There are currently a handful of pictures of a course sitting on my laptop. I have plans to play another different course this weekend (weather permitting of course) and my camera will be in my bag.
But I figured that if I’m going to write about golf courses and express opinions of what I like and don’t like, I should probably at least make an attempt to talk about and explain what I like and don’t like.
Sports Illustrated writer John Garrity spoke to Jim Furyk last week at Hilton Head and one of the topics was golf courses. Furyk said this: “I’ve always said that if the golf course was built before 1960, there’s a really good chance I’m going to like it. If it was built after 1990, there’s probably a good chance I’m not going to like it.”
I don’t know that I draw quite that hard of a line as there are plenty of modern courses that I like, but there is something to his comment. I am a fan of courses designed by old dead guys.
A few of my truths:
Fun is good. Hard isn’t always good.
There was a time when I thought a course was good because it was hard or it was good because it was long. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I don’t really really like to make double bogeys that much. There are courses I have played, including some in the Twin Cities, that I find boring because they are relentless and feature hard hole after hard hole. I would much rather play a course that might not be as long (and some might say easier) that requires accuracy, has interesting greens and forces golfers to think about where they hit the ball. I don’t want to wear out my hybrids and fairway woods.
I like good/interesting greens.
I know this might seem obvious, but I want interesting greens that roll true and smooth with a decent amount of pace. I don’t like golf courses with big, flat, boring greens. I want to have to be concerned about going above the hole or hitting it on the wrong side of the hole. I want to be worried about short siding myself. And I’m good with a couple of greens that are fairly severe.
Life is too short to play bad golf courses
That is pretty much the mantra I live by. I won’t play awful places. You aren’t going to see my post photos from a place that is bad. And if you invite me to somewhere that is terrible, I might come up with an excuse to not play. Or the company had better be awesome. If I put photos up of a place, it’s because it is at least decent. Does that make me a golf course snob? Maybe. And if so, that is just fine.
I’m good with some quirk
I probably have a higher tolerance for what some people consider quirky or stupid holes. I’m OK with a blind tee shot or blind approach. I kind of think it is cool when a course has three par 5s in a row like Town & Country. I’m good with some extreme greens — though I don’t want 18 holes of it.
I don’t love trees
Trees are like many things, they are fine in moderation. I have little patience for spots where you are in the fairway, but are blocked out by trees. I don’t like courses that allow their greens (or other turf areas) to suffer because trees keep the green from getting enough sun or air circulation. My feeling is that if there’s a question on whether to keep a tree or get rid of it, you should get rid of it. If that makes me a bad Minnesotan, so be it.
I want to be able to walk
If you mandate that I take a cart, you won’t earn points with me. If your site is so severe that you pretty much have to take a cart, I might not be back. If you say I have to take a cart AND keep it on the path, I know I won’t be back. And I’m not exactly a fan of long green-to-tee walks. I do like compact routings that flow well.
I like variety
I want to hit a number of different clubs into greens. I like short par 4s that make people think about what club to hit off the tee. I like par 3s that don’t all play essentially the same distance. I like doglegs that go both directions. Don’t give me boring and straight and 400+ yard par 4s over and over.
If I’m playing a public course, I want value…
When I reach into my wallet, I don’t want to feel ripped off. Because of that, my playing resume doesn’t include too many publics that have triple-digit greens fees and maybe only one that would currently be more than $200 (Pinehurst No. 2). If I’m out of town and looking to play, I’m way more likely to go for the best course in a town in the $50-75 range rather than some $150 course. There’s a public course in town that I haven’t played yet simply because I haven’t gotten a good deal on it and I’m guessing it isn’t worth the sticker price.
… and fast play
Nothing makes me more upset than a round of golf that is a death march. If I have to wait on every shot, I lose both my patience and my focus. I know I’m very spoiled in this area after playing at a private club. But courses need to make more of an effort to keep things moving. If it is going to take 5 hours to play golf, I’m probably not going to be a repeat customer. I know, I want value and fast play and the two may very well run counter to each other. My feeling is that they shouldn’t have to.
I don’t care about your waterfall
When I go play golf, I’m there to play golf. I don’t want a 17-year-old grabbing my clubs from the car. There is a 100 percent chance I’m not going to use your bag drop. And I don’t really need somebody to clean my clubs afterwards. The primary ammenity I care about is the availability of drinking water on the golf course. Give me water every few holes and I’m good. A Diet Coke and maybe a hot dog at the turn is a bonus. A cold beer afterwards is pretty good. And I don’t care if it is out of a double-wide trailer. I don’t care about the size of your clubhouse or how large of an event you can hold. I care about your golf course. And that is it.
But I’m also not that hard to please
As a general rule, I can find good in most places that are at least decent. I enjoy golf, I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy people. As long as things aren’t too awful, I’m probably going to have a good time. After all it beats working.