Exclusive Essay by Nick Aquilino (Mr. 1,000)
First of all, I would like to comment generally. Anything to do with golf is of interest, at least enough of an interest to give an initial look. Secondly, I find it interesting that individuals have such a wide variety of opinions, but I guess that is the same for all things including wine, women and song, as the old saying goes. There are several areas I will address as a golfer of 57 years and still not tired of it. I will not get to all of it in one shot, but it will come. My first category:
THE QUEST FOR 1,000
I started playing golf at 11 years of age. My dad was a good athlete and wanted me to be a baseball player like he was. Golf became the only focus after a win at 13 in a junior tournament. Some time when I was around 15 or so I read an article in a magazine called GOLFING about a guy who had played 1,000 golf courses. That idea always stuck in my mind. Some time shortly thereafter I decided to collect score cards for each course I had played. I was collecting everything else, primarily baseball cards from bubble gum packages. There were a few courses I had played that I did not save cards for, and I was able to get them by writing the pro with a stamped return address envelope. Once I had a card from every course I was hooked, and I saved a card from every one to this day. As I look back, this was an important step in my quest for 1,000. Having the cards allowed me to keep track of the number I played without guessing. Several years ago I moved to Florida and realized that I had a chance to get to 1,000 because of all the different courses there. I decided that I would actively seek courses I had not played. The numbers came fast. I played number 800 the first week in May of 2003. Everywhere I went I made time for a round at a different course. I got to 1,000 in the amazing time of 20 months. I actually played an average of 10 different courses a month for the twenty months. I am now at 1,120, so I have not slowed down much. I will say it is becoming more difficult to put the numbers up since the easy access courses have dried up. I will just have to go on the road more, but that should not be a problem.
There are three things that I found that a golfer needs to reach 1,000: time, cash and desire, not necessarily in any order. The time part may be further broken down into time to travel. Another aspect is location. If a golfer lives in one place, the available courses get played fast. I was fortunate to live a number of different places so I could accumulate lots of different courses from each place. Another thing, if you have a life partner, he or she better be OK with the quest or it becomes much more difficult.
Running the numbers, the goal of 1,000 does not seem too difficult. 50 a year for 20 years may seem like a piece of cake. But 50 different courses a year is a huge number. Most golfers have a home course where most rounds are played. So 50 a year likely translates into at least 100 rounds a year, and now one has to play a lot. Here is where the time, cash, and desire come into play. Say the golfer plays 50 in a year. The next year he has to do it all over again. If the golfer lives in the same place, the number of courses not played starts to diminish. You tend to go to the same courses with friends and to play events from year to year.
Anyone seriously wanting to play 1,000 different courses should not miss an opportunity to play a different course when it is available. Looking back, had I had the dedication years ago that I have today, there would have been a lot more on my list. In closing, I encourage everyone even slightly inclined to make 1,000 a personal quest. It has been fun and exciting. Being a rater for Golfweek has helped tremendously, but playing the number of courses helped me become a rater in the first place. Most golfers admire the feat and wish they could have done the same. A few have no idea what playing 1,000 means. I once told a pro I played 1,000 different courses, and he asked, "this year?". Talk about clueless! I will make another submission to this site with a list of my favorite courses both in the US and the world. They all are good.