It was a few weeks when I was taking a morning flight from Detroit to Chicago Midway airport. As the blue and orange Southwest plane descended over the South Side of Chicago, I was able to see far northern part of Beverly Country Club. I could only see a couple of holes — a par 3 that runs to the southwest and a dogleg par 4 that runs along the northern border of the course.
It was a quick glimpse of a Donald Ross course that is supposed to be quite good and the sight of the course allowed me to think about golf for a few minutes instead of the fact that a delay out of Detroit meant I wasn’t going to make my connecting flight.
A few days later, I was in Fort Worth, Texas and I spent a little bit of a Sunday afternoon trying to see how much of Colonial Country Club I could see from the road. With a couple of hours to kill, I drove around the perimeter of the Perry Maxwell course that I had only previously seen on television. The fence around the perimeter didn’t allow me to see much, but it was worth a shot.
For me, 2013 was the year I got back on the road. During my days as a sportswriter, travel was a big part of my job. For at least part of the year, I was one the road on a near weekly basis. But over the past six years or so — when I transitioned to being a metro reporter and then moved into the PR world — there was nearly zero work travel.
With a new job that started in early 2014, I again hit the road. I think I made 10 work trips over the final nine months of the year, trips that included the following stops: Dallas, Phoenix, New York, Miami, Houston-Austin-San Antonio, Dallas-Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Memphis-Little Rock, San Antonio (again), Detroit, Dallas (for a third time).
I certainly didn’t play golf on every trip, but I did tee it up on four of the trips. But I probably included a little bit of golf on nearly every trip. As was the case in Fort Worth, I’m a bit of a golf course stalker. If I’m staying near someplace cool or even if I’m nearby, I’m probably going to at least give a course a drive-by. Sometimes I look from the perimeter, sometimes I’ll swing through the parking lot. I checked out the parking lot at Oak Hill CC in San Antonio, a Tillinghast that was hosting the Texas Mid-Am when I was there. I drove around the perimeter of TPC Southwind in Memphis, a course that hosts a PGA Tour event and was basically right next to my hotel. We have a store right near Chenal CC in Little Rock, so I drove by there. When I stayed in New Jersey, there was a double — I stayed near Ridgewood CC (a classic Tilly that hosted a Ryder Cup) and there was a PGA Tour Superstore where I found a bunch of sweet logo Pro V1s from clubs including Chicago Golf, Butler National and Southern Hills.
Being on the road did allow me to actually play a little golf as well. In addition to the biggest surprise of 2013 (a topic for a separate post), I got an early start on my season in Phoenix, played my first ever Perry Maxwell course during a trip to Oklahoma City and spent a lovely afternoon on a Seth Raynor design outside of New Orleans.
A couple of the highlights:
Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club
While I had been fortunate to play courses designed by most of the the Golden Era architects, I had never played a Perry Maxwell course until I had an open late afternoon in Oklahoma City. After a morning of meetings and visits, I rolled to the course and teed off about 3 p.m. It was a lovely afternoon, there weren’t many people around and I played in about three hours.
I’m not going to give a hole-by-hole, but will simply say that the routing is really good, there’s great use of the rolling terrain and the greens are super interesting. When I walked off the 18th green and headed to my rental car, my biggest takeaway was that I wanted to see more Maxwell moving forward.
Metairie Country Club
In early November, I had a couple of days of meetings in New Orleans. I had to be in place on Monday morning, so I had travel on Sunday. With that being the case, my strategy was to fly immediately in the morning and play golf in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon. Throw in the ability to play a Seth Raynor design and this was a total no-brainer.
Metairie is an interesting golf course. Before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Metairie was a course that had too many trees and the word is that there were places where you could be in the fairway and not really have a shot thanks to overhanging branches (one of my least favorite things).
After Katrina hit, much of the course was under water and hundreds of trees were lost. The golf course is pretty cool. There are some interesting holes and some good greens.
Below is a picture of the punchbowl green. I only had a pitching wedge into this green, but that didn’t make it a lock that I was going to make birdie. You have to hit a good shot or it is going to take you more than one putt.
All told, it was a good year of being back on the road. The result was being able to see some cool new courses. The reality is that I had never had an ability to play golf in Oklahoma City and who knows if or when that might be an option. It certainly wasn’t out of the possibility that I would be back in New Orleans, but who knows when that might have happened.
The takeaway: Golf makes business travel better.