Ray Bangs - Contributor

Ray Bangs has been ga-ga over golf ever since that first lesson at the age of nine. Seven years later, he had a chance for the course record on his hometown nine-hole track in northern Wisconsin, but now looks back with a laugh as he recalls how he blew it on the first tee. "It think the first hole was named Mulligan Madness, and fittingly, for my opening drive, I overswung and faded the ball into the swamp. I was young and a little too ambitious, so I tried to play it instead of taking a stroke and dropping. Well, that was a double-par snowman, but I had seven birdies and a par for the rest of the nine. Two solid seven irons and two putts on that first hole would have put me one better than the course record 30." Such is golf...

Ray later finaggled his way into varsity slots on his high school and college golf teams. Ray claims he was just lucky though, because, as he sees it, "My less-than-occasional flashes of brilliance on the course are easily overshadowed by the more frequent frustrations of my definitely less-than-perfect play." All too often choking under the pressure of big tournaments, as he likes to say, Ray decided to take a break from the game. After moving back to Arizona following a couple years in Europe, he's a full-fledged addict again, although no tournaments are in his immediate future.

In addition to being a frequent contributor to several publications, Ray is the author of 52 Great Weekend Escapes in Arizona, the first in the "Year of Outdoor Adventures" series. Books for Southern California, Northern California, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado will be completed over the next several years. Ray is also the co-publisher and senior editor of Arizona Explorer Magazine, a regional publication focusing on active travel, leisure, and recreation.