“How do your course raters document their findings?” asks a reader from Lower Venice, Italy. “Is it merely checked boxes on pages? Do you obtain sworn affidavits? How do we know that your raters have even visited the courses on the list — or, more importantly, the courses not on your list?”
Good question, Vinny. I can answer it by reminding you that our course raters have photographed every hole on every golf course in the world, from top-ranked Askernish Old right down to our perennial bottom-ranked layout, the Ft. Meade City Mobile Home Park Golf Course of Ft. Meade, Fla. Furthermore, Top 50 raters are bonded and they have to produce a signed chit from the superintendent or head pro of each club before they can collect their honoraria.*
*We typically pay our raters in carnival script to minimize the possibility that they will be caught short by international currency devaluations.
By the way, the image bank at Catch Basin is not limited to golf course photos. We ask our globetrotting nitpickers to document every aspect of a facility, from the front gate to the darkest corner of the superintendent’s shed. Just this morning, for instance, we downloaded hundreds of photos from Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola Club de Campo in San Sebastian de los Reyes, Spain, site of this week’s Madrid Masters. The RSHECC has two championship golf courses with mountain views, a splendid ivy-covered clubhouse, a sprawling parking garage, and a terraced practice range that offers three levels of grass tees plus a mats-only range with both covered and rooftop tee lines.
“I was particularly taken with the starter’s shed on the first tee of the South Course,” our rater told me by satellite phone. “It made me feel nostalgic in some hard-to-describe way, so I gave the facility a few hundred discretionary points.”
The beauty of the Cal Sci algorithm is that we can adjust for this bonehead’s misapplication of the ratings formula, leaving RSHECC with a more appropriate bonus of 25. We’ll post the club’s new ranking when we get fresh numbers back from Pasadena, probably on the Memorial Day weekend. (No, the Top 50 does not “holiday.” The full-capacity golf weekends are when we are needed most.)
By the way, Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola Club de Campo translates as “The Royal Spanish Horse Society Country Club.” I asked our rater to send me a hat, but he claimed their hats don’t make it through the embroidery process.
Top 50 on TV: The PGA Tour finishes off its Texas Swing at Colonial Country Club, No. 24. I planned to post a course photo, but I got distracted scrolling through our gallery of “Colonial C.C. Bark Beetles,” which takes up about 5 gigs of storage space. If you’re desperate to see what Colonial looks like these days, check back here later. Otherwise, you can tune in to the Nick Faldo Networks (Golf Channel and CBS), which will cover all four rounds of the $6.2 million Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.