Every new adventure begins with the crazy question, “What if….”
For Patrick Koenig, that question came at the end of a round of golf, when he asked himself, “What if I didn’t have to stop playing golf? What if I could just drive down the road and go to the next course, just never stop playing golf?”
The mind is a mysterious thing – sometimes, once it gets hold of an idea, it doesn’t let go.
“I didn’t jump into this all at once,” says Koenig, who is gregarious and earnest, with an always-ready self-effacing sense of humor. “I started putting some of the pieces together. I bought an RV, developed a website, came up with a game plan, ‘where would I go, what courses to play, what if I invited other people to play along, do I chronicle this with photos and articles,’ those kinds of things. Just sort of dreaming about doing it.”
After a couple years, it finally got to the point where it was fish or cut bait. “I just had to do it,” he says. “Just had to let go and follow this thing wherever it goes. It would have been a crime not to do it.”
One final piece Koenig added to it was a charity. “I wanted to have ‘bigger picture’ aspect to this, and I immediately thought of The First Tee,” he said. “I contacted Evan Johnsen (the program director at Greater Seattle chapter), told him my plan, that I liked the work he’s done, and I’d like to raise some money for his program.” (Koenig’s initial goal was to raise $10,000 for the chapter, and as of this writing he’s already reached that goal.)
So Koenig, 38, quit his job as a successful software salesman and launched the Recreational Golf Vehicle (RGV) Tour, a year-long quest to play golf across the U.S. His first round was kicked off in front of 20 onlookers on January 28, 2018 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., where Koenig belongs to the men’s club (and carries a 0.9 Index).
And he’s been on the road ever since.
In the first 270 days, Koenig figures he’s played about 280 rounds of golf. “I’m pretty much averaging 36 holes a day, except when there’s snow on the ground,” he says. “The other days are travel days.” The world record for the number of different courses played in one year is 449. “I didn’t set out to pursue that, but I guess if I break that record, all the better.”
The nation’s golf community has embraced him. “People tend to respond to extremes,” he says. “And they think I’m doing something a little nutty, and people like the nutty stuff.”
Koenig and his tour has over 68,000 followers on his Instagram account, and over 10,000 followers on his Twitter feed. “With the blogs, the podcasts, the production of material, the organizing of guests, the arranging of the next day’s courses, I wish I could do it all but there’s only so much time,” he says. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”
His story has appeared on TV news broadcasts and newspaper front pages across the country, and his humorous blogs are worth reading even if you don’t golf (but are funnier if you do).
“Every day is different,” he says. “Every group is different. Sometimes I play by myself, sometimes I play with a few foursomes tagging along a course.” Koenig has had over 400 guests so far on his tour. He writes about it in his blog on his website, produces podcasts, takes photos of people and golf courses.
“It has been an unbelievably rewarding experience,” says Koenig, who has been funding the trip out of his own pocket. “I just feel like I’m a better person because of it. You’re only good at something if you give it 100 percent. I’d only been doing my life at 50 percent until this year.”
Koenig plans to finish the RGV Tour in January 2019, with the final round played where he began, at Chambers Bay.
To follow along with the RGV Tour, and to see photos, read Koenig’s blogs and listen to his podcasts, or to donate to The First Tee, visit www.pjkoenig.com.
– Tom Cade, Editor