David Werfel of Melville holds a shirt made for him...

David Werfel of Melville holds a shirt made for him by friend Harvey Ostrager who accompanied Werfel to Anchorage, Alaska where Werfel completed his journey of playing golf in all 50 states in July 2023. Credit: Harvey Ostrager

In July of 2023 David Werfel and friend Harvey Ostrager made a trip to Alaska to fulfill a mission. The Melville resident played golf at two courses there, the Anchorage Golf Course and Moose’s Run. Those rounds of golf completed Werfel’s journey to play golf in all 50 of the United States.

“It wasn’t until I got somewhere around 32-34 states and I was just joking with some friends. It was why don’t you go for all 50,” said Werfel. “We laughed and that was the end of it. But then I said, this was doable.”

It was doable largely because Werfel traveled extensively as an attorney who represented ambulance companies and associations, specializing in Medicare reimbursement for ambulance services and compliance with Medicare rules and regulations.

The 76-year-old is an avid golfer at heart and member of the Cold Spring Country Club and the Mizner Country Club in Delray Beach, Florida, with a handicap index of 11.5.

He’s played golf on six continents and in 2006 he played all four courses that hosted golf’s majors that year, Augusta National, Winged Foot, Royal Liverpool in England and Medinah No. 3 outside of Chicago.

The round at August National, home of the Masters, took some doing.

“I played Augusta National by a miracle,” said Werfel. “This was a client [in Augusta] in the ambulance business. I jokingly said can you get me on Augusta. He sells his company and about four or five years later he comes up to me at a meeting and says ‘I can do it.’ I had no idea what he was talking about, do what? He said ‘I can get you on Augusta.’”

The client had a neighbor who knew a member who was willing to host. “Sure enough he called me, but I had to give a speech in Pennsylvania that day. I asked the Pennsylvania association if they could switch the speakers around. But the others were government employees so they wouldn’t switch.

“I had to call the client back and say you aren’t going to believe this but I have to turn down the invitation. They came back to me with a second date and that’s when I played, May 6 of 2006.”

Of course, it was memorable.

“The absolute beauty of the course, TV doesn’t do it justice,” said Werfel. “You don’t see the elevation [changes] on TV.“

It wasn’t always easy to connect the states together.

“I used the internet to help me determine where to play public courses,” said Werfel. “I also used Zagat’s. They are famous for restaurants but they also do golf courses.”

It took a large measure of determination to link four states in 2022.

“ I did the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota on one trip,” said Werfel, who had wife Bonnie along for the first three stops in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Whitefish Lake, Montana. “Then I flew to North Dakota and had an adventure about two hours west of Bismarck.”

When he got to the Bismarck airport the rental car counters were closed, no Uber, no taxi

“The lady at the desk at the hotel sent her father-in-law to pick me up at the airport,” said Werfel. “Then I thought the course [The Bully Pulpit] was going to be close because it said Bismarck area but it was more than a two-hour drive to the west. In terms of a travel adventure that would be one of the more difficult ones.”

Werfel’s played the Old Course at St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and Royal Liverpool and classic Long Island courses like Shinnecock, Bethpage Black and Fisher’s Island. He’s been a traveling man.

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