Here’s an East Coast road trip for you: Two adults. Three “normal” kids. One 2-year-old. Our silver Honda Odyssey functioned as a mini-RV, shuttling six of us from one great American golf destination to another -- 18 hosts, 25 courses, 450 holes in a 31-day, 3,900-mile meander from Minnesota to the East Coast…and then back. Some would understate such a venture as absolutely insane. For me and my crew...it’s just another family vacation. (Did I mention my in-laws joined us for 10 days?) No flat tires. No accidents. Zero rainout rounds. No sick kids. Only almost ran out of gas once. (I blame the “four-lane prison” that is the Ohio turnpike system.) I got one parking ticket—in Washington D.C.—thanks to “illogical sign language,” and saw anywhere from 2,000-3,000 deer. And three moose. Eleven times I filled my own gas tank. One time—in New Jersey—I wasn’t allowed to. State law.
The kids brought home 14 new stuffed animals and completed the Junior Ranger program at six different national parks. There were non-golf excursions in Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, Philly, New York, Boston and Niagara Falls and so, so much more, but ultimately this road trip was about the golf -- incredible and incredibly diverse golf at family-friendly golf hot spots across the northeast quarter of the country. I'll be sharing my adventures at these places over the next nine weeks:
- Pennsylvania: Nemacolin Woodlands, Omni Bedford Springs, Links at Gettysburg
- Maryland: Rocky Gap Casino & Resort, TPC Potomac at Avenal Farms
- Virginia: Lansdowne Resort, Potomac Shores
- New York: Trump Ferry Point, Pound Ridge, Turning Stone Resort, Seneca Hickory Stick
- New Jersey: Crystal Springs
- Massachusetts: Ocean’s Edge Resort, The International Resort
- Connecticut: Foxwoods Resort
- New Hanmpshire: Omni Mt. Washington
- Vermont: Okemo Mountain Resort, The Equinox Resort
- Maine: Sebasco Harbor Resort, Boothbay Harbor Resort, Belgrade Lakes, Sunday River
- The Wrap
So, who am I as a golfer? As a writer? Why should you read these stories? You already know I have four kids and am a bit crazy. Maybe that’s enough. Otherwise, here’s a bit more:
I've been writing for 11 years, producing more than 1100 golf/travel pieces for 16 different publications. I'm a 10.7 USGA index, and I've made two holes-in-one in my travels, averaging 50-75 rounds per year. I've played golf in 40 states. My dream foursome is Tom Brady, Justin Thomas, my son and Carrie Underwood (not sure if she even golfs...don't really care). The 10 places on my golf bucket list are Augusta National, Tara Iti, Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers (hello New Zealand Tourism!), Cape Wickham Links, Pine Valley, Hog's Head, Old Head, North Berwick and Cabot Cliffs. My favorite golf books are “The Magician" (obviously) and "A Course Called Ireland” by Tom Coyne ("A Course Called Scotland" is amazing, too!).
I take everything personally, especially the discontinuation of potato chip flavors I loved. I’m a big tipper for great service but dislike valets (especially in Naples—Florida AND Italy) and tend to hate resorts that don’t have at least one self-parking lot—no matter how far from the hotel it might be. I think professional athletes should have to live on a teacher’s salary for three years before they can sign a multi-million dollar deal, and—in full disclosure—I can definitely tell the difference between left Twix and right Twix. It's like Pepsi and Coke. I would like to see Sour Patch Kids sell bags of just the blue ones and I think every state should have at least one Pei Wei, one Topgolf, one Krispy Kreme and one annual PGA Tour event. Lastly…as a golf (and mini-golf) architecture freak, I’d love to tour the U.S. building miniature golf courses (already pitched on to Sand Valley), play an 18-hole course with only par 5s (What do you think of a Par 90 course DMK?) and someday organize the 17 best golf architects in the world to collaborate on a single 18-hole project…with the 18thhole as a Mike Strantz tribute. Who would really care what par is on that course? Who wouldn’t want to play it?
I would rather drive than fly—any day of the week—even to Alaska (from Minnesota). I like seeing America up close and personal, right out the window, big and beautiful. I love taking in the Bluebonnets and Azaleas in the south in spring, elk and moose in Colorado in summer, the incredible foliage kaleidoscope across the north in the fall and frost collected on trees—with red barns reflecting on fresh white snow—in a Midwest winter. Occasionally, however, my love of driving collides with a sweeping spectrum of annoyance in the expected unexpecteds that happen when road trippers aren’t all on the same page.
Here’s how I see "Road Rules"…
- The driver always controls the radio. Period. Bring headphones if you disagree.
- It’s rude to wear headphones in the car.
- When a kid throws up in your car it’s everything they’ve eaten the past three weeks. Especially if you don’t have a bag or bucket along.
- Kids only tell you they really have to use the restroom after you’ve just passed the last one for 30 miles. They plan accordingly...trust me.
- If someone lets you merge in front of them and you don’t wave you are a giant jerk.
- There is nothing more infuriating than driving on a two-lane road behind side-by-side vehicles (especially semi-trucks) that seemingly have no interest in passing each other—ever—and are (of course) traveling under the speed limit. Get out of the freaking way!
- The second most infuriating thing in the world is a road construction zone—with 20-plus miles of lane reductions—without a single construction vehicle in sight for 19 of those miles.
- There should be NO TOLL on turnpikes with lanes closed for construction. (I’m talking to you, Ohio.) At that point the Amish are traveling faster.
- Throwing cigarette butts out the window IS littering. We should be allowed to shoot your tires out when we see you do it. Not that I have a gun in my car.
- Looking at your cell phone when the light turns green makes you likely to get honked at. And honking the split second a light turns green makes you a moron.
- Additional “honking” FYI: Did you know…honking your horn in a traffic jam does NOT straighten the $#!% up?!
- Sunflower seeds are as effective as Red Bull at keeping you awake. Either they’ll get stuck in your teeth, you’ll choke on them or your tongue-and-tooth coordination will be so pathetic you’ll starve.
- You should never try to open a family-size box of Rice Krispies in a car.
- If you decide to swerve to avoid the deer in the road, you’re increasingly more likely to hit that same deer in the ditch.
- The longer you’re in the car the more likely you are to hear the same song multiple times. That formula increases when it’s a song you don’t like. (Hit me Bieber one more time!)
Now, let the road trip begin!