One of the great benefits to participation in an online golf forum, is the opportunity to meet like-minded people from around the globe. We met Cory Lewis on the Golf Club Atlas architecture forum, and had the opportunity to visit him (and even rent a room from him!) on trips to Pinehurst. Cory is an old soul, and a collector of golf courses. He has a Pictaram (http://www.thepictaram.club/instagram/clewisgolf) and a blog (http://2000golfcourses.blogspot.com/) that detail his journey to 1K, 2K and maybe even 3K golf courses. He is a man of the people, will play any golf course around, and man, is he fast! Here is his interview with BuffaloGolfer.Com
1. Introduce yourself to us, telling us whatever you feel we need to know about your profession.
I have been working in the golf industry for the past 19 years. I am currently the Head Golf Professional at Little River Golf & Resort in the Pinehurst area. I have lived in North Carolina since 2010. In my career I have worked at 10 golf courses in 7 states and 1 PGA Section office.
2. How did you find golf, and where did it take you through, say, the age of 25?
My father taught me the game of golf at an early age and I owe my love of the game to him. I started playing in junior tournaments around the state of Virginia when I was 13. My love for traveling to play golf courses began with my father taking me to Pebble Beach when I was 15, Scotland when I was 17, and Ireland when I was 19.
When it came time to go to college, I chose to enroll in Campbell University in North Carolina for their Professional Golf Management Program. At Campbell, one of my internships was at Crosswater in Sunriver, Oregon. I drove across the country for the job and I remember it as the best summer of my life. I saw parts of the country I had only dreamed about seeing.
My first job after graduation was as an assistant at a private club in Northern Virginia, soon after that I accepted a job as tournament director for the Northeastern New York PGA Section in Albany and that is really where my desire to play many golf courses began. Even though I only worked in Albany for one year, I took full advantage of the fact that I was less than three hours drive from the golf hotbeds of New York City, Boston, and Long Island.
After New York, I had the privilege of working at Beechtree Golf Club in Maryland. I again took full advantage of being near the golf rich area of Philadelphia and played as many golf courses as I could in the Philadelphia area during my two years at Beechtree.
3. You’re on a quest to play 2000 courses, something we can read about on your blog. Can you do a little math on the arc of this journey?
I have played in 47 States, all except Alaska, Hawaii & Maine.
I played my first golf course when I was 10, my 150th when I was 20, my 500th when I was 26, my 1000th when I was 31. Currently at 1380 at 37 years of age
Most courses I played in a year so far is 128.
Most states I played in one year so far is 26.
I have played 3 golf courses in one day 129 times, and 4 courses in one day 4 times.
Total holes so far: 24,480
4. You knock off new courses in chunks. How do you pick your spots?
I begin with trying to play every golf course within 50 miles of where I am currently living. I have been fortunate to live in some places with hundreds of golf courses within a few hours drive like Philadelphia, New York, Northern Virginia, and North Carolina. The timing of my moving to NC in 2010 was convenient because I had just about played every course within 50 miles of where I was living in Wilmington, Delaware.
When I take a golf trip, I always try to go places where I can easily play two or three courses each day. For my upcoming trip to Maine I will be playing 22 golf courses in 9 days.
5. What places have offered the best surprises?
The Meadow Club in Northern California was the best surprise. It was the 1st course my dad and I played on our Northern California trip. I remember driving on this road that seemed to go into the middle of nowhere and arriving at this beautiful place in a valley. The Alister Mackenzie course was restored by Mike DeVries and he did an amazing job of recapturing the wild Mackenzie greens and artistic bunkering.
Aiken Golf Club in Aiken, South Carolina near Augusta was another wonderful surprise. The course is under 6000 yards but is a great design and has tons of charm. It’s the type of course where just being there makes you feel good.
6. Where haven’t you visited, that you have on your radar? (Editor’s Note: western New York is lovely in the summer and fall.)
One of my goals is to play every course designed by Donald Ross. In order to complete this goal I will need to make several trips to New England, Ohio, and Michigan over the next several years. Western New York will also be a future destination as I still need to play Wanakah, Brook-Lea, CC of Rochester, Irondequoit, Kahkwa, Chautaugua, Bellevue, Mark Twain, Thendera, & Teugega. (Editor’s Note: Wanakah was revealed to instead be a William Watson course, but we still want Cory to visit!)
I am very excited to travel to Maine for the first time this summer. Other places I haven’t been that are on the horizon are Lake Tahoe, Canadian Rockies, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Branson.
I hope to return to the UK and travel to Australia/New Zealand at some point in my life but it will take at least 15 more years of saving to accomplish this.
7. We’re told that those who blink, miss your swing. How did you develop such a blazing routine and what do you recommend about it to the average golfer?
Growing up my routine was very different. My psychologist father helped me develop a routine where I stood behind the ball, visualized the shot, approached the ball, took a practice swing, stepped over the ball, looked at the target, and hit. As I matured I found that I liked to do everything fast, walking, talking, thinking, so it happened that my routine on the golf course also sped up. As a kid I also witnessed so many people playing slow and my father was always insistent about playing ready golf.
What I would say to the average golfer is that it is never too early to start thinking about the next shot. I am able to play so quickly because I am thinking about the next shot well before I reach the ball. I already know the approximate yardage, I know my target, and I know the type of shot I want to hit. I do take my time on the putting green to read putts, but on the course I am always thinking about the next shot well before I reach the ball.
8. Our money is on you to hit 2000 before you turn 50. Will you press on for 2500?
If I keep my current pace of approximately 100 courses per year, I should hit 2000 around the age of 45. If I do this, I see 3000 as a realistic possibility assuming I stay relatively healthy for the rest of my life. My pace will obviously slow down and to make it easier I would need to move to someplace with a heavy volume of courses like Florida, Texas, Arizona, or California but I think by the time I reach my 70’s I will make it to 3000 even if I stay in North Carolina.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you would love to answer? Ask it and answer it, please.
How did you go about choosing your 1000th golf course?
As I was approaching my 1000th golf course played a friend jokingly said to me that the only course I should play for #1000 was Pine Valley, the consensus #1 ranked golf course on the planet. We laughed about it at the time but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try. When I worked in the Philadelphia area, I met and played golf with a gentleman who became a member of Pine Valley after I moved to North Carolina. I hadn’t spoken to him in a few years but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get in touch. Through the wonders of the internet, I was able to find his office address and wrote him a letter. To my shock when I followed up with him, he said that he would love to help and we were able to get it scheduled (see above!)