Yes, I’m a Golf Digest rater, but time constraints kept me from heading down to Florida to attend the magazine’s raters forum. I’m not sure what the overall aim of the forum was, but they did have some fascinating guests, including Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Rees Jones and Tom Fazio.
According to one party that attended the event and posted his comments on Golfclubatlas, Nicklaus was provocative:
There was a decided buzz in the room when Nicklaus stated that the Golf Digest rankings must in part be influenced by “politics”….how else could Shadow Creek debut so high in its first year. A minute later he admitted that he’s never seen Shadow Creek!As another example of the Golf Digest “politics”…how could Crystal Downs and Fishers Island suddenly appear in the last decade? Nickalus stated that he played Crystal Downs as an 11 year old and that it was a “nice” course.The most shocking revelation for me was that Nickalus doesn’t visit other architect’s work due to time constraints. Even though he’s been on site extensively at (his new course design called) Dismal River he admitted he’s never been to Sand Hills.
I was surprised at Nicklaus’ remarks. It makes me wonder what his expectations are when it comes to course design. Does he assume that just because he’s involved then any Nicklaus course will necessarily end up on the top of the ratings?
Nicklaus also made the comment that he, and other great golfers “who understand shot values,” are necessarily better designers than other architects, said panelist Bill Shultz. That’s interesting because Alister MacKenzie was not a great golfer, but I don’t think even Jack would argue the likes of Cypress Point and Augusta are great golf courses.
Anyway, it sounds like the panel was interesting, but from the comments I’ve read, it also seems hard to discern whether there was anything of any real value for people to take away. Read the full comments on the retreat here.