I played a lot of golf in 2014 -- more golf than I've ever played in my life, in fact. I played golf in multiple states on various courses and with all kinds of people.
I broke 80 for the first time in 2014 at my home course with one of my good friends. I played with Rickie Fowler. I played in altitude for the first time.
I played with four different sets of clubs. I played with people I met on the Internet (really).
I played in the rain. I played with my dad. I played with as much Tour Sauce as a 15 handicap should reasonably be playing with.
Golf really is the best sport, and I got to enjoy it if not at the highest level then with some of the best people and on some of the coolest courses.
Here are my five favorite golfing experiences from 2014, ranked.
1. Colonial Country Club
Playing a PGA Tour course with one of only three golfers who has ever finished top five in all four majors in a single season and playing with him in the season he accomplished that feat?
Come on, that's too much.
Photo via Twitter
It's true, though. I played the Crowne Plaza Invitational Pro-Am in Rickie Fowler's group (you can read my feature on it here).
2. Traditions Club
The home of Texas A&M golf lived up to its billing when I played it near the end of the year. The course was in tremendous shape, the amenities pristine and the surrounding area an exercise in brilliance.
Here's what Traditions has figured out: if you put two-, three-, and four-bedroom houses (called Cottages or Casitas and pictured below) next to a really amazing golf course then alumni, fans and boosters will fill those accomodations up throughout the year.
This is what Traditions has done and alumni have taken to buying the living spaces and renting them out or up filling them up during Texas A&M football weekends.
It's something that every college town with a decent golf course should be doing, and Traditions is nailing it.
Photo via Traditions Club
The course (see photo at top) was tough but incredibly fun as it offered various angles into greens and a surprisingly hilly terrain that produced a lot of above or below-your-feet shots.
Course designer Jack Nicklaus wasn't lying when he said, "It’s an incredible piece of property...the course really designed itself."
Photo via Traditions Club
The experience in Bryan/College Station couldn't have been finer nor the facilities more impressive (they are shared by A&M's golf teams and club members).
It's tough to top playing 18 with Rickie Fowler in a Pro-Am at a place like Colonial, but Traditions certainly gave it a run for its money.
3. Grandote Peaks Golf Club
My family vacations deep in the heart of south-central Colorado every summer, and this year, I finally took my clubs and got a round in.
It was everything I imagined playing golf in Colorado to be. It was cool (55 degrees in July), rainy and I only hit driver one time because of the altitude (I was hitting 5 irons like 220 yards!)
Photo via the Armchair Explorer
The course itself was very naturally-shaped by the gorgeous Spanish Peaks terrain and offered little in the way of unnecessary extras.
It's a place that's definitely worth the price of admission.
4. Old American Golf Club
This was a return trip for me to far north Dallas and this time I took a buddy, Back 9 Network host (and renowned golfer) Shane Bacon.
We played Old American -- which is probably currently my favorite course in Dallas -- a few weeks before they hosted a US Open local qualifier and Bacon played from the tournament tees.
He shot 70.
Photo via Old American
I did not shoot 70 and we had a hell of a time navigating the sandy dunes, gusty wind and thick grass of the gorgeous layout along Lewisville Lake.
And after both nearly acing the 17th hole, we decided we needed to come back for more at some point.
A photo posted by Kyle Porter (@kyleportercbs) onMay 5, 2014 at 11:10am PDT
5. Duck Creek Golf Club
A shout out to the course I played the most in 2014. Recently re-opened and renovated, Duck Creek isn't the most challenging or most beautiful place to tee it up but it's 10 minutes from my house and offers a tricky layout that takes some skillful navigation (which I usually am unable to provide).
When I sat down at the beginning of 2014, one of my life goals was to break 80 as I'd never done it before.
Late in the fall, I still hadn't done it, but I came to the 15th hole at Duck Creek 5 over for my round with a short (290ish-yard par 4 in front of me). I didn't lay up (@nolayingup would have been proud), drove the green and barely missed my eagle putt.
I went on to shoot 78 that day, which capped off a hell of a year in golf for me.
Here's to another one in 2015 (and breaking 75).