South Jersey golfer completes trek of 50 courses in 50 states in 50 days

Posted: June 22, 2012

RELIEF.

That's pretty much what Harry Scott said he felt, when his trek was finally over. After playing 50 courses in 50 states in as many days. Which meant driving nearly 12,000 miles, much of it by himself on the closing legs. Not to mention flying almost as far, to get to Hawaii and Alaska and back home to Somers Point, N.J.

What began on May 1 in Putnam, Conn., ended Tuesday in Wasilla, Alaska, where Sarah Palin was once the mayor, at a course called Settlers Bay. The 78-year-old Scott, who went to all 28 major league ballparks in 28 days in 1995 and 30 in 30 3 years ago, played 890 holes in all. Even made a birdie on his third-to-last, a long par-3 where he chipped in from 20 yards left of the green.

Then he spent 11 hours in the Anchorage airport waiting to catch the plane to Seattle for his connection to Philly International.

"Somebody rode me to the airport, which was about an hour away," Scott said. "I actually met a guy there who was from Tennessee, about my age or a little younger, and he loved it because he's a golfer. So we talked for quite awhile.

“What else was I going to do? You know it was only dark up there for like an hour and a half?"

He played his last 18 with a firefighter who'd taken the day off to play with his visiting father.

"They were thrilled to death to have me [in their group]," Scott said. "When we left, we were hugging. We just made great friends. But it's been like that most of the way. Sometimes I'd be standing in the security line with my [50 in 50] shirt on, and somebody would see and start taking my picture."

We won't dwell on the fact he double-bogeyed his last hole, a par-4, where he missed a short putt.

"The last week has been a grind," he acknowledged Wednesday morning before taking off. "I couldn't have asked for a better day [to finish]. It was 70 degrees, deep-blue sky, light breeze, snowcap mountains in the background. What a view. Chamber of Commerce setting. I relished it. But other than the start, when I played in rain the first 4 days, the weather was great. That's the one thing I was worried about. And I actually played pretty well."

He'd never been to Alaska before. Ditto Montana. So much for those bucket-list items.

"I had some long drives the last week, and I didn't really get much sleep," said Scott, who was getting a surprise welcome-home party from his friends Wednesday night upon his return to the South Jersey Shore. "The logistics were the hardest part of all this. Last week, I was almost wishing it was over. At least the first month or so I usually had somebody with me.

“I wish I could zap myself home right now. But I'll be OK. You should have seen the guy at the rental-car return [in Seattle]. He couldn't believe the odometer. He had to go into the office to check me out."

Scott, naturally, is scheduled to play at his home course, McCullough's Emerald Links in Egg Harbor Township, with some of his buddies Friday. He'll have no shortage of stories to tell.

"I'm ready to get back," said the retired CPA, who lost his wife 5 years ago. "You can only live out of a suitcase for so long. I've got a lot of mail to go through. But there's a real sense of accomplishment. I think's in part of my character. When I set my mind to something?...?I drove 10 years, starting when I was 25, to college [Rutgers-Camden] at night three times a week to get my degree.

“I'll tell you, I saw some spectacular golf courses."

There were a few glitches. He had to make three changes to the itinerary, when courses became unavailable for various reasons. But it all worked out. With Harry, it almost always does.

"You have to be a little lucky, too," he acknowledged. "I mean, there were times when I was out in the middle of wherever, and you'd go miles and miles and miles without seeing another car. What if I get a flat tire and the trip is aborted? It can happen. I guess somebody's looking out for me."

So, how much did this thing set him back?

"If I ever thought about how much it cost," he said with a chuckle, "I probably wouldn't have done it." n

Contact Mike Kern at kernm@phillynews.com.

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