Designing a 900 Mile Golf Trip

PORTLAND TO PEBBLE //

Planning a 900 mile golf adventure.

We are always down for a golf road trip.  Usually this means squeezing into your buddy’s SUV and heading to a resort for a few days, overflowing the trunk with golf bags, duffles, and Yeti’s full of light beer.  The most difficult planning that takes place is how many golf balls to bring.

Our homies Pete Phipps and Luke Davis re-imagined this definition.

Pete is an avid cyclist and biked across the country a few years back.  Combining his love for golf, the outdoors, and biking, he had an idea of doing a pacific northwest golf trip by bike.  The PNW is arguably the ultimate combination of natural wonder and terrain; it’s lined with epic coastlines, massive redwood forests, rolling hills, and abundant wildlife.  There is also incredible golf throughout Oregon and California heading down Highway 101/1.  If it were done, this trip is best suited to be taken with slow pace of pedal, adventuring on the open road, embracing the PNW as home.

One day last fall, when Pete and Luke were catching up over breakfast, Pete pitched Luke the idea for the trip.  Luke, a rookie when it came to riding, but itching to win back skins money from Pete, eagerly agreed that he would be 110% in on doing this.  To Luke’s surprise, Pete flipped open his laptop, powerpoint/rough itinerary already put together.  He’d drafted a route down Highway 101 and Highway 1, hitting around 13 golf courses between Portland and Pebble Beach.  The plan was to tow their golf clubs and necessary gear by bike, camping out at state parks and golf courses along the way.

The original draft itinierary - this evolved even during the actual trip.

With a dream and framework in place, Luke and Pete started working through the details.  The first thing to figure out was how they would bring their clubs.  According to them, the entire trip kinda hinged on this success (no one wants to play with rentals).

The dilemma - it wouldn’t be feasible to carry clubs on their backs while biking, and to their knowledge, Luke + Pete are the first peeps to haul golf clubs 900 miles on the back of a bike.  There weren’t any case studies out there.  They had to find some sort of trailer that would hold a golf bag and be light, yet durable enough for the tough ride.

Pete knew of an innovative bike trailer company, Burley, and started doing some digging.  He found the Travoy trailer on their site which looked to be a possible solution, although not specifically coined for carrying golf clubs.  With fingers crossed, they ordered two.  The main unknowns were:  a) would it fit a golf bag, b) how it would handle downhill and c) would riding with it in tow be difficult.

When the Travoys arrived Luke + Pete eagerly tested them out around Raleigh.   With their golf bags strapped in, they sped down hills, took tight turns, and added more weight.  The trailers worked awesome… a huge relief for how they would bring their sticks.  (we’ll be taking future golf trips with the Travoy, you can check out the trailer here.)

Luke taking the Burley Travoy for a first spin. It worked like a champ.

The next big thing to figure out was the route.  Portland being the starting point and Pebble Beach marking home, they started mapping out courses and campsites.  When Pete rode cross country, he and his compadres would bike roughly 80 miles a day, averaging ~10 mph.  However, they weren’t hauling 50-80 lbs of gear.  Pete figured if they wanted to have time to squeeze in golf, the sweet spot for riding was around 50-60 miles a day.

With that in mind, courses were highlighted, campsites identified, and elevation taken into consideration.  Some of the tracks they wanted to hit included Bandon Dunes, Northwood, and Pasatiempo.  Weather in the pacific northwest can be brutally rainy at times, so they settled on end of April/early May which was just after the tail end of wet season.  Pete worked on calling ahead to check on campsites while Luke reached out to golf courses to find about any conflicts and put tentative holds on tee times.

Elevation and terrain had to be accounted into daily miles. Without cell service in a lot of areas, these paper maps proved crucial.

 

Last on the checklist -- planning what gear they needed and how to get it to Portland.  Every ounce counts -- as Pete put it, “you are going to want to even cut your toothbrush in half.”  It was important to make sure everything packed had a purpose and was as light as possible.  They installed pannier racks on their bikes and started to “weigh” out their options.

Here’s a short list of some things that made the cut:

  • Linksoul clothing:  boardwalker shorts worked awesome for camping + golfing, they were light weight and quick drying.  Shirts were durable, comfortable, and verstile both on and off the course. 
  • Jones Players Series Golf Bags: single strap, small, durable bottom, functional for walking.
  • 7-8 golf clubs each: Luke went odd lofts with old Hogan edges, Pete's money club was a 1 wood.
  • 2 single person tents, 45 degree rated sleeping bags
  • Electric Sunglasses
  • DJI Mavic Pro Drone
  • Sony A6000, GoPro 5 and mounts
  • Portable charging bank for iphones/electronics
  • Yeti ramblers
  • Sunscreen, baby powder (chafing is a real thing), Tea Tree oil for skin sores, basic toiletries

Luckily, getting their gear and clubs out west turned out to be the easiest part to plan.  Luke + Pete didn’t want to check their clubs or gear with the airlines and risk damaged or lost luggage.  They used a hassle-free service called Ship Sticks, where you can schedule a pickup at your house, print from home shipping labels, or visit one of the 3,000 golf facilities they service worldwide to use one of their golf bag specific boxes.

Grabbing a box from a local course, Luke + Pete may or may not have also stuffed the box with clothes, tents, camping gear, and anything else they could squeeze in addition to their walking bags.  Ship Sticks handled the rest, providing shipping labels and scheduled pickup for right before the trip started.

Ship Sticks box worked perfect, skipping the hassle of checking bags and messing with luggage.

With the route planned, their gear scheduled to head cross country, and legs (somewhat) trained, it was time for a final test run.

Luke + Pete decided the perfect route to simulate the full ensemble would be Raleigh to Dormie Club (in Pinehurst area); they would bike 70 miles, play golf, camp, then bike 70 miles back to Raleigh the next day.  It was a week before the big trip when they hit the country roads through the sandhills of North Carolina.

 

The full load with camping gear, camera equipment, clubs, and clothes.

Luke admittedly underestimated what kind of physical feat this would be (“oh a few spin classes will do the trick”).  About 50 miles into the ride, his legs hit a wall.  According to him, he “has had cramps before, but never to the point of not working, it was some of the worst pain I’ve felt.”  Luke had to stop 5-6 times during the last 20 miles to let his leg muscles unlock, walking some uphill stretches.  By the time they reached Dormie, Pete was eager to tee it, while Luke was just glad they made it one way.

That night they played 9 holes, set up camp for the night, and chatted about any learnings from the day.  Equipment-wise everything went smoothly.  The Burley Travoys handled real roads with rubble and loaded with all their gear beautifully.  Pete had a flat tire on his road bike, but was able to swap out the tube really quick.  Setting up their camping gear and organizing everything for the next day took about 15 minutes.  

Camping on property was like being in golf fantasy land, they had the whole place to themselves, staring out at 18 green under the stars.  They felt connected to the course and the outdoors in a way never experienced before.  

In chatting, the main takeaway was that this trip through the Pacific Northwest was going to be no joke.  The ride through redwoods and down coastlines would have more severe hills then the route taken today and it would be for two weeks straight, not two days.  But oh, would it be worth it. 

Refueling with Clif Bars
Made it to Dormie Club.
Campsite for the night.

 

The next morning, they packed up and began biking back to Raleigh.  70 miles to get home, 140 total in 36 hours.  Luke’s legs were feeling somewhat normal again after turning to senior flex shafts the day before.  However, when mile 105 came, about halfway home, leg failure started happening again, this time with a different type of pain in Luke’s left knee.  It was deep and felt joint related.  Every pedal was excruciating, to the point where Luke shut it down.

With a little over a week before their flights out west, according to Luke, he had to get creative.  He still wanted to enjoy this trip by biking and living on the road, but was nervous about not being able to pull it off.

Luke quickly started researching (the same day he got home from Dormie Club in fact, with legs iced and elevated).  He found that there were pedal assist bikes out there, which would help you pedal within a range.  Some further googling led him to The E-bike Store in Portland -- Luke got in touch with the owner, Wake, immediately.

Wake was extremely knowledgeable, explaining the different types of e-bike/pedal assist bikes out there.  Essentially, he said, you can think of a pedal assist bike as helping you maintain your pedal cadence for a certain range - you have the option of turning on the assist or not.  There’s no throttle, you still are pedaling, but you get that extra boost when you need it.

With a long daily commute and big hills out west, Wake suggested the Raleigh Redux iE , which would have an effective range of about 35 miles (normally it is 50+, but the amount of weight he was hauling over elevation reduced that).  They agreed that Luke would come by when they landed in Portland to check it out and rent it if need be.

Feeling better about having a backup plan, Luke and Pete had prepared as much as they could.  The route was planned and the time had come for them to start the wild adventure of what is "Portland to Pebble".  They brought their bicycles to Oak City Cycling in Raleigh, where the team there provided an expert final tune-up and boxes to ship out west.

On April 26th at 4 am, Luke + Pete headed to RDU with packed panniers and giddy grins; an adventure awaited them just a few flight legs away.

According to this teaser of footage thrown together by Luke, we'd say they found the adventure they were looking for.  We can't wait to see + hear the full story, coming soon.

 

SPECIAL THANKS // Linksoul, Burley, Ship Sticks, Jones Golf Bags, The Golfers Journal, GoPro, Yeti, Electric Sunglasses, Oak City Cycling, Raleigh Bicycles, The E-Bike Store.