An Idea is Born


This is a story about four buddies who drive to the Arctic Circle to play golf.  One of them is dead. Jim Thompson, Dan Johnson, Mike Allen and I met on the golf course.  We played golf in the same foursome at Westmoreland Country Club for nearly 20 years before Mike died.  It was a standing Saturday morning game that brought us to grow close and to love each other.

Most people thought that I’d pass away before Mike would.  He suffered from juvenile diabetes.  But he plowed past his date with the angels so long ago that despite blatant signs that he wasn’t well, he nevertheless seemed invincible.  I, on the other hand, went into the hospital twice in the last couple years.  Of course, if Jim, Dan and I were going to take a trip anywhere to play golf, we’d have to take Mike along.  That’s the long and short of it – he belonged, we felt obligated, case closed.  You’d do the same now, wouldn’t you?

There are two ways of driving to the Arctic Circle from Chicago that I know of. The first is the easy way – you hop in your car, head north by northwest and drive until there’s no road left.  The second is you rent an RV, free Mike’s urn from the back of his former wife’s hallway closet, hire a camera crew to document your journey and make the journey worthwhile by doing and seeing things you’ve never done or seen before.

Today’s the first day of the Our Longest Drive Golf Channel show page, where you can come to read about the second way. But to get to this point in time, six months of planning and nearly two years of having an idea rattle around in my head have passed. You could say that what I’m writing today is the first chapter of a book and you wouldn’t be wrong.

It was reading a book titled Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon which gave me the idea in the first place. I was flat on my back in bed after open heart surgery and perhaps the meds that I was on had something to do with it. I’d be stretching the truth if I told you the plan came to me in a blink. First the car trip, then the golf match, then Mike’s ashes and, finally, the TV series – that’s how the whole thing unfolded.

The road to Inuvik is long and, I’d imagine, a bit lonely.  Dan and Jim, who you’ll meet on the Golf Channel on Tuesday, October 16 at 10:30 PM, are good company. But you’re the one that I’d like to have along as we plan our trip and hit the road. Why not make the Our Longest Drive show page a regular stop during your time on the computer each morning?


Vic Zast, Our Longest Drive Traveler