Friday, October 10, 2008

Golf World Reader's Poll Issue

Number 1 resort (one of my tied three favorites - and I've stayed at over half of the fifty) They can't miss them all!

This just in: The inmates are indeed running the asylum.

I just received this above noted magazine in the mail and wanted to mention it as it provides such a special snapshot of the "Ranking Process". I'll give Golf World credit for a methodology of note and point out that it is incredibly flawed. It is in fact the most flawed model available, it even exceeds the Daley Machine Election process in Chicago for unreliability. Ballot box stuffing from the graveyards has nothing on Golf World. There is no selection criteria except access to a computer to vote and the desire to do so. Clearly judging from the results, willingness to vote plays a big role.

Golf World opens the spread with this proclamation:

"Golf World debuts its first ranking of the best public, private and resort facilities in the country, using the most knowledgeable group of people we could find to serve as judges - our readers"

Thusly we are told:

The two best public facilities in the USA are on the RTJ Trail in Alabama (rated 89.86 and 89.58 out of 100 points). America's perennial favorite Pebble Beach Resort comes in a lowly 83.99 and 30th place in the Resort categories behind: Coeur d'Alene #6, Uncle Walt's World in FL #13, World Golf Village #15 and sister Spyglass Hill at #29. Even the Bandon Dunes Resort, arguably the new #1 "I really want to go there" place is beaten by Coeur d'Alene in raw score partially by a better conditioning, pace of play, lodging, dining, off course facilities and service scores.

Augusta National is #1 in the Private sector - I know because I can say with certainty that many more Golf World readers have been to ANGC than Oakland Hills. This because we are told that Oakland Hills did not have enough votes to be included. Therefore attending the Masters is enough to tell us about the club's great service, dining pace of play and overall value. Poor old uncrowded Shinnecock Hills scored lower than Augusta for pace of play and could only muster eighth place overall. Number two Pine Valley just barely eeked out nearby Hidden Creek (#3)with Hidden Creek having apparently equal course quality, superior conditioning, nearly equal prestige, better practice facilities, pace of play, locker rooms, and value for money. Apparently the edges given to PVGC by Golf World's readers in the categories of caddie programs, food / dining and service categories saved the day for the World's near unanimous #1 vs. its upstart neighbor. Get on it Pine Valley, this is your wake up call.

Another interesting tidbit: Bayonne's practice facility which consists of (mostly) mats to hit floaters toward the skyline of New York City is felt by these voters to be better than the practice facilities of Southern Highlands, NGLA, Piping Rock, the Broadmoor, Pawley's Plantation, Arcadia Bluffs and Cog Hill to name a few I have personally visited and felt to have a vastly superior practice facility.

The cold hard facts:

There is equal weighting given all categories.

-Course Quality
-Practice Facility!
-Speed of Play
-Clubhouse/Locker Room
-Hotel Accommodations (where applicable)
-Caddie Program
-Golf Pro Shop
-Off Course activities/amenities
-Overall Value

Imagine Course Quality equal to Practice Facility, service, food & dining and off-course activities and amenities (Somehow unimportant when attending a private course).

There's a true sense of irony to these rankings. Golf World is under the parent Golf Digest - simultaneously mother and father of the modern rankings. Birthed as the top 200 toughest and "growing up" to become the top 100 in the USA list - which Golf Digest proudly boasts as the oldest rankings in the business. It flies in the face of top rankings in that one might think that this set of top 50 lists was meant to ridicule the Ranking Process if it weren't coming from the source that spawned the oldest and most respected in the business (their published opinion, not mine).

Well, yes, they are becoming rank, indeed. As a related aside, just as this Golf World issue hits the mail chutes, boxes and stands, the GD guru Ron Whitten has updated the magazine's criteriae for the 1600 Golf Digest raters to reflect a major change in the all-important conditioning mantra. No longer, it seems that ANGC's signature wall to wall green is to be revered but to be thrown under the proverbial triplex mower never to be seen again.

Clearly following GolfWeek Magazine's Brad Klein's lead by a lag of 10 years or so, fast and firm, appropriate conditioning is to now be recognized as desirable at Golf Digest as well.

Klein has been preaching this point for so long that most top clubs have not just heard and noticed this but have already implemented the key tree abatement process of the kind he has been offering as the catalyst of this process. This indeed leads to better maintenance practices, sustainable playing surfaces and once soundly in place - reduced maintenance budgets across the USA. Member education is the key and Klein has been getting the word out there for some time now.

One can find the Golf World lists by using the Gooooogle-y thing and it should yield a high level of entertainment for my following especially.

One last bitty bit from the issue, on the editorial page. Geoff Russell, Editor-in-chief's tag line proclaims "There isn't any other ranking like it" on page 8. "Ryan Herrington is apparently the 'real genius' of the project", deflecting some praise from himself Russell opined. Added, Ron Whitten was to have said "It's a great list." "It's a populist list, it belongs to the people". (And soon these same folks will choose our President of the United States of America.) Yikes

A few more select photos of the rated "facilities".

Number seven public

Number 19 public

Number two private

Number 13 private

Number 20 private

Number 33 Private (Universally held superior to #3 Private, so must be #2)

Number 34 private

Number 35 private

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