“One point concerning your algorithm,” writes Rick Boule, yet another New Englander frosted by the absence of northeastern courses in the Top 50. “I’m hoping I didn’t miss some nuance in the methodology, but if 10 is the ideal, wouldn’t Turnberry at 10.68 and Augusta National at 10.70 (rated 6 and 7 respectively) fall below your rankings 8 through 12, which have scores of 9.48 through 10.63?”
Boule doesn’t give his occupation, but I’m guessing that he’s a grad student at MIT, where they stay up all night eating pizza and dreaming up ways to punk their rivals at Cal Sci. Which is not to say that he is — what’s the word? — wrong. Turnberry and Augusta National are 0.68 and 0.70 from a perfect 10, while the courses ranked 8 through 12 fall between 0.52 and 0.63 short (or long) of perfection. Which means that for the last 2-½ years they should have been ranked higher than those two famous courses.
I could plead “typo” and simply correct the scores, but Apple’s “Time Machine” software backs up our hard drives on an hourly, daily and weekly basis. I’m confident that a look back in time will reveal that some hacker — possibly Boule himself — guessed our password and planted a number-tweaking bacterium in the list. To which I can only say: “Well played! The joke’s on us.”
I would have addressed the issue yesterday, but I spent Sunday afternoon at the elbow of SI’s Gary Van Sickle in the press room of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson, Ariz. (Gary looks to me for advice when his laptop starts to shake or buzz.) And now, writing early Monday morning in my room at the Williams Center Marriott Courtyard, I find that I don’t have to address the problem at all.
Why? Because I’ve gotten a voice mail from Cal Sci informing me that all our hardware and software issues have been resolved, the numbers have been crunched and, at long last, WE HAVE A NEW TOP 50 RANKING!
“One highly-regarded golf course, one of your top ten, has fallen completely off the list,” says the excited voice (which, to be honest, I don’t recognize). “What’s more, a brand new golf course has made an unprecedented first appearance at No. 10. Can you guess which one?”
I hate to admit it, but I can’t. So I am eagerly looking forward to this afternoon, when a FedEx envelope with the results will be waiting for me at the front desk of a different Arizona hotel.* If all goes as planned, the new Top 50 will be posted here tomorrow night. Or Tuesday afternoon, at the latest.
*We normally transmit the Top 50 by e-mail or facsimile, but I’m told that the entire Cal Sci campus suffered a power blackout at 6:48 p.m., local time. Authorities are investigating.