Course Rankings

100 Greatest Courses

March 30, 2007

__"Golfers love punishment. That's where I come in." __

--Pete Dye__ __

Your May issue of Golf Digest will land shortly, and right smack in the middle of it is our 100 Greatest and 100 Greatest Public rankings. Early copies to the courses themselves and to members of the media have set off the usual flurry of comment and ruffled feathers. Lively discussions are taking place on both Shackelford and golfclubatlas. Interesting comments on Shackelford about Riviera’s drop and whether its renovation contributed to that fact. On golfclubatlas, "Bob" had this to say about renovations: __"What is it with restorations/redoes these days that all the bunker borders look so....I don't know, so....tumescent?"

__Tumescent. I like that. After her face lift, Gladys' cheeks were tumescent. He's right. Lot of golf courses look like that after facelifts, too. Is it too much to suggest that some of the opinions about our list border on tumescent as well? I’m always amazed at the cynicism in these discussions about how our (or anybody’s) rankings are for sale, as if there were really ways one could advertise or buy their way on our list.

Three things to say about that: First, the process is transparent and rigorous. It’s done by ranking the courses in categories such as Resistance to Scoring, Design Variety, etc. Our 800-some panelists assign numbers in each category to thousands of courses. The numbers rule. The best numbers get a course on the list. Two, it takes a specific number of evaluations to qualify. Therefore, a course can miss because its numbers aren’t high enough or because not enough panelists (40 ballots are required) see that golf course. In time, they will. Finally, while I think ours is the strongest and most influential list out there, I don’t think it’s perfect. Would I place Yale higher on the Connecticut Best in State ranking than our panelists do? You bet I would. But that’s not how we do this thing. We try to make our panel the most informed group we can (holding conferences to educate them, for example), and then we let them make their ratings. In the end, the strength of the list is that we have low-handicap, well-traveled golfers giving us their varied opinions.  It’s not Ron Whitten, our Architecture Editor’s list. It’s not Jerry Tarde’s list. It’s not our advertisers’ list. It is the 100 Greatest, created by our panelists. And they do a pretty fair job.

-- Bob Carney