Merion Golf Club vs Pine Valley Golf Club

Merion Golf Club - Photography by L. C. LambrechtCo-founder and President of PerryGolf – Gordon Dalgleish – was asked to write the piece “Which is Better? | Merion or Pine Valley” for the Summer 2013 edition of LINKS Magazine.

An insightful and timely article as The 113th U.S. Open Championship at Merion Golf Club is just around the corner, here’s an inside glance into the article:

 

Its incomparable championship history and taut test of shotmaking give this year’s U.S. Open site a decided edge” – Gordon Dalgleish

It takes either a brave or remarkably naive member to think he can mount a successful defense of his golf club in a faceoff with the number-one course in the world. Pine Valley has a storied and, in many respects, mythical history.

But speaking of history, my Merion has hosted four U.S. Open Championships, six U.S. Amateurs, four U.S. Women’s Amateurs, one World Amateur, a Walker Cup, and numerous other significant events. It was the fitting venue for Bobby Jones to begin his illustrious career—in the 1916 U.S. Amateur (as a 14 year old!)—and to conclude it with the completion of the Grand Slam (in the 1930 Amateur, on the 11th hole). And who could forget Ben Hogan’s heroic return to competitive golf when the iconic photo of his 1-iron approach on the 72nd hole of the 1950 U.S. Open hangs in clubhouses around the world?

To finish reading the full article, visit LINKS Magazine’s website here.
 

About the Author: Harrison Gould is the Social Media Marketing Manager of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+

Around the Top 100 World – Day 91 to Day 100 and reflections

Click here for trip summary & overview

Day 91  Drive Springfield/eastern Long Island                                           Play Maidstone

At 6:30 am Dan and I headed out from Springfield and drove 142 miles to the eastern tip of Long Island. After two and one half hours we were at the Maidstone Club (rated 55, designed by W. and J. Park 1891 and remodeled by Tucker)(first played July 1984 and last played September 1992/total 4 rounds). There we met host Jim Lowrey (1980) and club president Dick Smith. During the past two days the exposed course had been subjected to heavy rain and strong winds. However, that day we had bright sun, 75 degrees, and only a 5-mph wind. (This seaside course is designed for strong wind.)

With caddies we had no one ahead of or behind us even though this was a busy late-July weekend. The fifteenth tee is on top of a dune with a sandy beach and then the blue Atlantic Ocean. I could reflect on how I had almost touched the same body of water at Seminole on Day 4 and Ballybunion on Day 47. Certainly the weather on Day 91 was a  substantial improvement over what had been endured at Ballybunion.

After golf we enjoyed a simple lunch by the crowded sunbaked pool close to the beach. Then there was a 20-mile drive west to the National Golf Links clubhouse. Because dinner is not served at the National we wandered out to the main highway and found Meson Ole in Southhampton. The food was acceptable; one cannot be too particular on a busy summer night in the Hamptons.

Day 92  Play National Golf Links         Play Shinnecock Hills          Drive Shinnecock/Springfield

At 8 am my host from Quaker Ridge, Jeff Lewis, appeared with his friend and Maidstone member Todd Morley. We had breakfast in the National clubhouse and were entertained by the friendly chatter of the waiters. Then we went to the first tee with caddies at a hazy and humid 75 degrees along with a 10-mph wind. Even though this was another busy weekend day at the National (rated 22, designed by Macdonald 1911)(first played July 1979 and last played September 1993/total 5 rounds) we toured the course unimpeded.

After the round Dan and I drove a short distance to Shinnecock Hills (rated 7, designed by Flynn and Toomey 1931)(first played July 1979 and last played September 1992/total 6 rounds). The original schedule called for play there the next day. However, after returning from Interlachen and feeling confident about accelerating the schedule, I asked host Kevin Costello (1978) if we could play that afternoon. Although it was a big member-guest day and Kevin was participating, he said no problem.

At 2:30 pm we had lunch on the porch of the handsome clubhouse with the course in full view and the windmill at the National in the distance. Then we were on the first tee with caddies. The weather was cloudy, humid, and 80 degrees, but there was a refreshing 15-mph sea breeze. As the round progressed the wind picked up to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. These conditions showed off Shinnecock at its best. We basically had the course to ourselves until we bumped into a group on the eleventh hole. Kevin is as knowledgeable about the design evolution of his course as any of those I visited with on the trip were about their courses.

After finishing in the early evening and having some refreshments, Dan and I had an above- average meal at a nearby seafood restaurant. We reflected on how we had played the courses ranked #22 and #7 in the world in a single day that included excellent companions and fairly good weather. It was the third-best day of the trip, and I was pleased that Dan had been able to enjoy all three of the highlight days.

Then it was back to reality with a tough 125-mile, three-hour drive covering the heavily trafficked length of Long Island, over the crowded Verrazano Bridge, through a snail’s paced traffic jam on Staten Island, on to New Jersey,  and finally to my Springfield condo.

Day 93  Drive Springfield/Mamaroneck                                          Play Winged Foot (East)

Drive Mamaroneck/Garden City

At 10:30 am Dan and I headed out through the New York metropolitan area traffic to Mamaroneck, New York (50 miles), and Winged Foot. A few days before I had called host Jack Creamer (1990), who has been a member for 42 years (his father joined in 1926). With the PGA Championship being held ten days later Jack had needed to consult famous Winged Foot caddiemaster Pat Collins. It was decided that we could play the East Course (rated 85, designed by Tillinghast 1923)(first played June 1975 and last played September 1991/total 4 rounds) on the afternoon of Day 93. (It had previously been scheduled for Day 97.)

So around 1 pm Dan and I had a caddie and Jack was in a cart on a vacant course in 90-degree heat with high humidity, no wind, and cloudy skies. There was a forecast of thundershowers for later in the afternoon, but they never materialized. Jack has as much knowledge about the design of both courses as any member, so we received superb insight into the differences between the East and West Courses. The members favor playing the East because more clubs in the bag are used than on the longer and tougher West.

After a reasonably good dinner at Rich’s 19th Hole Pasta House in Mamaroneck Dan and I drove 30 miles to Long Island and the Garden City Hotel (only got lost twice). Sleep was disturbed by a noticeable pop in the air conditioner about once every half hour in this high-priced facility.

Day 94  Play Garden City     Drive Garden City/Mamaroneck      Play Winged Foot (West)

Drive Mamaroneck/New Haven, CT

Just after 7 am Dan and I went across the street from the hotel to the Garden City Golf Club (rated 64, designed by Emmet 1902 and remodeled by Travis)(first played November 1983 and again April 1992/total 2 rounds) and were greeted by host Jimmy Dunne (1990). As noted previously, Jimmy was the third person to play both the World 100 and the U.S. 100 and is also an active member of the panel to choose the World 100. Most important, he was the 1996 club champion at Garden City.

Yale Golf Club

We were the first ones off and had the whole course to ourselves with caddies. It was 70 degrees with bright sun, no clouds, and a 5-mph breeze. In the spirit of Bobby Jones’ admiration of the Scottish links panorama found at Garden City in the 1920s, the club has embarked on an extensive tree-removal program. Hundreds of trees are gone, and more are to disappear. In certain spots you can now see from one perimeter boundary, over the entire course, to the perimeter on the opposite side of the course. In the playing area new bunkers are replacing strategically located trees.

After our quick round Dan was introduced to the famous Garden City showers (the largest heads in the world resulting in a torrent of water and a relaxing massage-type experience). We then were treated to a delicious meal of peach pancakes from the famous Garden City kitchen.

Before noon we were back on the road to Winged Foot and the West Course (rated 18, designed by Tillinghast 1923)(first played June 1975 and last played September 1991/total 7 rounds). We were originally due there on Day 97, but thanks to Jack and Pat Collins we had advanced the date to fit smoothly with Yale and Fishers Island. Just before 2 pm Dan, Jack Creamer, and I were out on the West Course with caddies and no other people playing. There was bright sun with no clouds, 75 degrees, and 10-mph wind — a perfect afternoon for golf and then early-evening shadows. The course was at its sparkling best with PGA tournament rough along with many grandstands and trailers.

After relaxing in the upstairs locker room and another heavy shower, we drove up the road 56 miles to New Haven and the musty Quality Inn. A late but satisfactory dinner was eaten at the Athenian Diner.

Day 95  Play Yale                                                      Drive New Haven/New London

At 7 am we followed the detailed directions faxed to me earlier in the year to find the Yale Golf Course (rated 88, designed by Macdonald and Raynor 1926)(played October 1985). Although it is a busy public course, tee times can be booked. Director of golf David Paterson was very patient with me; I switched the date to play Yale three times. The weather was bright sun with no clouds, 70 degrees, and just a hint of breeze. Dan and I were on the first tee at 7:51 am with Frank Eckert (1969). Frank is my long-time member-guest partner (Baltusrol, Pine Valley, and at his Patterson Club in Connecticut). Because of the trip we were not able to slay the enemy in any 1997 events, so it was good to see him that day.

We carried our clubs on this very hilly and rocky course. Many players were evident. and the round took about four and one half hours. We then went back to the Athenian Diner, but the meal was not nearly as good as the previous night’s. Then we drove 57 miles to New London and the Radisson Hotel. A below-average Italian meal was served in the hotel dining room.

Day 96  Ferry New London/Fishers Island                                     Play Fishers Island

Ferry Fishers Island/New London                                       Drive New London/Springfield

On this late July day I was able to take pleasure in the most relaxing mode of transportation used to reach any of the courses on this trip. At 6 am Dan and I were at the local Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. Then we went down to the harbor for the 7 am ferry to Fishers Island, New York, which is in Long Island Sound. The weather for the 10-mile, 45-minute ride was glorious — almost blinding sun bouncing off the blue water, no clouds, 70 degrees, and a light breeze. I was able to sit outside in the refreshing sea air and reflect on the 95 previous days — the miles traveled, the variety of weather, the experiences, and how very lucky I had been.

With our golf bags on our shoulders we walked off the ferry and were met by host Charlie Arnold (1995). Transportation to the course was via Charlie’s on-island limo (1978 VW Dasher Diesel), a perfect illustration of the laid-back atmosphere of the island. Before play we said hello to head professional Tom O’Brien (1995). The Fishers Island Club (rated 59, designed Raynor 1917)(played October 1990) is a low-key, very private club. We were the first group off, with clubs on a motorized cart.

The course is exposed to the elements, and usually a strong wind blows. That day it was benign, and the bright sun shimmered off the blue water that can be seen from many holes. There are so many spectacular views it is difficult to decide which is number one. In my notes for the day I wrote ”lovely,” “paradise,” “quiet,” and “peaceful.” We were seeing Fishers Island at its magnificent best.

After golf Charlie took us to the beach snack building for lunch and then drove us back to the ferry. The return trip provided as good an opportunity for reflection as that in the morning. Then it was back to reality with 166 tough miles through heavy traffic and construction. Three hours later we were back in Springfield.

Day 97  Play Baltusrol (Lower)                                                  Drive Springfield/Pine Valley

Just before 9 am Dan and I drove less than half a mile to Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course rated 37, designed by Tillinghast 1922 and remodeled by R.T. Jones and then Rees Jones)(first played June 1966, eventually became a member in 1976 so have played at least 1,500 rounds). As previously stated, I had hoped to finish the trip there at Baltusrol with family and friends. However, when the trip was moved up a day because of the problem with Colonial, I could not shift my own club into the new final day because the Lower Course was closed for a large corporate outing. The two Winged Foot courses had originally been scheduled for Day 97, but thanks to Jack Creamer they have had already been taken care of. Thus I moved Baltusrol from the next afternoon to the morning of Day 97.

Baltusrol, Lower Course, New Jersey

At 9:30 Dan and I were on the first tee with members John Walbridge (1983) and Dick Brown (1992). We had caddies and it soon became 90 degrees and humid with no wind, and mostly sunny. Although I have played the course many times I have never taken any notes on its architectural characteristics. Today I took many pages of notes in the same context as for each of the courses on the trip.

After lunch at Baltusrol Dan and I drove 92 miles south to Pine Valley and the home of Jim Marshall. The unofficial Marshall coat of arms is a decoy, and thus his home is known as “Decoy House.” In addition to sampling Jim’s extensive golf library, a benefit of staying there is being subjected to his “test.” You are given three tries to hit a flop shot over his sofa and stop the ball on a small rug. In attempting the shot you are staring directly at his large picture window just beyond the rug. Fortunately, the ball is made of Styrofoam or cork. Dan and I were successful on the fifth attempt, which was substantially better than Nick Faldo, who had  to take over 20 swings before accomplishing the feat.

Before dinner I took Dan to the practice tee for some amateur instruction on his golf swing. There is no more peaceful place in the world than the Pine Valley practice area in the early evening with the sun setting. While there we ran into the club chairman Ernie Ransome. Before the trip Ernie had expressed great skepticism about the success of my trip. Thus he was more than pleased to hear that everything had gone so well. I told him that one unexpected problem had cropped up —  Ladies Day in general and Ladies Day shotguns in particular. Ernie assured me that I would not run into this particular problem at Pine Valley.

Later in the evening Dan and I delighted in one of the best meals on the trip, produced by the superb Pine Valley kitchen. After dinner Jim entertained us at his home with architectural stories about the Pine Valley course.

Day 98  Play Pine Valley                                                            Drive Pine Valley/Springfield

After breakfast in Jim’s kitchen the three of us were on the first tee (rated 1, designed by Crump and Colt 1913-1922)(first played August 1966, eventually became a member in 1992 so played 65 times). We had caddies, and the weather was 70 degrees and partly sunny with a light breeze. Having the first tee time of the day we basically had the course to ourselves.

With the golf finished before noon, we had another excellent meal in the dining room. Then Dan and I drove 92 miles north back to Springfield.

Day 99  Play Somerset Hills

At 7 am Dan and I drove 30 miles to Bernardsville and the Somerset Hills Country Club (rated 81, designed by Tillinghast 1918)(first played August 1982 and last played August 1996/total 5 rounds). Member Tom Grenier (1977) arranged the day but was not present. (He was at his house in Dornoch, Scotland.) Tom enlisted member Jerry Maher to be our host, and Jerry invited member Frank Thomas to be the fourth. At 8:30 am we were on the first tee with caddies in 75 degrees with bright sun, and a light breeze. Even though it was an early weekend day in August, there was very light play.  It was also peaceful, with birds chirping.

Frank is the golf-ball and golf-equipment official for the USGA, whose headquarters are in nearby Far Hills. While on the first tee he noticed my long putter. In a friendly manner Frank said the USGA had accepted every equipment recommendation he had made except one. I said I was grateful for the association’s farsightedness in not banning the long putter as it made the game more pleasurable for many golfers like myself. I then said that if he was appalled by the implement currently in my bag he should have seen the collapsible job with wings that had accompanied me on the international part of the trip!

Merion, East Course, venue for 2013 U.S. Open Championship

A first on the trip happened today. Not only were Jerry and Frank helpful about the architectural evolution of the course, but also my caddie Billy Williams chimed in when he started hearing the discussion. He had been a caddie there for 32 years and could articulate the course changes he has witnessed over many years. After the golf we enjoyed a  relaxing long luncheon in the cozy men’s grill. Then Dan and I drove back to the Springfield condo.

Day 100  Drive Springfield/Ardmore, PA                                                     Play Merion (East)

It was certainly hard to believe, but that day was the finale. Dan and I were up at 5 am for a 101- mile drive south to Ardmore, PA, and the Merion Golf Club (East Course rated 11, designed by Wilson 1912 and remodeled by Flynn)(first played June 1975 and last played April 1993/total 7 rounds). At 7:30 we were met by host Bill Iredale (1993) along with member Bob Gundeck (1992).

The course was officially closed that day because the club had just finished its annual Wilson invitational tournament. However, Bill is on the Board of Directors and had obtained permission for us to play. So with caddies we set out as a foursome with the whole course to ourselves in 70-degree weather, partly sunny, with no wind. Bill is a long-time member of Merion and is extremely knowledgeable and tremendously enthusiastic about the architecture of the course.

When we arrived on the eighteenth green my younger daughter Jane was there with a camera. She had driven up from Washington, DC, with a friend and was able to take some pictures of the happy finish. I was particularly pleased to have one with me holding older daughter Elizabeth’s lucky rock! A victory celebration was held with Jane at the Radnor Hotel Restaurant in St. Davids.

All good things must come to an end, and sadly this was so very true with 100-in-100. Even though I definitely did not want it to cease and really felt I could have kept going for another 100 straight days, it was very gratifying to finish on such a high note at Merion.

I hope this just completed description vividly demonstrates that it took an incredible number of dedicated people to have the trip go as smoothly as it did. Missing just one course for what ever reason would have greatly diminished the goal — 99 out of 100 just does not do the trick. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every person mentioned in the preceding text for making this trip of a lifetime a smashing success!!

Trip Wrap-Up

I came away from the trip with even more respect for all of the courses visited. Even though I had already played each of them at least once before, I never felt bored on this trip. In fact, each course proved to be even more exciting the second time around because I was paying more attention and taking notes on the design subtleties.

Each day there was an adrenaline rush because I was going to play one of the best courses in the world, usually with one or more remarkable people. For some reason the 5,000-mile flights did not bore me. I do not have Gary Player’s capacity of going to sleep on command (he has been known to go immediately to sleep on a locker-room bench), but I usually had plenty to do and the hours passed quickly.

Every day I would be asked, “How is the trip going?” Not wanting to jinx myself, I did not want to brag about how well everything was going. Thus my standard answer was “So far so good.” Actually the trip went so unbelievably smoothly that in the latter stages I certainly could have accelerated the playing of some courses and finished in less than 100 days. However, 100-in-100 has a nice ring, and also I decided not to tempt fate.

At the outset of the planning for the trip I thought I would be imposing on at least 100 people. However, during the trip I was immediately gratified to discover that most of my hosts were pleased to be a  part of the project.  Sandy Tatum put it most succinctly and beautifully:

“Congratulations on making Phineas Fogg’s fanciful journey pale into insignificance by comparison!

It must have been, however exhausting, a sensational odyssey. To have been able to conceive of it is mind boggling, but to have brought it off puts it up there with the guys who landed on the moon.

I take both pride and pleasure from having shared 1/100th of the experience with you at the San Francisco Golf Club. In addition to enjoying that round of golf with you and Jim, I have impressed a number of dinner parties with your saga, and my 1/100th observation of it.

With heartfelt congratulations,”

Buck Mickel wrote “You made my day!! Have fun & good luck on the next 91.” Can you imaging receiving a letter thanking you for being a guest at Augusta National?

Over the course of the trip my length off the tee deteriorated steadily while my pitching, chipping, and putting improved. Thus, the overall effect of the trip on my game was neutral. One of the most often asked questions is my average score. I can honestly say I do not know because I made no attempt to keep score.  I would guess it was in the low 80’s. The exact number of golf balls consumed is also unknown, but it was probably around 100. Some days I lost no balls, and on other days two or three went into the drink or were lost in deep rough. None had to be discarded because of wear and tear.

I know there was some speculation as to when I would play my next round of golf once the trip was finished. I was going to play at Baltusrol the very next day, but I also wanted to send out thank you letters as soon as possible. This process started the afternoon I returned from Merion. Unfortunately, my computerized mailing list immediately went bad, and I had to retype the whole thing. So golf was put off until that weekend, when I did the stupid thing of tackling Pine Valley for the senior club championship. The course beat me into the ground yet again, but for once I had a legitimate excuse. I would say my desire to play golf was on the wane for about a month. I did play, but my heart was not really in it.

In the U.S., what had been a gradual trend to soft spikes has turned into an overwhelming flood. Almost every course visited in the U.S. on the trip mandated non-metal material on the bottoms of golf shoes. However, outside North America the opposite was true, with almost no course mandating nor encouraging soft spikes.

Many people have asked how I was able to handle the laundry situation. Obviously, I had to pack a considerable amount of basic clothing. The laundry stops were Day 10 — Pinehurst, Day 16 — Tulsa, Day 25 — San Francisco, Day 37 — Melbourne, Day 54 — Skibo Castle, Day 69 –Springfield, Day 78 — Pittsburgh, and Day 90 — Springfield.

Because of all the help provided by PerryGolf (particularly Gordon Dalgleish and Pat Truehart in Atlanta and Colin Dalgleish and Cameron Reid in Scotland),  I would like to give them a plug for your possible business. They have completed an agreement with Keith Prowse Company that will give them substantially more access to the Old Course at St. Andrews. To get you there PerryGolf has purchased a Mercedes coach and outfitted it for a group of eight (it normally holds 20) with leather executive seats, tables, bar, etc. There is nothing like it in Scotland.

Cost /IOU’s

The first items entered into my laptop computer each day were the expenses incurred on the previous day. The official cost of the trip was $29,300 (does not include traveling companion or Dan Turner). The breakdown was as follows:

Air fare                                                                   $14,300

Car rental                                                                    1,600

Gas                                                                                   975

Car return to Springfield                                        625

Miscellaneous                                                        1,000

Total transportation                                      $18,500

Rooms                                                                     5,700

Meals                                                                       2,300

Golf                                                                           1,900

Miscellaneous                                                          900

Total                                                                     $29,300

Obviously the low cost was due to the fact that so many people around the world embraced the trip and helped subsidize the undertaking.

However, there are at least 100 “real McCoy” IOU’s floating around the world, and the collection of those markers will take place over the next several years. Actually, payback time has already commenced. Herb McNally (responsible for the Royal Montreal arrangements) claimed the distinction of being first in line. I had barely reached Naples when his fax came roaring in announcing a golf trip to southeast Florida. I was thrilled to accommodate him.

Publicity

As mentioned previously, I made no attempt to solicit publicity. However, the Sports Illustrated article started the ball rolling. The Friday after the trip ended there was a “McCoy Media Day” at Baltusrol. First a photographer from The Newark Star Ledger took some still pictures. Earlier in the year I had played golf with Rees Jones and Red Hoffman at Olde Florida. Red is a long-time golf writer and became intrigued with the trip. His article consumed an entire page in a Sunday edition of The Star Ledger, which has the tenth largest circulation in the country.

Later in the morning a TV film crew from Fox Sports Sunday spent an hour with me on the course and then in a bedroom in the clubhouse. They had me under the covers already dressed for a typical day’s activity, including golf shoes. The alarm went off, and I jumped out of bed, slung the golf bag over my shoulder, and raced out the door. After the TV crew left, a photographer arrived from the The Philadelphia Inquirer for more still pictures.

Attached are the articles from Sports Illustrated and Golf magazine. For the latter I unsuccessfully urged author George Peper not to mention my ten favorite and ten least favorite of the World Top 100. My feeling is that there are no bad courses on the exclusive list and that their reputations should not be tarnished by a public discussion of “least favorite.” Furthermore, I did not want to offend any of my hosts.

The trip was also referred to in Golf World and Senior Golfer and was mentioned briefly on The Golf Channel.” I also had a 20-minute taped interview on a local New Jersey TV station. Other golf magazines, such as Golf Digest and Golf Weekly, had no interest in the trip because they have their own lists of Top 100 courses and do not want to publicize the Golf magazine list.

One disadvantage of the publicity was receiving a letter from two Texas municipal players requesting that I take them to Pine Valley for a day of golf. Obviously I had to write back to say that Pine Valley was only for members and their friends. In my heart I would like to respond positively to sincere requests such as this, but for many reasons it is just not possible.

Not Accomplished

As stated earlier, I had every intention of writing up detailed trip notes on the laptop computer at the end of every day and then refining them on the long plane flights. It did not take long to realize that this goal was totally unrealistic. Early in the trip my traveling companion, who was supposed to be typing furiously on the laptop that I had purchased for him, was sound asleep as I drove down the highway to the next course.

As for me, each day ended so late and the next day started so early that there was no time to work on the computer. When there were a few available minutes I seemed to be so physically and mentally exhausted that pounding on the computer would not have been productive. Do not get the impression that nothing was written; part of the 1997 “O” was composed and many of the course drafts for the book were revised. It was just that I was not nearly as productive as I had hoped. Then I am always too optimistic about writing schedules, as the lateness of this “O” will attest.

I began the official writing of this document in late December, and it took a while to develop an efficient rhythm for transcribing my notes and memories. I must admit that planning and executing the trip was a piece of cake compared with writing a readable document about it. Thus creating this “O” has temporarily dulled my writing desire.

The Book

In the 1996 “O” I asked for title suggestions and offered an unspecified prize for the best idea. My intention was to publish all the suggestions in this year’s “O.” Unfortunately time ran out, and I am not able to type up the 200 ideas. My friend Mike Cooper threatened to submit 100 recommendations, but he ran out of steam at 50. For the moment the title will be “A Golf Odyssey With The Real McCoy.” I do not think anyone suggested this title, but if some one did please let me know.

I am really excited about my book. It is not going to be easy, but I have a rare chance to make a contribution to golf. However, it is a one-shot opportunity, and I want to do it correctly. I have been an amateur writer for the past 10 years attempting to make the annual travel log as readable and grammatically correct as possible. Nevertheless, I do not lose any sleep over an inadvertent mistake. However, writing a book is a whole new ball game. It is “The Big Leagues,” so I have to give it something special. Unfortunately, I  have not been able to spend full time on it, nor will I ever be able to. There is my livelihood to take care of as well as playing golf, traveling to rate courses, and writing the annual “O.”

As mentioned earlier, the book is going to discuss all the World Top 100 courses, why they deserve to be on the list, and the noteworthy architectural aspects of each course. The trip produced many significant nuggets of information never published before or not well known. The trip also put me in touch with an historian or knowledgeable member at almost every course, so I can call on them to review drafts.

The added dimension that really has my juices flowing is the idea of interviewing all the leading contemporary golf architects. The book is going to discuss the architectural style and achievements of these gentlemen. This interview approach got off to a roaring start in November thanks to Michael Daswick of the Lyle Anderson Company and the Loch Lomond Golf Club. Michael arranged a meeting for me with Tom Weiskopf in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I had never met Tom before, so I did not know what to expect. He turned out to be terrific — incredibly interesting and candid. The meeting started at 9 am in his office with Tom and his most pleasant secretary/assistant Judy McCray. At noon sandwiches were ordered for lunch. The flow of the conversation was going so smoothly I did not want to interrupt it by looking at my watch. It was not until I returned to my car that I became aware the meeting had lasted six hours! In writing Tom a thank you letter I told him if I receive equal time from all the other modern-day architects then the book will be a home run.

For the past four years I have been involved in occasional correspondence with Ben Crenshaw concerning his Sand Hills course. This past October we spoke on the phone, and Ben agreed to meet with me. So in early December I flew to Houston, Texas, and drove to Austin. At his office I spent a fascinating four hours in Ben’s office. He was exactly as you would expect — thoughtful, insightful, easygoing, but also passionate. I was very fortunate to have this high-quality time with Ben because he is extremely busy with the added responsibility of being the 1999 Ryder Cup Captain.

Not only did I obtain some rare insight from Tom and Ben, but also I now can call on them to review the draft sections of the book dealing with their courses and receive personalized responses.

1998

Besides continuing to write the book I hope to visit Ireland (Old Head at Kinsale, Druids Glen, The European Club, Connemara, Tralee, County Lough, and County Sligo); Massachusetts (Nantucket Golf Club); Michigan (Bay Harbor); Oregon (Bandon Dunes and Pumpkin Ridge — Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow); and Wisconsin (Apostle Highlands, Big Foot, Northlands, and Whistling Straits).

So until next year I wish you all a healthy and enjoyable 1998.

Very best regards,

Bob McCoy

Post Script

BURKE-MCCOY HALL at HARVARD

The first item of note in 1997 may not seem to be golf-related, but there is a golf connection at the end.  In March my wife Hetsy and I flew to Boston and then drove over to Cambridge and Harvard College.  We were there to dedicate a building.

When I attended Harvard (class of 1962) I was fortunate enough to be associated with the Harvard Student Agencies (HSA); working there helped to finance my education.  HSA never had a permanent home and has been on roller skates over the years, moving from one location to another.  Three years ago Harvard broke the news that it was no longer going to provide HSA with temporary office space.

After much work an absolutely sensational building was obtained at 67 Mount Auburn, which is in the middle of the school and only one block from Harvard Square.  A $3.2 million dollar Capital Campaign was launched, and Hetsy and I volunteered to be the lead donors.

Dusty Burke was the first and long-time HSA general manager.  He not only introduced me to HSA but also aided my overall business development.  After college he was responsible for my acceptance to the Harvard Business School (class of 1965).

During the summer after college graduation in 1962 I was the assistant general manager of the HSA and used to join Dusty in hitting golf balls on the Business School athletic field.  At that point I was a former college ice hockey player with no clue about how to play golf.  I had absolutely no inclination to play all the top courses in the world because I did not even know they existed.  It was hitting balls with Dusty that gave me the golf bug — even more reason to be grateful to him.

Dusty was in the Harvard class of 1952 and was an eight-letter varsity man — football, ice hockey (captain), and golf.  Qualifying continually in the #1 position, he played head to head against Paul Harney (Holy Cross), who later became a longtime PGA touring professional.

That explains the Burke part of the building name, but why McCoy?  It is to be hoped that people will think of it as much more than an ego trip.  I wanted to pay tribute to the entire process that enabled an ordinary kid to go to Harvard and then achieve some professional and financial success.  The naming of the building was to make these points to the diverse Harvard community: That the enthusiasm of the Harvard alumni, the “balanced class” admissions policy, and the generous Harvard Club of Boston scholarship program made it possible for me to matriculate at Cambridge. That the HSA experience can be a significant part of a college education. That HSA is much more than earning money and can be a springboard to a successful business career. And, finally, that it is the responsibility of the lucky HSA alumni to “give back” to the institution that provided the foundation for a full and meaningful life.
 

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+