As founder of the small but already highly decorated Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Mich., Bill Welter shares not only his passion for creating a variety of fantastic spirits but his love of golf and golf travel. And in this “Emergency 9” episode of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, co-hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch dive deep into Welter’s love for the game.
Having lived in St. Andrews for a time, Bill’s choice of “Favorite Destination Anywhere in the World” makes total sense. Having played The Old Course 80-90 times, he remarks “The Old Course never gets old. The life experiences I had there are like home to me.” And he follows that with another homegrown choice — the courses Forest Park and Valparaiso where he grew up in Indiana.
As for a bucket list, Welter of course wants to hit some of the country great private clubs, the two icons of Merion and Augusta National (he’s already played Pine Valley a few times), and also lists the well-known, much-desired Cabot Links and Cabot Cliffs among his future golf-travel aspirations.
Bill has traveled much, and stayed all over the world, and offers two interesting choices for “Best Place You’ve Ever Stayed” — the clubhouse at Pine Valley (“modest accommodations, unique for its history, with food that’s second to none”) and Greywalls in Gullane, Scotland, situated on the edge of the historic Muirfield, host of the Open Championship.
True to his nature as a lover of travel and its benefits, Bill’s answer to “Best Food You’ve Ever Eaten” is more a reflection of his commitment to the journey itself, noting that eating a burrito (yes, a burrito) at the Dunvegan near the Old Course when he first arrived in St. Andrews is memorable because of the man who commented that he was brave for venturing to Scotland alone. And reflecting his combination of a purveyor of fine spirits with Journeyman and his love of history, his “Most Important Thing Besides Golf on a Trip” is making sure that a destination offers that same combination.
Having grown up in Indiana, Bill’s logical choice for favorite apparel is a great rain jacket and stocking cap, and though he plays to a 3.2 handicap, he shares with us the reason he believes the game is “getting it wrong” when it comes to excessive course yardage, noting he plays at about 6,500 yards, or on short courses, to maximize fun. He then offers a telling answer to our “Favorite Golf Partner” question, saying quickly it’s his Dad, who played the game with him when he was a “little guy” and continues to travel with him (although his father gets in more rounds these days than Bill).
And when it comes to “Favorite Course You Wish Everyone Knew About,” Bill offers up one classic and one modern selection — Strathpeffer Golf Club in the Highlands of Scotland, built as a nine-hole layout in 1888 by Willie Park and extended to 18 holes by Old Tom Morris in 1900; and Mike Keiser’s Dunes Club in Michigan. World’s apart and yet both connected to the game’s history.
Finally, in reply to our new “What’s Your Favorite Golf Story” bonus question, Bill goes into worthy detail about a round he had at Pine Valley. It involves a bogey-free scorecard, but you’ll have to hear it to believe it. It’s a fitting end to a truly enjoyable “Emergency 9” (and two-episode stint) with our new, favorite golf spirit, Journeyman’s Bill Welter.
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