SOMERS POINT - Harry Scott could be forgiven if he wanted to give up golf for a while.
The 78-year-old just completed a remarkable odyssey during which he played 50 rounds in all 50 states in 50 days, unofficially becoming the first person to accomplish the feat.
But upon arriving back home at his cozy rancher Wednesday night, he immediately spotted some golfing buddies and wanted to make sure they still had a 7 a.m. tee time Friday at McCullough's Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township.
"I'm going to catch up on some sleep and get a haircut (today)," Scott said. "But I'll be playing on Friday. I have no desire to take a break. I love golf."
Approximately two dozen friends and family members greeted Scott as he pulled up to his house with his sister, Linwood resident Gladys McCardell, who picked him up at Philadelphia Inter-national Airport after his flight from Anchorage, Alas-ka. They strung an autographed banner congratulating him on his feat and then presented him with a variety of gifts.
Scott got the biggest kick out of a minature iron and ironing board he received from Egg Harbor Township resident and golf partner Dave Bozarth. The present was a gag stemming from an incident that occurred while Bozarth accompanied Scott for rounds he played in six states - Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma - from May 28 to June 2.
"He gave me a couple of his '50 states in 50 days' shirts to wear during the trip," Bozarth said Wednesday at Scott's welcome-home party. "I ironed some in the hotel room and he informed me that he never ironed anything. So after three days of ironing his shirts and pants for him, I taught him how to do it.
"We had a great time, though. We crossed the Mississippi River twice and got to play some great golf courses along the way. He snores like the dickens, though. I didn't sleep for the three nights. Then I finally bought myself some ear plugs and some Tylenol PM."
The roughest part of Scott's journey was the beginning.
Mays Landing resident Billy Shaffer accompanied him for nine of the first 10 rounds, starting May 1 in Connecticut. The first six rounds were played in rain that occasionally got so heavy they nearly had to cancel the quest before it really got rolling.
"It was raining so hard in Maine that the course was closed when we got there, but the guy in the pro shop let us go out by ourselves," Shaffer said. "The superintendent yelled at the guy to get us off the course, but we just kept going."
Scott also had some car trouble early on. He used his own vehicle for the first nine states before renting a Toyota for the cross-country section of the trip. The first day he used the car, he returned to the parking lot after playing in Delaware to see the front bumper hanging off.
But it soon became apparent that he was determined to finish his challenge as long as his car and the weather cooperated.
"What he did was really incredible when you think about it," Shaffer said. "We were eating in a restaurant in New England and the owner comes running out after hearing about what Harry was doing and said that he had played golf in all 50 states, too. The difference was it took him four years to do it, not 50 days."
The physical part of the challenge, taking nearly 5,000 swings while playing 900 holes, not to mention spending hundreds of hours driving thousands of miles from state to state, was suprisingly easy.
Scott discovered that the more he played, the better he felt.
"I have to admit the last week or so was a grind," Scott said. "I was playing with these three guys in Flagstaff, Ariz., last week. Around the 15th hole, they were saying they were starting to get tired. I said, 'Shut up! I've been playing golf for 47 straight days! You can stick it out for three more holes!'
"Overall, I felt great, though. It's funny because before I started this, I'd play 18 holes and I'd struggle to get out of the car when I got home because my back would be killing me. But now I just jump right out of the car. I haven't felt this good in years.
"I knew I could do this from a physical standpoint. I was just worried that something would go wrong, like a flat tire or the weather or something. My only goal was to play 50 rounds in 50 states in 50 days. Doing it in 51 days wouldn't have counted."
Scott's last three rounds were among his most memorable.
On Sunday, he shot the best round of his trip, carding an 86 in Bemerton, Wash., outside Seattle. Monday found him in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he played Ko'olau Golf Course, which is ranked among the toughest in the country but also among the most scenic.
He capped his incredible quest by playing Settler's Bay Golf Course in Wasilla, Alaska.
On the par-3 16th hole, he pulled his tee shot left of the green. His chip shot rolled about 75 feet and dropped into the cup for a birdie.
"That was my 898th hole," Scott said. "It almost felt providential. It seemed as though God looked down and gave me a birdie."
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