The Golfer's Bucket List: Something every golfer should have

By
John Kim
PGA.com

Series:

The Bucket List was a fairly forgettable movie from 2007 about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and attempt to accomplish a litany of to-do items before they die. (Or "kick the bucket" hence, the Bucket List). Amazingly (well, to me anyways), playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach was not on the list. But as any self-respecting reader of PGA.com would note: It should have been. At the very least, it would have upped the movie's rating at rottentomatoes.com (41%) for those keeping score at home.

In truth, all golfers have a Bucket List. Some have it written down, many have at least verbalized it to others and all have seen, heard or imagined a golf experience that they promise themselves that they will try before its time to hang up their Footjoys.

There is a great sense of accomplishment when you can check off an item on this all-important list. Often, it's an experience that has taken a great deal of effort and investment in order to accomplish. But inevitably, it's never about the money or the time -- it's about the ability to follow through on a goal or dream. And golf --- perhaps more so than any other endeavor -- offers a plethora of ideas and settings for your list.

There are few absolutes on the golfer's Bucket List. For every golfer, it is personalized -- formed and chased based on availability, priority and opportunity. But the vast majority of lists will comprise of four types of wishes.

Performance:
Break 80
Shoot even par
Make a hole-in-one
Make more pars than bogeys in a round
History:
Watch Tiger Woods play live
Experience a Ryder Cup in person
Attend the par-3 contest preceding the Masters
Courses:
Play Pebble Beach
Play Augusta National
Play St. Andrews
People:
A round with Jack Nicklaus
A round with spouse, relative or friend

I've been incredibly fortunate to have knocked out a number of items that would make many golfers' lists. Pebble Beach? Played it. Experience a Ryder Cup? Done that. Taken a lesson from a nationally recognized instructor? Check. (Though I obviously need a few more). I've had a nice conversation with Arnold Palmer, hit a hole-in-one and played on a major championship course under major championship conditions. The strange (and awesome) thing is, the more items I check off, the more the list seems to grow. Ain't golf grand?

But my list isn't just full of Tiger-esque feats or exotic locations. I'd like to play an 18-hole round with my wife (after a few more lessons for her), go on a golf and gambling trip to Las Vegas with some old friends, and find a local instructor that I can see on a weekly basis to help me get rid of this pull-hook I battle from time to time. Nothing out of reach, but nothing in the immediate plans either.

If you talk about the Bucket List with a group of golfers, they get very wide-eyed and excited. Merely the discussion about their ultimate golf plans can get players pretty frenzied. And in any given group, you'll find a great variety of Bucket List items -- but they all share a singular passion for accomplishing them. I asked some of my good friends in golf what was on their "Bucket List." The answers were revealing. Some of my favorite "bucket list" answers include:

• Ron Hickman, PGA Professional and vice chairman of the PGA Rules Committee: "I'd like to accomplish the Grand Slam for a rules official. I've officiated at The Masters and the PGA Championship (and a Ryder Cup). Just would like to get the Open Championship and the U.S. Open under my belt."

• Sam Stotts, First Assistant Professional at Chateau Elan Golf Club in Braselton, Ga: "I'd like to hit a tee shot in front of a large gallery. Just have them announce my name and hear the applause and feel that kind of pressure. And then I'd want to see a pretty wide fairway in front me."

• Dan Rooney, PGA Professional and founder of Patriot Golf Day: "I have two items. I'd like to see every golf course in America signed up to take part in Patriot Golf Day. Also, I have four beautiful daughters. One day, we'll be able to all get out and play our first round of golf together. That will be an exciting and awesome day."

• Allen Wronowski, Vice President of The PGA of America: "I would love to break par and be competitive in one more golf tournament."

• Carol Mann, LPGA Hall of Fame member: "I want to visit some of the great golf courses of Ireland and New Zealand. I don't even have to play golf -- though it'd be nice. Just to walk around and take them in. Oh, and I'd love to have a good conversation with Tiger Woods."

• Michael Breed, PGA Head Professional at Sunningdale Country Club and host of The Golf Fix on The Golf Channel: "I'd love to work with Sergio Garcia on his putting. I know we could make a huge difference in his career. Also, I'd like to play a round of golf with my two brothers (and it would have been even better if my father who's passed could have joined) at Cypress Point."

Some responses shared their enthusiasm for Bucket List items that had been recently accomplished:

• Joe Steranka, CEO of The PGA of America: "My two bucket list items were playing St. Andrews Old Course with my son on his 18th birthday (done) and Pebble Beach for his 21st. We played the Old Course with then PGA President Brian Whitcomb and current PGA President Jim Remy. After some ceremonial greetings and pictures on the first tee, I watched proudly as Steve made par on the first hole with a driver and nine-iron. Walking down no. 2 fairway with my arm around his shoulders was the best magic moment I've ever had in golf."

And perhaps my favorite response from the dozens I received:

• Andy Hilts, National Director of Instruction for GolfTec: "I'd like to submit an 'After I Kick the Bucket' List -- to play a round of golf with my grandfather."

Golf, above all else, is about accomplishment. Every success in golf can be measured in terms of a goal that has been reached. The PGA of America and its 28,000 men and women professionals are here to assist you in accomplishing items on your Golf Bucket List -- whether it's improving your game, facilitating a family round or guiding you on your golf travels. PGA.com will also help you check off items on the list -- and hopefully inspire some new ideas to pursue. Stay with us through the weeks ahead as we compile the ultimate Golfers' Bucket List and how we can help all golfers create, enjoy and ultimately accomplish all their Bucket List Items.