St. Louis retiree Mark Schupp’s quest to play every golf course in Missouri brought him to the Neosho Municipal Golf Course on Wednesday morning.
Schupp sold his lucrative business and retired in 2014 and started playing every one of the approximately 400 golf courses in the state, a goal that he’s set for completing by the end of 2018.
In a press release that the former advertising and marketing guru sent out nearly a week before his Neosho stop, Schupp outlined his quest, “This project is all consuming. It truly is a labor of love, particularly since I am not charging the courses for any of these services. Creating the website, keeping it up to date, contacting the courses, planning the schedule, coordinating travel, etc. keeps me busier than any job ever did.”
When and where did he acquire this love for golf?
“I’ve always loved golf since I was 10,” Schupp said on Wednesday. “Been playing a lot since then and it’s a passion of mine, always has been. I retired four years ago and one of my retirement goals was to see the state of Missouri. I like to explore. I’ll be driving down the road, I see a golf course, and I’ll pull over and play. I love driving on new highways, but more country-type highways.
“Because I wanted to spend a lot of time in Missouri and see every little nook-and-cranny that I hadn’t seen before, playing every golf course forces you into every area. If you look at the map, there’s a golf course every single area geographically in the state. (Tuesday), I was down in Noel, which is 6-7 miles from the Arkansas and Oklahoma border, so that’s as far southwest as you’re going to get in Missouri. Last fall, I did the same thing in the southeast corner.”
Schupp designed and programmed a website — www.MoGolfTour.com — where he provides reviews of all the courses he plays and includes a color-coded map of every Missouri course. Schupp rates the best public courses, the best private courses, and “The Best” in categories such as best club house, most fun, best staff, et cetera.
For an example of a review, Schupp recently evaluated the Redneck Country Club in Holden.
“If you only want to play pristine and perfect golf courses, you probably shouldn’t travel to west central Missouri to play Redneck Country Club,” Schupp wrote. “It is located about 15 miles southwest of Warrensburg in Holden, Missouri. But, this course definitely knows its brand, starting with its name. Frankly, Redneck Country Club is now one of my favorite courses in the state.”
Schupp said that it’s a combination of three of his greatest loves: Missouri, golf, and marketing.
“My whole career was spent in marketing,” he added. “This is a way for me to do it on my terms. There’s a lot of marketing with this endeavor. It’s not a money-making endeavor. I don’t charge the courses for this, but when I first started this three years ago, I just wanted to play all the golf courses. Somebody said that I should start a blog, so I started putting everything on the Internet.
“The website has evolved from playing the courses just for fun to providing a resource to golfers from around the state and around the country that want to come to Missouri to play golf. It’s the most extensive resource on the web right now. We’re the only ones focused on only Missouri.”
In such an enterprise, feedback can be one of the most interesting aspects.
“Most like it,” Schupp said. “I try to be fair. I think that’s one of the things I’ve heard a lot from courses, people saying it’s fair and I’ve captured the essence of the course very well. I spend a lot of time on the pictures and the pictures bring the course to life. I try and showcase a course to make it look good.”
Schupp said that he’s played over 300 courses on his odyssey so far.
“I only shoot (photos) when the courses look good,” he added. “I can only start mid-May, because the courses that have zoysia grass, they don’t green up until mid-May. This is my first extended trip out, but it takes a couple of weeks of planning to contact all the courses to say I’m coming, to plan the travel, and then I spend a week and I play anywhere from 14 to 21 courses that week.”
Schupp said that his full review of Neosho Municipal should be up on his site Friday and then he gave a review preview during his interview.
“First of all, it’s a municipal course and it’s south of Springfield, south of Joplin,” Schupp said. “It’s in Southwest Missouri, in a very rural area. This course, my expectations aren’t very high … but this course is an excellent course, particularly for the residents here. Would I drive from St. Louis to play here? No, but I tell you what, if I lived here, I would play here every week.
“I love the course. I like the layout. The Bermuda is well-developed and if you keep your ball in play, your ball’s always going to be sitting on a nice piece of Bermuda grass. The greens were nice and lush, and fair, so I think it’s a great course.”
Schupp also visited Monett and Aurora on Wednesday and he said that his plans for the rest of the week included six courses in Joplin.