Sunday, January 01, 2006

Our Philosophy of the Game and Blog

Our philosophy of the game

We (that is, the Royal we) all need goals in life, one of ours is to play the top 100 golf courses in the world. Like the pursuit of the holy grail, we wanted to aim high! We have selected Golf Magazine's 2003 list as our target. Rather than continually adjusting and trying to hit a moving target each year, we plan on playing this list. The other reason we don't want to play the current list is that we refuse to play any course with the Trump name on it. We find buying a course onto the list to be distasteful. After all the paid public relations dies down, we predict it will be voted off the list. Below we give our own views on some of the top 100 we've played as well. If you have a different view, please share it with us.

Throughout the blog we will try to share with you the experience of playing the top 100 courses in the world. We will focus more on the customs, rituals, traditions and overall feel of the course and the club. In other words, to try to give our readers the chance to share the experience. We won't bore you with a hole-by-hole description of the courses or the wonderful shots we hit. Personally, I find that type of writing to be boring. We don't want to be the on-line version of the blow-hard that exists at every golf club who re-counts every shot to anyone who will listen in the bar or locker room. Nobody cares.

We don’t let the weather affect our plans. Rain gear was made to allow us to play in bad weather. We don’t have a strong preference of old courses vs. new courses as long as they are quality. We don’t particularly like the golf course design philosophy that emphasizes length. Some of the best holes in the world are short par 4s and interesting doglegs. Creativity and shot making should be rewarded as much as length. We like quirky designs and believe that blind shots are under-rated. Given our choice we would always choose a links course over one in a warm climate. We also respect the history and traditions of the game and like courses that exude such history. We are particular fans of the designs of Charles Blair Macdonald, H.S. Colt, A.W. Tillinghast, Donald Ross and Willie Park, Jr.

Golf carts should be banned. Walking is the only way to play the game. Walking with a caddie is the best. Sitting in a golf cart waiting with two groups already on the tee ahead of you is not golf. We strongly dislike golf courses whose sole purpose is to sell more houses for the developer. Looking at thousands of houses jammed upon one another does not make for good golf. Frankly, a good municipal course is probably better than most courses built around a housing development.

Length is ruining the game. The world doesn't need another 7,000 yard golf course. There is much more fun and challenge in playing a course where you have to use your head and strategy to play well. Electronic gadgets to calculate yardage are rude. Calculate the yardage yourself, walk it off or play by feel.

When playing golf, you should always dress properly, including tucking in your shirt!

Like trying to pick your favorite child, trying to select your favorite course is a difficult challenge. The courses are so varied it makes sense to break down your favorites into various classes. For a heathland course it is a toss-up between Sunningdale and Woodhall Spa. For an overall sense of serenity relaxing on the porch overlooking the beach after a perfect day on the links, Maidstone would be hard to beat. As far as having the most fun on a golf course the two qualifiers would be Cruden Bay and Woodhall Spa. As far as your knees knocking on the first tee, we find both Merion and The Old Course to be the two most terrifying. Most spectacular views would go to Turnberry and Kingsbarns. Best lunch would go to Prestwick. The most formal and the greatest sense of tradition is Muirfield. The overall best course would be Carnoustie in Europe and The National Golf Links in Southampton. We appreciate the rules and respect for formality at many British Courses. At a place like Ganton or Royal St. Georges or Royal Liverpool where you must have on a jacket and tie in the dining room. Most of the best courses in Europe understand that they are simply guardians of a great course and not the owners. Thus, they allow visitors to experience the grandeur of their special places. We think too many American courses have confused exclusivity with greatness and that’s a shame. It’s ironic given that Britain is generally a class-oriented society and America a place where you don’t have to check birth certificates that in the world of golf, it’s been reversed.

And, I'm always looking for an invitation for a course on the list I haven't played yet.


Anonymous said...

I hope you don't mind me saying but you have under clubbed on a few of my personal favorites!
1. Merion (#13)- this golf club while challanging is the best golf experience I have had. The round of golf that requires strategy on every swing is the type of course that a quality golfer longs to play. The short dog leg right 1st hole - 3 wood maybe less to be 135 out - to large fast green in which you have to be under the pin or three putts creept into your pyche. I played a perfect tee shot to 135 and slightly pulled my 9 iron into the bunker and plugged and tripplied the hole - almost ruined my round!
2. Ballybunion (#14) !!!! - the greatest golf experience. I went out as the first group, the mist just lifting and a fresh cuban cigar filling my head with sweet aroma and a slight case of mild nauseu and dizziness. True golf - this is the place I will take my sons to when they are old enough to enjoy the game. Please provide some additional detail on this wonderful place.

These two should be more like #7 - #8

3. Bethpage Black - Merion is tough for the good golfer, Bethpage is Mount Everest for a man in a wheelchair! Tell me more about your experience at Bethpage - great setup but make sure you hire a caddy prior to going to the course. Big mistake! I think it was the 8th hole, uphill par 4 - I hit a solid drive into the wind and rain and cleared the bunker that runs along the fairway by 10 yards. Probably hit the ball 265 yards. I had 220 yards at least - uphill into the wind. I hit a hard 4 iron as good as I could hit it and was just right of the green in shin deep rough - I bogeied the hole! - I think I one-putted.

I liked the blog - if you need help geeting onto any courses let me know - or if you need a fourth let me know.

Yzerfontein said...

I've been really enjoying reading your blog, and I've included a link to your blog from my Corporate Golfer glog, at Corporate Golfer.

Anonymous said...


It's great that you have a goal of playing the top 100 Golf Courses in the world.

I wish you all the best!

Anonymous said...


Great goal. Great blog. Great golf.

I might recommend two courses that beat the shit out of the Aussie and New Zealand courses on your list.

In Sydney, try play the New South Wales course. It's private, but open to visitor play and extremely friendly. Toughest course I've ever played. US Open type greens, great oceanfront layout and challenging hole designs.

In Auckland, you have to play the Titirangi Golf Club. (No kidding, that's the name) It's a Alastair McKenzie course, and it's like playing Augusta, but with friendly people.

I live out in Hawaii, so if you want to play out here, give me a shout.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying reading your posts and wish you all the success with your quest.

Rob W said...

your a pompous ass......let me guess you are a Scientologist as-well......

Unknown said...

I love your blog! It has inspired me to strive for my golf dream. I am going to try to play the Top 100 courses in America all in one year. I am using the 09/10 Golf Digest list as my goal, and trying to accomplish this in 2010. I have no idea how I am going to accomplish this, but I don't care. It's all about the journey. I wish I could do the Top 100 in the world, but doing that in 1 year seems crazy even to me (although Royal County Down is probably my favorite course in the world). Any advise, encouragement, and knowledge you can share would be most appreciated. I'm going to try to document my journey on my blog If you get a chance take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks again.

Matt Rice