- Golfer Benefits
By: Stephen Hanjack
Jeremy Wilson isn’t from Massachusetts. In fact, he’d never been to Massachusetts until October. So, for us to do a story on Wilson, tells you everything you need to know about his wild ride.
As a former writer for The Golfers’ Journal, a publication known for their Art of Golf Storytelling, Wilson is no stranger to the game. What is strange, is why a golfer traveling the country would choose George Wright GC and Olde Salem Greens as their only stops in Massachusetts.
Allow me to explain…
It’s a story as old as time. Former window replacement salesman leaves job to travel the country, exclusively playing municipal golf courses, and requesting to be paired up with strangers.
Okay, maybe it’s a bit off the beaten path. But perhaps he’s onto something.
“You can chase bucket-list courses, buy all of the new apparel and shoot your lowest scores, but the thing you’ll remember most from every round is the people you’re paired with.” noted Wilson in a post on his website, explaining the inspiration for this trip.
At the time of our interview, Wilson had checked off 47 states worth of municipal golf, including a pair of rounds at Massachusetts courses. The goal, of course, to visit all 50.
“What I try to keep as my North Star is just all these people I’m paired up with. Sometimes I’ll get a little lost and think too much about the courses, or about the traveling. But I’m like, no, no, no, it’s about the people. It’s about the people. It’s about the people. And I just try to laser focus on that.”
In a van.
Wilson has spent the past eight months traveling in a sprinter van across the country. But he hasn’t been going it alone. He was able to convince his girlfriend, Mia, and their two dogs (although I’m not sure how much say they had), to join him on this journey.
“I’m lucky that she’s the type of person that has the travel bug.” said Wilson of Mia.
He was quick to credit Mia as the main reason for his trip to Old Salem Greens, a municipal golf course in Salem. Being a huge Halloween person, she convinced Jeremy to add Salem to the itinerary, knowing they’d be passing through in October, during the height of tourism season.
“When we go to a place like Salem, we’ll do a whole day in the city that has nothing to do with golf. And I think that was probably the main appeal. Basically…let’s go see the country.”
“One of the pros at George Wright has an accent that is like, just straight out of an SNL skit for Boston, which I thought was so perfect.”
While it was a proper Boston accent that excited Wilson, it was proper Boston golf that stayed with him.
Thanks to No Laying Up’s feature video on George Wright GC, Wilson was made aware of Boston’s historic Donald Ross design. Sitting in a parking lot in Astoria, Oregon, he finished watching the feature and immediately called George Wright to make a tee time for October.
Climbing up the hill to that historic clubhouse will capture anyone, especially someone who has seen their fair share of trailer-sized pro shops. Pair that with a unique, stadium-like opening tee area, and you have the recipe for one of the most memorable courses in America.
Wilson couldn’t say enough about how special that opening tee shot was at George Wright. On a busy weekend morning, a right-handed golfer is faced with one of the most nerve-wracking, yet exhilarating tee shots in golf. With playing partners gathered around, and the large sidewalk leading up to the overlooking clubhouse, it feels as though the entire community is there to see you off.
“Another thing I really liked about George Wright is that I’ve played maybe 8 to 10 other Donald Ross designs, but that one, in particular, really felt like it was designed by him yesterday. Some places you play, and you get a whiff of it here and there, and you’re like, ‘I can kind of see it.’ But man, that place almost felt like it’d never been touched.”
While it’s no surprise to us Mass Golfers, it’s nice to hear that George Wright still plays.
Anyone who follows our social media accounts knows that we jest with national media about Salem Country Club having the best logo in all of golf. Little did we know that the muni up the road had one just as good, if not better.
“Hands down my favorite logo of the entire trip. Me and a buddy always talk about great golf logos and if we see a cool one, we’ll text each other. But man, I mean, can you beat a witch riding on riding a golf club like it’s a broomstick? That’s perfect.” Wilson said with a laugh.
Wilson talked about how Olde Salem Greens is a pure community course. It’s one of those places where the people who live and work in that area, play there. It’s places like Salem that made municipal golf courses the most attractive to him.
As he reminisced about the visit, it was the opening few holes that stayed with Wilson the most. The opening tee shot calls for a ball to be hit into a wave pool-like fairway and gives a simple nod to the player that they’re in for a treat – something a bit different than your typical 9-hole muni.
“The second hole at Olde Salem Greens is one of my most memorable holes from this entire trip. And I’m not just saying that because I’m talking to Mass Golf. It’s like a 250-yard, par-3, which shocks you in a place that is sub-3,000 yards.”
It’s one of those holes where your group hits their tee shots, then once reaching the green, everyone marks their ball and waves the group behind up. After that group hits and begins their march toward the green, your group finishes out. This is done to keep the pace of play moving.
“It’s almost like it’s a drivable par-4, but by no means do you need to fly it 250 (yards). You just get a ball tumbling down this hill and it’s going to roll basically down to the front of the green. It’s a really wild, cool hole. If I were to build a composite course from this trip, that hole will be on that course. No question.”
Wilson also talked enthusiastically about the experience of being in Salem during Halloween season. He called back to the buzz and electricity in the city, and how enjoyable the quaint downtown area was to visit.
While some Mass Golfers may have lost interest in the Salem scene, it was refreshing to hear an outsider’s excitement. It should serve as a reminder of how rich Massachusetts is when it comes to historical venues…both on the course and off. We are fortunate to live in such a unique and special place.
As we walked Wilson down memory lane in conducting this interview, there were a few other takeaways he had from this first visit to Massachusetts.
The Boston Accent
“What I learned is that there’s a big difference between a Providence accent and a Boston accent. Being from the south, I would have thought they were the same, but once I got there, I was like ‘oh my gosh, that’s way different.’ The Boston accent is just so infectious.”
We Cut To The Chase
“The guys I played with at Salem, and I’m trying not to sound too stereotypical, but they were just extremely real. I’ve lived most of my life in the south where people just don’t really speak their mind. It’s a lot of ‘Oh, bless your heart’ and things like that. But these guys didn’t BS. They were like ‘Ok, here’s where you need to go, here’s what you need to do’ and they just cut to the chase. And as this trip took me back down to the south, I began to really miss the directness.”
We’re Not Trying To Be Anyone Else
“A takeaway from the state of Massachusetts is they’re not trying to be anyone else. The courses, the people, they are truly who they are. I’ve gotten to other places, after visiting Mass, and I’m like ‘This course doesn’t know who it is. Or this place is just a copy and paste of another course.’ But in Mass, you get none of that. Olde Salem Greens is a one-of-one. And George Wright is a total one-of-one. Those are the places that stick with me, and why I can talk to you now (2 months later) and feel like I was there yesterday. Those places are so perfectly themselves.”
With the rest of his life on pause, Wilson has just a few more states left to complete the trip. After that…it sure sounds like a book is on the way. Stay tuned.
How to Follow Jeremey Wilson
This year, the U.S. Open came to Massachusetts and shined the spotlight on one of the greatest courses our state has to offer. As perfect as The Country Club is, and as spectacular as the Championship was, it’s nice to hear what outsiders think of our public gems too.
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