The “Checklist State” Golf Nomad Tour – May 2012

My next big Golf Nomad trip is coming up in early May. It just hit me this weekend how it is only a month away. I had previously picked out my driving routes and which courses I’d ideally like to play, but nothing is set in stone yet. So these next few weeks will be filled with a lot of planning. As I get closer to the trip, I can begin locking down some tee times and getting as much reserved as possible. The less I can leave to chance, the better.

I have been working out my ideal plan over the past few months. I had to depend a lot on various golf websites and their lists of the best public courses to pick out some worthy stops. Not all the states I’m visiting have “bucket list” level courses that people aspire to play, but all have a good selection of great courses to consider. This has been one of the hardest trips to plan because the choices have been tougher without any clear-cut favorites to target in every state. I’m kind of calling it my Checklist Tour because a lot of this trip is about crossing some of these states off my 50 States list. I know I’ll still have plenty of fun and get to play plenty of great golf courses along the journey.

It will start with Arizona. I’ve played a couple of courses in Arizona in the past, but I am aiming higher to start off this trip. There are a ton of exceptional courses out there, but I’m aiming for the Pinnacle—as in Troon North (Pinnacle Course) in Scottsdale which is widely ranked at the top of the list for Arizona golf.

The plan is to play Troon North in the morning (after driving as far as Phoenix the night before) and then hitting the road immediately. I’ll have a pretty long and desolate desert drive from there to Albuquerque (“Where the air smells like warm root beer and anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel,” to quote “Weird Al”). There are two courses in that part of New Mexico I’ve longed to play for years, so I am going to attempt playing 36 holes the next day. First stop is Black Mesa in Mesilla. Second round would be at Paa-Ko Ridge in Sandia Park.

From there, I’m taking a bit of a detour on my way to my next destination of Lubbock, Texas. I’ll head south from Albuquerque to Roswell and will stay the night there. Might as well because it’s not too far out of the way. As long as I don’t get abducted by aliens that night, I will get up early and head to Lubbock, where I will play The Rawls Course at Texas Tech. Since I am not heading deep into the heart of Texas (clap-clap-clap-clap) on this road trip, this was the most enticing course I could find in the Northwest part of the state. It is also the beginning of what could be a mini Big 12 college course tour.

After playing The Rawls, I’ll hit the road and head Northeast toward Oklahoma City, where I will stay that night. I’ll get up early the next day and head North toward Stillwater to try and play Karsten Creek. This is a semi-private course that is not cheap, but looks incredible. It is also home to the Oklahoma State golf team, so it fits the theme I’m starting to build. Like many other states I’ve visited, I figure I’m going to play the best course I can regardless of price.

That afternoon, I’ll head toward Kansas City with the hopes of attending a Royals vs. Red Sox game at Kauffman Stadium. The next day, I have another double-dip planned so I can play both sides of the river and check two states off my list in one day. Finding a course on the Missouri side of the city was a little tougher, but I’ve settled on one called Adams Pointe. Looks like a nice layout and a good candidate for a cheap early morning round. Then, I’ll head back to the Kansas side, where my course choice may depend on timing. Ideally, I would head further west from Kansas City toward Manhattan (home of Kansas State University, as a matter of fact) to play Colbert Hills, which is generally the top-ranked course in Kansas. If time is tight, though, my back-up is closer to KC. It’s called Sycamore Ridge and also looks worthy of a round. So we’ll see how that shapes up.

I’ll head up to Nebraska after that. My next golf destination will be Wild Horse in Gothenburg, which is the clear-cut top choice in that state. I’ll drive on from there and will probably stay in Denver that night. If the Rockies were in town, I’d plan for another baseball game, but they won’t be the night I’ll be there. Oh well.

I’ll get up early the next day and keep heading west toward Newcastle, which is home to Lakota Canyon Ranch. Colorado has a ton of great courses that I’d love to play. As you know, I’m a big fan of mountain style golf, so I’m sure someday I’ll spend an entire vacation cruising around that beautiful state and playing lots of golf. For this trip, Lakota Canyon Ranch was my selection.

I’ll stay that night in Utah. I’m still deciding on my Utah course though. I’ve played Coral Canyon in the past, so I am mainly deciding between Sand Hollow and Valderra at The Ledges. Again, I could spend a whole week in the St. George/Mesquite area, but I’m limited to just one round on this ambitious trip.

I’ll probably stay that night in Vegas. I haven’t decided if I will be playing in Nevada, so that will be a “play it by ear” situation. I’ve played in Nevada before and will again, so like Utah or Arizona it wouldn’t be a “new” state for my list. Plus, I am certain I will be extremely exhausted (and broke) after the rest of this trip, so we’ll see how I’m feeling.

It’s a lot to take in and now that I’ve written out this description it’s even more intimidating. I am also a little worried about weather—primarily tornado season in the Midwest states! If everything goes as planned, though, I will drive through 11 states and play 10 rounds over the course of 10 days. I’ll have seven new states to cross off my list, which would bring me up to 21 total!

In 2007, I took a similar trip through the Northwest states and Western provinces of Canada. It was fun and amazing, but also very exhausting and rough on my body and mind with all that driving. In fact, as a lead-up to this 2012 road trip, I will be posting a multi-part story over the next few weeks recounting the five-year anniversary of that 2007 adventure. A lot of good stories and photos from that trip that will help me get in the right mindset for this next amazing Golf Nomad vacation.

Here’s the road map. Yikes!

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