Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011 Year in Review

As has been my tradition, I reserve my first post of the year to a review of the prior year and to share reader comments over the prior twelve months. My golf photo of the year, even though it really isn't of golf, is the one I took of Wellington harbor while touring this great city with my Kiwi friends. What a place.

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Wellington Harbor as seen from Lookout Point

2011 was again a watershed year and brought some renewed ad hominem attacks from Fishers Island supporters. Their garrulous postings are taking up too much space on my blog, and I wish they would be briefer. All their sturm und drang is wearing me down. A good example follows, "Not a lot of substance in this review. Maybe you can clarify what you liked and didn't like about ... #17 may not be the best hole on the course, but the #18th as a par 4 is the best closing hole I have ever played. So tough. Try to review the golf course. You use the bad egg analogy (parts are great), why don't you explain what parts are great and which parts are bad in your amateur opinion?"

To counter this hokum, I do have some fellow supporters, "I have played Fisher's 4 times now and agree this is possibly the most overrated track in the top 100...the ocean views are beautiful, and there are a couple of spectacular holes...but place this course anywhere else and I think its not anywhere near top 100".

To the amazement of many of you, I did play Fishers Island again and have a new more balanced writeup about the course. Hopefully, the inimical comments around this topic will slow down. And, I'm always open to an invite back guys, to reconsider the error in my ways!

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Fishers Island Biarritz hole

My views are simpatico with the comment I received from this fan of Camargo in Cincinnati, "I finally played Camargo (not easy to get on) and sweet Jesus it is safe to say you got this review right! ALL WORLD course."

I love this comment on Augusta and the sense of introspection. "I rebelled against the game in my late teens as part of that general dissatisfaction with reality we males face around that age. I came to associate golf with my father (who taught me to play at an early age), and with preppy country club banality. sinister sounding, 'exogenous forces were at play.' An old family friend of means, himself a member of Peachtree and Atlanta Athletic, invited us to play Augusta. Today, I have no access to Augusta. I am no longer a quasi-interesting teenage rebel but a 30-something divorced monster. The gentleman who invited us is dead; his sons hate me and I may never play Augusta again. Talk about youth wasted on the young..."

It is not often you find someone who dissents about Merion being a great course, " was simply the most overrated course I have ever played in my life. We actually made the mistake of going to the wrong tee box twice, as some of the holes are a shooting gallery. I have been invited back several times to play, and won't consider it, and keep making excuses". As they say on TV, the views shared by my readers do not represent the view of management.

I consider myself very lucky to have played Maidstone three more times this past year. I rank it in my personal top ten in the world, so I completely agree with this comment, "Pound for pound, yard for yard, Maidstone is the finest members golf course in the world IMHO. Wind, season - lush in Spring, baked out in August - means the course never plays exactly the same round to round."

Another fantastic comment, which I agree with regarding the three golf courses in the Hamptons, "I think of it like this: If you're a real nut for course design and tradition, it's The National. If you're an excellent and talented player (or just a prick who equates difficulty and 'shot values' with greatness) it's Shinnecock Hills. If you're a laidback person who truly enjoys just being in beautiful scenery and not struggling, it's Maidstone."

One of the best comments I have gotten in the six years I have been doing the blog, "you rate golf courses like girl friends - It depends how you scored".

It's always nice to get some media coverage and this year I'm happy I was featured in a story in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors. So, it's only an academic publication with a small circulation, and I don't agree with the author's conclusion that I'm clinically nuts. It's a trifling disagreement. As Donald Trump says, there is no such thing as negative publicity.

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Cabot Links on Canada's Cape Breton Island

My golfing travails of 2011

It seems like so long ago, but it has been less than a year since I visited New Zealand. The incomparable beauty of the place left me feeling quite gay. It's hard to find a greater collection of courses than Kauri Cliffs, Cape Kidnappers, Paraparaumu and Jack's Point. I still have fresh memories of my amazing visit to Queenstown. I hope to return some day to this great country.

My revised writeup of Riviera got much better feedback and I was really happy to have played the Whippoorwill Club again. Having done so three more times, I am now of the firm opinion that this is one of the top 50 best courses in the world. I also returned to Los Angeles late in the year and was gobsmacked by the changes made to L.A.C.C. and have a new review of it as well.

I finally made it down to the capital of the Confederacy and played The Homestead Cascasdes course in Southern Virginia.

I capped off the year with another rousing visit to Canada to play both Highlands Links (review coming next month) and Cabot Links, both worth the journey.


Highlands Links par five 7th hole

Results from this year's polls include a preference for Bethpage Black as Tillinghast's best course:

Bethpage Black 36%
San Francisco 28%
Winged Foot (West) 17%
Somerset Hills 6%
Baltusrol (Lower) 6%
Baltimore (Five Farms) 4%


Bethpage Black's 14th hole

The best course on Long Island poll had the following results, which are hard to dispute, although playing any of these courses is special:

Shinnecock Hills 34%
National Golf Links of America 25%
Bethpage Black 16%
Friar's Head 9%
Garden City Men's 5%
Maidstone 4%
Sebonack 4%

After visiting all these great courses and traveling around the world I have lost none of my the wanderlust and love for golf, travel, being with good friends and meeting new ones. I'm living the dream out here. What a year. Thank you to all who have helped me over the years. A happy and healthy new year to all! Best wishes for 2012, and a little wisdom to start the new year:

Life isn't about finding yourself,
Life is about creating yourself.

-- George Bernard Shaw