"When we started talking about doing this, my wife and I had some friends up in New England, my wife didn't actually play golf at the time," Broderick recalled. "That was probably the most [states] I played on one vacation."

The last few years, the Brodericks and their four children — Amy (31), Chad (29), Kevin (26) and Kyle (23) — have gone on several golf-centric family vacations. Linda Broderick started playing years ago when her children got the bug "and she thought she would be left behind," her husband said.

A couple of years ago, Broderick and his longtime friend were comparing notes one night at their club, Piney Branch in Hampstead, to see who was winning. It was pretty close and they decided to find a state where neither had played as the final stop.

"Kansas was in the middle of the country so it made sense," Broderick said.

Most of the courses they have played are on the grounds of private clubs, but their membership at Piney Branch provides reciprocity. They doubt they will ever get inside the gates of Augusta National, other than to see the Masters.

"That's one nut we'll never crack," Mersinger said.

It's not an inexpensive pursuit. Mersinger recalled how after arriving at Pumpkin Ridge outside Portland, Ore. — where Tiger Woods won one of his three straight U.S. Amateur titles — he was told it was going to cost him $300.

"I went out there and I was on the practice range, this woman came up to me and said, 'My name is Brenda, do you mind if I play along?'," Mersinger recalled. "She whupped me terribly, and she divulged at the end that she was the two-time women's club champion. But the fact that she was a member, the green fee was reduced to $50. She humiliated me, but she saved me $250."

Broderick never got to Pumpkin Ridge, where a picture of Woods hangs in the lobby, but he was able to play Pebble Beach, where Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by a record 15 shots, as well as Cypress Point and Spyglass, the other legendary courses along the Monterrey Peninsula.

But it was the family golf vacations he took with his wife and kids that seem to have the most lasting memories. When Broderick took his family to play golf in Wyoming and Montana a few years ago, they made sure to stop at Yellowstone National Park.

"It's been a great way to see the country and spend time with the family," he said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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