DUMFRIES, Va. — All sorts of pitches find their way into our inboxes here at WTOP. Plenty aren’t relevant or particularly interesting, and many come from PR shops. Every now and then, though, someone just wants to share their story and thinks you might like to do the same. That’s how I ended up golfing with Soren Jacobsen, as our series Playing Through and his own project, Fairways and Freeways, converged at Potomac Shores Golf Club on a picture perfect Sunday morning.
For his 50th birthday, Jacobsen decided to try to golf at 50 different courses. In 50 different states. In 50 consecutive days. The basic planning and logistics aside, there’s a certain amount of good fortune involved in actually executing even the best laid course of action.
“The original idea was in college,” Jacobsen told WTOP. “At that age, to me, a 50-year-old was somebody with a cane or a walker or something … Now that I’m 50, other than being a little slow, I don’t feel any different than I did in my 20s.”
Jacobsen floated the idea past his wife, Melanie, a couple years back, thinking maybe he’d attempt the lower 48 states for his 48th birthday. But with her help (a project manager, he credits her entirely with the planning), his ambitions expanded not just to include Alaska and Hawaii, but to accomplish the entire journey in 50 straight days.
One might think the toughest part of such a journey would be the stress on a relationship, spending more than 230 hours together in a car, one day bleeding into the next, the next destination never seeming to arrive as quickly as projected.
“We call it the wormhole,” said Soren. “Every trip seems to be about two, two-and-a-half hours longer than we think … We don’t know exactly what happens in that time.”
“It’s kind of like this trip, the concept of time — it feels like forever, but in a good way,” added Melanie.
The only real misery came courtesy of, fittingly, Missouri. The couple dodged bad weather and played through a couple rain-soaked rounds elsewhere, but were stormed out in the Show Me State. When they rescheduled for a double-up later in the trip, storms hit once again. But they managed to adjust and fit the round in on their third try before leaving the Midwest the final time.
There were other bumps in the road. The initial car they rented was far too small, so they traded it in for a van. A crack in the windshield kept growing, forcing them to eventually make another swap. Soren played through a lat injury and biceps soreness, which was afflicting him during our round at Potomac Shores. He broke 80 thrice, shooting as low as 77 and as high as 94.
But perhaps good karma helped them through. In each state, they highlighted a local charity on the blog they used to track their journey, doing whatever they could to give back along the way.
“I think there’s a lot of diversity across the nation, but there’s also a lot of similarities. We’re all kind of doing the same stuff, but in different places. And I think that commonality is kind of neat, especially when you’re looking at it from a charity standpoint, where people are doing good stuff,” said Soren.
He and Melanie saw all sorts of wildlife, including moose that cut a hole short in Alaska and a wild pig that followed them through the first four holes in Hawaii. They’ll have plenty of material for their two books — Soren’s, about the trip, and Melanie’s, a children’s book featuring the stuffed squirrel, Mully (short for Mulligan), who accompanied them on their voyage.
They finished the journey in Hawaii in early June, taking a few days after the final round to decompress. Over the phone from the beach, Soren delivered his final, simple thought on the journey.
“If there’s something you want to do, just do it.”
I’m happy Jacobsen picked Potomac Shores, as it wasn’t yet on our radar for Playing Through. It’s a terrific golf course in terms of quality and beauty, designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. It would be quite a walk, with a hilly terrain and some long traverses between a few holes, but is tucked away such that it feels far more than the mile or so that it actually is off Interstate 95.
I didn’t actually notice until I finished the course, but the distance from each set of tees on each hole is a multiple of five yards, making club selection a little easier for first-timers playing the course.
It’s not cheap, but the dynamic pricing model means that if you have flexibility in your schedule, there are deals to be found.
Dynamic pricing creates a range of greens fees, with more
Deals for prepaying as a foursome (up to 25 percent off)
Weekdays: $78, down to $60
Weekends: $117, down to $87
Yearly full-week membership: $4,495
Weekday membership: $3,752
Tidewater Grill is a full service restaurant attached to the clubhouse, open seven days a week.
Pace of Play
If you’re driving, pace stays quick, in the 4:00 range. Walking will slow that significantly.
Proper golf attire; collared shirts, no denim
Take I-95 South to exit 152A. Follow signs to Potomac Shores Parkway.