Do you have a bucket list? You know, that list of places you’d like to visit and experience one day? As golfers, we can put together quite an extensive bucket list. I certainly have one, and I’ve been fortunate to have checked a couple off of the list. However, I am nowhere near being done.
My bucket list for golf includes not only golf courses, but golf experiences. As a freshman at The University of New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Monterey Peninsula to compete in the NCAA Championships being held at Poppy Hills. As a team, we had an opportunity to escape over to play on Pebble Beach one afternoon. It was an unbelievable experience. We have all seen enough golf played at Pebble Beach that we probably recall some of the more famous moments. Perhaps the greatest moment is that of Tom Watson chipping in from behind the 17th green to help defeat Jack Nicklaus and win the 1982 U.S. Open. When you play Pebble Beach, you MUST attempt that same chip shot. I certainly did.
Another bucket list moment came in 2002 when I had the opportunity to play at Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I had just recently become a PGA Professional, and I made arrangements to play at Oakmont when I happened to be visiting the area. Oakmont, as some of you may know, is most famous for its “Church Pews Bunker.” It’s probably the only time I’ve intentionally aimed at a bunker. I had to experience it, and it was awesome to see.
By far, my greatest bucket list experience, thus far, came in 2008. That April, I attended The Masters with my dad and older brother. We were there on Wednesday and Thursday, which meant we got to experience the Par 3 Contest, and we saw Arnold Palmer hit the ceremonial first tee shot on Thursday. Walking the grounds on Wednesday was amazing. So many memories just flooded my mind. Sitting behind the 12th tee, I could recall Larry Mize chipping in at the 11th green to defeat Greg Norman in 1987. And who could forget the tee shot that Fred Couples left short of the 12th green that DID NOT go into the water when he won in 1992? The list goes on and on with Masters memories. What made it so special, however, was experiencing it with my dad.
My bucket list now consists of golf experiences I’d like to share with my son. He is only 6, so I have plenty of time to check off items on this list. Whether it be attending The Masters with him one day, or possibly traveling with him to golf in Scotland, I look forward to it all. We are all very fortunate to have been introduced to this wonderful game of golf. I hope each of you have an opportunity to experience and play some of the golf courses on your bucket list. No matter how big or small that list may be, I know the experience will be one you will never forget.