Oops! Swope In, Brookline Out

No one has found fault, so far, with our recently-updated Top 50. The only quibbles come from the tree-hugging community — effectively dismissed in my last posting — and from an anonymous correspondent who claims he has trouble distinguishing between the late Robert Trent Jones (designer of Valderrama, No. 17, and renovator of Kansas City C.C., No. 50) and his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr. (Poipu Bay, No. 15). Which brings to mind the Joan Rivers acquaintance who didn’t understand the concept of Roman numerals. (“She thought we just fought World War Eleven.”)

Perfect, however, is something we have never claimed to be. Decimal points can be misplaced. Fours can fail to be carried. Checks can — and do — get lost in the mail.* That’s why we constantly re-examine our data, looking for niggling errors, and why we subscribe to a sophisticated “spell-checking program” that makes us look up words that it doesn’t recognize. (See “Valderrama.”) It is Top 50 policy to correct even minor mistakes, there being no better way to preserve confidence in the published ranking.

*Sometimes twice in a row, against all odds.

In that spirit, we submit this clarification of the most recent ranking: No. 45 is Swope Memorial Golf Course, Kansas City, Mo. — not The Country Club of Brookline, Mass., as originally announced.

The elevation of Swope Memorial marks the first time that two A. W. Tillinghast courses from Kansas City have achieved simultaneous rankings. Elegant Kansas City Country Club, the third-oldest country club west of the Mississippi and home course of five-time British Open champion Tom Watson, is better known than its crosstown cousin, but both tracks have pedigrees. KCCC has hosted numerous state, regional and national tournaments, including the inaugural Trans-Mississippi Amateur (1901), won by John Stuart. Hilly Swope Memorial, a municipal course, hosted the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship and was the PGA’s venue for the 1949 Kansas City Open, won by Jim Ferrier.

The adjustment leaves the highly-regarded Country Club, currently ranked 18th in the U.S. by an anonymous Golf Digest panel, with no ranking at all. To mollify its New England supporters, who relentlessly lobby the Top 50 on behalf of their allegedly underrated courses, we have temporarily moved the Donald Ross-designed 9-hole Tatnuck Country Club course of Worcester, Mass., to No. 68, three rungs above its previous station

We regret, but don’t admit to, the error.


Filed under golf

13 responses to “Oops! Swope In, Brookline Out

  1. Dan B

    I have to disagree with Swope Memorial. This is a decent local municipal course but does not belong in any national discussion regardless of who designed it or what tournament it may have hosted. Maybe I just don’t understand your Top 50 criteria or maybe you are just trying to be a little controversial and draw some attention to certain courses you think need it for some reason.

  2. John Harrity

    Dan B.
    You have to know that John Garrity writes tongue in cheek. Plus since he retired from SI, he spends all his time in his cellar tinkering with his grip and golf swing. He even takes all his meals there on an unused ping pong table donated by Philly Mick!!! I’m going to recommend that he take over one of those Kansas City schools which are going to get closed down soon. “The JG School of Journalism”.
    Oh boy!

    • You obviously haven’t seen my basement, John. There’s no room to swing a golf club down there. The Top 50 leader board takes up half the room because it’s one of those old-fashioned election boards where you load the numbers from behind. (Like the Masters leader boards, actually, only prettier.) Then I’ve got the ping pong table, which is piled high with fanfold printouts and old copies of Argosy and The New Yorker. That barely leaves room for the Bomar Brain and its battery packs. I’ve considered moving the whole operation to southern Jackson County, but my accountant tells me there are tax implications.

  3. Wayne Mills


    I didn’t know BBQ sauce caused brain damage or was it possibly the result of watching bad baseball all these years from the Royals that causes all of your delusions?
    Obviously you are just trying to annoy me and Harrity but elevating some dog eared muny in KC to replace the glorious Country Club is absurd.
    I’m calling the KCPD today for a house check at your place just to make sure you haven’t mixed up your meds again.

    • BBQ sauce causes brain damage? I don’t think so. (But I do worry about the effects of bad baseball.) As for The Country Club, you shouldn’t be alarmed. Pine Valley has never even made the Top 50, and I hear they’re still operating — although they’ve probably had to lay off a few employees. Personally, I love The Country Club and New England courses in general. I’d live in New England if it had decent barbecue.

  4. JG,
    Wayne has a good point suggesting that he sends the KCPD to check on you! I still believe that you are down in the cellar swinging the golf clubs anyways. Your poor wife Pat probably is immune from the noise of you hitting the pipes with your over exaggerated follow thru… like trying to reach the 17th in 2 at Carne!
    We may not have good BBQ sauce but we’ve got great fried clams and Tatar Sauce.

  5. Wayne Mills

    Actually there is a real good bar b que joint in Putney, VT called Curtis’s. Been there 30 years. He’s an old school brotha. Cooks in an old school bus. He calls it The Eighth Wonder of the World. Harrity is right about the fried clams and we got wicked good lobster and steamers too.

    • John Harrity

      Hi Wayne.
      I’ve heard about this guy, his BBQ bus, and I know about Putney. Been to the Putney Inn for lunch a couple times just off of Rt 91. I’m a Norwich grad and love travelling to Vermont from time to time. We should also school brother Garrity about the wonderful courses in the Green Mountain State!

  6. Wayne Mills


    Just go up the hill from the Putney Inn and Curtis’s is on the right at the top of the hill, next to the gas station. You can BYOB which is always good for us heavy drinkers.
    I think we’ll have a hard enough time getting Garitty to visit Boston/Worcester let alone to the hinterlands of Vermont. I get the impression he’s one of those shut-ins who doesn’t like to leave his basement.

  7. John Harrity

    Wayne, I know exactly where you’re talking about. I picked up a few “road sodas” at the gas station/convenience store during my travels up and down Rt 91 over the years!

  8. Wayne Mills


    Aha- road sodas!, I knew you were a heavy drinker!

    When is Tatnuck open? You’ll have to have me by as your guest. Maybe we can get liquored up and call Garrity and harass him. He’ll like that, I’m sure. I think I can get his home number.


  9. John Harrity

    Tatnuck should open soon. But…it will be awfully wet, especially with all the rain we’ve both experienced for the past 4 days. It normally does not get dried out until mid-May under normal spring conditions. I will have you up at the end of May or early June. That way you can really enjoy our glorious greens! We’ll get my good friend Rick Boule’ who knows JG to join us. He is an experienced “road soda” soldier, and is a plus 4 in the grill room!

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