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Review of the Month - November 2022

28 December, 2022
Ryan Book

The purpose of the Review of The Month feature is twofold. Top100GolfCourses has always aimed to salute and encourage those who are putting admirable effort into reviewing the world’s great golf courses. Moving forward, we are also looking to learn from these experts! We’ll be chatting with the month’s star authors and discussing topics such as golf in their area, what they like to see in a strong course review, and of course dig a little deeper into their own winning review.

October 2022’s Review of The Month comes from Ralph Wardlaw, who — even after a lifetime of world-class golf — was awestruck when playing Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.

Americans hold Scotland's great links courses in an almost reverential manner. Is there any similar feeling among UK residents when it comes to America's "Golden Age" icons?

Yeah I would say there is. Probably the biggest difference for me is the access issue. I’m always conscious of how incredibly fortunate I am any time I get to tee it up at a top American club. That in some ways makes it arguably a more special experience than when Americans come to Scotland.

Photo credit: Larry Lambrecht

You compare Shinnecock to Carnoustie, your longtime home club. When comparing the two, do you need to factor for any bias resulting from one being a unique environment, and one being a club you've played your entire life?

I have to take the Carnoustie factor into account when I compare any courses. When you grow up playing one of the best in the world, and you play it regularly, it does have an impact on you. In the past I’ve definitely looked down on some courses that were maybe a rung or two below Carnoustie, but having played much more and travelled much more the last five years or so, I don’t think I’m quite as bad when it comes to that. Just because a course isn’t an Open Championship course doesn’t make it a bad or less worthy course. There’s a time and a place for a course such as Fortrose and Rosemarkie just as there is for a Castle Stuart.

The difficult thing I found at Shinnecock was expectation management. I’ve played a few top-rated courses in the past that for various reasons, my expectations were incredibly high. Shinnecock was similar. I’m always nervous of that and a course not living up to expectations.

What’s maybe a bit more unique for me when comparing Carnoustie and Shinnecock, two of the hardest courses in their respective continents, is obviously having that huge Carnoustie knowledge and being able to compare it to a different style of golf in Shinnecock and being able to see what makes it so difficult. That was quite cool for me.

We all know about Shinnecock Hills, being No. 3 in our world rankings and such. Did you play any gems while in the region, a bit more obscure?

Yeah, I was fortunate enough to play St George’s Country Club, also on Long Island, as part of my trip. I’d never heard of it before, but I came away from it feeling that was a course I could easily play every day. Not overly long, a lot of undulations, nice and wide with a premium on angles. What’s not to like? I was fortunate enough to play with two super-nice members as well. I had a great day.

Photo credit: Larry Lambrecht

Now that you're a celebrated "Review of The Month" winner, let us know what factors you appreciate in a strong golf course review!

I’m not a huge fan of reviews that go into hole-by-hole accounts of a course. I prefer reviews that give a general overview of a course whilst highlighting one or two aspects.

What's one course that you'd love to write a review for in the near future?

Outside of the obvious Cypress etc., my friends and I have just booked up to go to Bandon in 2024. So one of them!


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