Each week, our panel of writers will be asked a question about the game of golf. Topics will range from their predictions for the Tour season to what they would order from the concession stand at Augusta National Golf Club. No subject is off limits for this esteemed group.
We have seen tournaments in Hawaii, Arizona, and California to begin the season. This week, the Tour shifts to Florida. Many consider these four states to be the country’s best to golf, but there are great courses throughout the nation.
This week’s question: If you could only golf in one state for the rest of your life, which state would you pick and why? Assume you could have access to play any course in the state.
Bear: Illinois – Going with a bit of a wild card here. I am from the Chicagoland area and plan to reside there the rest of my life. So if I can only golf in one state, it better be the state I live in. With Medinah, Cog Hill, Olympia Fields, Conway Farms, and TPC Deere Run, Illinois sneakily has a plethora of PGA Tour level golf courses. You can bet your bottom dollar I’d being going low at all of them if this scenario came to life.
Tony Kasper: Georgia – I considered California and South Carolina, but it came down to a simple factor for me: if I can get access to the most prestigious course on the planet, I don’t need to play anywhere else. Sign me up for a few rounds at Augusta National and I will be content with whatever the rest of the state has to offer.
Frank Laterza: Arizona – Home of the Waste Management Open, Arizona is host to many breathtaking golf courses. The heat is a dry heat, and the minimal rainfall during the winter make for ideal year-round golf. Plus your ball goes farther in the desert, so sign me up.
Sam Scherman: Arizona – I have been blessed with the opportunity to play in many different states and at some of the country’s top ranked and most famous courses, such as Pebble Beach, SpyGlass, TPC Scottsdale, Erin Hills, Ballyneal (Colorado), Castle Pines (Colorado), and Camargo (Ohio), but through the many I’ve been lucky enough to play, Arizona is where I would choose to play for the rest of my life. I don’t think there’s necessarily a “wrong” answer to this question, but there are reasons why I wouldn’t pick some of the other obvious answers. First, Georgia of course has the greatest and most coveted course to play in the world; however, let’s also remember Augusta, Georgia is not exactly the most accessible area to get to in the country and although Georgia has some great golf courses, they are extremely spread out. Next, I have played a ton of golf in Florida. While it’s great and has some of the best greens anywhere (normally Bermuda), it’s not going to get cold there but man can it get unbearably humid. Not something I would choose to play for around half of the year in the Spring/Summer. Plus, like Georgia, the golf courses can be extremely spread out. California is home to probably (just a guess), 10 or more of the best courses in the world as the coastlines make for unbelievable views and challenging but fun rounds in the wind. I’m not a huge California person, so it would be hard for me to imagine only playing there and like the aforementioned states, it’s massive and would be a little inconvenient to get around. All of this lands me on Arizona.
I love desert golf, and always have, as it presents such a unique style of play in that the hazards are not just massive lakes, the ocean, or manmade bodies of water but rather cactus, thick rough, or numerous other challenges. Arizona has so much value in just the Scottsdale/Phoenix area that you are presented with a totally different type of course if you drive just 10 minutes west. It is home to some of the most renown courses in the country with TPC Scottsdale, Whisper Rock, Troon, and the Estancia Club, as well as being home to some of my personal favorites in We-Ko-Pa, Talking Stick, and the Desert Mountain Club. I think Arizona has such a variety, and I love the dry air there over a sticky humid environment. I would be more than content visiting the vastly different layouts in the Grand Canyon state.
Sean Carney: South Carolina – This week’s question is a great one. I think an easy choice would be to answer Georgia and play at Augusta the rest of my life. Honestly, I’d be more than fine with that. But looking at more than one golf course, however, I am going with South Carolina. For one, I targeted a place where I can play year-round. Secondly, I took a look at some of the notable courses. I’d have no problem balancing rounds at Myrtle Beach, Osprey Point on Kiawah Island or Harbour Town, just to name a few. South Carolina would provide ideal weather and the ability to play on the ocean while providing multiple PGA-caliber level courses.
Jack Corrigan: California – It will sound cliché and it’s the chalk pick, but I can’t pick anywhere else. Pacific Ocean, beautiful weather, amazing courses, winds, great conditions – it’s simply the best. From the Monterey Bay courses to Torrey Pines, TPC Harding Park, Riviera, and Olympic Club, there are just so many great course that it can’t be beat by anywhere else.
Mike McNamara: California – If you’re only going to get to play golf in one state the rest of your life, it’s simple: pick the state that gives you the most possibilities. The Golden State is 3rd in surface area behind only Alaska and Texas, but it has better tracks than those two states. From Pebble Beach, to Torrey Pines, to Riviera I can think of 15-20 courses off of the top of my head that are simply must-plays. Given the state is so long, you’re also going to get to play golf in different climates while staying in the same state. A round at TPC Harding Park in the Bay Area will be much different than a round at Los Angeles Country Club, but both will provide the same thrill. Breathtaking Pacific Ocean views are an option, while tree-lined courses in the forest can also be on the docket. With all this being said, we haven’t even mentioned the Palm Springs area which is filled with great golf tracks. Jack Nicklaus said if he had one final round he would play it at Pebble. Well if I had one state left, I’m going to Cali where I know with absolute certainty I will never run out of options.
Kevin Walsh: California – A lot to consider with this one. After doing some homework, I landed on a fairly obvious one in California. I love the idea of having numerous top flight courses (Pebble, Cypress Point, TPC Harding Park, the Riv, Olympic Club, San Fransisco Golf Club, etc.), but also having the uncertainty of what the weather will be. There are ocean lined courses where the wind can pick up and be the main challenge, and there are tree lined courses where you have to be much more strategic to get around in a decent score. I assume having access to every course means I am connected enough to get around the dreadful traffic. I also expect to play with plenty of celebrities during my time as well, maybe even run into an idol or two? If Jack said his last round would be at Pebble, that’s good enough for me…a lot of things to like about California golf!
Jake Mulholland: Pennsylvania – From what I can recall, there was a bunker short left and heavy rough engulfing the Donald Ross green from all sides. It was pouring down rain, my entire body was soaked, and no one was on the course but me. I had played 10 holes up to that point and figured it was time to head in before I caught a cold. Right before I decided to make my way back in to the clubhouse, I thought to myself that one more shot couldn’t hurt. Rummaging through my golf bag I found a Srixon practice ball I snagged from the range and switched it with the ball I had drove onto the right side of the fairway. I pulled out my eight iron, figuring I had about 150 yards or so to the pin. Because of the rain intensity, I decided not to take any practice strokes on this final shot. Next thing I knew, the ball was descending onto the green. Since the green was slick it took two large skidding hops and rolled another five feet and into the cup. I had made eagle for the first time on a Par 4. That day I fell in love with golf, and more specifically I fell in love with golfing in the rain.
The aforementioned statements happened when I was 11 years old. It is safe to say that I have felt the same way about the game ever since. My love for the game began in Western, Pennsylvania. The courses I played growing up were in the mountains, fairways always lined with trees on either side, and greens consistently tiny. Donald Ross had designed over 30 courses in PA and the majority of them were within an hour and a half from my house. Weather in the summer varied from a 95 degree day with a bright blue sly to a 50 degree day filled with thunderstorms. As a result of the weather inconsistencies, I became accustomed to wearing rain gloves. The tight fairways, small greens, and inconsistent weather were all variables I had to consider going out to play 18 as a kid.
Friends who know me as a golfer would say I am unjustifiably loyal to the TaylorMade brand. Recently, I purchased irons to go along with my TM putters, woods, wedges, and balls. Similarly, I also consider myself loyal to my roots. With that said, if I were to choose one state to golf in for the rest of my life I would easily choose Pennsylvania. It’s quirky nature and tree-lined fairway coupled with the weather often playing a significant factor on game play is the perfect blend for a guy who loves over-analzying shots and playing in 35 degree weather in mid-January. Loyalty is something I will always show to my golf game, whether I am grinding on days off (of work) or flexing on my amateur counterparts with my matching clubs, I will always love golf in Pennsylvania. For the sake of answering this question directly, there I shall remain.
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