“To be a golfer is to be a wanderer, and that is my identity. The game is, at its very essence, a walkabout through the fields, forests, towns, and dunes of the world. For that reason, a golfer’s soul yearns to journey. As a golfer, my thirst for adventure is unquenchable.”
If that writing inspires, touches a chord or piques your interest, you’ll love Episode 156 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast as “golf scribe” Jay Revell joins hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch for a wide-ranging, deep and truly fun discussion centered around Jay’s new book The Nine Virtues of Golf, which quickly found its way to the top of the Golf Books New Releases on Amazon.
Revell’s already-impressive resume includes some of golf’s best platforms and magazines (including a wonderful oral history for The Golfer’s Journal detailing how Mike Strantz built Tobacco Road Golf Club just north of Pinehurst, North Carolina). But Mitch dives straight into the author’s own golf history by highlighting a quote from The Nine Virtues: “If golf is a drug, I was born in an opium den.” Jay recalls youthful time with his family — and especially his grandfather, who was the pro at Havana Golf & Country Club where he put a club in Jay’s hands at an early age. It was an idyllic youth, with golf as its central component, that launched Revell’s connection to the game.
Though a wide variety of topics are covered in The Nine Virtues — including Jay’s weekly game at his home club; the meditative quality of his own backyard hole; golf in the age of fatherhood; a memorable, post-hangover round on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island; falling in love with Southern Pines (a Donald Ross gem in Pinehurst) walking with Golf Club Atlas’ founder Ran Morrissett; and Jay’s thoughts on a plan for the future of American golf — Laurance and Bunch focus more on golf and travel.
Discussing the “How to Travel for Golf” chapter, Revell explains his reasons for choosing topics like where to go, how to be there and what to remember, giving valuable advice gained during his own journeys, much of it on a deeper level than you’ll find in most places.
Jay next shares how he really became dedicated to writing about golf and travel — his “real eye-opener” first trip to Sweetens Cove in Tennessee, which he calls “one of the most incredible discoveries” he’d ever come across. Days later, with his mind still full of thoughts about the experience, he had “no choice but to write them down” — and so began Jay’s ever-increasing, all-consuming pursuit of becoming not only a golf writer, but a golf author.
Following the travel theme, Revell next explains why a trip to Colorado’s Ballyneal Golf Club with his brother, Hilton, became a life-changing experience for them both. In one of the book’s most revealing and emotionally truthful passages (and they are numerous), Jay writes: “We likely would still be different no matter where we had laid our heads, but because of the game we learned there, we will always know how to find each other. Golf is at the root of our souls, and because of that we really aren’t so different after all.”
Further expanding on the nature of brotherly bonds and challenges — and how golf has helped bridge relationship divides — Jay talks about another key quote from the book: “Hilton equates golf to a Grateful Dead concert, and I treat it more like a day on Walden Pond.”
No “Talking GolfGetaways” episode would be complete without hitting on one of the podcast’s common themes: Letting go of score and equipment constraints and just having fun. The threesome talk about playing the game with hickory and persimmon clubs, and more importantly, Revell’s faithful course companion — his dog, Leon. It’s a wonderful, spiritual description of the value of approaching the game on a deeper level — the key to enjoyment and growth in the game.
Finally, Mitch asks Jay to elaborate on a chapter in the book that details how Jay has managed to bring Scotland’s roots of the game into his everyday life in Tallahassee, Florida. Jay shares the myriad ways he’s found to deepen the meaning of every walk through the neighborhood to his home course, in every moment with Leon alongside, in every peaceful round carrying his clubs.
“Feel the weight of the bag you tote filled with hope on your shoulder,” Revell writes. “Admire the grass, wind, water, and earth as you stroll with sky above. Carry your clubs, walk, and remember why golf is the game you love.”
It’s a passage that sums up why Jay Revell has become a significant voice for anyone who plays golf — and one that leaves you smiling, dreaming of golf travels no matter where you find yourself.
• • •
Also in Episode 156 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, our “Best Thing We’ve Seen, Done or Talked About This Week” segment includes a great new tool for the traveling golfer — the efficient, easy-to-use green-reading book from GolfLogix.com, which Mitch suggests is a good companion when visiting a new destination course (with more than 14,000 U.S. golf courses available, you’re sure to find one that’ll help on almost any trip).
Meanwhile, Darin offers a quick plug for The Club at Sunrise, an under-the-radar community golf course in Las Vegas that he highly recommends, especially during the summer months when the paspalum greens are some of the best in Southern Nevada. It’s a simple, affordable facility for golfers who don’t feel the need to Bucket List Hunt. “The food is great, and the beer is cold. The Club at Sunrise is a no-nonsense golf experience that I hope more people discover.”
—Words by Mitch Laurance