Perhaps no person is more qualified to talk about the joys of golf travel than Patrick Koenig. Already an avid golfer and photographer before his Recreational Golf Vehicle (RGV) Tour began, his now-completed 35,000-mile, 47-state, 405-course marathon over 13 months catapulted him into the Road Warrior Hall of Fame.
Following up his previous episode recapping highlights of the RGV Tour, Koenig returns to the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast for a wide-ranging Emergency 9 golf-travel quiz with hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch on Episode 132.
Koenig begins by naming Sleepy Hollow Country Club in New York and the two courses at the Cabot Links resort in Nova Scotia, Canada, as his favorite tracks anywhere in the world. And also casts his ballot for Bandon Dunes as his favorite destination. Hard for us to argue with any of these openers.
Next, Patrick tabs a familiar bucket-list destination for many golfers, naming the courses of Australia and New Zealand as those he’d happily visit if given the chance. And the best place he’s ever stayed? While shooting photography for Ballyhack Golf Club in Virginia, a destination club in the Dormie Network, Koenig had a chance to relish the experience of enjoying one of the seven Member Cottages on property.
Like many of us, Koenig couldn’t limit himself to only one example of the best food he’s ever eaten. The scallop roll at iconic Seminole Golf Club in Florida, pizza at an out-of-the-way small-town locals joint, and the Lobster BLT at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club in Maine (also on Darin’s list of mouth-watering must-eats) all made the cut.
When asked what’s the most important thing on a golf trip (besides the golf and people), Patrick has a unique framework from which to operate. (Hard to dismiss the people, considering that on his RGV Tour he played golf with 793 different people in 13 months.) For him, the journey was both literal and figurative, not only counted in miles but in “what I learned about myself” — a journey he says made him “a better human being.”
The piece of equipment Patrick can’t live without is, for him, a certainty. Calling it his “best buddy, my trusted friend,” his putter is the club he cherishes most. And his set of Callaway X Forged irons and Rogue driver are the go-to clubs of choice.
Koenig, who’s been as low as a plus-1 handicap and now hovers around scratch, says he isn’t as tied to score or a set of particular tees as he was before after the RGV Tour, noting that fun is what he’s after, the goal of the game now.
When it comes to the most interesting person Patrick has ever played golf with, two stories stand out. And though he didn’t actually tee it up with either of them, it’s tough to beat playing in the group behind President Barack Obama at Olympia Fields (and having his camera searched by Secret Service) and meeting President Bill Clinton at Sleepy Hollow, calling him “Bill” and giving him some British Open info in the pro shop (“I’m now a presidential adviser”).
Koenig names Davenport Country Club in Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and the Dorset Field Club in Dorset, Vermont, as two courses he wishes everyone knew about. The state of Washington also gets a big shoutout with Chambers Bay (saying he believes the course received really unfair PR during the U.S. Open), Sahalee Country Club (with tree-lined fairways that make it like a joyful game of “bumper pool”), the Tom Fazio-designed Aldarra Golf Club and the two courses at Gold Mountain all among his favorites.
The key element of what makes a round of golf fun? For Patrick, it’s simple: “The people, period.” And what makes a golf course great? Koenig admits he was somewhat clueless before the RGV Tour, and now believes it’s all about the routing, which is best discovered by walking. When a course is “smooth and flows” (for him, Cypress Point is the perfect example) with a variety of hole designs that keep the golfer engaged, greatness is the byproduct.
It’s a wide-ranging, far-reaching Emergency 9 with Patrick Koenig, one of the biggest influencers we have in the game of golf right now. We can’t thank him enough — and can’t wait to see what he does next.
—Words by Mitch Laurance