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Matt Saternus

Golfspy Matt's Course Review Criteria

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In anticipation of my first course review (coming next week), I think it is important that I explain my criteria and how I arrive at a score (I know most people probably won't read this, but I'd like it to be here for anyone that's interested).



One thing that is important to know from the get-go is that not every course can score 100. I'm a firm believer in the idea that if every course is exceptional then none are, so I expect that most courses will fall somewhere in the 80's or low 90's. This may seem high, but one needs to consider that the type of courses that want to be reviewed are generally going to be higher-end courses.


What readers can expect from me: I will rate courses as honestly as possible, stick closely to the criteria that I will lay out below, and I will always do my best to explain the scores. And, perhaps most importantly, these are only my opinions.


:: Golf Course Review Rubric


Amenities: This includes things like the club house, the pro shop, the carts, halfway house, beer cart, and any other extras that the course may offer (GPS on the cart, complimentary yardage books, etc).


10: Fully stocked pro shop, clubhouse with a nice restaurant or bar, halfway house and beer cart with nice selection of good quality food & drink, carts with top quality GPS, other niceties. Reserved for courses that wow the guest with amenities.


9: All of the above, but not of that highest caliber.


8: Missing 1 or 2 key criteria, but generally very nice.


7: Acceptable, but more average. Might be missing some things, or just lacking in quality.


6 or below: Multiple items missing or of very poor quality.



Course conditions: This will include (in order of importance) greens, tee boxes, fairways, rough, bunker. I am interested in not only the quality of the above, but the uniformity. All the greens may be in great shape, but if they all run different speed, that's not so good.


10: Immaculate. Grass looks like it was cut with hand scissors, bunkers inspected by hand for non-uniform grains of sand. Think Augusta. In reality, this score is probably unreachable for most high or medium traffic public courses due to the number of rounds played.


9: Excellent. Uniform, quality greens, and no issues that would disrupt play at all. Think of the best conditioned public course you've ever played.


8: Very good. A course that you would still consider in great shape. A small handful of problems such as an uneven tee box or two. Still a very good course.


7: Good. You wouldn't complain about the condition, but you wouldn't praise it either.


6 or below: Some substantial issues with conditioning or uniformity of greens, tee boxes, etc.



Beauty/Scenery: Would this be a place you would enjoy simply walking because it's beautiful?


10: Jaw dropping. Reserved for the truly unique, once-in-a-lifetime, your spouse came along just to ride in the cart type of golf courses. Think Kapalua, Cypress Point, etc.


9: Beautiful. Again, this is the highest realistic score in my book. No houses/condos/roads, just pure natural beauty.


8: Very good. Many beautiful views/holes, but with some detractors (the aforementioned homes/condos/roads).


7: Attractive: A course that is very attractive, but built in/around a housing development or on major roads.


6 or below: Lacking in memorable views, lots of “interference” from outside sources.



Customer Service/Guest Experience: Are you met when you pull up at the bag drop? Friendliness of staff in pro shop & 19th hole, rangers/marshals, etc. Do they clean your clubs on completion? Are there caddies? If so, are they good?


10: Treated like royalty. Not a single thing you might want that isn't taken care of for you.


9: Excellent service, very friendly staff.


8: Very good, professional service.


7: Satisfactory service, but not particularly noteworthy.


6 or below: Some service-related problems (unfriendly, not helpful, not present, etc).



Practice facilities: Is there a driving range? Putting green? Short game area? How accessible is it/how convenient is the location? Do the practice areas mirror the course in terms of conditions?


10: Easily accessible practice areas that allow you to work on every element of your game. Excellent conditions that mirror the course perfectly.


9: Very good practice facilities with one or two minor issues.


8: Above average practice facilities.


7: Satisfactory, but not stellar.


6 or below: Lacking in some significant way.



Value: How much do things cost? Are they worth it? Do you get nickel and dimed (range balls, cart fees, etc)?


10: A course you would definitely pay full price to play again.


9: A course you will play again, though perhaps not weekly.


8: A good value. A course you'd like to play at least once a year, maybe more.


7: Average value. Not a course you would play often for the price, but one you would go back to occasionally.


6 or below: Below average value.



Accessibility to all levels: Are there enough tee boxes to accommodate a variety of levels of golfers? Can all level of golfers play this course and have fun?


10: Fun for everyone.


9: Generally good for all abilities, one or two minor issues.


8: Would benefit from one more set of tees.


7: Beginners/skilled players might be a bit frustrated/bored.


6 or below: A course that only skilled or beginning players can really enjoy.



Difficulty: How tough/penal is the course?


10: Tough but fair.


9: One or two hidden tricks, but generally very fair.


8: A course where a good GPS or caddy would help significantly.


7: A mixed bag of tricky holes and fair holes.


6 or below: Relentlessly, unfairly penal or an absolute bore.



Variety: Does the course require different shots or does it rely too much on the same ones (same length/shape)? Does the course require any strategic thinking/offer varieties of approaches, or is it just bombs away?


10: 18 totally unique holes.


9: One or two common ideas, but generally very good variety.


8: Above average variety, a chance to hits lots of shots.


7: Average. Three to five holes that play a little too similarly.


6 or below: A very repetitive layout.



Memorability: Is this a course I will remember long after I've played it? Are there holes that will stay with me for a long time?


10: 18 holes that are burned into my memory forever.


9: A round I will always remember, though perhaps not shot for shot.


8: A multitude of memorable vistas or holes.


7: Average. A few memorable shots/views/holes.


6 or below: A course where you might remember a shot or two, but far from special.

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I think the grading scale is well thought out Matt, and really like some of the categories. I think Memorability is a key one since it is what brings many of the traveling golfers back and provides for the word of mouth when they return from their trips.


Look forward to reading about the courses.

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Nice grading rubric Matt.

Some school district in Chicago is really missing your talents... :(

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Can't wait to see the reviews. On the courses I usually play, I don't expect much in ways of amenities or scenery, mainly because I'm cheap. Assuming a reasonable price for a course I'd regularly play, I do highly value variety, playability (I HATE blind over-the-hill shots), conditions, practice areas, and difficulty. Someday once I have some more expendable income I'll make it a habit of playing the really nice courses every so often.

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Nice grading rubric Matt.

Some school district in Chicago is really missing your talents... :(


Much appreciated. I'd like to think so, too. On the bright side, now MyGolfSpy readers can benefit from my love of rubrics.

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Dude.... I LOVE how you put together all of these rubric's for your reviews!!!


Can't wait to see your reviews and get in on this together sometime soon!

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