Golf course quest for married couple hits home for this columnist

A buddy of mine handed me a newspaper article at — appropriately enough — the golf course this past week. He thought I might enjoy reading it. He was right.

The story appeared in the Findlay Courier last month and featured the end (at least for now) of a six-year journey to play the game of golf. Mike and Marilyn Allen from Columbus Grove walked off the 18th green at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California. This brought their dream of playing all of the Top 100 public golf courses in America, as listed in Golf Digest, to fruition.

Before you start thinking that playing 100 golf courses would be incredibly time consuming and not very practical, I should mention that this was the 194th course they played. You see, the magazine publishes a new list every two years and their quest was to play all the courses that were EVER listed!

With a new list coming out this year, the quest will continue.

As I perused the article, I couldn’t help but think about my hobby and how many parallels there were to the Allens’ quest. Anita and I have been going to baseball games at major league stadiums for our entire nearly 39 years of marriage. When we visited SunTrust Park in Atlanta last September, it was ballpark No. 56. That caught us up again so that we can continue to tell people that we have been to every major league stadium.

Mike Allen is writing a book about his adventure and it will include some amazing facts. For example, he and Marilyn have traveled through 49 states, covered 55,000 miles and played 3,492 holes of golf. Wow, I’m so tempted…

Several comments from Mike in the article found me smiling and nodding in agreement. Let’s take a look at some of them.

“Planning multi-course trips that last from seven to 22 days like ours may seem to some folks as a difficult exercise, but if you start early, do your homework on the internet and make a few phone calls, it can be a very satisfying part of the journey.”

When the summer months rolled around you could find me sitting down with the baseball schedules and a Road Atlas. It was fun to plan our trips. You locate a few ballparks, calculate how long it will take you to get from Point A to Point B and you make the necessary arrangements.

I recall spending many enjoyable hours setting up the itinerary for our baseball adventures. As Mike said, it becomes very satisfying.

Here’s another quote from Mike Allen: “although the primary reason for this trip was golf, we also wanted to start traveling so we could see the United States and to experience the many wonders of this vast country.”

That was so true for us as well and I think we had more time to sightsee than the Allens. On one of their earliest trips they played 13 courses in 16 days. That does not leave a lot of time for other activities. My wife and I, on the other hand, combined our ballpark visits with many stops along the way. One trip will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

When the Arizona Diamonbacks got their major league franchise, we were off for Phoenix. On the way to the main purpose of the trip, here’s what we did. We stopped and went up in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. We then visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. See me and ask me about the very emotional beginning of that tour.

A stop at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo gave us a view of the 72 ounce steak that is free if a patron can eat the incredibly huge hunk of meat and all the trimmings in less than an hour. We opted for something a little smaller to eat! We drove past the Buddy Holly statue in Lubbock, before watching hundreds of bats swarm out at dusk from Carlsbad Caverns.

Stops at White Sands National Monument and Saguaro National Park highlighted the final day before arriving at our destination. Mike is absolutely right in saying that there are many wonders in this country. In fact, when I tell people about my ballpark trips, I invariably tell them that it’s been a great way to see the country.

One final comment from Mike Allen sums up what our quests are all about. He says, “it has brought me more joy that I can describe, more friends than I deserve and an activity that Marilyn and I can enjoy together until we are no more.”

What a great way to describe things. While the Allen’s await Golf Digest’s next list of Top 100 public golf courses, Anita and I wait patiently for the 2020 baseball schedule to come out. You see, the Texas Rangers are opening a new stadium next year!

There will come a day when Mike and Marilyn will no longer be able to play golf. There will also come a day when Anita and I will no longer be able to travel to baseball stadiums.

But until that happens… let the glorious quests continue!

Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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