#WhyImThankful: For a busy year on the road playing world class golf courses

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- I haven't been very thankful lately.

Turns out, living in northern California does not always deliver the dream life I envisioned when I made the decision to move from Michigan earlier this year. It's not all tee times at Pebble Beach and day trips to Lake Tahoe. There's traffic, the hassles of moving and a suffocating cost of living.

Simply put, selling a house is stressful. Moving cross-country is madness. Life changes are difficult. Getting older stinks, too.

But through the mayhem of moving three months ago, it's probably good that I pause for a minute to remember to be thankful for things I too often take for granted: My family, our health, my job, my new weather forecast and life in general. Thanksgiving is the perfect time for some much needed perspective. I'm happy to report I'm starting to get settled in my new home.

With so much on my mind, I haven't played great golf this year, although I have played in some great places. I've got plenty to be thankful for ...

Family trips

I'm too often gone from my wife and two children chasing down golf stories, so when I can combine work and family, it's a special treat. My wife and I started the year off right in January, touring Hawaii's Big Island together without the kids. A family trip to London and Paris in April ended up feeling like a "trip of a lifetime." My day away from the wife and kids playing Deal and Royal St. George's was supposed to be rainy but ended up glowing with sunshine. And NoCal does have its perks. My family spent a fantastic day at Pebble Beach, playing golf and tennis and riding horses.

Pro-ams

Playing in the Irish Open Pro-Am and the Jamaica Invitational Pro-Am, "Annie's Revenge, presented by Apple Rum Estates," were two major highlights of the year. Italy's Edoardo Molinari was a great host at the Irish Open at Fota Island Resort. He read our putts and looked for lost balls and was genuinely gracious. I have a third pro-am I'm excited about, the Mauna Lani Resort Hawaii State Open, coming up in December on the Big Island.

Cross-country adventures

Moving had its pitfalls. My fun journey driving a car, two dogs and the father-in-law from Michigan to California was not one of them. Every concern that I had heading into the five-day, 2,400-mile trip was unfounded. The dogs behaved in the car and the hotels (better than my kids, actually). Great weather and empty roads made the ride smooth. The golf I played along the way in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah was way better than expected.

Ocean golf

I've been drowning in my favorite kind of golf lately. I've teed it up in full view of the Atlantic Ocean (in Florida), the Pacific Ocean (in California, Hawaii and Mexico's Riviera Nayarit), the Caribbean Sea (in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) and the Gulf of Mexico (in the Riviera Maya). But nothing beats coastal golf in Ireland, where I cherished every step walking the Old Course at Ballybunion, Waterville Golf Links and the Old Head Golf Links under mostly sunny skies.

Private clubs

Sometimes, the gates to some cool clubs swing open unexpectedly. Two separate trips to New York in September led to rounds at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester and a stay-and-play at Sleepy Hollow Country Club overlooking the Hudson River. I've never seen more golf bling -- an opulent clubhouse and an amazing man-made waterfall -- than at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas.

Bucket-list golf courses

My bucket list shrank considerably during visits to Bethpage Black, Georgia's spectacular Reynolds Plantation and SoCal's Barona Creek Golf Club and the Journey at Pechanga. Return trips to see major improvements at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu and SoCal's LaCosta Resort & Spa were just as wonderful. And when you're in Vegas and play Cascata and Shadow Creek on consecutive days, like I did recently, how can you not come away feeling blessed?

So, what are you most thankful for this holiday season?

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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#WhyImThankful: For a busy year on the road playing world class golf courses