In last week's post, Sam Johnson talked about the 10 best golf courses in the world and in the US, and it was full of good information. I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't know a thing about the Pine Valley Golf Course...which has been ranked number 1 for several years. After a bit of searching I now know why...it's a private facility, has really not ever been used for professional golf events, and only guests of members can play. I googled the price and it's no where to be found.
So, while this course may have some of the best challenges that golf can provide, it really means nothing to me if I can't ever play it...or if I could I definitely couldn't afford it.
So the question becomes...what makes a golf course great for me?
Tops for me is affordability. Since the majority of my golf budget is my yearly season pass at my home course (and I feel like I need to get my money's worth), I only have limited time and dollars for a some golf road trips during the year. So price is always a factor when I choose to play.
I'm willing to play a decent 9-hole track or a municipal course if it means I can play more! A few years ago a took a trip to Kentucky and played 3 very nice courses for under $40...one, Mineral Mound, was practically empty and had some fantastic views. This girl is always looking for a great deal!
But there are a few courses in my neck of the woods that I hope to get to once a year which are in the $80-$120 range.
So the next question that pops into my mind is...what will make me fork over more cash to play a golf course?
I appreciate a "playable" course. I'm not a fan of courses that have several holes that require carries over hazards with no bailout areas. I enjoy some "risk reward" holes, but I want there to be options.
I enjoy scenery. Elevation changes often provide interesting views and perspectives on holes. I love tree lined courses that allow you hit out of them if needed. Well maintained water hazards and bunkers can catch my eye, even if I don't like the idea of being in them. I also love to look down at a fairway and noticing the mowing patterns.
Bring on the GPS! Having not yet invested in a hand-held GPS, I especially appreciate courses that have carts with GPS. A bonus is also clearly visible yardage markers in the fairways...and I'm crazy about yardages in sprinkler heads.
This won't mean much to most, but in Minnesota there some courses that are clay based, and that makes it more of a challenge to take divots or to get under the ball. A few nice courses I play have a nice sand base and divots almost come too easy! It takes me a few holes to get used to it, but hitting down and not worrying about breaking my wrist is a nice treat sometimes.
Great greens. I'm a sucker for a nice large green with subtle breaks. Some courses have gone to circus greens that have so many levels and breaks that you're almost guaranteed a 3-putt (or more!) if you're not close to the pin. These are no fun, and they slow up play!
Speaking of slow play, I appreciate courses that have rangers...who actually keep pace of play going. At one course we like to play, a jammed tee sheet is common and it's nice that you know someone is keeping track of groups.
I also like courses that have a snack place at the turn. You can grab a bottle of water or a hot dog and not lose your place on the course. No beverage cart is definitely not a deal breaker for me, but I appreciate it when they let us know we should stock up if we won't be seeing one.
I appreciate a nice collar around the greens...I don't believe that players should be "in jail" with deep thick grass that close to the green...that should be left to the professionals.
And there's something special about golf courses that make the most of the land they are on. Lakes, rocks, trees, and streams that are showcased remind me of our connection with nature.
Bonuses include a nice clubhouse with a restaurant (where I can have a victory meal!), a well stocked pro-shop (with a sale rack or two!), Coca-cola products, free range balls, coupons, and great rate on a re-play.
My 2010 Minnesota golf course wish list includes: The Classic at Madden's, The Legend & The Quarry at Giant's Ridge, The Wilderness, and one of my favorites, Silver Bay Golf Course. We're also looking at a trip to Wisconsin, too - the Hayward area has some nice courses I hope to see, too. I would also be willing to preview Whistling Straits if anyone wanted to pony up the green fee!!
Oh heavens. I just felt my forehead and I definitely have golf fever!
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Filed under: Spring, Minnesota, Sam Johnson, Cathy Erickson, golf fever, The Quarry, rate, The Classic, The Legend