Mike Keiser likes to say the “Retail Golfers” are the seven handicap and above guys who will travel to anywhere to play a golf course from the Golf Digest 100 Best List. They do this so they can return to the grill room at their home course and brag that they have just played the latest from Doak, Coore-Crenshaw, Nicklaus, Dye, or maybe a classic of the Golden Age from Tillinghast or Ross. The more peer envy then can engender the better.
But as Thomas Dunne, the accomplished golf travel writer, articulates in this article from Links Magazine the opinions on many of the top courses are by no means universally positive. Truth is the most famous courses in the world, St. Andrews, Muirfield, PInehurst #2, and TPC Sawgrass for example, can render the highest praise from some and the greatest disdain from others.
Sometimes it is circumstantial-the weather was lousy or the wind was up at Whistling Straits making it a virtually unplayable experience. They got goaded into playing the macho tees at the Ocean Course which would make it even more Dye-a-bolical than it really is. The course simply does not fit the eye or strengths of their game-they hit it long and the tight driving areas at Harbour Town take away that advantage. Or maybe, in spite of all the hype, the great course just doesn’t present spectacular. Pinehurst #2 has few memorable holes, St. Andrews looks like a moonscape, or Seminole is just another Florida course.
Dunne points out that great holes, great courses need to be played a number of times before they grow on you. Alistar MacKenzie said, “My experience of really first class holes….is at first sight excite the most violent spirit of antagonism….only after being played many times that the feeling of resentment disappears.”
Keiser’s intuition is correct though in that people will seek out the most reputable courses as must plays for their bucket list. Whether excited or disappointed by the experience it is the post play controversy with their friends that keeps the discussion, reputation, and the lure alive.