For golfers with any degree of discrimination the annual course ranking lists put out by the major golf periodicals are nothing but a high school beauty pageant. They represent the most difficult, the most expensive, the most TV exposed, and the most unreachable golf destinations on the planet. Distinction on these lists is typically all about money-the depth of the pockets of the developers, the resorts, or a self-made tech gazillionaire.
In contrast to that Golf Club Atlas, under the capable guidance of Ran Morrissett, has broken that mold by creating a list called the “147 Custodians of The Game”. His criterion for a course making it to this list has nothing to do with photo worthiness, course condition in the Augusta sense, elaborate architectural features, or what a stringent test of golf it represents.
As Ran puts it in the introduction to this list “Distance and toughness are far less meaningful measures of a design’s worth then the simple test of how badly one wants to play the course on a regular basis”. It is about how much the course challenges your golf intellect, how much creativity it calls for through the round, and how much fun it is to play.
In going through the list it strikes me how many of the top ranking standards are missing-no Pine Valley, no Augusta, no TPC Courses. But it also strikes me how many of the truly fun walks that I have enjoyed are included like Somerset Hills, Gullane I, Brora, Bandon Trails, Rustic Canyon, and Castle Stuart. These are all places that were a joy to play the first time and make you want to play them over and over and over.
Not only will you enjoy rekindling memories of some of the great venues you have played but you can add a couple of dozen more to your must play list for future golf expeditions.