A reader from Cairo, Ill., wonders if her state’s Annbriar Golf Club lost ranking points when a middle-age golfer recently plunged 18 feet into a sinkhole. “Newspaper accounts say the man was walking through a ‘pocked section,’” writes the reader, “which suggests maintenance issues.”
Cairo, by the way, is pronounced “KAY-roh,” like the syrup, and is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. For that reason, sinkholes, historically, are the least of its problems, flooding being more or less a permanent condition. No riverside course has ever cracked the Top 50, unless you count estuaries — which would be a firth.
Anyway, Annbriar GC plummeted more than a thousand places due to the sinkhole fiasco, and now wallows at No. 9,752. The biggest point deduction, however, was for pace-of-play issues. (It took twenty minutes to pull the golfer out with a rope.)
Underlying the Cairo reader’s query is a larger concern: Does the Top 50 adjust the rankings when course conditions change unexpectedly?
Some weeks ago, for example, a blizzard swept through New England, dropping two feet of snow on a perennial Top 50 layout, The Country Club. Virtually unplayable — and a high-risk venue even under the best winter conditions, due to skeet shooting on the property — TCC dropped into the Second 50, only to bounce back to No. 31 when the snow melted.
Similarly, analysts here at Catch Basin held an emergency meeting when we learned that kangaroos had overrun Royal Canberra Golf Club during the first round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. A spirited argument ensued, with one set of analysts calling for point deductions and an opposing group arguing that kangaroos are actually an enhancement. Asked to break the tie, I pointed out that teenager Lydia Ko had shot a round of 10-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead. “Wait for more data,” I said.
Royal Canberra remains at No. 804.
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but the PGA Tour has descended upon the 103rd-ranked Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. Copperhead is a favorite with tour players, but courses named after snakes generally fare poorly in consumer surveys. The most notable example is Royal Anaconda Golf Links of Manaus, Brazil, which never got off the drawing board.