Letter to Golf Digest
I read with interest your ‘100 Greatest Courses in America’ Ratings and related
articles in the May issue of your magazine. In your ‘Who rates the courses?’
section, you made several points worth noting.
First, you state that your panel, which consists of 660 people, ‘all have a
keen interest in architecture’, and that ‘they are all either golf
professionals or low-handicap amateurs.’ I was not aware that being an expert
player was a prerequisite for understanding and identifying outstanding
architectural features. Indeed, a study of the history of golf architecture
disproves this theory, as Seth J. Raynor, one of the greatest golf course
architects of all time,hardly evenplayed the game at all. I am puzzled as to why
Golf Digest feels that only expert players are qualified to assess golf
Second, in your attempt to deny that your panelists might accept a gratuity,
you apparently felt the need to state that ‘sometimes a facility might decide
to waive a panelist’s green fee and cart fee, but those are the only
concessions.’ This comment was also puzzling to me, as I believe that serious
students of golf architecture (apparently unlike most of your panelists) would
never consider riding in a golf cart when enjoying and assessing the
architectural features of a golf course. Most serious golfers wouldn’t ride in
a golf cart, period. I would think you would require your panelists to walk
when reviewing a course for your magazine.
Third, your description of a new panelist’s credentials as ‘impeccable’ was
another illustration of how your magazine’s ratings miss the mark. All we are
presented with in the way of credentials is that the proposed new panelist was
1) a former college player, 2) was retired, and 3) had a 4.7 handicap index.
Please provide your readers more than his low handicap index as the reason Golf
Digest viewed his credentials as ‘impeccable’. How about a list of how many of
the world’s top courses this panelist has seen?
Finally, your reference to the fact that your panel has no golf architects on
board is worth noting. I understand that Golf Magazine does utilize architects
on their panel, so I suppose this comment was meant to demean their magazine’s
course rankings. Since your 660 esteemed experts somehow failed to identify
New York state’s Fishers Island course as one of the 100 Greatest golf courses
in America, perhaps you should consider adding some architects to your panel.
Certainly with a more informed panel, your magazine would not have had to
endure the next 2 years with this embarrassing ommission.
But, back to the rigid screening of your panelist’s credentials: Since many of the most
knowledgable architect’s busy schedules don’t afford them the time to work on
their games, they wouldn’t have a low enough handicap index to be admitted to
your distinguished cart-riding fraternity anyway.
Very truly yours,