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Golf Digest Raters Summit

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.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I’ve played a bunch of Nicklaus designed courses and have never, read that as a big never, been impressed.

    The Bear Trace courses pale in comparison to the RTJ trail courses in every, read that as a big every, way.

    Valhalla is not even a great course. Good, but not great and I’m a Kentuckian who lived there for the PGA’s.

    Mike – The TravellingGolfer

  • To me, Jack seems to be a little bit bitter these days.

    These days, he is bitter about the golf balls, and he does not respect course designers.

    Harbour Town will be remembred as a Pete Dye design and the new Sebonack will be known as a Tom Doak work, even though Jack participated in both.

    Jack can learn from Arnie on how to age with class.

  • Racist comments…years ago one of the staff writers left because of a racist slur against their ethnicity from Lewis. Notably that writer had been told to maintain secrecy about their ethnicity and so no real photos were ever put on the site. Lewis wanted to maintain the image that the work was being done by a ‘white’ person. Allegedly the Leaderboard photo had come from a Russian bride catalog, but who knows.

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