“Well, do ya punk?”: If golf fairways could speak, oh the things we might hear

by Rick Vogel


        Arriving at the club for a round of golf, you meet your buddy in the parking lot, and as the two of you are headed for the clubhouse, he stops, pulls a black cigarillo out of his top shirt pocket, cups a lit match in both hands, and then affixes you with a squinty stare.  He says, "You've got to ask yourself one question:  'Do I feel lucky?'  Well, do ya punk?"

        If you are a golfer in Carmel, CA, you might just be at Tehama Golf Club, Clint Eastwood's Carmel bayside course designed by Jay Moorish. Getting a tee time is problematic since the club's membership is by invitation only, and should you choose the path of home ownership to achieve membership, lots start at $2.5 million.

        To walk the fairways of the rich and/or famous, other choices abound.  If you are of a certain age, you might recall the exploits of those

"Never bet with anyone you meet on the first tee who has a deep suntan, a one-iron in his bag and squinty eyes."

who played Kino Springs Golf Course on the 5,280-acre Yerba Buena Ranch near Nogales AZ.   A half century ago, the course was designed by Red Lawrence, the "Desert Fox, " and owned by actors Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons.  It played host to such guests as Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne; the "Duke" owned a bungalow on the course and played there regularly.  Thoughts of Eastwood and Wayne recall the advice from 1965 PGA champ Dave Marr, "Never bet with anyone you meet on the first tee who has a deep suntan, a one-iron in his bag and squinty eyes."

        If you like your martinis shaken, not stirred, you could try a round at The Stoke Park Club in Buckinghamshire, England where James Bond teed it up against Goldfinger and his lethal caddy Oddjob.  Bond inventor and author Ian Fleming had a passion for golf.  If not any old Brit will do as your partner for a round of golf on native soil, there's The Royal Household Golf Club.  Sited on the grounds of Windsor Castle, it is veddy British and very, very private.  For an early tee time, you had better know Queen Elizabeth II or her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh!

        Should AOL founder Steve Case invite you to play 18 holes, get ready for a treat at Case’s own private Robin Nelson designed course in Puakea, Hawaii.  The golf course was used as a setting in the movie Jurassic Park so beware of raptors if you chase your ball too far into the thicket surrounding the layout.

        Enjoy rubbing elbows with the rich and famous in the world of politics and sports?  Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, NJ, and Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas just might fill the bill.  At Liberty National, the Cupp/Kite design that cost $250 million to build and will set you back a cool $500K for initiation fees, you might find yourself teeing off with the likes of Rudolph Giuliani, Phil Mickelson or Eli Manning with the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.  The Tom Fazio designed Shadow Creek won’t charge you an initiation fee, especially if you are a high roller at one of Steve Wynn's casinos, but at $500, the green fees are rich enough.   For some, the price may be reasonable for a chance to see the likes of Dubya Bush, Michael Jordan, or John Elway on an adjoining fairway.  When he wasn’t otherwise engaged, the late Wilt Chamberlain walked the Shadow Creek fairways as well.

        "Gentlemen, start your engines!"  Motor racing and golf combine at Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis.  In 1929 it was called "The Speedway Golf Course" but took on the new name after a Pete Dye redesign in 1991.  Most of the course plays adjacent to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but holes 7 thru 10 play on the racecourse’s infield.   Things get a little crowded on Memorial Day during the running of the Indianapolis 500.

        You probably won’t see too many Jeep Cherokees in the parking lot of Cherokee Plantation in Yemassee SC.  Annual dues compare with the cost of a Porsche, and joining fees equal a Bentley or two.  What do you expect from a course whose designer, Donald Steel, is the only one permitted to tweak the Old Course at St. Andrews?  Cherokee Plantation was once owned by RB Evens, president of American Motors and, yes, your Jeep Cherokee was named after the Plantation.

        Golf is an international game, and if you would like to capture its worldwide nature in just one round, head for Portal, ND, and the Gateway Cities Golf Club.  The clubhouse and first hole start in the U.S. and the remaining eight holes play north of the border in Canada.  We trust they serve Molson at the 19th hole (actually the 10th at Gateway Cities).


Rick Vogel is a resident of golf community Wolf Laurel north of Asheville, NC where he lives with wife Lynne and retriever Goldie (who has as much golf ball retriever as Golden Retriever in her).  Rick has written for us before, most notably a popular piece on how he and Goldie have rescued thousands of golf balls from the weeds and creeks at Wolf Laurel.


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