February 15, 2009

The Editor's Desk

In the latest issue of Golf World ...

Editor-In-Chief Geoff Russell

Editor-In-Chief Geoff Russell

Dear readers:

You probably aren't going to believe this, but it's time to vote again -- for your favorite golf facilities, that is. Golf World's Readers' Choice Awards are back.

You will remember that last year, Golf World decided to correct the magazine's only flaw (at least the only one I'm aware of) -- that we were the lone national golf magazine without a golf course ranking -- by introducing the Readers' Choice Awards. But we designed our ranking to be different from every other magazine. Instead of putting together a small group of expert panelists (avid golfers, course designers or, worst of all, editors like me) we asked all of you -- our readers -- to serve as the judges. What we wanted was a populist list: a ranking of golf facilities that, with a tip of the stovepipe hat to our 16th president, was "of the people, by the people and for the people."

I can't emphasize that last point enough. The Readers' Choice Awards belong to you. Those of us who work at Golf World expected that launching this program, and publishing the results, would inspire plenty of reaction, and not all of it positive. Of course, that comes with the territory. Debate and criticism are part of what makes rankings like this fun -- and, over time, better and better. What I wasn't prepared for was the letter I received from a friend who belongs to a little club about an hour outside Augusta, Ga. -- I won't surprise him by revealing his full name or the club -- after we published the results of the first RCA last October. His club didn't make the top 50 in our private-facility category, which he thought was an oversight. (Actually, the word he used was "embarrassment," and he meant for Golf World, not his club.) Having played there a few years ago (as my friend's guest), I felt he at least had a point. But then I checked our voting database and discovered the club had been rated by only six voters -- far below the minimum threshold our research department, which designed the survey, had established for eligibility.

I called my friend back; let's call him Al. "Hey, Al," I told him. "What is embarrassing is that your club was only rated by six people. The RCA is like a presidential election. You can't win if you don't get the votes."

Just like last year, the voting will take place online. Here is how it works: First, go to golfworldreaderschoice.com. After a short registration process, you will enter our database of roughly 8,000 golf facilities, separated by state. We would like you to vote for any and all you have played, preferably in the last 18 months. Vote for as many as you like, but since the survey can take a while, I recommend you start with the facilities you like best, or the ones you think are "hidden gems" -- outstanding places that may be off the beaten path or are less well known than other facilities.

You will be asked to rate each golf facility on various criteria (from quality and conditioning of the course to amenities such as service and the practice range -- hence our view that this is a list of golf facilities, and not simply golf courses), each on a 10-point scale. Just like last year, we have designed the survey website so you can visit it as many times as you want. You can log in, vote for a few facilities, log off, and then -- later that day or in a few weeks, whatever works for your schedule -- you can log back on. When you do, the survey will redirect you to wherever you were when you logged off from your previous visit.

The goal is to come up with a list of the best golf facilities in America, both public and private, according Golf World readers, whom we consider the most knowledgeable, the most passionate, the most demanding -- and the most honest -- golfers in the country.

We plan to announce the results in September. So until then, happy golfing -- and happy voting!

Sincerely,

Geoff Russell