Friday, February 05, 2016

2015 Year in Review Part Three - Looking Ahead

Oh, hello gorgeous! The stunning par three 17th hole at Sand Hills Golf Club

After golf trips that saw me visit Texas, Georgia and North Carolina in the spring of 2015, along with a lengthy family trip to Alberta last summer, 2016 should be quiet by comparison. As it stands now, I'm planning to take only one golf trip in 2016 but I'm guessing it will prove to be a memorable one.

Looking Ahead

I'm very excited to be visiting Nebraska for the third time in late June of this year.

I haven't finalized many of the details yet but my plan would be to fly out of Buffalo on a Wednesday afternoon and ultimately arrive at Dismal River Golf Club on Thursday morning, just prior to the start of the 2016 5th Major, a wonderful annual event put on by my friend Eric.

A 2012 "Major" highlight: a 2nd place finish in the 5th Major at Dismal River in Mullen, Nebraska, with me in green shirt/black shorts and partner Tyler in baby blue

This will be my second appearance at both Dismal River and the 5th Major, with my first taking place four years ago in 2012, where I teamed up with Tyler K from the Winnipeg, Manitoba area and finished in second place. The photo above was taken just after Tyler and I lost out to a birdie (net eagle) on the last hole of the shootout in a thrilling finale. We played the Jack Nicklaus designed White Course for the event in 2012 and also had the chance to take part in a walking tour of the Red Course during the grow-in stages with the course's designer, Tom Doak.

Walking on Tatooine? Nope, just architect Tom Doak leading his flock on a tour of the Red Course at Dismal during construction in 2012

I'm excited to get the chance to play Doak's Red Course for the first time this summer and I'm greatly looking forward to seeing some good friends and enjoying the camaraderie at the 2016 5th Major. I still haven't decided if I'm bringing a friend to Nebraska to be my partner for the event or if I'll just go alone and pair up with another single. Lots of time for that decision!

From there, I'll be making my long dreamed about return to the exquisite Sand Hills Golf Club.

The glorious view from Ben's Porch at Sand Hills Golf Club, with the 9th green in the foreground

I was fortunate enough to visit Sand Hills for the one and only time in 2010 with my friend Harris, where we spent two full days and nights onsite, squeezing in six rounds during those 48 hours. I've written extensively about my thoughts on Sand Hills, with a pretty thorough trip report and a detailed hole-by-hole course profile being the highlights.

I've been incredibly fortunate to see some of the world's great golf courses in my lifetime and to this day, Sand Hills Golf Club is still the most special place I've visited. I'm honoured to have the rare opportunity to return and I can't thank my host enough for thinking of me and offering the invitation. There will be eight of us spending time together at SH, including a mutual friend of ours visiting the club for the first time so I'm sure it will be a very special couple of days.

From there, I think I'd like to head north to Valentine, Nebraska to play the two courses at The Prairie Club.

I haven't had the chance to visit the Prairie Club before and I'd really like to see the Tom Lehman and Chris Brands designed Dunes Course along with Graham Marsh's Pines Course. The resort also has a ten hole par 3 course designed by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford called the Horse Course.

Ideally, I'd spend about a day and a half onsite, which would allow me to potentially play three rounds on the two championship courses and one round on the Horse Course.

Dismal River, Sand Hills and Prairie Club...lots of potential for yet another memorable golf vacation!

That is it for golf-specific trips in 2016 but I'm guessing I'll be able to take some day trips here and there and perhaps get in a round or two during business trips.

One of those will be in early May when I head out to Vancouver for a few days of meetings. I'll have one free day while I'm there and I'd love to play two rounds of golf if possible. My two top choices would be Capilano Golf & Country Club, one of Stanley Thompson's most famous designs and Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, an A.V. Macan design. I've seen neither of these highly regarded courses in the past so it would be a thrill to visit them for the first time.

I'll also be taking another business trip in mid-August to the Detroit area, specifically the town of Birmingham. While there, it would be great to return to the storied Oakland Hills Country Club, where I played the vaunted South Course a couple years back. I'll be bringing my family for this particular trip so I'm not sure if I'll have enough time to play a round of golf but we'll see how things shake out as the summer approaches.

As for local day trips, I have plans to revisit courses like Beacon Hall and Lookout Point and also would love to finally visit courses like Toronto Golf Club, Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, the Toronto Hunt, Redtail Golf Club, Kawartha Golf & Country Club and the Country Club of Buffalo.

One of these years I'm going to get back into playing more competitive golf, whether it's at the local level (like the Niagara Men's Golf Tour) or at the provincial level. My game isn't quite ready for either yet but we'll see if I can build upon the improvements I made in my game last year.

As for Now on the Tee, it will continue to live on despite my sporadic writing output.

We had almost 17,000 pageviews in 2015, a number that is quite flattering but is actually down from previous years. Upon studying the analytics, it's quite clear why those pageviews are down - I'm not writing enough course profiles!

Most of the traffic on the site comes in through search engines and it's my course profiles that are easily the biggest draw. I only wrote two course profiles in 2015: Pebble Beach Golf Links and Champions Golf Club. I wrote NONE in 2014.

Simply put, I need to get back to writing these course profiles and I pledge to do that this year!

Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me and I hope to tee it up with as many of you as possible in 2016.



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