The List: The redemption bucket list

Sometimes a round of golf doesn't go according to plan.
Many golfers who have played Chambers Bay may want another crack at it following recent improvements.

We all have courses we desperately want to play once sometime in our golf lifetimes.

Then there are the rounds where we desperately want another shot.

I call this the "Redemption" bucket list. Rounds that, for whatever reason, leave us wanting another chance. It might be because of the weather or poor scheduling or playing partners or how you played. Sometimes circumstances prevent us from feeling fulfilled.

For this edition of The List, here are five courses where I crave a mulligan for various reasons. What courses are you itching to get back to? Let us know in the comments.

  1. St. Andrews

    I've played the Old Course three times - that's three more times than most golfers will have the chance to experience it. I'm not satisfied.

    The truth is, I keep going O.B. on the first hole: two out of three times. It's an embarrassing percentage for the widest fairway in golf. I also missed a golden opportunity for par at the Road Hole last time around with a sloppy three-putt.

    Old Course memories - good and bad - are more vivid on the Old Course than anywhere else. It simply gets better every time you go around. The next time you are fortunate enough to play it shouldn't be your last.

    St. Andrews, Fife

  2. Chambers Bay

    I think a lot of folks believe Chambers Bay could use a mulligan. I visited back in 2009 as part of an ambitious northwest tour. Chambers was my last round of the trip and I mistakenly booked my flight for that afternoon. It's a tough course to play quickly, there were some temp greens and I ultimately had to be raced off the course after 14 holes. Jettisoning early was no match for I-5 gridlock and I still missed my flight.

    I returned to cover the U.S. Open there and my thoughts on this place remain conflicted. Word is that after a decade-plus the greens have finally turned the corner now that they have committed to poa annua. Is Chambers a cautionary tale or a brilliant modern muni? I think I need another look to decide.

    University Place, Washington

  3. Faulkwood Shores

    Whenver I see news of a golfer - amateur or pro - shooting a round so bad it makes headlines, my mind veers straight to Faulkwood Shores. It's the venue for the worst score I ever recorded in a high school varsity match: 54 for nine holes.

    Who knows what teenaged insecurities were swimming around in my brain that afternoon. I found O.B., water, three-putts, all of it. I recall a lot of awkward forced carries and trees in the middle of fairways that threw me off. The 73.4 slope from the whites is pretty high.

    There are a lot of courses in Michigan that are worth playing before Faulkwood Shores. Still, I have an all-time stinker I must avenge.

    Howell, Michigan

  4. Audubon Park
    A festive family evening at Audubon Park.

    It was one of my all-time favorite rounds of the last five years but a distracted one. I was in New Orleans for a work-family hybrid trip and the two converged on a twilight round at Audubon Park. The zoo closed early and my wife needed reinforcements with our one-year-old daughter.

    So they tagged along last minute. It was a blast. My wife playing barefoot in a dress, Penny crawling around on the tees and bunkers. Our host Allen enjoying/tolerating it all.

    I love NOLA's Uptown and Audubon Park so much we booked an Airbnb there this past spring. We walked the trail that encircles the course and even wandered the empty grounds at sunset. But dad duties precluded me from golf.

    As fun as it was, I really wanted to devote my full attention to the crafty, par-62 layout. Feels a little selfish to write it, but that's life as a golf nut.

  5. Crystal Downs
    Crystal Downs, a classic Alister MacKenzie design in northern Michigan, remains a stiff test.

    I psyched myself out on this one.

    Knowing I'd be playing Michigan's famed Crystal Downs for a few months, I took lessons and spent evenings at a nearby practice green. My trip also included Arcadia Bluffs (no slouch!). But airlines are undefeated when it comes to losing new swings in transit. My game was out of sorts all week and it burned to the ground here. They may talk about Alister Mackenzie designs having "width" but you wouldn't know it when you're on the Downs with a two-way miss.

    I left a lot of nuggets behind in the heather there and my only par came on 17. We vacation around Frankfort regularly and I drive past the stone entranceway to the club often. I will be back. Oh yes, I will be back.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
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RECENTLY: Anderson’s Glen at Blackledge, in the next town, is a course from which I used to squeeze good numbers, routinely. Five years ago, I played it for the first time in years and shot 76; this summer, I felt I could produce something similar. But, to quote Sir Thomas Wyatt, golf can be likened to a “fickle mistress,” and this summer the course was not so kindly. I shot 85, giving up mentally after the fourth hole, which I had doubled. The rest was slow, agonizing links-death (We’ve all played these kinds of rounds). Next year the outcome shall be different: “I’ll be revenged most thoroughly” on this golf course (my apologies to Shakespeare).

OLD DAYS: In 1998, I went to Scotland and played North Berwick, Nairn, and Royal Dornoch. Things went quite well at the latter two, but North Berwick, my first stop, was an out-and-out catastrophe. Playing at the time to a 1-handicap, I shot 90. I’d love to use the excuse that this was ‘out-of-the-car’ golf (no pre-round warm-up at a range), but this would be disingenuous. I putted like a 25-handicapper, and tallied, if memory serves, 42 putts—at least! Yes, the swirling winds, tall rough, gorse and tricks inherent in this layout were all part of the mess that my round became, yet when I came away with 4 putts on the tabled, gully-dissected green at 16, WITHOUT feeling like it was ‘my fault,’ I wrathfully blamed the greens. Vengeance won’t be such an easy matter, I’m sure, on my return trip to North Berwick.

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Ouch! I was fortunate enough to play pretty well at North Berwick. Hope you get another shot. I doubt you're the first person to four-putt 16.

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Hi Brandon,

My hat is off to you if you managed to play well at North Berwick on a first visit. Tom Doak wrote, in my recollection, that in the old days members from NB would play matches against other clubs, and, on their home course, they would routinely drum the opposition. The reason, it seemed, was that their intimate knowledge of the Berwick greens afforded a distinct advantage.

I haven't played enough Scottish courses (only four) to ascertain a true Scottish favorite, but thus far my favorite is Royal Dornoch, with Lundin Links a close second. But all four are fantastic tracks, all a part of my 'Top Ten.' Links courses have so many intangibles that I would call them the toughest and most exhilarating types to play, worldwide. I do appreciate American courses that try to ape them, but really capturing their essence is most often impossible—for many reasons.

I enjoyed your 2016 review of North Berwick and agree with your assessment about the stupendous hole variety. What impresses me, too, about Berwick are its elevation changes: it is far hillier than St. Andrews. And is there a par-three in the world that genuinely tops #15, Redan?

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1. Whistling Straits - My only regrettable round in an epic Wisconsin trip last year. Posted good scores on the Irish Course and both Blackwolf Run courses, but didn’t handle a 25-mph wind I encountered on the Straits course very well. Was my worst driving day off the tee perhaps ever- I think I only hit 2 FIRs - and was hacking out all day and playing for bogey.

2. Pebble Beach - Called as soon as the single cue tee sheet opened up and secured a time. Ate dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf in SF later that evening and woke up shortly past midnight realizing I had come down with a serious case of food poisoning. Had it been any other Course I likely would have cancelled. Yet, I chugged Imodium and managed to walk the entire round with a caddie and without an accident. Shot in the mid 80s and as soon as I walked off the 18th green, the GI stuff kicked in again.

3. Castle Stuart - It was the only rainy day I encountered this past June on a Scottish itinerary. On the 7th green my caddie knocked over my stand bag and the beaker-like plastic tube filled with sand that he had clipped onto it to repair divots hit the ground first, snapping the shaft of my driver. The remainder of that round seemed like an eternity.

4. TPC Sawgrass (Stadium): I dunked it on #17. Enough said.

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The caddie broke your driver??? brutal!!!

I've played horrible on Sawgrass twice but have stayed dry on 17 both times.

Thanks for sharing!

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True story. Fortunately for me the TaylorMade rep was at the course for an appointment and the general manager replaced the shaft for me at no cost.

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Pine Needles. Great facility; great people; great course. But I played like a dog on a blazing June day at 95 degrees and 85% humidity. It was the last round of a five day, eight round, buddies trip. And by far my worst. I need to play that one again.

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Pebble Beach. 7 and 8. Oh, man, if only I could replay those holes. But, I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to be there, golf there and walk where giants of the game have walked. It was a dream come true.

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I missed the green on 7 this June. Definitely want that swing back. But I agree. Fabulous place regardless of what you shoot.

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Just returned from a trip to southwest Ireland. We caught a week with a lot of wind and rain, but the capper was our round at Old Head. We played about three holes in sunny but very windy conditions, then the wind increased and the rain came in. It was hard to stand up and the wind was blowing the balls on the green. Strongest wind I have ever played in; not sure what the speed was. We completed 18 holes but the focus was strictly on survival. Would love to go back and play that beautiful course in some light 25-30 mph winds.

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Not the first story like that I've heard about Old Head!

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Perhaps I should reconsider my desire for a rematch. I may have been there on a good day!

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Your memory of Old Head made me laugh. Played it in similar conditions, but wind wasn't strong enough to blow the ball on the greens. Do remember hitting a 3 wood 250 with the wind and 150 into it. But I did birdie that par 5 along the cliffs, which was the one highlight of my day. I'm not sure I want another crack at it, since wind and rain seem to be the prevailing conditions there. But the food at the clubhouse was not to be missed, so I might go back for that.

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I'm played Old Head three times, always in blessed sunshine. But I have also met a group at a pub who had their round cancelled due to high winds. You never know what you're gonna get in Ireland, and especially there. It's worth the roll of the dice, though. Sunny days will deliver a golf memory of a lifetime.

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Yes, in all fairness, the rest of my golf vacation in that area was actually quite nice, considering it was the first week of October. Lahinch and Ballybunnion played in quite lovely weather. But, as the locals told me, it's Ireland, you get what you get on any particular day. And, honestly, yes, I'd love to play Old Head again, without the weather and without the jet lag.

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Don't feel bad, my first time playing St Andrews I got next to the Swilican bridge on #1 and had to chip away from it, started with a 7 on such an easy hole, still ended up shooting 81 which wasn't too bad.

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Way to bounce back!

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I agree that the Old Course gets better every time I play. Love both the New and the Jubilee but they are not the Old. And Chambers bay if in fact they got rid of the fescue grass, good for them.
And Crystal Downs, probably the best in all of Michigan. And to be to combine it with Arcadia Bluffs, well, what a delight. Golf Heaven

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I got the golf big in my late 40s, along with a very good friend
It seemed like every vacation we took afterwards revolved around golf.
Not really a bad thing except if you are still learning how to play
One year we went with 6 couples to Sea Island
What a beautiful resort with 2 incredibly picturesque courses.
The vistas can be overwhelming and distracting and the courses are not easy
Needless to say, except for the beauty and the company, the rounds were far from memorable
I would relish the chance to return

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Sea Island has been upgrading and renovating like crazy. Good place to go back to

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The List: The redemption bucket list