Have you ever played golf on a course with a hole that requires you to take a boat to the green?
How about warming up by hitting a bucket of balls on the driving range — into that lake where the same hole is located?
That’s one dynamic at Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, one of 24 golf courses played recently by Dewey Martin of Hampden. The stop helped him complete his goal of playing golf in all 50 states. It took 12 years.
The 71-year-old has now played 315 courses.
The Bucksport native finished off his last nine states in July and August over a span of 31 days. He drove 8,050 miles and flew 3,356 miles to Alaska. He said 17 of those 24 courses were rated among the top 100 in America.
“It was all I expected it to be, even better,” Martin said.
By the way, the range balls at Coeur d’Alene float, so course employees take a boat out at night to retrieve them.
The nine states Martin covered included Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and South Dakota.
In Wisconsin, he played the Whistling Straits Golf Course, the site of the 2015 PGA Championship and where the 2021 Ryder Cup will be held.
“That was the best course I played. It was really unique,” Martin said. “I like courses on the water. Two of the par-3’s and a par-5 are right along the lake. It’s a Pete Dye course and has a very interesting design. It was so much fun to play.”
Whistling Straits had also the most expensive green fee among the courses he played at $475.
The impetus for playing in all 50 states was subtly jumpstarted 12 years ago after Martin visited his son Dan in California and played the Pebble Beach Golf Links, which has hosted seven major tournaments.
“It has such an impact on me. I was in awe all the way around,” Martin said.
The next year, to celebrate his 60th birthday, he and sons Da and Tyler went to Scotland and played several courses. They included Turnberry, just after the British Open had been held there when Stewart Cink beat 59-year-old Tom Watson in a playoff.
“That was the best golfing experience of my life,” Martin said. “It was right after the British Open and the bleachers and the scoreboard were still up. It was an awesome experience. They had renovated the course and the hotel.”
That trip, which included rounds at six courses, changed Martin’s outlook.
“After that, I started to take golf seriously,” said Martin, who was introduced to golf by his father, Phillip, when he was 10.
“I took my clubs on business trips and tried to play. I started building up my list [of courses played],” Martin said.
A few years ago, when he was playing in the Midwest, he discovered that he could drive 300 to 400 miles without having to stop overnight at a hotel.
“That’s when I thought I could complete this,” Martin said.
There were added challenges on his latest junket during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of restaurants closed early so I ate a lot of meals in my car. A lot of McDonald’s, a lot of cheap food,” he said.
Since he was curious about seeing parts of the country he had never visited before, Martin rationalized that is what helped keep him awake while he was driving.
“A couple of times I did pull over and took a nap,” he said.
He drew up a list of public courses where he could either call and book a tee time or just show up and play.
“The golf courses were very busy, but not at 2 or 3 in the afternoon,” Martin said. “There usually weren’t many on the course at that time. A lot of time, I played by myself.”
He also was paired up with some nice golf partners, including a group in Anchorage, Alaska.
“We talked a lot about my trip. They are really friendly guys,” Martin said.
He said golf is a tremendous social sport that lends itself to people being friendly and courteous.
“In all the years I have played, I have only been paired up with one jerk,” Martin said.
Martin, who owns the Martin CPA Group in Bangor and recently retired as a professor at Husson University, had a few interesting encounters out on the road.
He hit a small deer in Minnesota and a wolverine in Montana. The deer broke off a piece of his fender, but the wolverine caused more damage and there were no service stations open.
“This nice, 20-year-old guy who worked at NAPA in Montana showed me what to do and loaned me his tools. I used a hacksaw to cut off a piece of my fender. But the car drove for 3,000 more miles,” he said.
Martin doesn’t consider himself a top-notch golfer, but he loves the game and the opportunity to travel around and see different parts of the country. He played a golf course in South Dakota near Mount Rushmore.
“I usually shoot between 85 and 92,” he said.
Martin said golfers across the country adhered to social distancing guidelines and his next golf adventure may require a lot less driving.
“I haven’t played all the courses in Maine yet,” Martin said.
At the top of his regional list is the Cabot Links Golf Resort in Nova Scotia, which runs along the beach at Cape Breton.