Most golfers covet local knowledge and a member’s bounce.
Matt Corsaut is the opposite of most golfers. The less he knows about a course, the more he likes it. It’s best if he knows nothing.
“I’d rather play a course that I haven’t played before and it wasn’t great than one I’ve played before that was,” he said.
Corsaut is on an odyssey that suits him to a tee – to play every course in Northern California, all 415 by his calculation. Great and goat track. Public and private. Eighteen-hole and nine-hole.
“I play them if I know about them,” he said.
Corsaut knocked off his 379th NorCal course Monday at Dryden Park in Modesto and No. 380 Tuesday at Oakdale. He chose Oakdale in his attempt to qualify for the California State Amateur because he had not played the course. The 2.9-handicapper shot an 89, trying to cut the corner of doglegs where he shouldn’t have and hitting through the fairway on holes where he thought he had more room.
“I hit six or seven approach shots that I thought were perfect and they either flew the green or came up short,” he said.
But his days of fretting about his score are thousands of holes ago. What’s relevant is Oakdale moved into his top 70 of favorite courses played.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.
Corsaut, 45, caught the golf bug when his parents moved from Connecticut to Rancho Murieta when he was 18. He thought about trying to play every U.S. course. Then he discovered there were more than 20,000. He took aim at Northern California and consciously began his quest five years later.
“I just thought it would be nice to have a goal,” he said.
He has a scorecard from every course he’s played – a total of 419. From the courses he’s played multiple times, he keeps the one with the best score. He has four binders of scorecards, each detailing how many greens and fairways he hit in regulation and how many putts he took on each hole. He also keeps statistics of his scoring average, greens and fairways hit and average putts taken from his 10 most recent rounds.
“Statty Matty,” as he was called as a kid, said he gets almost as much enjoyment out of the statistics as playing.
Corsaut’s off-the-beaten-path favorites include Twain Harte (“Maybe the best course for the money – $12 – that I’ve played), Fall River, Baywood and The Ranch. His duds include Benbow (“The worst golf value of any course I’ve played”), Tahoe Bijou, French Camp and Gator Creek at Dingus McGee’s.
As a self-employed general practice attorney and real estate broker living in Rancho Murieta, Corsaut has the flexibility to pursue his passion on business trips and when he’s not coaching his son’s Little League or daughter’s soccer team. He has 35 courses to go, several that are geographically challenging and a few exclusive ones (Cypress Point, the California Club, San Francisco Golf Club and Monterey Peninsula among them) where he wouldn’t decline an invitation.
Corsaut has slept in his car to experience relative cow pastures and played in weather so nasty he was the only player on the course. “You do what you have to do when you’re six hours from home,” he said.
He’s played a lot of late-afternoon rounds during which he had to pinch himself because the sunset was so beautiful. “By myself, a two-hour round, it’s like heaven,” he said.
Corsaut plays most of his rounds within 90 minutes of home with a buddy; he’s usually alone in the far reaches of the state. He said he doesn’t have a date by which he’d like to finish and still enjoys the pursuit.
Still, as to whether he’s given any thought to what he will do when he reaches the end, he said: “Hope I don’t set another goal.”