50-state golf quest brings couple to suburbs

  • Mike and Dixie Brubaker of Palm Desert, California, stand on the 18th green after completing their round at Marengo Ridge Golf Club in Marengo on Wednesday. The Brubakers are on a quest to play at least one course in all 50 states. Illinois became No. 31 on their list.

    Mike and Dixie Brubaker of Palm Desert, California, stand on the 18th green after completing their round at Marengo Ridge Golf Club in Marengo on Wednesday. The Brubakers are on a quest to play at least one course in all 50 states. Illinois became No. 31 on their list. John Dietz | Staff Photographer

  • Mike Brubaker just misses a putt on the 18th green at Marengo Ridge Golf Club in Marengo on Wednesday. Mike and wife Dixie are traveling to 11 states in the Midwest this summer as they close in on their goal of playing at least one course in every state in the country.

    Mike Brubaker just misses a putt on the 18th green at Marengo Ridge Golf Club in Marengo on Wednesday. Mike and wife Dixie are traveling to 11 states in the Midwest this summer as they close in on their goal of playing at least one course in every state in the country. John Dietz | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/25/2021 3:02 PM

Some golfers dream of playing Pebble Beach.

Others hope to find their way to St Andrews, Bandon Dunes, the Robert Trent Jones trail and many other iconic tracks around the world.

 

Then there's Mike and Dixie Brubaker, who are on a quest to play at least one golf course in every state in the country. The Palm Desert, California, residents -- married 61 years -- inched closer to that goal after playing Marengo Ridge Golf Club on Wednesday.

The Brubakers have now played in 31 states and expect to increase that number to 38 after traveling to Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas.

"Then we're finished -- and only 1,800 miles from home," quips Dixie as she sips an ice water inside the Marengo Ridge clubhouse.

The couple came up with this idea more than three decades ago after a trip to Scotland. Still less than halfway done two years ago, 83-year-old Mike realized they'd better get cracking if this goal was going to become a reality.

"We looked at it and said, 'Hey, we're getting pretty old,' " he chuckled. "We decided we better get after it again before it's too late."

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So two years ago they played in Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. Before getting to Illinois they were in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Next year they plan on flying to the East Coast to knock off most of the remaining states.

Last up will be Alaska.

There's not a whole lot of research that goes into picking a course. Mike simply sits down on his computer, pulls up an area away from major cities and reads reviews.

He's hoping to find fun, enjoyable tracks. No 7,000-yard beasts, please.

So after playing Johnson Park Golf Course in Racine, Wisconsin, Mike chose Marengo Ridge.

"I really liked the golf course," he said. "It's in beautiful condition, the greens are great and it's got some interesting holes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Dixie purchases a golf ball from every course and has several hundred to her name.

After each round, there's one other quest the Brubakers are on.

We'll let Mike explain.

"It all started many years ago when we went to see our daughter in Miami," he says. "We went into Lowes Hotel and we had the best Manhattan that ever happened. We have been comparing that to everything else. We've had some very excellent ones."

Asked if he's ever had any hole-in-ones, Mike says that, yes, in fact he has five. In the next breath, however, he laments that it's been "three to four years" since his last ace.

As for his better half?

"God, no," said Dixie, who tossed her ball out of the greenside bunker at 18 rather than hit from the sand. "I'm the world's worst golfer. But he complained and complained and complained, and then he went out and shot his age. He got a trophy from our little club in California."

Sounds like something their two kids could get them after this quest is over.

That -- and a good Manhattan.

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