Jeff Neeb knows he wasn’t the first to do it, and he won’t be the last.
He even says what he accomplished isn’t really a super big deal. Still, when he teed off for a round of golf in Fairbanks, Alaska, this month, he finally reached the goal he had mapped out some 12 years ago — he had played golf in all 50 states of the United States.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even take up the game until he was 50.
Neeb, 67, of Milwaukee, had only played golf in three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana — when he started thinking about playing in all of them. That’s a lot of country, from Washington to Florida, from Maine to Arizona, but Neeb concluded that if he played about five states a year, the goal could be accomplished.
One by one, he added states to his played list, often flying to a city which offered proximity to golf courses in several states. He had a buddy who accompanied him to 18 states. He played a few states with his siblings, and his daughter, Tammy, went with him to 17 states, including the ultimate round in Alaska and seven rounds in seven days in New England in 2011. He picked off Hawaii when he took his wife to Maui for their 40th wedding anniversary.
“I only golfed three or four states by myself,” said Neeb. “I kept doing it because we had fun. That’s why I kept doing it. We always had a good time doing it.”
Neeb didn’t always play expensive courses, but said “they were all respectable courses.” Some were more than respectable.
In Idaho, he played Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course, which claims to have the world’s only floating green (http://www.golfcda.com/the-floating-green/). The par 3, 14th green floats in a lake and is computer controlled to offer different distances each day. Golfers are ferried to the green by an electric boat named “Putter,” but Neeb said not many players reach it in just one try.
But he did. “I managed to par that. My buddy and me both managed to put it on the green,” he said.
There were scenic highlights along the way, antelope on the course in Wyoming, bears and snapping turtles in other states. Neeb has kept scorecards, photos and videos to document his travels and the golf and has set up a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Just-Golf-Baby-208209949383879/) to share his experiences and encourage others to try all 50 states as well.
“Like I said, it was a good time. I’d recommend anybody to do it. Put it on your bucket list,” he said when we talked. “How many states do you have in?”
Of course, just because he has run out of states doesn’t mean Neeb has run out of goals.
Now he wants to play golf in all of the Canadian provinces (he has four under his belt, including a memorably beautiful course on Prince Edward Island) and on every continent excluding Antarctica, a logical exclusion given there are no golf courses there. He has already played in North and South America, in Africa (in Morocco) and in Europe.
He isn’t sure when he’ll cross Australia and Asia off his list. But he has figured out there is a golf course very close to the Hong Kong airport and if a guy had a long enough layover on the way to Sydney, well, that might kill two continents with one stone.