My copy taking a break before going upstairs ...
Darius Oliver's Planet Golf USA has finally arrived. My pre-release copy arrived just yesterday and I've been through about half of it. In it young Mr. Oliver shows his considerable writing skill and architectural divining. Astute observations include seeing through the boost that perennial USGA and PGA of America favorites such as Olympic Lake and Medinah #3 receive for such notoriety whilst recognizing the minor changes needed at Oakland Hills to restore its true greatness abound.
colorful descriptions such as (Regarding Flynn's Lehigh Country Club)
... both the 12th and 13th head along the flat ground beside the creek, while the preceding hole is a riotous par five that slings right to left and then crashes dramatically into the valley. ...
... highlight delightful prose to accompany a plethora of photographer's work rather than a single photographer as with David Scaletti in the World Version of Planet Golf. Mr. Oliver has a rare talent to encapsulate the feel of a golf course as well as any golf writer.
Unable to avoid the American obsession of good, better, best and especially top 100 he includes America's best par 3's in several categories including sets, individual holes, hardest, most dramatic as well as par 4's above and below 360 yards on the card. Top 5's are listed as well, all his favorites accounting for some interesting inclusions. He tops it off with his top 100 in the world from both books. (also note below)
In the end, he covers virtually every great US course that you have heard of and offers his unabashed opinion. I do have to say that with a forward by Ben Crenshaw and inclusion of no less than five C & C courses in his personal top 100 (four in the top 50!) I have to give pause about adding unbiased.
As I have before with thet World edition I do recommend purchasing this book immediately. Whether you are obsessed with playing the top 100 or just want a guide to help you understand what good architecture is about, this book is a must have.