Whenever they meet, my alter egos Mutt & Jeff will always serve up stimulating and provocative golf-talk. Here’s the latest.
Mutt: Did the 2023 course rankings in Irish Golfer magazine please you, annoy you, or surprise you? (HERE is the list if you haven’t seen it)
Jeff: Does it matter? It’s a collaborative camel instead of a horse outcome by a collective of eight. It would be more interesting and, much more unpredictable, from one year to the next if one of them took it in turns each year.
Mutt: They’d have to leave the country for a while. There would be ructions. There’s safety in numbers. Anyway, I have given up on futile critiques of Top-100s. Everybody has their own different opinion and that is all that it is an opinion.
Jeff: The voting criteria amongst the panel of golf-intelligent, heavy-hitters, whom I would respect (individually) was: Design & Layout 35%; Quality of test/Playability 25%, Condition & Presentation 20%, Facilities & Visitor Experience 10%, Visual Appeal 10%. I’d be arguing about these values, for starters; never mind the golf courses! To give more points (40) for the last three categories than the first one (35) does not seem right to me. I would halve the points for the last three and add them to the other two categories. If value for money was included, it would turn the list upside down.
Mutt: It is golf courses that are being ranked not its facilities. We all judge golf courses personally and emotionally, i.e. how they make us feel – happy and fulfilled; sore and irritated; suits one’s eye, fits one’s comfort zone; or, is a discommoding challenge? Golfers enjoy playing well and are frustrated when they play a bad round. As often as not, it’s the course’s fault for undermining them.
Jeff: How one plays should have nothing to do with the quality of the golf course. Being famous is equally misleading. If big tournaments have been played somewhere that is placed lower than down the list, there’s consternation. Being ‘hard’ weighs too heavily and is not a good measurement. Hardness is often due to poor set up or playing from the wrong tees. Any golf course can be ‘made hard’. No two people will ever agree completely on any 1-100 list.
Mutt: I am a sucker for routings that ‘flow’ cohesively, preferably with both nines or better still, three groups of six holes returning close to the clubhouse. After that it’s the way the natural features of the land have been incorporated to disguise that they were man-made. I pay special attention to the par-3s. They are the soul of golf if you ask me. Is there variety in the strategic features? Is there a balance between straight, right to left, and left to right holes. How many holes go uphill? How many go downhill? Greens must have ‘character’ like reading a person’s face. All holes whether they are par 3s, 4s or 5s should be difficult to score birdies on but give up easy bogies. I am not fussy about clubhouses. A well-stocked bar and good food are extras I can manage without, but they are very nice to have.
Jeff: Top-100s are like being nominated for an Oscar. Hard to resist canvassing takes place but at the end of the day who benefits? There is a negative fear involved. Don’t drop certain courses lower than their most modest expectations, or the backlash might be alarming and difficult to defend. It’s not the top-15 or so that ever bother me as much as the 70-100 group. These are the most hotly contested positions. Distinguishing between any of them is skating on thin ice. As for the ‘unfortunate’ given 100th place. Every course not on the list is gunning for them and comparing itself (favorably) to them.
Mutt: The last time we spoke LIV was mentioned. We were both sanguine and neutral about its status and its right to exist. What do you think now?
Jeff: The PGA Tour has nothing to fear from LIV if it keeps putting on shows like the last few weekends. Never mind the personnel involved, where is LIV going to find a run of courses as good as Pebble Beach, Riviera, PGA National, Bay Hill and Sawgrass to entertain whomever might be interested in watching?
Mutt: My attitude is: Golf is a game, and any talk and any discussion is all to the interests of the game. Anything that keeps the game alive and prevents us from becoming bored is ‘good for the game’. Anything that makes us think about it, talk about it, and dream about it is all to the good and prevents the game becoming dead. For a year now, LIV has played its part in creating plenty of debate.
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