E-mails that open with “I was extremely pleased to learn” are always welcome here at Catch Basin. So is correspondence from any of our Top 50 course designers, living or dead.* Both attributes attach to this nice note from Bill Amick, designer of 20th-ranked Ridgewood Golf Club and renovator of Donald Ross’s 45th-ranked Hillcrest Course at Kansas City’s Heartland Golf Club.
*Before you submit an error alert, please revisit my “Golf Ghost” series of interviews in SI Golf+, which included lively chats with Donald Ross and Alister MacKenzie.
Amick begins, “I was extremely pleased to learn that Casserly Par 3 Golf Course has finally broken into your Top 50. It has been neglected far too long in this regard.”
But I’m still disappointed to see that two highly-regarded aqua-ranges — the one at the Mike Beebe-designed Grand Reserve Golf Club in Bunnell, Fla., and mine at Meadow Oaks Golf and Country Club in Hudson, Fla. — are not on your Best Aqua-ranges list. [See right sidebar] The Grand’s range is filled with greywater, I think. (I can never remember if it’s greywater or graywater, although both seem to come out of a sewer pipe.) The Meadow’s is a plain old Florida sinkhole filled with stagnant water.
Treating Amick’s concerns with the proper sense of urgency, I immediately called Gary Van Sickle, our aqua-range ratings manager. Van Sickle listened to the Florida-based architect’s critique before issuing a decisive “Whatever.” So, as of this afternoon, Grand Reserve is No. 4 in the Aqua-range ranking, passing Imperial Lakewoods GC of Palmetto, Fla. Meanwhile, the aqua-range at Meadow Oaks remains unranked despite Amick’s puffing it up as “a plain old Florida sinkhole filled with stagnant water.” That’s because I never allow friendship, reputation or inadequate monetary considerations to influence our rankings.
Amick had more to say in his e-mail, including his role in celebrating the upcoming opening of the so-called “Best Course in the World” in Scotland. I’ll address that, as well as Amick’s plans for a “dwarf course” in Ghana, in my next post.
Top 50 on TV: The Irish are holding their Irish Open on one of my personal favorites, the 10th-ranked Dunluce Course at Royal Portrush Golf Club. I played there last July on the finest afternoon County Antrim has ever seen, so my perceptions may be rose-colored. But I think not. While there, I got to see Darren Clarke’s Open Championship medal in a clubhouse display case previously devoted to 1947 Open champion Fred Daly. “For me this is the best golf course in the world,” Clarke had said earlier in the week. “I am very privileged to give Royal Portrush the gold medal.”
Others must rate Royal Portrush almost as highly. With roughly 27,000 spectators per day, Clarke’s home course is the first European Tour venue to completely sell out for every round.