I never thought I’d top the activity from 2012, when I played more than 100 rounds. I figured 2013 would see me slowing down just a little bit more. Well, I was dead wrong because this past year was even more jam-packed with great golf than I ever would have imagined.
2013 found me playing more than 150 rounds and adding 135 new courses to my total list! It’s been an insane year with some fantastic highlights.
I played in five different states in 2013 (California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Alaska), but only one of those (Alaska) was new to my ultimate 50-state goal. I’ll be looking forward to adding much more to that total in 2014, but a number of smaller road trips kept me busy this past year and I was only able to squeeze in one big out-of-state adventure.
That said, Alaska was truly a unique golf experience. There aren’t many courses there and the season is short, so it’s definitely not a golf “destination” for most. My main priority there was playing some midnight golf, which I achieved the first night I was there at Anchorage Golf Course. I also participated in a couple of “Midnight Sun” tournaments at other local courses, though none of those actually ran past midnight. It was a surreal experience having so much daylight so late, but it was a bucket list adventure for me.
In 2013, I was able to explore many more courses in different parts of California, the Las Vegas area and the Phoenix area. There were several fantastic road trips throughout the year. Also, I finally got to visit the Bend region in my home-away-from-home state of Oregon. That was my first trip up there, but it will certainly not be my last. I absolutely loved the diversity and quality of golf found in that state’s high desert region.
Above all else, 2013 was more about working toward accomplishing one of my big personal goals on a local level. I had compiled a big list of all the public, regulation 18-hole courses in Southern California (defined as San Luis Obispo County and Kern County on down). It was a daunting list when I started the year, but I was able to take some huge bites out of it and have whittled it down to just 13 courses left.
I intend to complete that list in 2014, though it might take me longer than I want. The remaining courses are pretty spread out and the timing is not great since winter is not ideal for many of them. I know the handful of Palm Springs area courses I have left will be in nice shape, but the prices will be insane. For some of those it will pay to wait until late spring or summer for better rates. Other courses will just not be in good shape right now, but I may still play some of the lower-end options either way. We’ll see.
With that goal coming to completion, it will allow me to take advantage of more on opportunities to play private clubs (when I can gain access) and re-focus my big picture efforts (and finances) on accomplishing the major 50-state goal.
The Experience of a Lifetime
Perhaps the most unforgettable experience was an unexpected opportunity to play famed Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach. This has always been on my bucket list, but I had it firmly slotted in the “pipe dream” category as maybe slightly more achievable than Augusta National (since I live in California and would be more likely to stumble upon someone that could set it up). Still, I figured I’d never have a chance to play it because it’s so exclusive.
Yet, it happened in November and it was a once-in-a-lifetime round of golf.
The Best of the Best
It is really hard to make a final top-whatever list at the end of the year because it’s difficult to compare courses played throughout an entire year. But this is my Top 40 new courses that I played in 2013 (with links to each review—keep in mind sometimes you have to scroll down to find the course within a larger story):
- Cypress Point Club • Pebble Beach, CA
- Torrey Pines Golf Course (South) • La Jolla, CA
- Torrey Pines Golf Course (North) • La Jolla, CA
- The Running Y Ranch • Klamath Falls, OR
- Indian Wells Golf Resort (Celebrity) • Indian Wells, CA
- Darkhorse Golf Club • Auburn, CA
- Valencia Country Club • Valencia, CA
- Widgi Creek Golf Club • Bend, OR
- Indian Wells Golf Resort (Players) • Indian Wells, CA
- Bandon Crossings Golf Course • Bandon, OR
- Tetherow Golf Club • Bend, OR
- Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (Snow Mountain) • Las Vegas, NV
- The Ranch Course at The Alisal • Solvang, CA
- Primm Valley Golf Club (Lakes) • Nipton, CA
- Pronghorn (Nicklaus Course) • Bend, OR
- Maderas Golf Club • Poway, CA
- Carmel Valley Ranch Resort • Carmel, CA
- Barona Creek Golf Club • Lakeside, CA
- San Diego Country Club • Chula Vista, CA
- The Grand Golf Club • San Diego, CA
- JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort (Valley) • Palm Desert, CA
- Desert Pines Golf Club • Las Vegas, NV
- The Revere Golf Club (Lexington) • Henderson, NV
- The Links at Terranea • Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
- The Golf Club at Terra Lago (North) • Indio, CA
- Aviara Golf Club • Carlsbad, CA
- JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort (Palm) • Palm Desert, CA
- The Ridge Golf Club • Auburn, CA
- Raven Golf Club Phoenix • Phoenix, AZ
- Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (Wolf) • Las Vegas, NV
- Sycuan Golf & Tennis Resort (Willow Glen) • El Cajon, CA
- Robinson Ranch Golf Club (Valley) • Santa Clarita, CA
- Mission Lakes Country Club • Desert Hot Springs, CA
- The Links at Riverlakes Ranch • Bakersfield, CA
- Eagle Mountain Golf Club • Fountain Hills, AZ
- Village Country Club • Lompoc, CA
- Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (Sun Mountain) • Las Vegas, NV
- SunRidge Canyon Golf Club • Fountain Hills, AZ
- Borrego Springs Resort & Spa • Borrego Springs, CA
- Anchorage Golf Course • Anchorage, AK
Obviously, that’s just a small sampling of some of the fantastic courses I had the chance to play in 2013.
Unlike my prediction last year, I do expect the pace to slow down a bit in 2014, but I know I’ll be taking at least one big out-of-state trip and I have some great smaller road trips already in mind (Vegas, Tahoe, and the Bay Area are all good possibilities).
I hope you all have a great 2014 and get to enjoy plenty of your own golf adventures!