We have just started our adventure and the first stop is Philadelphia where we are scheduled to play Merion East tomorrow and then Pine Valley the following day. To say we are excited is an extreme understatement. Months of planning and preparation have landed us at the Le Meridien Downtown Philadelphia Hotel Bar talking with our new-found friends, David and Dara, who are from Oklahoma. Over a few drinks we start telling them about our journey and why we are sitting next to them enjoying cocktails (Hendricks and Tonic for Ashley and a Chopin Dry Vodka Martini Up for myself). David and Dara seem like a very fun couple as they are extolling on the virtues of their bar hopping adventure the night before. Basically, they know exactly where the restaurant we are planning on going later is, however, they can’t really give us exact directions because it was the very last bar of their tour. I really like these two already! Before we leave, David asks us if there are any courses in Oklahoma on the top 100 list. We explain the only course is Southern Hills in Tulsa which is number 38. (Ashley knows the list almost by heart). David then offers to help us get on Southern Hills as between them they know a lot of golfers in Tulsa who are probably members. We exchange numbers with David and head off to dinner. What a great first few cocktails on this journey. Met some nice people, had some seriously strong libations and got a hook up to Southern Hills! Wow! We look forward to seeing David and Dara again in Oklahoma!
After a very nice dinner at Pub and Kitchen with some of Ashley’s work colleagues; we head back to our room in anticipation of playing Merion East when we wake up. We have been in touch with our host and she has graciously offered to play golf with us rain or shine. The weather forecast is abysmal for tomorrow but Ashley and I have played in snow so we feel confident that anything the storm gods throw our way we can handle.
Unfortunately, I wake up to an email from our host displaying clearly in the subject line “Merion Closed”. What a bummer! Ashley isn’t awake yet so I decide to go for a walk and find a local Starbucks. After a massive caffeine intake, I am ready to move on from this monumental disappointment. I have been so excited to play Merion East that I was almost giddy. Merion East is the number 7 ranked course on our list and is the site of the 2013 US Open. Additionally, our host has been awesome to communicate with and is a good friend of a friend of mine from Newport Beach. Not only was I looking forward to playing the course but I knew that we would meet some great people. For both of us, meeting people along our journey is almost as fun as playing fabulous golf courses.
To say the weather forecast for today is poor is a massive understatement. The meteorologists are expecting over an inch of rain, 40 mile per hour plus winds and the city is currently in a tornado warning. So what should we do today?? Pretty easy decision for Ashley and I. We are playing golf!
After checking local public golf course rankings and calling courses to see if they are open (3 of the 5 we called are closed due to weather), we decide to drive about 45 minutes to The Golf Course at Glen Mills. Glen Mills was opened in 2001 and was designed by noted architect Bobby Weed. Glen Mills has hosted qualifiers for both the US Open and US Amateur and has been voted the best public golf course in Philadelphia several times. Upon arriving at the course around 11:30AM, we are greeted by several shocked PGA Professionals. They tell us there is only one other group on the course and that they teed off before the weather “turned sour”. We are welcome to play but given the weather the course is cart path only and we need to be very careful of lightning. After checking our handicaps for the course (I’m a 2 and Ashley is an 11), getting a quick bite to eat (snack bar was closed except for hot dogs), and agreeing on our standard wager of a $20 Nassau; we settle into our cart and go right to the first tee. No warm up necessary for this round!
Overall, the course was very nice. It was in magnificent shape, had a lot of extremely demanding golf holes and played incredibly fair. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable. It rained almost the entire round and the wind was a steady 30-40 miles per hour. Since this course is not on our overall top 100 list and the weather didn’t allow for any note taking; I am not going to write much about the round. That might also be due to the fact that I played my worst round in years. I ended up shooting a 96 (47-49) and Ashley shot a very respectable 86 (43-43). No birdies for either one of us. This round now represents the first time that Ashley has ever beaten me straight up. We have probably played over 100 rounds together and to say that I wanted the first round of our journey to be the day that he finally beat me would be a lie. The only saving grace to the round was that Ashley played a miserable 17th and 18th to only win $40 from me in our Nassau bet.