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Mr. 82

How do you view Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses List?

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So I will first off say that I am subscriber to Golf Magazine.  I like having something on the kitchen table to look through as I eat meals.  So the latest issue is their bi-annual ranking of the world's top 100 courses.  As I am browsing through the list of courses, the usual suspects appear (Augusta National, Pine Valley, Pebble, etc).  And the more I read, they share how panelists vote, and the fact that they are not paid, and that they have to travel at their own expense, or something like that.

But I tend to view these lists as worthless to me, mostly because of the 100 courses on this list, 75% of them are private and unplayable, and the other 25 are either a resort, or beyond expensive and therefore unplayable to me.  Yet within that 100 courses there are perhaps maybe a handful that I might someday in life have the opportunity to play, if I save up enough money for the trip and golf fees and make it a once in a lifetime bucket list thing (i.e. Cabot Links).  And I suppose I could do like a bunch of guys around here, and save up some dough and make it a point to play Streamsong, as that is up near the top of this list as well, and it's an easy drive from where I live here in Tallahassee.

Beyond all that, what's the point of this list honestly?  Who are we really catering to?  The 1/10th of 1% that can either afford the travel and greens fees, or have enough connections to even have a shot at playing Augusta National or Pine Valley, where ultimately it is not about the money, but about the connections to get on the place.

And I am trying to think of some other thing in life where you participate in something, but yet there are places that no matter how much money or effort you put into it, you will never be able to set foot on or experience, at least without dedicating a massive amount of time and energy towards.  Heck, even just talking about Augusta National, you can't even get practice round tickets to the Masters, let alone have even a remote shot of playing that course, unless you know someone or know someone who knows someone.

So saying all that, why do I even bother reading this stuff?  It's borderline ridiculous to the average schmoe like me with very limited resources, who will probably never travel far enough to even see some of these courses, let alone be able to play them.  Is it healthy for me to even look at this list, knowing I'll probably never play any of them at all, or should I just toss the thing and forget about it?

How do you approach this list?

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I'm definitely with you on the "playing a rich man's game without being a rich man." We all know we've had conversations on this forum about how to play golf cheaply, and many of us are shrewd about getting clubs that perform well for us without blowing the budget. But when it comes to these elite courses, there really aren't a lot of "eBay" options to get in on the cheap (if you can get in at all).

I had a situation like this pop up for me on Twitter just yesterday. The Fried Egg (podcast/website which focuses on course architecture) highlighted a course here in the Upper Peninsula (Greywalls). I noted in a comment that although I live in the UP, I hadn't played it yet. Someone else expressed shock that I hadn't done so. I replied that the greens fee at Greywalls ($145 for 18) is about half of what I pay for my annual pass at my home course. His response was to recommend the national membership at Greywalls, which runs $440.

I don't for a moment begrudge anyone who drops that kind of money on golf. I enjoyed reading @GolfSpy Barbajo's write-up of his buddies trip to Streamsong on MGS, even though it is far outside anything I'm ever likely to do in golf.

The reason I enjoy reading about these top-100 courses, and what I've liked about the direction GOLF's ranking in particular is going, is that course architecture is interesting to me. It's not so much the rankings that matter; it's the focus articles highlighting particular courses, explaining what makes them great.

I'm hoping at some point to end up as a board member of our local course. We'll never turn it into a top 100 course. But having an understanding of what makes a good hole might help in decisions that might come up about changes to the course to improve it.

So I suppose that's my answer: I approach that issue with the goal of obtaining knowledge.

Also, I like the pictures. Golf courses are beautiful places.

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10 minutes ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Also, I like the pictures. Golf courses are beautiful places.

Yeah, the cover photo for the magazine was fabulous.  Makes me want to one day visit Norway (again).  There were also some pics of a course in New Zealand, and honestly, that place is on my bucket list anyway, and even more so now.  I've seen pics from there and it's just absolutely breathtaking.

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@GolfSpy MPR, Graywalls would be on my Michigan bucket list, although we have several Mike DeVries designs here locally on the west side (including the course I "grew up" on) that are more affordable and equally impressive for public courses.

I've been watching a lot of Erik Anders Lang on YouTube recently, and the show is almost exclusively courses that I'll never get nor have the opportunity to play. He has spent an immense amount of time in Scotland and New Zealand, and the last episode I watched was of him playing East Lake in Atlanta. I can long to play those courses, but at the least it allows me to appreciate the architecture.

Lord knows how many times I've redesigned my home course in my head, turning what's a pretty run down parkland swamp into something better but still accessible. 

Dreams...

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In the old days, when the children were at a home, there was no way I'd be able to swing a trip to Scotland or Streamsong. One of the joys of being an empty nester - and being able to save - is being able to make one or two of these happen over the course of the year. It's one of the perks of making it to 59!

As for the MyGolfSpy Experiences - I don't want to hijack the thread, so I'll start another one: what courses/resorts/destinations would you like to see?

 

Here's a link to the new thread:

 

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Tom Doak Confidential Guides best books on golf course ratings  

Edited by Flog4

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I look at this list just for the pleasure of enjoying golf courses.  Of course I don't have a prayer of playing any of the private ones because as others have said I have no connections or money.

What I do is view the top public course lists and then plan hypothetically from there.  Even there money can become a problem, but if you plan accordingly (time of day, time of year, packages, etc.) you can play some fine places in that top 100 public list for relatively affordable.

@GolfSpy MPR your example of Greywalls...I have a plan in place to head that direction in a year or two.  Stay at the Island Casino in late Sept/early Oct and you can play 4 nice courses (including Greywalls which is about 90 minutes away) and get 3 nights at the casino/hotel for under $400.  I'm far from rich but $400 bucks for a long weekend and 4 rounds of golf including one in the top 100 public courses in the US isn't that bad.

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Eye candy. Plain and simple. I appreciate the beautiful photographs and the write ups of the different courses. 

It's the same reason I watch Erik Anders Lang's stuff as well as No Laying Up. I appreciate seeing courses that I will more than likely never be able to play through the lens of a non-professional golfer.

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I dislike the main "best" list because of the access issues.  I've been lucky enough to set foot on ANGC twice during Masters practice rounds (I won the lottery once, a buddy won it the next year), so at least I've been there.  I'm more interested in things like the "best bargain" and "bang for your buck" lists.  

https://www.golf.com/photos/top-100-courses-you-can-play-bargain-courses

https://www.golfadvisor.com/articles/matt-ginellas-ladder-of-value-golf-courses-in-the-u-s

I do love looking at the pictures and learning about who the up-and-coming architects are.  The Fried Egg is probably a better source for that info than "best" lists.

I'd love to see bucket list golf courses sell raffle tickets to raise money for charity.  I understand that private clubs exist for the pleasure of their members (I belonged to a private club for a period of time), but they could do quite a bit of good this way.  I can't imagine there are too many golfers in this country that wouldn't pay $10 for a chance to play Augusta National.

And while EAL and NLU go to some pretty prime locations, I also appreciate how they focus on courses like Rustic Canyon and other widely accessible courses that feature great designs.  And be sure to watch Strapped on the NLU channel. 

Golf is as much fun as you make it.  For a long time, I was a real jerk about course conditions, and I'd decide that if I was playing a bad course or a course in poor condition, I wouldn't have a good time.  Right now, I try to remind myself that the best course in the world is the one I'm playing.  It doesn't always work, but I played some fun courses in awful condition this year, and I had a blast.

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Im more of a budget golfer for the most part. I drool over some of the public course, pencil it out, then go ouch and ask myself if its worth it. 

I live 3.5 from Bandon and have never played it, but I also just started golfing again a couple years ago after a long lay off.  

I wil splurge on a few Hawaii courses and Pebble in the next couple years. 

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On 12/26/2019 at 1:24 PM, pulledabill said:

I wil splurge on a few Hawaii courses and Pebble in the next couple years. 

Passing up a chance to play Pebble was one of my very few golfing regrets.  In the summer of '88, my family was vacationing in Northern California.  Dad told me that we could either play Pebble for a whopping $150 at the time, or we could play Spanish Bay, Poppy Hills and Del Monte.  We talked it over for a bit, and we opted for More Golf, figuring we'd always get another shot at Pebble.  We didn't think anything of it at the time, and Spanish Bay was really fun (seems like it's hip to hate on it, but I loved it), but it's 30 years later and I don't know that I'll get another chance to play Pebble with my dad.  But who knows?

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