Many people have the dream of visiting all 50 United States. Dennis Grall has done that one better. He's played golf in them all.
When longtime sports editor Grall stepped up to the first tee at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in September, he completed his personal quest to play a round of golf in all 50 states, something that hadn't even crossed his mind until a chance meeting with another sports writer in September of 2010.
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At the time, Grall was working for the Escanaba (Mich.) Daily Press and on a golf outing to three of the outstanding courses in the Upper Peninsula: Sweetgrass, TimberStone and Greywalls.
"We got done playing that day in Iron Mountain, and one of the guys told us this was the 600th golf course he had played," Grall said. "So that weekend, my wife and I were driving down to Milwaukee to visit my son, and while she was falling asleep, I started counting golf courses that I had played. And I came up with about 240 off the top of my head. And then I wondered, how many states have I played in? I came up with 35.
"Only 15 away from 50? That's doable."
Grall had traveled extensively during his time in newspapers and had visited 50 states seven years before he got the idea of playing golf in all of them. And so this new quest began in earnest.
When Grall retired two years later, he and his wife visited New England – with golf clubs in tow.
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"We were gone for 15 days, four of those for travel," Grall said. "In those other 11 days, I played golf in eight states, went to three baseball games, went to Valley Forge, went to the U.S. Open tennis tournament and visited two guys I knew from my days in Vietnam. So I knocked off eight right then."
Grall was missing several Southwestern states, but turned a Vietnam veterans reunion trip into another golf excursion.
"The reunion was in Nashville," Grall said. "Well, my wife had a friend she hadn't seen since seventh grade in Austin. I said, 'Well, that's close to Nashville and I can play golf in Texas with her husband.'
"And my brother lives in Colorado Springs and I said, 'That's close to Austin,' so I went from Nashville to Austin to Oklahoma and cut across to Tucumcari, N.M., then to Colorado Springs. Then we stopped in Wildhorse Golf Course in Gothenburg, Neb., so I could cross that one off as well."
Eventually, Grall narrowed his "to golf at" list down to one state: Hawaii.
"We were in Hawaii in 1972 but I didn't start playing golf until 1974," Grall said. "So I decided to make Hawaii the 50th state. I was in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, and so I decided to play that round at the Marine Corps Base on Oahu to bring it all together."
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Not surprisingly, many of the stops were memorable. While visiting Alaska for a cruise, Grall played at North Star Golf Course in Fairbanks, where he had a 9:00 p.m. tee time on June 10. He's played Furnace Creek in Death Valley, Calif., at some 240 feet below sea level. And he's braved Breckenridge Golf Course in Colorado, at some 9,600 feet in elevation.
He might also be the only person to have played all 54 Upper Peninsula courses, a feat that might never be equaled since five of those have closed.
And his wanderlust isn't just related to golf. Grall has been to all but three Major League baseball stadiums. He's only missing Miami, Oakland and San Diego.
Grall said the first golf course he played was Pine Grove Country Club in Iron Mountain, Mich., in 1974. The best course he's played is Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis., site of the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA championships and the 2020 Ryder Cup. His favorite course is TimberStone Golf Course in Iron Mountain, Mich. He's a member at Escanaba Country Club and carries an 11.6 handicap.
Here's a list of the first -- or favorite -- course Grall has played in each of the 50 states:
- Alabama - Kiva Dunes, Gulf Shores
- Alaska - North Star Golf Club, Fairbanks
- Arizona - Sun City South, Sun City
- Arkansas - Cooper's Hawk, Melbourne
- California - Furnace Creek, Death Valley
- Colorado - Breckenridge G.C., Breckenridge
- Connecticut - Pequot Golf Course, Stonington
- Delaware - Ed Oliver Golf Course, Wilmington
- Florida - Slammer & Squire, St. Augustine
- Georgia - White Path, Ellijay
- Hawaii - Kaneohe Klipper USMC, Oahu
- Idaho - Coeur d' Alene Golf Course, Coeur d' Alene
- Illinois - Thunderhawk Golf Course, Zion
- Indiana - Fort Harrison, Indianapolis
- Iowa - Bent Tree, Council Bluff
- Kansas - Sugar Hills Golf Club, Goodland
- Kentucky - Kenny Perry's Country Creek, Franklin
- Louisiana - Royal Golf Club, Slidell
- Maine - Cape Neddick Country Club. Ogunquit
- Maryland - VFW Country Club, Frederick
- Massachusetts - Donnybrook Country Club, Lanesborough
- Michigan - TimberStone Golf Course, Iron Mountain
- Minnesota - Minehaha Golf Course, Minneapolis
- Mississippi - River Bend Links, Tunica
- Missouri - Payne Stewart Golf Club, Branson
- Montana - Overland Golf Course, Big Timber
- Nebraska - The Prairie Club, Valentine
- Nevada - Revere Country Club, Henderson
- New Hampshire - Carter Golf Club, Lebanon
- New Jersey - The Links at Brigantine Beach, Atlantic City
- New Mexico - Tucumcari Golf Course, Tucumcari
- New York - Burden Lake Country Club, Averill Park
- North Carolina - Brunswick Plantation, Calabash
- North Dakota - Bully Pulpit Golf Course, Medora
- Ohio - White Pines Golf Course, Swanton
- Oklahoma - Lake Murray State Park, Ardmore
- Oregon - Langdon Farms Golf Course, Portland
- Pennsylvania - Springfield Country Club, Springfield
- Rhode Island - Wood River Golf, Hope Valley
- South Carolina - TPC, Myrtle Beach
- South Dakota - Willow Run Golf Course, Sioux Falls
- Tennessee - Gaylord Springs, Nashville
- Texas - Lakeway Country Club, Austin
- Utah - Moab Golf Course, Moab
- Vermont - Catamount Golf Club, Williston
- Virginia - Golden Horseshoe, Williamsburg
- Washington - Horn Rapids Golf Club, Richland
- West Virginia - Hidden Valley Country Club, Point Pleasant
- Wisconsin - Whistling Straits, Haven
- Wyoming - Kingham Prairie View Golf Course, Cheyene