The golf courses that pull on our heartstrings

We all connect emotionally with certain courses that have shaped our golf journey.
What if the famous par-3 12th hole, the heart of 'Amen Corner', was the third hole at Augusta National?

Whether you've played 20 courses in your life or more than 1,000 like me, we all have something in common.

We all have the courses that pull on our heartstrings, places where we feel most comfortable. We connect with these courses emotionally. They've been a part of our journey, and make no mistake, taking up this game is a vision quest of ebbs and flow, highs and lows.

They fit our eye. They fit our game. They inspire us to play better. And they've served as a gathering place for great memories with friends and family.

As I reflect on the 25 years I've been playing golf, I can't help but feel bound to certain courses. The more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized virtually every golfer feels the same.

We all have an affinity for a handful of special places. I've narrowed the list down to five of them: 1, the course where we learned the game; 2, the course where we shot our best score; 3, the best course we've ever played; 4, the one we dream of playing; and 5, our current home club (hopefully!). At first, I get a little misty-eyed thinking about this fivesome. Then motivation strikes. It's time to go play ...

Share with us the five courses that tug on your heartstrings by completing the categories 1-5 in the comments below and share the story on social media to get your golf friends involved, too.

  1. The course where I learned the game

    I tease my dad all the time that he ruined my life by not teaching me about golf as a kid. I picked the game up on my own at college, getting a job picking the range and cleaning carts at Eagle Crest Golf Club, Eastern Michigan University's home course in Ypsilanti. It is probably why I have such an affinity for courses on the water. Eagle Crest sits on Ford Lake. Its clubhouse and range are perched on a hill, overlooking the water.

    I remember countless rounds playing by myself before or after my shift, trying to learn the game. I probably haven't played Eagle Crest in at least 7-8 years. I'm dying to go back. That par-5 16th hole with a peninsula green on the lake is one nobody forgets.

  2. My current home course
    A view from Santa Teresa Golf Club

    I've grown so fond of my local muni over the past year that I proudly proclaim it as my "home club". The Santa Teresa Golf Club, owned by Santa Clara County, has so much to appreciate for a non-country clubber like me - a nice setting without homes near the surrounding hills; a great junior program; a par-3 course that offers Footgolf, too; and a big course that's walkable, affordable, fairly challenging and kept in nice condition. Best of all, it's within walking distance of my house. I shot a 77 there last month, so I'm itching to break my personal record there someday.

  3. The course where I shot my best round
    The 17th at Royal St. Kitts Golf Club is a scenic challenge.

    I've learned to enjoy golf without worrying about score. I've never been a great player, but I had a solid five-year run where I was a dangerous single digit. My best effort was a 74 at Royal St. Kitts Golf Club about 15 years ago. I remember the round like it was yesterday. I got up and down from everywhere. Putted like a Faxon.

    I also vividly remember almost choking like a dog down the stretch. Johnny Miller would have gone berzerk in the booth. The two finishing holes along the ocean were playing directly into the wind. It was a slog. Somehow, after a horrible first putt, I sank a longish second putt to make par on the final hole. Joy wasn't the emotion I felt. It was relief that I had survived without throwing up all over myself.

  4. The best course I've ever played
    Kauri Cliffs is one of two world top-100 golf courses on New Zealand's North Island.

    Whenever someone asks me my favorite course, I usually tick off at least five answers. You can never nail me down.

    For this story, I'll pick one: Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand. I thought everything about the experience was perfect - the weather, the scenery, the routing, the thrill of finding a new and interesting challenge on every tee. I loved it. It probably pulls on my emotions hardest when I start wondering, "How could a boy from tiny Port Huron, Michigan, who didn't grow up around golf end up in New Zealand, representing Golf Channel, playing one of the best courses in the world?" This sentiment blows my mind every time.

  5. The course I dream of playing
    The Cypress Point Club is one of golf's great shrines.

    Reviewing golf courses for two decades has allowed me to check off a lot of courses from my bucket list. But not all of them.

    The course that haunts my dreams is the Cypress Point Club. It checks off all I love about the game ... golf on the ocean designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Living just an hour away makes the pull of Cypress Point even stronger. It seems every Californian I know who works in the golf industry has already played it.

    Getting on is harder than it's ever been. I'm told members can no longer invite unaccompanied guests. They have to play in the foursome. Maybe someday that invite will come.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Dream course: Cypress Point (no chance🙁)
Best: Royal Melbourne
Lowest score 74 +3 at Berkhampstead
Current home: Sherwood Forest GC
Learned at Rickmansworth Municipal (Tricky Ricky par64)

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Jason, how about an article on best walkable courses in U.S. and/or best executive or Par 3 muni courses? Right now with COVID-19 many courses are walking only...kind of refreshing for those of us that can still enjoy a good walk spoiled in comfort / without achy joints!

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Jerry, we made this the subject of our latest #AskGolfAdvisor column. Thanks for the request!

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Course Dream of Playing: Augusta, St. Andrews Old Course, Pebble Beach

Best Course I've Played: Torrey Pines; Pine Valley (OK we just sneaked on and used the practice range and facility but it still felt as cool as if we had played it!)

Where I Shot Best Round: Torrey Pines - 87 from the tips was not lowest score but best performance based on course rating/slope. Good thing it was dry and hard! Best round as far as lowest score - 76 at Buffalo Run Golf Course in Colorado.

Current Home Course: Buffalo Run, Riverdale, Green Valley Ranch in Colorado - Denver in my opinion has as good if not the best value and selection of public courses of any metro area in the U.S., plus the ball flies a tad farther!

Where I learned to play: as a kid, I learned on Pitch & Putt Course Al Boem's in White House, NJ - and as an adult, SpringHill Golf Course, Aurora, Colorado.

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Here we go

Dream Course - St. Andrews

Best Course - Kauri Cliffs (New Zealand)

Best Round - 76

Home Course - PGA Village (Florida)

Learned the game - Meadowbrook - Hamden, CT. (long gone)

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I was lucky enough to become a member of Royal County Down in 1992. I try to go every other year. For me, it’s my favorite place in the world. I feel at home.

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5. Augusta National
4. Pine Valley
3. Neshaminy Valley,Jamison, Pa.
2. Makefield Highlands, Yardley, Pa.
1. Meadowbrook, Hamden, Ct

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I learned the game @ Meadowbrook as well! Driving up a ragged hill, driving over valleys, making sure you didn’t hit onto Dixwell Ave. on the par -3 seventh (?).

Born and raised in Hamden.

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Lived in Hamden from ‘52-66. Graduated HHS in ‘66. Lived in Mt. Carmel and took summer rec program at Meadowbrook. Do you mind sharing your name?

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First name is Dave. Graduated HHS in ‘ 71.

Lived in Mt. Carmel as well..

If there is a secure way to do it I will tell you the rest.

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Dream Course - Augusta National
Best Course - Pine Valley (the real one)
Best Round - 3 way tie, 75, High Cliff in Sherwood Wi. Arizona City, California City
Current Home Course - Pine Valley Golf Course, Marathon, WI
Where I Learned - Macktown, IL

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Growing up in Wyoming with its short seasons, golf was not the emotional time it is now. Many of the courses that I have an attachment to are because of television. A few of them I have played, a few I have seen and many are my fantasy.
1. My former home course, The Cheyenne Country Club in Wyoming is not spectacular but one of those hidden gems that most know nothing about. Great scenery, testing golf and great people. Wish I was still in Wyoming.
2. Pebble Beach. I was there is 1967 while in the Army. The golf shop offered to let me play but the green fees were the same as my monthly pay, about $75. I was allowed to walk around and will never forget the experience.
3. Cherry Hills CC in Denver, CO is a course filled with history. Arnold Palmer drove the first green to win the U.S. Open, and is commemorated with a plaque. Others are remembered like Hogan, Nicklaus, Sneed and others I have forgotten. Attended the Open in 1967 just before I got married and played it several times. Fascinating because of its history.
4. Augusta National and the Masters. Who doesn't have an emotional attachment to this course. The mystery of membership, the drama and especially the beauty. I gained a deeper appreciation for Augusta after my Father attended the tournament on his 75th birthday and came away awe struck, and he was not easily impressed. I will never forget his comment that . . ."things just sound different there. . ."
5. TPC Sawgrass. The 17th hole tells it all

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Great topic -
Dream- Cabot Links
Best- Pine Valley
Best Round - Broadmoor East -63
Home Course- Denver Country Club
Learned to play- Willis Case GC Denver

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#5 Course I dream of playing – University Golf Club, Vancouver, BC, Canada
#4 Best Course – Bandon Dunes, Bandon, OR
#3 Best Round – Rutgers University GC, Piscataway, NJ
#2 Home Course - Any course that can be walked!
#1 Learned to Play – Cobbs Creek, Philadelphia, PA

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Learned at Cobbs Creek and Walnut Lane

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The golf courses that pull on our heartstrings