A “Good Old Boy” for a Day in Oklahoma

This morning was a bit of an adventure, but my trials and tribulations in Oklahoma began several weeks back. When I originally planned this trip (beginning last year), one of the main courses I wanted to hit was Karsten Creek in Stillwater. It’s a bit expensive as a semi-private club and the home to Oklahoma State University’s golf team (Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Charles Howell III being a few of the notable alumni).

I had everything all planned out as far as the routes I would be driving, which days would be in which state, etc. When I called a couple of weeks ago to book my time at Karsten, they informed me they’d be closed today because of a big OK high school championship tournament and would have limited openings the entire week because of that event. So I was screwed and wasn’t going to be able to play this course no matter how I structured the trip.

As I researched a back-up course, the next best in line near the Oklahoma City area was Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, which is the home of the cross-state rival, Oklahoma University. So I thought that would be fun to stick it to OSU in my own little way and play the OU course. However, when I called last week to inquire about a time there this morning, they informed me they would be closed today for maintenance!

As I did more research in the OKC area, there weren’t any other courses that struck my fancy, so I had to look further east in Tulsa. It changed my driving routes a little bit, but there was a highly ranked course in Broken Arrow called Forest Ridge Golf Club. I called them last week as well and they let me know they had their own event going on today. Fortunately it was in the afternoon and they would be teeing off others at 8:00 am in a shotgun format to clear the course up for the event later in the day. They wouldn’t let me book a time as a single, but the guy seemed very confident I’d have no problems showing up and getting out in that group.

I drove all the way through to Tulsa last night. Tulsa has a number of toll road Turnpikes, which gave me some headaches last night on the way into town and again this morning on the way to the course. But once I got to the course, any concerns I had about the day were quickly wiped away.

The course looked gorgeous from the clubhouse. Just green and lush. A ton of trees, birds chirping everywhere, the sun peaking out through the morning clouds. A beautiful sight that made me feel great about my back-up, back-up course selection.

Once we got out on the course (our group started on hole 3), the course wasn’t in as beautiful a shape as I thought. It was still in great shape, just not as immaculate as it looked from the clubhouse. It was a fun and beautiful course winding through the trees. Water comes into play on a number of holes and all holes are framed nicely by a thick row of trees and deep underbrush. Very picturesque.

The course was a fun design. Some holes pretty tight with doglegs around the trees. Others more wide open. Good variety of distances and angles, so most every hole had its own feel. It wasn’t the most amazing course I’ve ever played, but it was a great layout in a pretty setting. It was in really nice condition and it the weather was excellent. Fast greens, great fairways and medium rough. Top-notch facility all around.

I think I was the only non “local” out on the course today, so I felt a bit like a stranger in a strange land. Seems to be more of a local course played mostly by regulars who all know each other than any real out-of-town draw, but it was worth the jaunt out there. I played with three older gentlemen who made me feel right at home in Oklahoma. I felt like one of the “good old boys” today and we had a lot of fun during the round.

Some pictures from Forest Ridge Golf Club (5/8/12):

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My round was finished in about four hours, so I hit the road again. I went northeast toward Joplin, Missouri, where I stopped and ate at a Steak n Shake (I know it’s a big chain, but not where I come from, so it’s new to me). Then I headed due north from there toward Kansas City. I’m staying in Independence tonight (just east of KC) and I just got back from the Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. It was a great game as they came back in the bottom of the 8th against the Red Sox on a three-run Billy Butler bomb into the outfield fountains.

The stadium was nice. It wasn’t super crowded, but there was a decent amount of people there. Definitely a different experience than I’m used to at Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium. Getting into and out of the parking lot was a breeze. There were hardly any lines at concession stands. I had a BBQ sandwich and cheesy corn from one of the concessions (had to get some kind of barbecue goodies while in KC). Pretty tasty stuff.

Here are a few pictures from the stadium, in case you are interested:

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Tomorrow I am playing at Sycamore Ridge on the Kansas side of town and then I’ll be playing in the afternoon somewhere on the Missouri side. I’ve had a few courses I’ve been looking into and fortunately I rolled into town early this evening and was able to “scout” out a few of them (Swope Memorial, Stone Canyon and Adams Pointe). All looked like nice courses, but I am leaning back toward Swope now. It looks like a fun, old-school city course. Hilly and with some good views of the city. My main worry was that this was a cheap “muni” course. My fear it would be crowded and/or in poor shape. The conditions looked great.

I was actually less impressed when I did a drive-by of Stone Canyon. I was intrigued by this one being a Greg Norman design. Looks like more of a links style and the scenery around the course (at least what I could see from the road and parking lot) looked a bit less enticing. I’m sure it’s a neat course, but nothing I would regret not playing. Adams Pointe also looked to be in nice shape and looked like a nice course overall. So it’s probably my second choice.

I’ll plan to play it by ear once I finish my first round. I may end up calling around to see which course seems ready to take me on as a single. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow how it all shakes out. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be my “longest” day on the trip as I’ll be playing 36 holes in two different states and then driving well into Nebraska. So I’ll be rolling in late and will have plenty of stuff to post here with two courses to review.

DAY SIX: 341.5 Miles

TOTAL: 2328.1 Miles

Previous Day: The Rawls Course at Texas Tech (TX)

Next Day: Sycamore Ridge (KS) and Swope Memorial (MO)

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