A few years ago, Bill McGuire was watching a television account of how a gentleman from Kansas had just completed a remarkable journey across the country.

 A few years ago, Bill McGuire was watching a television account of how a gentleman from Kansas had just completed a remarkable journey across the country.

“I got home from work, turned on the news, and there’s a story about a fellow from western Kansas who had eaten a hamburger in every state,” said McGuire, a longtime Independence resident who recently retired from his work with the Community of Christ church.

“I thought that sounded pretty neat. I was about to retire and didn’t really have much to do, and I thought I might try something like that, too.”

Instead of hitting burger joints across the country, McGuire, 66, hit the links. And a few weeks ago he accomplished the remarkable feat of playing golf in each of the 50 states.

His final stop was Anchorage, Alaska, where he and his friend, Dennis Clinefelter, a native of Alaska, played the Anchorage Golf Course.

“We only got in nine holes – it rained the whole time we were there,” McGuire said, “but it was pretty memorable. I told the pro there that his was the final course I needed to play to have played golf in all 50 states and he gave me a logo ball and a course yardage book. He was very accommodating.”

Once McGuire returned to his home in Milton Estates, and he and his wife, Beth – who also happens to be his biggest fan and supporter – popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and celebrated.

“I couldn’t have done it without my lovely wife,” McGuire said. “She supported me and encouraged me all the way.”

Not bad for a former 10-year-old caddie from Mason City, Iowa, where he worked alongside his two older brothers.

“I loved golf at an early age,” said McGuire, who has a scorecard from each of his golfing destinations neatly displayed in a “golf shrine” in his home.

“I started this journey about six or seven years ago and I’ll tell you, I played some courses before I got the idea to play golf in every state. But I have the scorecards to prove where I played – and we’ve gone back to many of the states and played again.”

One of his greatest golfing adventures had nothing to do with his quest to play golf in all 50 states.

For his 60th birthday, Beth arranged a surprise party at her husband’s “second home,” Drumm Farm Golf Club.

“We got up to Drumm Farm – she really had to twist my arm to make me go,” McGuire said, laughing, “and they open the doors and everyone yells, ‘Surprise!’ Then, we hear bagpipe music.

“And a guy comes in playing the bagpipe, and he hands me a big trucker’s billfold. Beth tells me to open it and inside is a six-day golfing trip to Ireland.

“Do I have the best wife in the world or what?”

Although it rained much of the time McGuire was in Ireland, he played Bally Bunion, one of Tom Watson’s favorite courses, along with Waterville.

“Waterville kind of adopted (late Missouri golfing star) Payne Stewart,” McGuire explained. “They have a statue of him at the course, and that was really neat to see.”

Along with his scorecards from every state are plenty of trophies, photos and memorabilia from his golfing excursions.

McGuire, former Truman High School basketball coach Rex Stephens, Grain Valley girls basketball coach (and former Truman boys coach) Steve Broughton, Dr. Ron Jennings and Tom Nofsinger won the Len Dawson Celebrity Golf Tournament back in 1990, and each golfer was presented a red and white championship bag.

“I’ve been lucky enough to get paired up with some pretty good golfers and have won a few tournaments,” McGuire said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

You might be wondering if he ever claimed fame to a hole-in-one during his travels.The answer is yes – and no.

“I got a hole-in-one on No. 8 on the Executive Course at Drumm Farm,” he explained, “but no one witnessed it, so it’s not official. However, I called my son right after it happened and he can verify it.”

While one journey is complete, another may be in the works.

Beth, a native of Australia, wants her husband to play golf on every continent.

“I’ve played North America, in Europe and Australia,” McGuire said, “so now we have to start looking into Asia, South Africa and South America (and Antarctica). Who knows, we just might try to do it.”