What defines a “Great Golf Course…”

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Gary Post, a Golf Magazine Panelist and a member of Riviera writes:

  1. There are no specific “scores” or numeric ratings like Parker wines, but I keep notes on all the course I play, often on course yardage booklets.
  2. I only look at the golf course itself – things like clubhouse, quality of membership and cheeseburgers and even practice facilities do not matter at all.
  3. Course conditioning on any particular day also does not factor in for me – we can see through these issues. It is difficult to keep a course at top conditioning every day and maintenance events like punching must take place. It is nice that we can visit courses on many days without the club staff feeling it must be a day in top condition or they should not have us.
  4. Key factors for me on the course include:
    • Variety – Does the course offer a good number of different “looks”? Does the play require “most of the clubs in the bag”?
    • Fairness and Challenge – Are the risks and rewards fairly meted out? Are the penalties for errant shots reasonable given the structure of the hole and the play options?
    • Playability for Many Golfers – Is the course interesting and relevant to players of a wide range of skill levels? (Understood that this means length for professionals, but they are only a small subset of all players.) This includes a selection of tee boxes to match up with skill levels and always a way for the less skilled to play the hole.
    • Options and Strategy – Does the course have a number of holes that can be played in different ways with many different types of shots? (Aerial, on the ground run-ups, flop shots vs. rescue club run-ups, drive the green, etc.) Does the course make me think a lot starting right from the tee box? Can a skilled player “go for it” while giving an average player an opportunity to still make par with a more conservative approach? Are there different ways to set up a hole on any given day with hole locations, teeing areas, etc.
    • Balance and Flow – Does the course “tie together” as one effort without abrupt look and design changes even though the holes may present many options.
    • Aesthetics – Does the course fit naturally into its native (or “created” environment – think Shadow Creek)? Or, look excessively contrived and inconsistent? (Ocean views are nice, but, yes, we all have played uninteresting courses with dramatic ocean views on many holes – no courses to be mentioned!)
  5.  And, finally, and importantly” given a list of courses and immediate Star Trek “beam ups” – which course would you want to play tomorrow? That’s greatness.

Agree with Gary. What do you think?  Comment below.


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