After discovering the Alabama Golf Trail while going to Florida to help with hurricane relief, the idea was hatched for the couples, who collectively have been married for 100 years, to travel together and play rounds in every state. Along the way they’ve encountered moose, identified their favorite courses and developed some valuable practices for golf-related travel economy.
As part of a golf story “in which pars and bogeys are secondary,” two senior couples from New York state are making good progress toward their goal of playing a round of golf in each of the 50 states, the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union reports, after embarking on the mission in 2004, when the “youngest” of them was 56 years old.
To tour the country in such a way with golf sticks in tow isn’t unprecedented, the Times Union notes, but to do it as a group is rare.
“So many people have [remarked] that we get along so well together [and] we haven’t killed each other yet,” Jeff Diviney told the Times Union.
Diviney, 69, and his wife, Donna, 67, are from Waterford, N.Y. and have been married 47 years, the Times Union reported. Their traveling and golfing companions are their friends of the past three decades, David and Joyce Fifield, both 75, who are from Clifton Park, N.Y. and were married 53 years ago.
The two couples recently returned from Minneapolis, the Times Union reported, as part of their latest trip during which they were able to knock North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota off their list of states where they’ve played rounds.
Still to come are Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Arkansas, the Times Union reported, which they hope to hit later this year or by next summer.
“It’s an incredible country we live in,” Joyce Fifield said. “Every state has something special about it that we have seen.”
And when asked to identify their favorite courses so far in their journey, that diversity was reflected in how each of the traveling companions had a different choice.
David Diviney chose Cambrian Ridge Golf Course of Greenville, Ala. “It’s an executive course, but it’s more than the local executive courses are,” he said. “It was very playable, and the scenery and the facilities were absolutely beautiful.”
Joyce Diviney chose Hanover Country Club of Hanover, N.H. “A beautiful course. Beautiful country,” she said. “We come from Vermont, the mountain, the hills, that kind of country, and it was nice to go back there and enjoy it in another state.
Jeff Fifield selected Wolf Creek Golf Club of Mesquite, Nev. “It has been called one of the most visibly spectacular courses in the world,” he said. “I’ll tell you, when you find the course and you’ve got your camera, you’re just taking shot after shot after shot.”
Donna Fifield selected Painted Dunes Golf Course of El Paso, Texas. “We’ve played some phenomenal golf courses, but my favorite was when we played in Texas because it was my kind of golf course,” she explained. “Everything sloped toward the hole, and I like it that way.”
Although the four had played golf together in several states already, Jeff Diviney said the quest to hit all 50 started when the group went to Florida to help with the recovery effort from Hurricane Ivan.
“We got a hold of a rental vehicle and took off down there and helped out for a week,” he said. “As we came back, we heard about this thing called the Alabama Golf Trail. It was absolutely amazing.
“We were on our way back, and we were high because of our Golf Trail experience, but somebody — I couldn’t tell you who, it was too many years ago — said, ‘Why don’t we do all 50?’ As we drove back, we made sure we included Tennessee and West Virginia and a few others. It just started to grow from there.”
To reduce airfare, the group tries to conquer several states on each trip, the Times Union reported.
Along their way, they’ve encountered moose in Alaska (“They’re big, by the way,” Diviney said) and 105-degree heat in Kansas, where they also saw the Wizard Of Oz museum.
“We’re not locked into a schedule other than the golfing times,” David Fifield said. “We do things rather spontaneously.”
Diviney told of “a couple tricks of the trade” and rules about the trips that have taken shape as the quest has developed.
“Each person will take a look at all of the different possibilities that you might do in some area that we’re going to be going to,” he said. “You choose your first thing where you absolutely want to go. Every one of the other three of us have to go to that. You don’t have a choice.”
Added Joyce Fifield: “If one of us eats breakfast, you’d better all eat breakfast, or we’re not going to stop. If one of us has to go to the bathroom, you’d better all go to the bathroom. We have an understanding, and we stay in motels that have breakfast.”
Diviney also explained how the couples have learned to economize and share expenses equitably. “When you pack, you take the guy’s golf bag, take your clubs and your wife’s clubs, and you take a travel bag. That way you’re not hauling four bags around,” he said.
“Just to keep it a fun thing — we call it ‘throw the receipts in a bowl’ — you share expenses,” he added. “If you buy something, keep the receipt and throw it in a bowl with your initials on it for the gas or the rental car. You put it up at the end and come up with a total you just cut it in half.”
One of the more unusual experiences to date came in Alaska, Diviney said, not only because of the encounters with moose, but also because they picked up a club caddie who needed lessons in golf and other things.
“He had never played golf in his life, had no idea,” Diviney said. “I don’t want to belittle him, but it was so funny. The mosquitoes were ridiculous, and this guy has a can of insect repellent. He didn’t know what to do with insect repellent. You rub it on you. He was spraying it in the air. We were laughing so hard.”
The couples have no predetermined timetable on when they will seek to finish their quest, the Times Union reported, but they figure they should do it sooner rather than later.
“We have to get it done before we can’t,” Donna Diviney said. “It’s like the old joke, ‘Hit the ball, drag Jeff. Hit the ball, drag Jeff.’ We don’t want to get to that point.”