Troon North Benefits from Ying Correction

“Your Top 50 rating of Conestoga Golf Club at 8.09 is ludicrous,” writes Gary Van Sickle of Retrograde, Pa. “I’ve gone over the numbers repeatedly and never gotten more than an 8.05. This is a complete travesty — as opposed to a partial travesty, which no one likes.”

Conestoga Par 3

The par-3 fifth hole at Conestoga Golf Club: Too isolated? Or perfectly isolated? (John Garrity)

I usually dispose of crank e-mails by tapping the garbage-can icon, but something about this particular missive made me hesitate. Then it hit me: Van Sickle is our PGA Tour correspondent and executive director for course rating. So, with a heavy sigh, I re-read his rant and then forwarded it to Y. E. Ying, the Cal Sci “hotshot” who’s been crunching our numbers since Charlie Eppes ran off to Europe with what’s-her-name.

“Will check,” Ying texted me back. Two days later, he texted me again. “Van Sickle is correct. Conestoga GC of Mesquite, Nev., scores at 8.05 and should be ranked 55th. No. 50, at 8.09, is Pinnacle Course at Troon North Golf Club, Scottsdale, Az. Sorry. Please excuse error.”

Sorry? The Top 50 doesn’t publish apologies! The Top 50 publishes authoritative, 100% confirmed empirical data culled from the golf industry’s most comprehensive course-evaluation protocols. I’d have fired Ying on the spot if I didn’t have to run everything past a bankruptcy judge.

Another reader, who calls herself “Anon-a-mouse,” asks if I can tell the difference between closely-ranked courses like Conestoga and Troon North. My honest answer is no. I played Conestoga a few months ago and was blown away by its high-desert beauty. I played Troon North in February (as adjunct faculty at the Tour Tempo VIP School) and was similarly blown away by its high-desert beauty. Conestoga is more rugged and natural, with canyon holes that leave you feeling completely cut off from civilization. Troon’s Pinnacle course is the more difficult to play, with cactus patches that practically gobble up the wandering drive.

Ask me which is better, and I can only shrug. That’s why I employ only scientific criteria to rank the world’s courses from top (Askernish Old) to bottom (Ft. Meade City Mobile Home Park Golf Course). That’s why we confidently claim to be “99.9% accurate.” And that’s why we promptly correct the rare error made by a pocket-protector know-it-all who never returns our calls.

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but congratulations to Top 50 favorite Gil Hanse and LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott for bagging the Brazil Olympics course-design contract. Coincidentally, Hanse’s acclaimed Castle Stuart Golf Links jumps two spots to No. 5. Way to go, Gil!

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