“You were giving me golf-course recommendations for a trip between Mobile and Pensacola,” writes a pissed-off reader from Argentina, “and you suggested Hilton Head Island, 525 miles from my destination. If that wasn’t bad enough, you didn’t finish your post. I was so frustrated that I left my clubs at home, spent my days in America at the beach, and lost all my savings at Gulf Coast casinos. I’m telling my friends in Rosario that the Top 50 is a big, fat fraud, and they should go back to Travelin’ Joe Passov if they want honest golf-travel advice.”
My first impulse is to remind this overheated reader that I told him that golf itineraries were Travelin’ Joe’s specialty, not mine. (My exact words: “The Top 50 does not recommend golf courses; it ranks them.”) My second impulse is to ask Mr. Rosario for an apology. I went out of my way to help him out, but I don’t feel much love from his “big, fat fraud” crack. I talked to my close friend, Vijay Singh, and he thought I should consult a lawyer — his lawyer, to be precise — regarding defamation and libel issues. I’m not ready to take that step, but Rosey should consider the fact that the Top 50 has never lost a court fight.*
*Ft. Meade City Mobile Home Park Golf Course v Garrity was settled amicably, and I have never violated the restraining order.
My third impulse is to withhold the final recommendation for our gaucho’s Gulf Coast golf tour, but that would be a disservice to my Top 50 subscribers. So, for their sake, Roseman, not yours, I’m recommending the 51st-ranked Chechessee Creek Club in Okatie, S.C. Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, Chechessee Creek is probably the finest example of swamp sorcery this side of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
The minimalist philosophy is at work here, although I prefer the term “understated.” There are no waterfalls, no tabletop tees, no fairway-bunker complexes that rival the Sahara. It’s simply a challenging, well-constructed golf course that just happens to be situated in a backwoods setting where the plunky notes of Dueling Banjos filter through the pines.
“Chechessee Creek Club is a throwback to the times when golf was simpler,” writes a blogger who calls himself ‘Golf Club Atlas’. “The absence of artificial mounding harkens to the Golden Age of course design when dirt wasn’t pushed around just for the sake of ‘framing’ holes.”
Obviously, some dirt is necessarily pushed around in the playing of golf. My foursome of clod connoisseurs included Top 50 v.p. Gary Van Sickle, southeast ratings chief Dave Henson, and Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger, who moonlights as blurb superintendent for the Top 50 book division. (Full disclosure: Caddies were compulsory, so we actually paid something for our rounds. The Golf Writers Association is weighing whether we should be suspended for the infraction.)
Anyway, we scored Chechessee Creek as follows: Van Sickle, 4½ stars. Henson, 8 out of 10. Bamberger, “a rollicking trek through the Faulknerian recesses of the marginal South … shade-dappled, mossy … It’s magical!” Garrity, 11.94.
Your loss, Rosey. I hope you enjoyed the beach.
Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but we added to our already-stuffed trophy case when our founder and CEO, John Garrity, won the amateur long-drive contest at last week’s Time Warner Cable Long Drive Championship Pro-Am at 50th-ranked Eagle Bend Golf Club in Lawrence, Ks. His winning drive, had anyone bothered to measure it, would have been well over 250 yards.