The 20 golf items on the common man's bucket list


The 20 golf items on the common man's bucket list

October 31, 2015

Photo By: Photo: Courtesy of Threetops Course

Photo By: Jeff Haynes / Getty Images

Photo By: Photo: Stephen Szurlej

Play a round with blades and persimmon woods

Anyone can play golf with today's oversized drivers and forgiving, cavity-based irons. If you want to test your mettle, put a set of hickories in your bag and see if you can break 80. Bonus points if you use a featherie or gutty.

Play a competitive putt-putt match vs. a friend

Those windmills and waterfalls look cute now. See if those sentiments remain if you have to bank one off Stone Mountain and through sand traps to beat your buddy.

Host a charity outing

Golf? Great. Golf outings? Greater. Golf outings whose proceeds go to a good cause? Simply the greatest, my friend. For help in putting together an event, read our how-to outing manual.

Party at the Waste Management Open

Some say this rowdy atmosphere is the antithesis of golf, that all civility is lost in Phoenix. To them I say, "Lighten up, tight ass." That the Waste Management Open mood is contrary to what the sport usually sees is why the players, caddies, PGA Tour and fans love the event. See what all the fuss is about for yourself.

Night Golf

Detractors look at night golf as a gimmick, yet I don't know a single person who's tried it and come away with a negative impression. The balls don't go as far, and -- spoiler alert -- it's not exactly easy to play in the dark. But night golf isn't about shooting the lowest score; it's adding a new dimension of interest to the game. And in that regard, night golf soars.

The Treetops Par 3 Course

Affectionately known as "Threetops," the Northern Michigan track has been noted by Golf Digest as America's Best Par 3 Course. Elevated greens and tree-hugged outlines make Threetops a scenic experience. And it's far from a pushover, with contoured greens and multiple bunkers on nearly every hole.

Photo By: Photo: Courtesy of Threetops Course


Treat a friend or family member to a round with their bag over your shoulder. The gesture will be warmly received, and it will give you new appreciation to the thankless job that loopers provide.

Sneak onto your local country club

It's the adult equivalent of skipping school to attend Opening Day. Not that you should be egregious or destructive in this manner, but if it's getting late and the course is open, what's the harm in making your way around the grounds in stealth mode? At worst, you get kicked out of a place you don't belong. In the words of me, "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission."

Pilgrimage to Scotland

This seemingly breaks our "everyman" tenet of this list. However, the great thing about Scottish golf is that, unlike the rest of the world, the sport is a game of the people. Young and old, rich and poor, women and men all congregate on the golf grounds. Each links has enough history to fill volumes of a library, and most are easy to traverse. Better yet, most of the courses -- including the Old Course if you time it right -- won't put a dent in your wallet.

Build your own backyard hole

To hell with HOA regulations or landscape aesthetics. You don't have to be Donald Ross to construct a makeshift green or hole. Trim your grass at a slightly lower blade level, dig a hole and you have a place to chip. For those without the space, strip out carpet in one of your rooms, lay down some turf and voila! -- your own putting surface.

Hit balls at Chelsea Piers

As a Midwesterner, I initially perceived the Chelsea Piers hype as East Coast bias. I am happy to say I was wrong off base. The Manhattan multi-story driving range is a surreal landscape, with the golfer smacking those pearly whites into the Hudson River, surrounded by the skyrises of Gotham.

Experience Cross Country Golf

Unfamiliar with this idea? Map out the two farthest points on the golf course from each other and play from one outpost to the next as a single hole. True story: I used to work at a golf course that was surrounded by housing development, meaning there was some travel involved from hole to hole. Because of this protracted layout, our "cross-country hole" was 2.3 miles. I'm not sure what par was, but I know we didn't make it.

Successfully execute a Happy Gilmore swing

It's a goofy movie; you can even argue it's not that good. But anyone who claims they haven't tried, at least ONCE, the trademark golf swing of Adam Sandler is a stone-cold liar.

Get into a contentious match play event

If you've ever been accused of knocking someone's fortitude or mental toughness on the golf course, put yourself in a heated match play battle against a friend or foe (or both), and see if your psyche remains unscathed.

Watch the Walker Cup

Or as most know it, the Ryder Cup of amateur golf. But instead of exuberant ticket prices, admission to the Walker Cup is competitive, if not lower, in cost than most major sporting events. The venues certainly aren't lacking: the last three American sites were the National Golf Links of America, Merion and Chicago GC. Neither is the level of talent: Rising tour stars Michael Kim, Justin Thomas, Patrick Rodgers and Matthew Fitzpatrick competed in the 2013 match. The 2017 Walker Cup is at Los Angeles Country Club.

Try to get in as many holes in one day as possible

You don't have to run between shots, like Mr. Spieth here. Instead, tee off at the crack of dawn, and don't leave the course til the sun dips out of sight. Your minimum should be 54 holes. And yes, feel free to take a cart.

Enter or qualify for a tournament

Chances are you won't be taking home hardware. But playing an entire round where you aren't given any putts, are playing by the rules and putting yourself in a "me against the world" mentality is an oddly-compelling endeavor.

Photo By: Jeff Haynes / Getty Images

Play a big-money match

You'd be amazed how long a four-foot putt can look when a few Benjamins -- or the possibility of losing them -- are staring you in the eyes.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort

Opened in 1999, the Bandon complex has quickly become a favorite, and affordable, golf-trip destination in the United States. The resort offers four courses and the charming par-3 Preserve course, and despite their varying difficulties, all are critically-acclaimed. The small-town feel -- Bandon's population hovers around 3,000 strong -- adds to this golf-induced aroma, similar to that of St. Andrews or Pinehurst.

Photo By: Photo: Stephen Szurlej

Make a hole-in-one

This is the hardest item to check-off, as many golfers spend their entire lives chasing an elusive ace. But that makes catching this proverbial white whale all the more satisfying.

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