A few months ago, as my dad, brother, and I trudged up the hill leading from the 18th green at Whistling Straits to the clubhouse, three souls conquered in varying degrees by an identical foe, a familiar feeling of satisfaction brewed from within. In golf, like travel, bucket lists are formed naturally over the years, and few things can bring more satisfaction than scratching one off the proverbial list.
Where golf adds an additional layer of achievement that can't be found in other sports is our ability to play in the same "stadiums" as the greats of the game. While most can only dream of setting foot on the playing surfaces at Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, or Old Trafford, all one has to do to make a tee time at Pebble Beach is simply make a phone call and submit a request to bump your available credit with American Express. And while I may never forget the first time I laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower or Westminster Abbey, not even they can top the feeling of teeing it up at on one of the iconic venues in golf.
So after a year where a multitude of courses were scratched off my old bucket list, I've decided it's time to make a new one. These courses are in no particular order, the only criteria to their selection was that they had to be reasonably "public" and not require knowing a Rockefeller to gain entry.
The Home of Golf - is further explanation really needed? To marvel at the R&A clubhouse and then turn and stripe one down the first hole in golf's preeminent shrine is a dream of anyone that's ever picked up a club. The Road Hole and the Swilcan Bridge would certainly be a thrill, but for me perhaps the best part of the day would come after the round with a pint at the Jigger Inn.
Emirates Golf Club
This entry has really nothing to do with golf. Sure, the course plays host to the Dubai Desert Classic, but the real reason for adding it to the list is Dubai itself. Climbing aboard an Emirates A380 and checking into the Burj al Arab has ranked high on my general bucket list for quite some time. Playing golf in the desert would just be a bonus.
Bandon Dunes is all the rage. Of course, it's for good reason. A stretch of Oregon's coastline has been transformed into a golfer's heaven, with multiple courses plunked down right alongside the Pacific in recent years. While any of the lot would certainly beat a day at the local Muni, Pacific Dunes is usually regarded as the best in brand. Of course, there's not much to Bandon besides golf, but I'm not really to sure what else anyone could need...
Often regarded as the "king of Scottish links courses," Royal Dornoch intrigues me for many reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that it was the home to legendary designer Donald Ross. His upside down bowl shaped greens drove me nearly bonkers at Pinehurst; no doubt I'd love to walk in his footsteps across the pond. Plus, hanging a bag tag in the adjacent Royal Golf Hotel bar is a new bucket list entry of mine, which would obviously be scratched at the same time.
When MJ and I visited Pebble Beach, I chose to visit Point Lobos over the opportunity to play Spyglass Hill - a choice I would gladly make again. Still, I resolved back then that if we ever returned to the area, I wouldn't let Spyglass pass my by a second time. Sure it is a great, world ranked course, but the real reason behind this resolution has nothing to do with Spyglass. I know me, and there's no way I'd come that close to Pebble Beach without finding a way to tee it up there again.
I'm pretty sure no amount of eloquence could do Old Head justice, so I'll let the photograph do the talking. I mean seriously, would you look at this place?
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers - has a nice ring, doesn't it? Muirfield is regarded as the best of the courses on the Open Championship rota, and is said to be the "Augusta National of Scotland." While driving down Magnolia Lane is nothing but a pipe dream, the Honourable Company has a more open policy for non-members, with a few tee times each week made available online - guaranteed to be booked solid a year in advance. Sure, it would help to know somebody with a little pull, Sam Baker would do the trick, but otherwise I hope to one day duke it out with the rest of the fanatics online.
Like Royal Dornoch, Pasatiempo makes the list because of its affiliation with one of the great courses designers in the game: Alistair McKenzie. The Englishman regarded Pasatiempo to be his best layout, which boggles the mind considering he was the genius behind Augusta National and Cypress Point. Since odds are stacked against me ever being able to compare the three first hand, I'll just have to take him at his word.
It is safe to say that this bucket list is easily my loftiest set of goals ever recorded. Bringing it all to reality will take years, untold thousands of dollars, and will seal the fate of an unfathomable number of ProV-1s. To that I say, bring it on.
Enjoy Your Stay