The Latin phrase in medias res means “in/into the middle/midst of things”. That is how my story begins for you. When used as a literary technique, it’s sometimes meant to be in the middle of some critical plot action, like a battle in war. While I can’t say my story promises such action, you join it in the middle nonetheless.
In my first entry, I mentioned that I was excited about the idea of playing over 100 different golf courses in New Jersey. What I didn’t mention is that it’s also exciting because it means I will travel to areas of the state that I may not have otherwise visited, or even planned to visit. As a lifelong New Jersey resident, this was an endearing prospect. Prior to taking on this journey, the only time I got to new areas of the state in the last four years was on “nap drives”, trying to get my reluctant-to-nap daughters to fall asleep in the car. I used a lot of these drives to find new golf courses and wondered if I’d ever play them. Now I had a reason to.
One of the interesting things about this goal of playing all public courses in a state is that, by pure chance, I happened to be born in a state where this is actually probable, or at least achievable in a lifetime (while raising a family and working a full-time job). When I first considered it, I thought that – apart from other geographically small states like Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Delaware – there must not be many states where someone could take this on. States like California and Texas make the task unlikely with their geographic size and abundance of golf courses, but what about Alaska? It turns out Alaska only has eight regulation-length, 18-hole courses. That makes the 49th state possible, so what about the 50th state? Hawaii is probably likely as well, seeing as it’s only a few small islands. And if Alaska only has a few courses because of the cold climate, what about states that are mostly desert, like Nevada, Arizona, or New Mexico? I suppose as long as you’re willing to make the drives all over those larger states, they would make for accomplishable goals as well.
With the knowledge that “The Goldilocks Zone” for entirely playable states was larger than I initially thought, I focused again on my home state. New Jersey has 21 counties and – by my count – 350 golf courses, 185 of which are public. Coming by these numbers was more difficult than I thought it would be, and I’ve learned that between some courses closing and others being difficult to find, the number is definitely subject to change.
So, how far “in the middle of things” are we exactly? As of the time of writing, I have played 34 of the 185 public courses in New Jersey. That means we’re roughly 18% of the way through my journey. It also means that Kermit was off by a few courses (37, to be precise).