oak trees. VisitMississippi.org is a great place to plot out your trek through the south.
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Looking for the perfect golf getaway? Mississippi has your hole-in-one. Year-round golﬁng weather. Traditional course layouts and signature celebrity golf designs. Authentic cuisine served with genuine hospitality. Gaming and sportsbook opportunities galore. World-class resorts and spas. Unrivaled beach and delta sunsets. And a musical heritage we love to share in concert venues and juke joints. That’s what Mississippi offers visitors 365 days a year. Start planning your getaway today at visitmississippi.org.
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