While we’re all crafting our 2023 golf goals (decrease my handicap by four strokes; play golf in two new states), I can’t help but reflect on how 2022 became the best golf year of my life.
Some fellas measure their success by the quantity of rounds played or the prestige of them, but I’m here to tell you about some of the memorable moments that shaped the best golf year of my life.
There was a hot Sunday in June with my friend and her dad. The Bedford Golf turkey club at the turn hit the spot. I made sweet love to my pitching wedge on some of the approach shots on the back nine. I drove home with a few extra plastic ball markers in my pocket because who doesn’t love an animal logo?
Then there was the squeal heard across the course at Watchung Valley Golf Course when I yelped for my friend whose second shot on the 10th hole was magic. The guys across the fairway thought she holed out from roughly 100 yards. No pal, it was a beautiful shot onto the green and that’s the kind of energy I bring for my friends. A couple of months later, a group of us played again where we ended the round with draught beers, nachos and a heated debate for the Mount Rushmore of types of potatoes.
It’s always special playing with golf friends, but it’s even sweeter when I get to play with a friend from my time before picking up a golf club (we’ll call that BPAGC vs BC). We didn’t play all 18. We only played 10 holes because there were a couple of rain delays that afternoon. My playing partner STUCK ONE on his approach shot on the 8th hole and I’m still thinking about the Sahara Bunkers on seven. And if there were ever a list of “best bunker rakes,” I’m nominating Philadelphia Cricket Club.
This next one is a little sassy. It’s about being in a place where you never thought you’d be. Where you were told you’ll never have access. But first, story time.
After the summer of 2018 when I took my very first golf lesson, I had an appetite for golf content that could never be satiated. I listened to hours of new podcasts and watched dozens of videos online. Hell, I even bought a copy of Golf Digest at Grand Central before getting on a train home (and they say print media is dead). I was hooked on learning about golf courses across the country, dreaming of limitless possibilities. I stumbled upon a video of the Foreplay guys at Palmetto Golf Club and Riggs looked (arguably) straight into the camera saying that this is an exclusive golf club and most of you will never get to play here. Rejection blows. His confident demeanor stung.
So fast forward four years later and I feel giddy from the invitation. I’m Charlie and I just found the golden ticket in the wrapped candy bar. A few weeks before I flew to South Carolina for the first time, I was scrolling deep into the Instagram Geotag that is Palmetto Golf Club. The sign on Berrie Road was just like I had researched, but it didn’t feel real until I saw it for myself. The golf exceeded my expectations and it was a type of golf I had never experienced before. I’ll never forget the experience of sticking my tee into the ground and saying to my cart mate how ‘it doesn’t slide as easily at home in Connecticut’ (shout out to Bermuda grass and shout out Michael Scott).
When I came home from these next two trips I said to my friends and co-workers, picture this: It’s like a bachelorette party without anyone getting married and it’s filled with girls who flew down for warm weather and golf. My long weekends at Casa de Campo and Seabrook Island were a boozy female friendship hug. I laughed more times than I made par. I was reminded how lucky I am that I’ve made such great friends from this game. When I see these pencils in the jar on my shelf, I always smile.
Have you ever played golf the day before your friend’s wedding? The tee sheet included a bride, groom, father of the bride, bridesmaids, groomsmen and friends from across the country. I didn’t have, “take a picture with the bride after your tee shot at the ninth hole at Inverness Club” on my 2022 bingo card, but I’m so glad I was able to check that off. It’s a special experience to be paired with strangers who steadily become your friends by the end of a few holes. From all the weddings I’ve attended within the past few years, you feel a special love between friends and family of the couple, and it was unique to feel that on a golf course too. The hot dog at the turn slapped and as did the camaraderie in the pro shop during the thunderstorm. But I guess an open keg in a pro shop will do that.
In the movie Moneyball Brad Pitt’s character says, “how can you not be romantic about baseball?” The same could be said about Bandon Dunes. Put your golf bag aside, Oregon is breathtakingly gorgeous. Now pick up your golf bag because you’re in for a real fucking treat. I was reunited with my GOAT caddie, Coop (we met at Streamsong the year prior) and we kicked off the trip at Old MacDonald [Moment of silence for the ghost tree]. The days that would follow would include a loop around the Preserve, Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Sheep Ranch and Bandon Trails. I’m not an author and I’m not Mike Keiser (shocking, I know) so just read their books to learn more because you and I both know I can’t do it justice. The only thing I could do was compare each course to a Taylor Swift album. Fore the Ladies made my Bandon Dunes dreams come true and I couldn’t believe that I was lucky enough to walk the grounds. Of all places I’ve ever traveled to, this is the one I would drop everything for if a tee time opened tomorrow.
The gravy on top of the mashed potatoes (one of the types of potatoes on my Mount Rushmore) was my round on the Upper Loop at Old Barnwell. This seven-hole loop was the first of many rounds to come and OB is distinguished as a place for all who love it. Old Barnwell’s community-based mission is to bring people together through golf, no matter their race or identity. I can’t tell you exactly what time we teed off, but it was the ultimate golden hour and a treat considering I could squeeze in a round at the end of December (a first for this New Yorker). We cracked open beers from a Yeti cooler stationed at the fourth tee box and pumped some tunes from one of our speakers. Mashed potatoes aside, the round was truly gravy. I never thought a place like Old Barnwell would exist and I’m so grateful I found it. I’m so excited to see what’s to come in 2023 and I can’t wait for the countless memories made down the fairway.
About the Author: Chelsea Kalt is an Account Manager for an ad tech company that rhymes with smick-smock. She currently resides on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her dog Parker. Her Mount Rushmore of potatoes are mashed potatoes, waffle fries, a baked potato and potato chips.