In the past few summers, I’ve tackled some ambitious golf stories. The adventures have included playing four courses in four states in one day, participating in the Promontory Club’s “Longest Day” challenge of an 8,357-yard course and playing the most difficult hole at each of 18 courses over three days, while traveling more than 1,000 miles around the state.
This year, Tribune sportswriter Jay Drew will complete his tour of all 121 golf courses in Utah. My experiences came in short bursts. Drew undertook a lifetime project.
Dylan Dethier needed nine months to produce his epic tale. He played at least one 18-hole round in each of the lower 48 states, as detailed in 18 in America.
The title of the book is meaningful, because Dethier turned 18 during his journey. He celebrated his birthday in October 2009 in Hyrum, at the home of his uncle, Brock Dethier, an English professor at Utah State University.
The book skips the details of Dethier’s visits to many of the states, and there’s no mention of his golf round in Utah. However, his blog during the trip covers a round at Sky Mountain Golf Course in Hurricane, where he played with “Doug, Ted and Rod” of Salt Lake City and was impressed with the red-rock formations near the first tee.
The book is subtitled “A Young Golfer’s Epic Journey to the Find the Essence of the Game,” and his discoveries are intriguing. Of course, there’s much more to tell about nine months on the road — with only a brief return home to Massachusetts for Christmas. Having deferred college admission for a year and starting with a $4,700 budget during a mostly unscripted trip, Dethier sleeps frequently in his Subaru and watches expenses closely. Both his living conditions and the quality of courses he plays improve after a USA Today story is published in late February.
He starts receiving invitations for housing and golf, making the trip much more enjoyable. He still encountered more than his share of unpredictable episodes that make for good reading. Ultimately, he finds that the golfers he meets define the game — beyond any famous courses or the nature of golf itself.
Dethier just completed his junior year at Williams College in his hometown, where he plays for a golf team that won its conference title and competed in the NCAA Division III Championship.