Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Must be winter, rankings starting to pop up

Golf Digest has proffered their rankings, the first of the 2013 season.  They are now publishing out to 0.0001 in their silly system. (Are we talking carats of Diamonds here?) There is a total of 11 points from 1st to 100th

Exhibit 1D (for Dumbfounded)
Conditioning for Winged Foot - same property, same grounds staff
West: 8.1306
East: 7.5237

I love the rankings as they confirm to me time after time that there are in America but 20-30 Classical and perhaps 10-15 Modern (post 1960 using GW's timeline which I prefer in discussing) courses listing as being true courses of merit. This particular (and expanding SET of ) list(s) has shown its flaws ever more clearly than ever before. I really had to stifle audible laughter as Gold Digest so blatantly published a second 100 for the first time. A very obvious response to criticisms levied in recent years has caused an over-swinging pendulum towards the previously ignored post 1960 courses to a now disproportionate degree.  Belt-notching is reaching an all-time degree of shamelessness with little circles before each "Best in State" listed course so that one can brag it out. One no longer needs a $99 wooden plaque with brass pins as Golf Magazine will sell you, all you need to do is steal your dentist's copy of GD and nick a pen from the next hotel you visit - then it's free!.

We are seeing the lists show some truths, however.

  • Where people go gets ranked disproportionately - most obvious in State by State lists
  • What is famous from tournaments gets ranked disproportionately
  • There are clearly most favourite architects to rare exclusion of truly notable courses
  • Several people's opinions matter disproportionately and have been influential in shaping tastes
  • Trends are blatantly in order as to features, assumed intent, styles and architects
Lists are generated from amassing a minimum number of individual opinions and combining them - even this does not truly recognize the truly outstanding 20 + 10 until you get into the 2nd hundred.

All of us have our personal tastes, biases and preferences.  I always admit to liking quirk, design that leads to faster play, a rejection of arts & crafts for it's own end and I like more challenging but eschew "Major Tournament Venue" courses in coming to evaluate and determine a personal list.  I use as example the wonderful (and mostly ignored) architect Steve Smyers  frequently in conversation; also count Kelly Blake Moran in that category.  Hopefully not too many of my followers are saying "who?" at this juncture.  These two by no means are the only ones.

Like what you like because It all depends on your definition of good and great.  Awesome you will not likely see on these pages without some negative disclaimer. At least lists give us a point in the right direction.  More to come, but I won't waste much time criticising lists themselves too much as I for one understand Math and respect its brutality.


the redanman said...

Here are some suggestions from well-traveled, experienced raters of all panels and otherwise knowledgeable observers as to inclusions and exclusions without their defences. Feel free to add.

OFF the list
Interlachen, Medinah #3, Dye @ French Lick, Sahalee, Double Eagle, Laurel valley, Quarry @ LaQuinta, Hudson National, Hazeltine, Somersett Hills, Grandfather, Calusa Pines, Shoal Creek, Congressional, Rich Harvest Links, The Preserve, Estancia, Baltusrol Upper & Lower, Maidstone, Mayacama

ON the list
Rock Creek. Kingsley. Whisper Rock (Lower), Stone Eagle, Desert Forest, Sleepy Hollow, Essex County, Mountain Ridge, Bayonne, Wannamoisett, CalClub, Conway Farms, Red Ledges, Clear Creek, Martis Camp, Karsten Creek, Pronghorn (Fazio), Red Sky Ranch (Norman), Old Kinderhook, Wine Valley

danielgolf5612 said...

Hi Redanman,

I enjoyed perusing your blog after seeing a post you made on theitinerantgolfer's blog.

I am a course rater for a golf magazine in the UK and thought you raised some interesting points in your post. I always think the best part of course rankings is that it provides a unique vehicle for facilitating friendly debates on a host of topics pertaining to great courses and clubs around the world.

Also, as a fellow golfing nut, it is always fun for me as an individual to see what new courses are being talked about (Streamsong, Trump Scotland), and what courses have stood the test of time (NGLA).

I do agree that some courses do get rated higher because of a variety of reasons - i.e. PGA tour stops, disproportionate amount of visits, ect. However, the criteria we use at our magazine aims to take away personal bias and extracurriculars and instead focuses specifically on the courses and clubs as individual entities. I like your criteria in the right-hand margin. You obviously have a good idea for what makes a strong course!

Keep up the good work and hope to read more of your reviews in the future.


PS - I have the good fortune of playing the original redan every once in a while, which is a real treat.