Dan Wenstrup knows his way around a golf course. Exactly 100 of them. Wenstrup long ago promised himself that he was going to play every single course on Golf Digest magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Golf Courses” in America. So he teed up his dream. He drove. And in December he conquered.
Over the course of the last four (fore!) decades, the pilgrimage lured Wenstrup, a 1956 business major, from his suburban Chicago roots to some three dozen states. When he crossed off the final course, a round at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., in December, his ever-patient, practically saintly golf widow Eileen O’Brien, a fellow 1956 Xavier grad, showed up at the Chicago O’Hare Airport in the middle of the night, with family members and a limo in tow, to celebrate his achievement. “I actually sort of broke down” in tears, he says.
Wenstrup found he really had to pump his social and business networks to gain admission to all these exclusive courses, often cajoling visitor privileges from members he’s met over the years.
His son Kevin, the golf pro at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Ill., feared his dad might not be able to gain admission to all 100 and fall short of the accomplishment by an elusive one or two impenetrable courses. But fear not. He even edged into the ultra-private Augusta National Golf Course, home of The Masters tournament.
“Having the opportunity to play Augusta was very special.”
Wenstrup never seriously considered golf until he and some Army buddies started fooling around with it at Fort Bliss, Texas. After leaving military service, he joined Chicago’s Chemcentral Corp. as a salesman and began the career path that would propel him into the CEO and chairman’s office. Along the way, he developed a lifelong passion for The Game.
What’s next? “My wife says, now, we’re going to visit the top 100 malls in the United States,” he says. She suggests he bring a caddy.