Course Rankings

America's 100 Greatest

April 23, 2007

"The ardent golfer would play Mt. Everest if somebody put a flagstick on top." Pete Dye

You’ve had time to absorb the 100 Greatest, the 100 Greatest Public and our Best-in-State lists. And time to react.

Great question from reader Bill Thomas about our Best-in-State list there:

__Always look forward to your Top 100 golf courses and to see what ones I've played or should try to play. One that I'm going to play this summer is the River Course at Kingsmill in VA. I noted they are rated number 4 in their state but do not show up in the top 100 list for public courses. Yet the number 11 course in Virginia, Tradition GC, is 64th on your public list. At first I thought since you put Kingsmill in resorts they can't be listed elsewhere. However, other courses like The Homestead, Bandon Dunes and others show up in multiple categories. It would seem to me that the River course should be before Tradition GC. Is there an explanation?


Indeed, there is. It has to do with the number of evaluations by our panel of 800-plus low-handicap golfers we require for various lists. For a course to be considered for America’s100 Greatest Courses, it must have 40 evaluations; for the 100 Greatest Public, 24. Those are national lists. For inclusion on a Best-in-State list we require 10 evaluations. Thus, a course may rank high on the Best-in-State list, but not have sufficient ballots to qualify it for the 100 Greatest Public or the 100 Greatest.

Why the difference in the first place, you ask? Practically, we’ve not been able to get panelists in larger numbers to all of the courses that qualify. Would we like to use the 40-minimum for every list? Certainly. In fact, we’d like to use 50. We think the more panelists who see and evaluate a course, the stronger that evaluation is. However, it’s just not been possible. Nevertheless, in the last evaluation period, the two years prior to assembling the May 2007 list, we processed 15,410 evaluations. We keep an evaluation of any given course in the system for ten years, or five evaluation periods.

Our Rankings Editor Topsy Siderowf, who manages the process of getting the panelists to all eligible courses, says that's exactly what happened in this case: Kingsmill (River) had only 22 ballots, insufficient to qualify for either of the national lists.

It’s not a perfect system. But we think it’s a system that produces the most trustworthy list out there.

--Bob Carney