Sunday, January 1, 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.

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