Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My take on the Top 100 – The Panel

Hamilton G&CC 12th hole

I see the list as a selection of the greatest 100 Canadian “golf experiences”, rather than the selection of the greatest 100 “golf courses”

My main issue is with the list is who makes up of the panel. To Bob Week’s defense he has done a great job of improving the panel but I still think he needs to go one step further. Removing the two top Canadian amateurs and the two PGA tour professionals would help remove some of the bias that all top golfers bring to the table. They almost always judge a course on how it makes them play. They tend to favor long tough golf courses in immaculate shape over anything else. They also have a tendency to see only the courses that hold events or exclusive private clubs where they are treated exceptionally well. They don’t have the time to travel the countryside to see enough lesser known courses to have a balanced perspective. I’m not saying they aren’t interested in or don’t understand good architecture, but I do believe they come with certain expectations that favor the elite city courses over the rest. Just look at the list.

The panel is always strongest if all the members are well traveled, because then we are comparing courses on equal terms. There are a few guys who are not as well traveled as you would hope. I’ve been to every city except Victoria and I still think I haven’t seen enough. So who would help the list….w ell what group is better traveled than the golf architects? I strongly believe the panel would improve with the addition of around 5 or 6 architects to help provide balance to the list. Doug Carrick, Tom McBroom and Graham Cooke just to offer a couple of names would help provide perspective from one coast to the other. I think this would also help get more support for the courses in smaller towns that often overlooked since the architects often seek out lesser known gems on their travels. I think that courses of significant architectural merit, like Toronto GC would finally get the proper support they deserve. The current panel is very bias towards new work, and architects tend to be more bias towards older courses and this would help balance things out.

Some may suggest the architects have the most to gain and would vote for there own work. This may be true if Tom’s list of top holes in the world found in Paul Daley’s book is any indication, but I think you can trust that group to vote for the best courses. I think the best way to oversee this is to make the architect’s votes public. If they are bias to their own work, this can be easily seen, and they can be removed from the panel. No architect needs that humiliation. You may suggest architects have too much to gain to be part of the process but so do the director of golf, golf superintendent, director of marketing (for clublink no less), who are all part of the panel! I think it’s time to bring back the architects to the panel. I think it will make a better list.

I’ll post my top 25 this afternoon, and I may write something else too, then I think I will drop this topic at the end of today.


WayneK said...

I believe that panelists cannot evaluate a course that they are affiliated with. Could you not do the same thing with architects - they can't vote on a course that they have worked on.

Ian Andrew said...

That's the way we used to do it. can't vote for our own work, but we could for renovation since there was no direct credit.

When I did that list with Rob, Ben and Jeff I thought we actually stated the conflicts up front.