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  • Writer's pictureBob

Ready to go

Jinx or Coincidence

Last year when I stepped out to play the oldest public golf courses in the US I put together a fairly conservative schedule. I planned to get out and play 4 courses from The List over a regular golf season, which runs from about March to the end of October, and over a few years I would complete my adventure. I set out in March and I took a local approach to sort of test the waters with this idea I had to play the oldest public courses.

I would start at Mare Island Golf Course, a historic jewel established in 1892, play a tune up 18 before I drove to Monterey, CA, which is about 2 and ½ hours away to play Del Monte Golf Course the next day. When I left for the first part of my trip Friday morning it was a perfect day for golf and I was very excited to see what my journey had in store for me. Just before the parking lot of Mare Island I was stopped by a gate with a big CLOSED sign attached to it. Mare Island closed down, shut its doors, forever. Confused and disappointed I turned around and headed to Del Monte 5 hours early.

Two months ago I was planning season two of the journey and after studying the Map I could see a natural progression eastward across the country. I decided to follow the oldest public golf courses I played so far; two courses on the west coast, and two in Colorado, to the next closest course, which is in St. Louis.

Normandie Golf Course was the destination, and then...I learned it had closed its doors as well. Two years in a row the first course I was supposed to play closed up shop, jinx or coincidence? I’m waiting until next year to make that call. When I do start planning for next year I’ll let you all know what courses I plan to play and together we can see if I truly am the cause of these course closures.

Be Nimble

I adopted a philosophy early on while helping to raise our kids and that was; Embrace the Poop! Over time I was able to articulate that a little bit better and I would share with my kids as they grew up this concept; The Rules Change. What follow is a great example of this and what happens if you stay positive, be willing to "be bendy" with your plan, and keep moving forward.

I had added the Normandie Golf Course to The List over two years ago. I added it as a destination on my Golf War Room map, and I even learned that I have a friend living about 2 hours from the course and we made plans to meet up for a round. Two months ago I was picking dates to play Normandie and I hopped on their web site and that’s when I learned that The Rules Changed on my Mid-West trip golf destination.

First step, think to yourself No Problem. I was poking around the internet trying to learn why the course closed, was it temporary, if so, when would it open. After going down a few rabbit holes I stumbled over an article about the course closure from Jim Healey, author and local golf historian. I found my way to his web site and I learned about the book he wrote: Golfing Before the Arch: The History of St. Louis Golf, I began thinking, maybe I should buy a copy, maybe there are other books like this, let me see if there's a book on San Fransisco courses...Rabbit holes!! Once I crawled out of the hole I began wondering if there were any other historic courses in the St Louis area. So I wrote to Jim, and what seemed like minutes Jim wrote back to me!.

Jim fully explained what happened to Normandie. Bottom line; The course may re-open, but the issue is about funding and there is a three way fight for ownership, which often means this issue will be dragged on for some time. Then in more detail he went on to suggest a few other courses that might fit into my criteria, even one on Kansas City.

Second step, rethink the plan. I’m now headed to Forest Park in St Louis. Forest Park, officially opened to the public on June 24, 1876, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. At around 1,300 acres it is bigger than Central Park in New York. It’s also home to two historic golf courses;

Forest Park Golf Course and Highlands Golf and Tennis Club. Forest Park was also the site of the 1904 World Fair. If I stayed on my original track I would have never discovered these other options. Two courses to play, walk the grounds of the 1904 World's Fair, and there's even a zoo in the park as well. A negative turned into a positive.

And finally, keep moving forward. I actually didn’t have to change too much of my original plan to move forward. However, if I simply threw my hands in the air when I learned that Normandie closed that would have been very short sighted. Keeping my mind on moving forward with the plan, reaching out to Jim was proactive, helping the plan move forward.

Moving Forward

So now at this moment I’m booked on a flight to St. Louis for the 14th of May, I will be in Forest Park playing one of the two courses on the 15th. I will then drive two hours to meet up with my friend from High School on the 16th to play at his home course. The following day I will head back to St. Louis, and if time allows I will play the second course in Forest Park before I head home later in the day.

The Rules Changed and it was no problem, I have a better plan, and I moved forward and booked my flight to St; Louis. What could go wrong…

See you on the course.

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