MARYVILLE, Mo. — When Mark Schupp retired last year, he did what many reasonable men do at that point in their lives — he started golfing more.
But Schupp wanted to be more ambitious than aiming for a certain handicap or trying win a club championship.
“I owned an advertising agency for about 25 years and sold it last year in December,” he said. “At that point I started thinking, ‘OK, I’m retiring early. I’m 59.’ I was worried about what I would do with my time to make sure I didn’t just veg out and sit there and watch TV.
Schupp is on a quest to play every golf course in Missouri and document them all on his website: MoGolfTour.com. He is hoping the site can become a destination for golf enthusiasts trying to figure out which courses are worth playing.
His reviews are honest, detailed and witty — much more than Schupp found when he used to look for reviews on national databases that rely on user reviews and ratings, and are often outdated.
“I write it as I see it,” he said. “Some courses are terrible and I want an honest forum and a blog about what those courses are really like. Some of the courses aren’t real happy about it, but I really want to give perspective for golfers who may be playing the course a good, honest review.”
Shupp has put a personal touch on every part of the project — right down to the creation of the website. This spring he took a community college class on coding so he could create the content and layout from scratch. He plays up to 36 holes a day during his trips and said he often spends up to four hours in the hotel room on the reviews and photos.
“This is everything I love in life and I have the passion for,” Shupp said. “It’s golf, it’s exploring Missouri that I’m very fond of, marketing and photography and Photoshop.”
Each course is scored using Schupp’s personal scale which takes into account course condition, cost vs. quality, how walkable the course is, among other factors.
His tour brought him to Northwest Missouri on Tuesday. He played Duncan Hills in Savannah in the morning, then went to Maryville Country Club in the afternoon.
There, he met up with course members Bryan Long and Scott Dowden for nine holes. Along the way, he shared some laughs, good shots, bad shots and personal dialogue that has quickly become one of Schupp’s favorite parts of the project.
He also met Dick Stuntz, the president of Oak Golf Inc., which manages Maryville Country Club, and listened with an open ear as Stuntz explained the project the course is undergoing to deal with the problem of Poa annua cropping up in its Kentucky bluegrass and rye grass fairways.
Much like Stuntz, Schupp is leaving no blade of grass on Missouri’s more than 400 golf courses unexplored. Whether they are luscious 18-hole golf courses located at resorts or family-owned, nine-hole pastures.
This morning, he will play St. Joseph Country Club and hopes to make it to at least one more course this afternoon before leaving Northwest Missouri. He said he will be back next spring or summer. After all, he has a total of 23 courses from the Midland Empire on his list to visit.