Golfweek Rankings: Worth a Look?

The basement computer room at our Kansas City headquarters is listed as “unlikely” for the rest of November, due to the removal of the south wall by hydraulic engineers. Consequently, I am devoting most of my energies to paperwork, jigsaw puzzles and Rumpole of the Bailey DVDs.

18th Green at Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach: An obvious choice? (John Garrity)

I did take a few minutes this afternoon to review Golfweek’s “Definitive Guide to the Golf Life,” which dropped through the mail slot and landed on the floor with a resounding thud. Also landing with thuds, I’m sorry to say, are the magazine’s top-100 lists of resort and residential golf courses.

Hey, the Florida-based weekly made a valiant effort. The course photographs are attractive, the spine is well-glued, and it’s evident that the editors sent grownups to rate the various resorts and developments. Nevertheless, Golfweek’s procedures are ridiculously subjective, leaving their rankings open to second-guessing.* Their residential list, for example, cites only two courses from my Top 50, Castle Pines and Redlands Mesa, and totally ignores two perennial Top-50 standouts, Hallbrook C.C. and Medicine Hole G.C.. (It is possible, I admit, that Golfweek did not treat the Badlands course as “residential,” due to the lack of housing on its perimeter.) Even more damning: The magazine lists only 11 courses that I have personally played.

*No ranking can call itself “scientific” if it’s operating without a Bomar Brain.

That said, I won’t quibble with Golfweek’s top three — Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club (Tom Fazio, Cashiers, N.C.), Rock Creek Cattle Company (Tom Doak, Deer Lodge, Mont.), and Wade Hampton Club (Tom Fazio, Cashiers, N.C.) — except to say that cattle companies aren’t “golf courses,” per se. I played both Fazio courses with the architect last fall, along with his Bright’s Creek course in Mill Spring, N.C., No. 36 on the Golfweek list. All three of those courses were good enough to hold down the No. 50 spot on my list last year, if only for a week or so, as is another Fazio housesitter, Briggs Ranch of San Antonio, Texas (No. 28 on the Golfweek list).

Bathroom at CordeValle

CordeValle's plumbing is second to none. (John Garrity)

Golfweek’s resort course ranking is easier to defend, since nine of its courses also appear in my Top 50. That includes three of the magazine’s top-four resorts: Pacific Dunes, Pebble Beach, and Whistling Straits.* I can also endorse the high rankings for Pine Needles Country Club (Donald Ross, Southern Pines, N.C.), Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (Michael Strantz, Pawley’s Island, S.C., and CordeValle Resort (Robert Trent Jones, Jr., San Martin, Calif.), three of my personal favorites.

*I expect Golfweek’s second-ranked course, Old MacDonald (Tom Doak & Jim Urbina, Bandon, Ore.), to crack my Top 20 once we scrape the plaster dust and mould off the mainframe.

Coincidentally, I was about to release my own list of best resort courses when water started spilling out from under our basement baseboards. Needless to say, that list is on hold — although I guess you could describe my call to the foundation company as “a last resort.” Here’s a preview:

50. Dry Basement Company, Kansas City, Mo. (Otto Fleck) 8.17

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