Open takes place this weekend on my favorite golf course

Sometimes it is difficult to place the favorite tag on anything. For example, what is your favorite meal? Personally I would have to include several entrees in that discussion. And yes, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese would make the cut!

As for golf courses, there is no hesitation. Pebble Beach Golf Links is No. 1. I have been there twice — no, I have never played it — and it is a spectacular venue.

Before I get into the game of golf, I’d like to give you some of my other favorites. Having been to all 50 states in this great country, there are some special places. I’ll share a few with you and then return to the site of this year’s U.S. Open.

Favorite place: Yellowstone National Park. Where does one start to describe this slice of heaven? The snow-capped peaks of the mountains are so different from our neck of the woods. With that as a background, you get to watch Old Faithful spout off every 40 minutes or so. If you have the fortitude you can take Uncle Tom’s Trail down to the base of the waterfalls on the Yellowstone River. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The fountain paint pots are cool, as are the Mammoth Hot Springs. The best thing about Yellowstone however, is the wildlife. You don’t get to see bison every day, or elk, and a plethora of bald eagles.

On one of our trips there we were eating lunch in a picnic area when a bear forded a nearby river. As other folks went to get a closer look, I was taking my family to the car. Discretion is the better part of valor.

A pass to Yellowstone includes admission to Grand Teton National Park to the south. Truth be known, Grand Teton is actually prettier than Yellowstone, though both are incredible. If you have never been there, by all means go. Perhaps it will become your favorite place as well.

Favorite City: San Francisco. I’ve been here twice and am mesmerized every time. To ride a cable car, drive down Lombard Street (billed as the “crookedest” street in the world) and gaze out at the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz is fascinating.

We spent every evening at Fisherman’s Wharf, eating at nice restaurants and watching street performers. It can be chilly — even in the summer — but San Francisco is worth the trip.

Favorite ballpark: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City. Having been to 56 major league stadiums, I’m often asked which one is the best. My answer is the home of the Royals, but with a qualifier.

Kauffman Stadium is beautiful with the fountains in the outfield. It used to have artificial turf which has been replaced with natural grass. My qualifier is that the park that I like is the one after the synthetic turf was removed, but before they took out some of the fountains to build luxury boxes.

One of the best features of the ballpark is the fact that it is so clean. Fans will walk up several steps to deposit trash in a container rather than stuff it under their seats. This is the only stadium where this takes place.

Favorite beach: Myrtle. Sorry Pebble, but my family used to go to Myrtle Beach over spring break whenever we could get the school calendars to line up. The kids had so much fun on the beach and the adults loved to relax on the balcony and listen to the ocean waves lap against the shore.

The trip refreshed us and made us ready to tackle the rigors of the end of the school year upon our return.

Favorite vacation: Alaska, hands down. For our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife and I took a cruise to Alaska with my brother and sister-in-law, Dennis and Nancy Coleman. Everything about the trip was sensational with the scenery and wildlife taking center stage.

We went on a whale watching excursion and watched a family of Orcas glide through the water alongside our boat. Mom, dad and three “little” Orcas were so graceful.

We also took a Homestead Husky Tour to the residence of multi Iditarod race winner Jeff King. At the beginning of the tour we were given Husky puppies to hold. I missed part of the sled dog demonstration which took place next as “my” puppy and I were not done bonding.

In Denali National Park an animal wilderness tour proved exciting. We saw moose, bighorn sheep, wolves and we even had to stop the bus to let a mother grizzly and her two cubs cross the road.

Later, as we rounded a turn, the bus driver exclaimed, “Oh, my God, there’s Denali.” This is what the natives call Mount McKinley, the highest peak in the country. Since it generates its own clouds, it is only visible a couple of days per month. Now you know why the driver was so surprised.

This meant an additional eight miles would be added to the excursion to a preferred viewing spot. The sight was incredible.

You know a vacation was special when the following occurs: on the last day as the four of us were standing together, I asked each person to name the favorite part of the trip. Nobody was willing to name just one thing as there were so many highlights. It was the meal thing all over again!

Well, that brings us to Pebble Beach, my favorite golf course. The Seventeen Mile Drive that takes you to the famed course is so scenic. When we arrived, my wife and I walked down the first fairway. When we got to the green, we turned right and headed to the 17th tee. From there we walked up the 18th, perhaps the most famous hole in golf.

The views of the ocean were remarkable. I remembered thinking that it would be hard to concentrate on golf with everything to look at around you. A comment from Graham McDowell confirmed that thought during the first round on Thursday.

He said he came to Pebble Beach to win a golf tournament, not to sightsee. He then quickly added, well, maybe a little bit here. Yes, it’s that beautiful.

As you watch some great golf over the next couple of days, take time to check out the scenery. You will see dogs chasing balls or sticks on the beach. You may see otters playing in the water, or even a whale a little farther out.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is definitely a special place.

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