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PGA Tour

Golfer completes historic 100 best courses in Hong Kong, and celebrates with hard-earned pint of beer

  • McCoy has made a name for himself within the world golf community for playing courses all over the world
  • Completes his milestone in Hong Kong on HKGC’s New and Eden courses
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 8:04am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 2:17pm

There’s one thing American Bob McCoy likes to do after a round of golf, his only real superstition.

“I like to have a beer, I like the taste of it – best way to end a round.”

Chances are McCoy has had his fair share of pints given the number of rounds he has played over his life so far.

At 79, he just completed a historic odyssey in Hong Kong last Saturday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling. McCoy capped off playing Golf Magazine’s World 100 Top Courses List from 1979 to 2017 (201 courses in total). The list is updated every two years and HKGC’s New and Eden courses made the list in 1979 and 1981 as a composite round.

And yes, he did have a pint after his second round.

McCoy said it all started in 1985, he was living and working in the northeastern part of the United States, bouncing around between Boston, New Jersey and New York. As a full golf nut for as long as he can remember, he started trying to tick off courses that he wanted to play, everywhere in the world.

“It all started like that as simple as it was – going places to play golf, and meeting really nice people and having a beer afterwards with them.”

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He soon started getting smart about knocking courses off his list. McCoy, who worked as an equity analyst for Kidder, Peabody & Co, a brokerage firm, also had a profession that allowed him to travel. So he started sneaking golf into work plans.

“I had to visit every major metropolis area in the States twice a year, and the various world headquarters every 18 months. So I would go to the sales guys and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to Los Angeles, why don’t we set up a round with a few clients and play Riviera?’ And the firm would pay for the golf.”

He also took regular golf holidays around the world and said as a way to keep in touch with people he met while playing, he started writing about his golf “odysseys” and sending them to his friends via a physical mailing list.

“You’d call it a blog now,” he said with a chuckle. “So I think I’m the first golf blogger. The first year it was four pages and I sent it out to 100 people and the second year it was 10 pages and I mailed it out to 150 people.” His friends started sending his “blog” to other friends and before he knew it, McCoy’s calendar was full of golf trips.

“The Xerox machine was going wild,” he said. “Before I knew it, it had a life of its own.”

McCoy also started writing for Golf Magazine and Golf Digest along the way as a freelancer, and in 1988 he tackled his first world list, playing the 1987 list. He was hooked, and now had another road map for playing and travelling. Also, in 1997, he played Golf Magazine’s World Top 100 courses in 100 days, which included 16 double headers.

Along the way he has notched up some incredibly impressive results, having played courses in 30 countries, and about 1,150 of the world’s best courses including all the ones ranked regularly at the top including St Andrews in Scotland, Pebble Beach in California and Augusta National in Georgia.

“TV does not do these places justice,” he said. “The elevation change at Augusta, you do not get that on TV.”

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McCoy said Pebble Beach has a special place in his heart given they are not making courses like it any more (golf course builds have been dropping for years and many courses are under threat of redevelopment including ones here in Hong Kong).

Golf itself is also declining in players due to a number of reasons including demographics, playing costs and environmental concerns over course upkeep. Regardless, McCoy said the course at Pebble Beach is famous for wrapping around the ocean as the water comes into play at a number of holes.

“Those ocean holes are so spectacular and just do not exist any more,” he said. “People aren’t building ocean side courses like that because the environmentalists are making them play away from the water.”

He said Eden, which he played on Saturday morning, is most definitely a world class course.

“They use the terrain really well, a lot of slopes, so a lot of left to rights and rights to left, doglegs, reasonably elevated greens. No two holes the same, it’s a course I could play quite often.”

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McCoy, whose handicap was as low as two at one point and now sits at 15, also has a website called The Odyssey: The Chronicles of Bob McCoy’s Worldwide Golf Travels (which is also the name of the book he is working on), and said he fully understands that the word “odyssey” can mean a wandering journey that never ends.

“I love what I’m doing and I don’t want to stop. So that would be fine with me.”