Updated: Jun 1
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
I know its cliché to quote the famous literary genius of American culture, one Dr. Seuss, but that is the first thing that popped into my mind when looking at the map. It is a little crazy to see it all laid out this way.
If you’ve followed along on previous posts, you’ve gotten a little bit of the story but this is the main reason for this whole tMP thing: we play golf in a lot of places around this state and want to share and celebrate those places with others. We also want to make sure these places are here for years to come. I knew this journey was going to take me to some wild places, but I never imagined how fulfilling it would be.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
Will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Below, you’ll find a piece I wrote that was published in The Golfer’s Journal, Number 7, in the spring of 2019. I couldn't believe it when they told me it was actually happening but was so grateful for the opportunity to write it. This was the spark that lit the fire to explore more places and tell their stories. Which is how we got here: the Middle Pin.
If you’re here reading this, I’d highly suggest subscribing to The Golfer’s Journal for much more well-written pieces than anything we could ever hope to produce. We appreciate their willingness to let us re-post the article for this blog as well (shout-out Travis for all your help!).
I’m afraid that some times
You’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
‘cause you’ll play against you.
This map isn’t finished and the journey isn’t complete. There are so many other people and places to meet! Sorry. I’ve been listening to a lot of Seuss while writing…
The purpose of this post is to show what is out there to experience. This is the golf all around us; some of it is world class, others should be considered a class about the world. All are special in their own ways and are there for you to experience too.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!
Excerpt originally published in The Golfer's Journal, No. 7, Spring 2019.
Play On, Wayward Son
Tales from the road on a Sunflower State golf mission
I didn’t think we’d make it. His cart was one of those old three-wheeled rigs with the steering bar between the seats. The owner of this rickety thing had me in age by close to a half century and it felt like the cart did too.
But this how they rolled in Glasco, Kansas, population 473 (at last count). It was my first experience playing on sand greens and I happily accepted all rides and playing tips. No way I would have raked the greens right if I were solo. I don’t remember what those two old codgers shot, but it was way too close for comfort for me, a single-digit handicapper. A short course with sand greens on a windswept afternoon in Cloud County has a way of leveling the playing field.
But the score wasn’t the point. I’ll never forget how the passenger side of that ancient cart shuddered under my added weight, or the sound of the ball crunching along the sand after a solid putt. That’s just one set of memories I’ve gathered on my journey to play golf in all 105 counties in the Sunflower State.
The adventure began a couple of years ago. Out of random curiosity, I began charting the places I’d played on the state map in my office and found I’d already bagged nearly a quarter of the counties. I imagine my next thought was the same one that has launched countless other semi-ridiculous golf missions: “I should play them all.”
As I near the halfway point now, I understand this will take years to complete. And I don’t mind at all. I’ll savor the low numbers in places like Manhattan, Syracuse, Minneapolis, and Madison (Kansas, that is). I even cherish the bad rounds: barely squeaking out a win against my old man in Kingman; losing to my best friend, Kevin, in Abilene after falling apart when my ball got stuck in a tree; the seventh hole in Mound City that came out of nowhere and still haunts my dreams.
Golf is a job for a lucky few and a passion for the rest of us. And this ride through Kansas is bordering on obsession. It’s affecting how I plan my day-to-day life. Road trips, for work or pleasure, now go the long way so I can color in another red square on my map.
The driving force is to finish, but I’ve found the real juice is in the journey. So many stories: playing in Larned on a sunny day in January while on my way to a (non-court mandated) presentation at the state prison; a solemn nine after visiting my grandfather’s grave in Iola; watching my brother leap from the cart at Rolling Meadows after getting stung on his tongue by a bee that flew into his beer the day my sister got married. There aren’t any water coolers on the course in Medicine Lodge, but there is a beer vending machine in the clubhouse with the coldest, cheapest beer in town. Pray the wind isn’t blowing at the Fort Hays Muni and that you find your way to Prairie Dunes outside Hutchinson. I hope to remember each one for the rest of my life – but I’ve got my journal just in case.
I don’t have a plan for when the last square is colored in. Thankfully I’ve got many miles and a few more sand greens to figure it out. For now, I’m just enjoying the bumpy cart rides and plotting trips to Augusta and Washington (Kansas, that is).
Glad you're here. - tMP