A persistent correspondent from the Bay State wants to know why there are no New England courses in my Top 50. My first instinct is to answer in the soothing voice I employ with grandchildren whose grade school teams have lost by more than thirty points (or 8 wickets, if they’re Aussies): “There’s no disgrace in being average, Johnny. George W. Bush was average, and he grew up to be a two-term president of the United States!”
I’ll resist that temptation. The truth is, no fewer than 37 northeastern courses are ranked in my Top 100. It’s just their bad luck that I only publish the Top 50.
For example, three New England courses are currently tied for 53rd place with scores of 8.09. They are: The Country Club (Willie and Alex Campbell, Rees Jones), Brookline, Mass.; The Ledges Golf Club (William Bradley Booth), York, Maine; and the 9-hole Tatnuck Country Club (Donald Ross), Worcester, Mass.
It’s hard to argue against their inclusion. The Country Club is the oldest golf club in the U.S., host to the 1999 Ryder Cup and the site of the 1913 U.S. Open, won by Francis Ouimet. The Ledges was GOLF Magazine’s “best new public course in New England” for 1999, and Golf Styles New England calls its 18th hole “the toughest finishing hole in New England.” Tatnuck, according to a reviewer at golflink.com, is “a plush, scenic 9-hole Donald Ross design with tree-lined fairways and nice elevation changes. There are 18 tees … [and] the restaurant is arguably the best in Worcester.”
I’d be surprised, however, if any of these courses move up when the new Top 50 is posted next week.*
*There’s been another delay. The raw data sheets were inadvertently put in the clothes washer, causing them to clump together in a pulpy mass.
I’m basing that on a recent phone conversation with one of my Vermont course raters. “Have you looked out a window lately?” he asked me. “It’s a frickin’ Ice Age out there! All the courses are covered with snow, and I don’t see relief coming until spring, at the earliest.”
He’s an excitable guy, but he knows his golf courses. Sorry, New England! Unless that “global warming” thing pans out, your courses are destined for second-tier status.