2014 was another highly productive year for the Golf Nomad. In February, I completed my initial list of all the public, regulation 18-hole courses in Southern California. After that, I figured things would slow down significantly as I turned my focus to local private courses with limited access.
I was able to play 23 new private clubs, but I hope that number is a little higher this year.
A New Local Goal
However, about midway through the year, I was itching to play more “new” courses. I ultimately made the decision to officially check off EVERY public course in Southern California (including all par-3, 9-hole and executive tracks). Since then, I’ve done many of my “Short Course Blitzes” to knock out several of them within a day. At times, it’s been fun and I found a few hidden gems. At other times, it’s been a bit of a grind playing some of the lowest-end courses around.
Between all those short courses, plenty of other local rounds, a handful of road trips to Arizona, Nevada and Northern California, I ended up playing 222 rounds in 2014 and adding 173 new courses to my total list!
Of course, I took two big multi-state trips and checked off 10 more states, despite some sketchy weather. In April/May, I ventured to the South and Gulf Coast region. I visited Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. I got chased by tornadoes, which sucked, but also got to play several stops along the famed Robert Trent Jones Trail, which was awesome.
In July, I took a brief trip to the Northeast, where I played six states in three days (Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey). I caught the tail end of an east coast hurricane while in New York, which only helped me in getting on the famed Bethpage Black course the next morning with fewer crowds than normal.
August was one of the busiest months for me with a trip to Monterey, a trip to Vegas (which included my 500th course played, Cascata) and an interesting low/high double-dip day. I was able to play the lowest-elevation course in the world (Furnace Creek in Death Valley) and the highest course in California (Sierra Star in Mammoth Lakes) on the same day.
November was also a very busy month. I took a couple road trips out to Nevada, first to Coyote Springs and Vegas and then out to Mesquite (and briefly into St. George, UT for a round) over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Looking Ahead to 2015
As I write this, I’m not far from completing my SoCal short course list, so that quest will probably be done within the next couple months if all goes as planned.
I have a couple of military courses I need to play, including China Lake and Sea ‘N Air, though the latter is much tougher to access as a civilian. Also, I’m very much looking forward to visiting the recently reopened Rams Hill down in Borrego Springs. Warner Springs Ranch out that way is also set to reopen this year. Also, Hawk’s Landing (formerly Blue Skies CC) in Yucca Valley is set to reopen sometime soon as a unique 12-hole layout.
Then, I swear I will probably go back to choosing quality over quantity. I hope to replay some more courses that I haven’t played in a long time (and thus haven’t reviewed yet for this blog). Also, I plan to ramp up my efforts to play more private courses when I can. By the way, if anyone out there is or knows a member at any SoCal private clubs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, I can also devote more time, money and energy toward a few bigger trips later this year. I definitely plan to take at least one big multi-state trip this summer. Currently, I’m leaning toward the upper-Midwest. The big target is Wisconsin, home to several bucket list courses like Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run and Erin Hills. I would hope to take care of the rest of that region (Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas) in the same trip.
We’ll see what happens. My thoughts and plans always evolve as the year goes on.
As always, I sat down and ranked my top new courses played in 2014. It is never easy, but I boiled it down to my Top 50 of the 96 new regulation courses I added to my list. Since short courses were such a part of my life during the latter half of the year, I also decided to make a list of my Top 20 new SoCal short courses played.
I played some well-known courses this year including Bethpage Black, TPC Louisiana, Cascata, Sherwood, Fallen Oak and the RTJ Trail, but my absolute favorite was the Lake of Isles North Course in Connecticut. It was designed by Rees Jones, who is responsible for both of the top two courses on this year’s list. And of course, his father, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. is the inspiration behind all those Alabama courses I played, too. Almost all of them made this list, hence the name of this article if you didn’t pick up on that.
- Lake of Isles (North Course) • North Stonington, CT
- Cascata • Boulder City, NV
- Sherwood Country Club • Thousand Oaks, CA
- Fallen Oak Golf Club • Saucier, MS
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Capitol Hill-Judge) • Prattville, AL
- Bethpage State Park (Black Course) • Old Bethpage, NY
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Ross Bridge) • Hoover, AL
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Grand National-Lake) • Opelika, AL
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Grand National-Links) • Opelika, AL
- Okemo Valley Golf Club • Ludlow, VT
- Conestoga Golf Club • Mesquite, NV
- Hacienda Golf Club • La Habra Heights, CA
- Dove Canyon Golf Club • Dove Canyon, CA
- Sierra Star Golf Club • Mammoth Lakes, CA
- Laughlin Ranch Golf Club • Bullhead City, AZ
- Bayonet & Black Horse (Black Horse Golf Course) • Seaside, CA
- Coyote Springs Golf Club • Coyote Springs, NV
- Falcon Ridge Golf Course • Mesquite, NV
- Mojave Resort Golf Club • Laughlin, NV
- Pelican Hill Golf Club (Ocean North) • Newport Coast, CA
- The Bluffs Golf Resort • St. Francisville, LA
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Magnolia Grove-Falls) • Mobile, AL
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Magnolia Grove-Crossings) • Mobile, AL
- Newport National Golf Club (The Orchard Course) • Middletown, RI
- Taconic Golf Club • Williamstown, MA
- Desert Island Golf & Country Club • Rancho Mirage, CA
- The Club at Crazy Horse Ranch • Salinas, CA
- Saticoy Country Club • Somis, CA
- Bear’s Best Las Vegas • Las Vegas, NV
- Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort (Resort Course) • Palm Springs, CA
- La Costa Resort & Spa (Legends Course) • Carlsbad, CA
- San Luis Obispo Country Club • San Luis Obispo, CA
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Capitol Hill-Senator) • Prattville, AL
- TPC Louisiana • Avondale, LA
- Emerald Canyon Golf Course • Parker, AZ
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Capitol Hill-Legislator) • Prattville, AL
- The Refuge Golf & Country Club • Lake Havasu City, AZ
- Aliso Viejo Country Club • Aliso Viejo, CA
- Los Lagos Golf Club • Fort Mohave, AZ
- Neshanic Valley Golf Course • Neshanic Station, NJ
- Crystalaire Country Club • Llano, CA
- Heritage Palms Golf Club • Indio, CA
- TPC Valencia • Valencia, CA
- Whitney Oaks Golf Club • Rocklin, CA
- Mountain Ranch Golf Club • Fairfield Bay, AR
- Western Hills Country Club • Chino Hills, CA
- River Island Country Club • Porterville, CA
- Montecito Country Club • Santa Barbara, CA
- Black Bear Golf Club • Delhi, LA
- Indian Wells Country Club (Classic) • Indian Wells, CA
Top 20 Short Courses:
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Grand National-Short) • Opelika, AL
- Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (Magnolia Grove-Short) • Mobile, AL
- Snowcreek Resort Golf Course • Mammoth Lakes, CA
- The Oasis Country Club • Palm Desert, CA
- Ashwood Golf Course • Apple Valley, CA
- Angel Park Golf Club (Cloud Nine) • Las Vegas, NV
- Welk Resort San Diego (Fountains Course) • Escondido, CA
- Monterey Pines Golf Club • Monterey, CA
- Vista Valencia Golf Course (Vista) • Valencia, CA
- Westlake Golf Course • Westlake Village, CA
- Oaks North Golf Course • San Diego, CA
- Roosevelt Golf Course • Los Angeles, CA
- The “New” Vineyards RV Resort & Golf Course • Coachella, CA
- Colina Park Golf Course • San Diego, CA
- Date Palm Country Club • Cathedral City, CA
- Bixby Village Golf Course • Long Beach, CA
- Tecolote Canyon Golf Course • San Diego, CA
- Westchester Golf Course • Los Angeles, CA
- Reidy Creek Golf Course • Escondido, CA
- Cerritos Iron-Wood Nine Golf Course • Cerritos, CA