There is no denying the creativity of our fellow humans, especially when fueled by boundless optimism. How else to explain the myriad roadside attractions that summon travelers from the highways and country roads of America? No matter the season of your travels, an array of memory-makers will beckon. Be sure to pack your golf clubs; for every South of the Border or Boll Weevil statue, there’s a nearby golf course for you to play. We’ve put together a 3-part series of some of the … well, oddest commemorations you can imagine and paired them elegantly with area golf opportunities. Time to blend the camp with the course, and play some golf around America, in part three, the finale, of our series!
Hagenback-Wallace Circus Diorama (French Lick, Indiana)
In our travels, there are sites where the golf takes center stage, while others promote the oddity to the fore. In this case, French Lick is better known as the home of Larry Bird, NBA legend, than it is for the titular circus diorama. No matter, you have two, non-golf reasons to visit. You also have two golf ones. If you are a masochist, play the modern, Pete Dye layout at the French Lick Resort. The course where even professional golfers can’t stand up straight is simply no fun. It is a challenge, though, if that’s what you desire. For pure golf, play the Donald Ross course. There is a difference between Classic and Old, and the DJRjr. the course at the resort is the purest example of the former.
Uncle Remus Museum (Eatonton, Georgia)
The Tar Baby in Uncle Remus stories may have its origin in an African folktale. The gum doll Anansi was created to trap Mmoatia. What Eatonton has, is the birthplace of journalist and writer Joel Chandler Harris, a reconciler of racial inequality in the New South. Today, it has an Uncle Remus museum, to pair well with nearby Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee. This is a memorable, Jack Nicklaus course, built in the resort tradition. The views of the water are memorable; the interactions with it are diverse. The private Cuscowilla is nearby, but the public Great Waters is the better of the two.
Gravity Hill (La Jolla, California)
There is a great deal of oddity in this San Diego suburb. As statues go, you can opt for Dr. Seuss and his favorite cat, or a turd. You can see artistic/engineering feats of boats, boulders, and a house dangling off a college rooftop. For our taste, however, a naturally-unnatural notion wins the day. La Jolla’s Gravity Hill is a stretch of road that appears to run uphill. Put your car in neutral (please be careful!) and let it roll…uphill you will roll! Speaking of uphill battles, the North Course at Torrey Pines sat long enough in the shadow of its brawnier but lesser brother, the South Course. Restored by Tom Weiskopf, the North Course is the better and the more memorable of the two, no matter what the touring pros tell you.
World’s Former Largest Cherry Pie Pan (Charlevoix, Michigan)
Nothing like a northern Michigan battle between two towns. In 1976, to commemorate the USA bicentennial, they baked a big-arse cherry pie in Charlevoix, Michigan. Then they tilted the pan on its edge, built a monument, and memorialized the occasion. Up the road a bit, Traverse City decided to copy old Charle’s idea, rather than come up with something original. In Charlevoix, the pie pan statue now admits that it is the former titleholder, but that candor is why it will always be number one in our hearts. While ogling the pie pan, be sure to play the nearby Belvedere golf course. One of America’s great, hidden gems and an icon of classic, golden-age architecture. Course architect William Watson may not have the renown of Ross, Mackenzie, et al., but he had the gumption and the know-how.
Headless Brontosaurus (Brooksville, Florida)
No one will ever mistake the unfinished Headless Brontosaurus of Brooksville, for the unfinished Sagrada Familia of Barcelona. Antoni Gaudi, after all, was something else. And yet, in rural Florida, somewhere between nowhere and lost, sits Brooksville. And in Brooksville, August Herwede’s unfinished masterpiece awaits completion. Gaudi was run over by a street care and died; Herwede fell from the scaffolding of his dinosaur and met a similar fate. Tragedy gives us tales. OK, lighten up, Francis. In Brooksville, one also finds Tom Fazio’s public ode to Pine Valley, the best course in the world, and equal parts private. At World Woods resort, the Pine Barrens course takes you across sandy wastelands, along piney corridors, to memorable golf.