Of the 10 categories in which Golfweek’s Best course raters are asked to assign scores in their course evaluations, the “walk in the park test” is perhaps the least understood. It’s certainly the one we as panelists get the most questions about.
There’s no denying that assigning a number to how enjoyable a place is to spend half a day is a particularly slippery and subjective enterprise, but there are a few ways in which raters might gain a toehold in interpreting this category. (Other categories for raters include memorability of par 3s, par 4s and par 5s; conditioning; and the like.)
Here’s a story that might be illustrative. Last May, I had the great fortune to be invited for a round at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, New York. The timing seemed auspicious, but when the day arrived the weather was less than ideal: low 40s, steady rain and a gusty, biting wind that made bogeys feel like pars. Despite the conditions, our host was both gracious and game, and our entire Gore-Tex-clad group had a blast from start to finish.
As we strolled down the hill on the wonderful 17th, a hole named Peconic, I said to our host, “You know, every time I come here I’m amazed by one thing above all – I seem to always finish my round with more energy than when I started.”
That is inspiring architecture. That’s a course that aces the walk in the park test.
Great golf courses tell a story. The genres may vary – perhaps it’s a tale of epic heroism (Pine Valley in New Jersey), or a subtle chamber drama (Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina) or a mystery with a solution key that varies day to day (the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland) – but they always situate the golfer at the center of a compelling narrative.
Architects use routing – which is the subject of its own Golfweek’s Best rating category – to pack as much interesting golf as they can into the property’s confines, but I would argue they do not always create great stories. Even some highly rated courses do not necessarily excel as walks in the park.
Naturally, some sites are more conducive to a great walk in the park than others, but the most talented architects have a knack for drawing out and amplifying their inherent sense of place. Inviting the golfer to explore how different environments transition from one to another often helps.
Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw do this beautifully at Friar’s Head in New York and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s Bandon Trails in Oregon. Stanley Thompson exploded his routing at Cape Breton Highlands Links, justifying some longer walks between tees and greens to fully showcase the magnificent rivers, mountains and valleys of the Nova Scotia wilderness. At Dismal River Club’s Red Course in Nebraska, Tom Doak opted for an unconventional “open-jaw” routing – the course ends a solid half-mile away from where it began
By: Thomas Dunne
Title: #AGoodWalk: Putting a great stroll to the test
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/08/16/a-good-walk-putting-a-great-stroll-to-the-test/
Published Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2020 13:00:39 +0000
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