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Grant Wahl
August 11, 1997
Bob McCoy has become the first person to play the top 100 courses in 100 days
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August 11, 1997


Bob McCoy has become the first person to play the top 100 courses in 100 days

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I will bet twenty thousand pounds, against anyone who wishes, that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less.
Around the World in Eighty Days

The Phileas Fogg of golf, by contrast, limits his bets to $2 Nassaus. He travels not by steamship and hot-air balloon but by commercial airline and an old black Cadillac. In fact, compared with Jules Verne's intrepid Brit, Bob McCoy is something of a slacker. He took 100 days to circle the globe from his home in Springfield, N.J., finishing on Monday, but along the way he accomplished a singular feat—he played the world's top 100 courses in just as many days.

"Some people think I'm nuts," said the 58-year-old McCoy, a consultant and former Wall Street analyst, after his 50,000-mile journey. Indeed, he is one of only five people to have completed the Golf magazine World 100. He's the first person even to attempt the 100 in 100, to have the chutzpah to put his faith in oft-delayed airlines, capricious weather and his own health. "One Japanese guy described it as a kamikaze trip," McCoy says with pride.

On June 15, for example, after finishing a morning round at Royal Portrush (site of the recent Senior British Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland), McCoy drove the 50 miles to Belfast, took the four-hour ferry across the Irish Sea to Scotland, rented a car and arrived at Turnberry with just enough time to complete his round before the sun set at 10:30 p.m. As a postscript to this midsummer night's dream, he watched the final round of the U.S. Open after retiring to his room at a Turnberry hotel.

There were other highlights during McCoy's crusade, from his eagle 2 at Royal Liverpool to his low round, a 74 at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla., to simply playing Pebble Beach, his favorite course. During one free afternoon in Australia, McCoy came a fraction of an inch away from holing his tee shot on a par-3 at Melbourne's Capital Club, a superexclusive layout that has not yet cracked the World 100. Had he made a hole in one, McCoy later learned, sirens would have sounded and he would have won a million Australian dollars ($746,700) from an adjacent casino.

Not that he needs the money. McCoy, who owns a small Canadian island and has a building at Harvard named after him, concocted the idea for his $35,000 adventure in 1988 while knocking off the final courses in Japan for his lifetime World 100. When a journalist there asked him what he would do for an encore, he replied, without blinking, "I'll do them in 100 days." Now that the voyage is complete, he confesses that there will be no encores this time. "I might have created a monster," says McCoy, who plans to write a book on the course architecture of the World 100. "I know someone will want to do this in fewer than 100 days, so I set up some ground rules: You have to start from your official place of residence, fly commercially, do all your own driving and walk all 1,800 holes."

One unwitting steward at the TPC at Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., didn't understand the last rule and threatened to throw McCoy off the course when he spied him walking and not riding in a cart. Surprisingly, that was one of McCoy's few close calls. No flights were missed and no lightning stopped him, although he slogged through the same interminable British showers that delayed Wimbledon last month.

What's more, McCoy's stamina was remarkable, even by the standards of the fictitious Fogg from London. "People wondered if I got tired, but every day I got up and played one of the world's best courses with nice people," says McCoy, who had played 105 rounds in 100 days by the time he left the 18th green at Merion on Monday. "I don't know if it was adrenaline, but I felt fine. I didn't want this thing to end."