My wife, Suzette,and I are Canadians and inherently curious, so after we turned 60 and startedthinking about retirement, we decided we wanted to visit the U.S. and exploreits culture. I'm a golfer (20 handicap) and a golf fan, and one day as I waslooking at a PGA Tour schedule, I realized that unlike the calendar of anyother sport, the Tour's stretches almost an entire year and covers a giantportion of the country. So last year, for our 35th anniversary, we gaveourselves an unusual present: We sold our house in Montreal and bought a motorhome. We contacted Tour officials and told them that we wanted to spend a yearattending their events. They facilitated our journey with season passes. Laterthey asked if we'd write a weekly diary (Postcards from the Road) forPGATour.com.
Starting inJanuary we attended 44 straight tournaments, drove 32,500 miles and zigzaggedacross North America in a slashing trail that would make Zorro proud. Our grandadventure ended at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, and we're feelingnostalgic. The year went by so fast.
It seems likeyesterday that we started out at the Mercedes Championships in Hawaii, whereSuzette's knowledge of golf largely consisted of one name--Tiger Woods. Atfirst she wasn't a fan of his because his large galleries made it difficult forus to watch him, but Tiger won her over with his intelligence. She knows otherplayers now too. Last week, as we sat in empty bleachers by East Lake's 1sttee, Vijay Singh walked past. Suzette waved. Vijay smiled and waved back.
Golfwise, themost impressive thing we witnessed was the 16th hole at the TPC of Scottsdale.It was amazing to see 20,000 people crowded around the short par-3. The fanschanted, did the wave, stopped to let a player hit, then started all overagain. It was truly a happening. And very loud.
We visitedlandmarks--Hoover Dam, the Alamo, Niagara Falls, West Point, the Library ofCongress and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame--and museums too numerous tomention. We drove a stretch of Route 66 in Illinois. We saw Notre Dame's goldendome, attended the Toronto International Film Festival and mingled withlonghorns on a Texas ranch. We followed the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur,stopped for a picnic lunch and were awed into silence by the magnificentsurroundings. We had drinks in a restaurant in Carmel then watched the sun setover the bay. Suzette shed a few tears because the scene was so beautiful. Idiscovered Frederick Remington's Western sculptures. Suzette discovered JohnnyCash's music.
Running throughit all like a five-lane interstate was golf. (I can't believe I played onlytwice, at Kapalua in Hawaii and also in Miami during the Doral.) Thetournaments not only provided an itinerary but also many wonderful memories.One that Suzette cherishes most was watching Vijay eagle the 18th at PebbleBeach while a group of seals frolicked on a rock in the background. In fact,it's those moments--when the game intersects perfectly with nature--that wetruly love.
What we gained onour trip is a feeling of freedom, which has a different meaning for us now.Freedom isn't doing nothing; it's learning. And learning is what we want to dofor the rest of our lives. With the season over, we'll see friends in Miami,spend the holidays with family in Quebec and visit our son in San Francisco.Then we'll drive to the Pacific Northwest and keep exploring.
After that, whoknows? There's so much more to learn, and if we're lucky, more golf, too.
GOLF PLUS willnext appear in the Nov. 27 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
TRUST ME by DICK FRIEDMAN
We will surely--and sorely--miss the ABC broadcastteam.
Six Australians win a record eight PGA Tour eventsthis season
2 WINS + 1 WIN + 1 WIN + 2 W, 1 MAJOR + 1 WIN + 1 WIN= SHARK BITES BACK
DAVID WALBERG (SAMSONS)
ROAD WARRIORS Gilles and Suzette covered more than 32,000 miles while attending 44 Tour events in 2006.
ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES (STUART APPLEBY); DOUG BENC/GETTY IMAGES (ROD PAMPLING); DARREN CARROLL (ARRON BADDELEY); HEINZ KLUETMEIER (GEOFF OGILVY); MICHAEL COHEN/WIREIMAGE.COM (JOHN SENDEN); FRED VUICH (ADAM SCOTT); MARC FELDMAN/WIREIMAGE.COM (GREG NORMAN)