A comment by David Henson of Hilton Head, S.C., deserves a considered reply. He asks, “Does the site of your most recent (golf) victory, i.e., Palmetto Hall on Hilton Head Island, get a mention??”
Henson is referring to my triumph (with an unnamed partner whose initials are D.H.) in the Contested Handicap Flight of the 2009 Palmetto Hall Plantation Club Member-Guest. And while I appreciate his mention of our five-match blitzkrieg over some of Palmetto Hall’s most-accomplished mid-handicappers, I have to correct the impression he leaves — that my Top 50 course rankings are in some way influenced by subjective criteria. The fact that I was fed and entertained for four days; treated to 60-some-odd holes of free golf; gifted with a dozen logoed golf balls, a designer golf shirt and sundry other golf-related items; and, at tournament’s end, awarded a ceramic champion’s urn of Grecian motif (suitable for displaying one’s ashes after acceptance into the St. Peter’s Golf & Country Club) — none of that can impact the secret Cal Sci algorithm behind the Top 50 rankings.
To refute any claims of bias, I will merely point out that the Robert Cupp course, the more difficult of Palmetto Hall’s two championship layouts, languishes at No. 783 on the most recent JG Top 50. “Too much water, too many trees, and the greens aren’t level,” complains my most experienced course rater. Another evaluator calls the Cupp’s single-cut-of-rough policy “barbaric … The perfectly struck drive, of which I hit many, rolls through the fairway and disappears into 5-inch Bermuda rough. On any other course I would have shot 95 or better, but I stormed off Palmetto Hall without turning in my scorecard.”
Granted, that was 2-½ years ago. When I played Palmetto Hall last September, the rough on both courses was cut at a reasonable height and the surrounding pine forest produced the statistically proper ratio of bounce-backs into the fairway versus balls lost in the woods — i.e., 4 to 1. If it were a restaurant, I would have given the Cupp course 4-½ forks.
Whether design tweaks and storm damage have pushed Palmetto Hall into the Top 50 remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I’ll be checking random variables with the Bomar Brain and re-reading chapters of Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach. The tentative release date for my updated Top 50 is January 17.