Top 10 Moments of Zen on a Golf Course
I freely admit I have a bit of an abnormal love for the game of golf. To me, golf is more than a game. It is magical,
at times, for many reasons. It has provided me insights into my own character, insights into the character of others,
it has provided me countless hours of pleasure, and countless hours of agony. I've felt over-come with mysterious
feelings and experienced almost outer-worldly sensations many times on a golf course. Below are 10 of those
moments and the courses on which they occurred.
Crail Balcomie 13th hole
As I said above, I'm a bit of nut-job when it comes to golf and mystical feelings. Playing Crail Balcomie, I
experienced these types of feelings from the first second I sat foot on the property. Then playing the 13th hole,
these sensations reached a point like I have never felt before, or since. I played out the remaining holes in an
almost ecstatic trance. After my round, I learned that Crail Balcomie is rumored to be the famous Burningbush
Links upon which Shivas Irons played. Upon learning this, everything began to make sense and my "golf is
magical" non-sense is irrepressible now.
Being on the property at Augusta National is beyond special for anyone, but if you are a dedicated golfer...it is simply the best. Every second I have been on the property I felt like I was in a ecstatic trance. The golf course is beyond incredible, the clubhouse and cottages are perfect in a low-key Southern classy kind of way, and the warmth and friendliness of the place and staff is beyond compare.
I believe the entire town of Pinehurst is a special place in the world of golf. The town is golf-centric. In fact, smack
dab in the center of town there is a statue of Donald Ross. The library houses the legendary Tufts Archives and
has a vintage sand green out back. The Carolina Inn has a very special old-world golf vibe to it. And Donald Ross
made his home off the famous Pinehurst #2 course. If the United States has a town that embodies the magic
inherent in the game of golf, it is Pinehurst.
4th Fairway at Askernish
For those of you not familiar with Askernish, it is an Old Tom Morris golf course located in the Outer Hebrides of
Scotland. And the Outer Hebrides is a small island off the coast of mainland Scotland and it is, for real, in the
middle of nowhere. For me, setting out to play Askernish was a true pilgrimage. But upon arriving, the place was
so barren, so nondescript, I wondered why I had made this journey. That is until I started walking down the 4th
fairway. Now, the 4th fairway really isn't even that special, it is, like I mentioned above, nondescript. In fact, the
great golf holes of the course are holes 7-16. But, nevertheless, I was overwhelmed by something on the 4th
fairway. I literally had to sit down it was so intense. I sat that for at least 15 minutes just looking around and taking
it all in. I felt something there, it was special, and I will never forget my time at Askernish.
The veranda at The National Golf Links of America
Now this "experience" might be totally explainable. I rarely drink alcohol and sitting on the veranda at NGLA I had
two Southsides. So, there you go. But regardless, the view over the 18th fairway out over the Peconic Bay is
stunning and something beyond special. Was this feeling a sense of one-ness with CB MacDonald or the alcohol
entering my bloodstream? Given that CBM partook in a few drinks, maybe they are one and the same!
The 2nd hole at The Old Course
For me, playing The Old Course was a big deal. I'd studied it for years and had been longing to play it for quite
some time. Well, I finally had my chance and there I was on the first tee box. I'd heard people say they felt Old
Tom's presence on the course, they'd become over-whelmed with emotion and shed tears, and knowing how goofy
I feel about the game...I didn't know what I would do. Well, none of that happened. In fact, I felt over-whelmed with
one thing; to play the game with all my heart. On the second hole, I drove the green but left it a little right of the
green and I lay in a divot. My caddy told me to move it out of the divot and give myself a good lie. He said, "It is
not like you are playing in The Open." To which I responded, "This is MY Open." From then it was game on. I
wasn't overwhelmed with emotion or sappy feelings. I was overwhelmed with playing every shot to the best of my
ability, lining up every putt, and doing my very best. And my caddy was on-board now as well. Strangely enough, I
didn't get tired from this mental effort...which I usually do. I played one of the best rounds of my life. I was focused
and I did not tire. It was like I was possessed.
I can't really describe any one moment or one specific sense of awe. Rather the entire experience of Shinnecock
Hills is unable to be told, it must be experienced. The entire place is pure golf magic. The clubhouse is stunning.
The course is all-world. The maintenance is like nothing I've ever seen. It is golfing Heaven. Plain and simple.
17 at Harbour Town
Harbour Town is the Pete Dye course located on Hilton Head Island and it annually hosts a PGA Tour event.
Harbour Town is known for being a tight tree-lined course that calls for golfers to work the ball left and right off their
club face in order to get in proper position to attack greens and pins. What is weird is that the 18th hole is the
signature hole of the golf course and this hole has the widest fairway of any hole on any course upon which the
PGA Tour host a tournament. So, how does one transition from the tightest, narrowest golf course on the PGA
Tour to the widest fairway on the Tour? The answer, "The Stairway to Heaven" 17th hole. This par 3 is the
transition from tight and narrow to wide and open and it is awe-inspiring and amazing.
Yeaman's Hall entrance
Yeaman's Hall is one of the world's truly cool golf clubs. It has Low country/old world charm, a terrific vibe, and a
wonderful golf course. The tone and tempo of the course is set the second you pull onto the property. The
entrance drive has to be one of the very best, if not the very best, in the world. From the split second you pull in,
you know you are somewhere special.
The Sand Hills of Nebraska
When I tell people I am a member of a golf club in Mullen, NE they look at me like I have four-eyes. Given that I live
in Atlanta and have family in Ohio, I get that. But, all that tells me is they haven't been to the Sand Hills region of
Nebraska. They haven't seen the landscapes, they haven't talked with the people of the region, and they most
certainly haven't played golf there. Magical. Heavenly. Amazing.