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Review of the Month - September 2022

26 October, 2022
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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.

September 2022’s Review of The Month comes from user Chris Dobson, who accompanied his father on a bucket-list trip to Royal Lytham & St. Annes. His write-up is satisfying at both an analytical and emotional level.

Unfortunately, the elder Mr. Dobson passed away during October following a battle with pancreatic cancer. The Top100 community shares our sympathies, and encourages you to learn more about this difficult disease at https://www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk/.

Photo credit: Gary Lisbon

1. Many of us argue that in an ideal world, the rating of golf courses should be strictly analytical. Your moving review obviously shakes that notion. Can, or even should, personal context measure into how one measures a course?

Tough question! I would say it can, but ideally it shouldn’t. The rating of the course is sometimes separate to the content of the written review. Whilst the personal context is often interesting in the review, the actual rating should be the same irrespective of the personal context. I.E. you wouldn’t knock a course down because you played badly.

It’s difficult as the quality of the course can in itself improve your experience. In this instance the quality of the course led the personal context, as it was the quality and history of the course that drew us there. Dad wanted to play the course on which Seve was twice named “Champion Golfer of The Year.” Walking in the footsteps of your heroes adds to the experience. The course didn’t disappoint.

2. A follow-up to that knee-knocker of a question, does a strong course review combine that personal context with analytical arguments, or separate them?

I would hope it does both. I began the review with the intention of writing something to discuss with Dad when he got out of hospital, hence my reference to my favourite holes on the day. As I wrote, it evolved into a record of how well he played, as well as how brave he was to do it.

Golf can imitate life, as Dad was so brave throughout his battle with cancer.

It also can really help you when times are tough. For those few hours he was a golfer again, not someone with a terminal diagnosis.

There is more than a touch of mindfulness about golf. It can help take your thoughts away from anything other than your swing. It has helped me through a tough time in the last few months anyway.

So I hope a good review can both combine and separate the personal context and analytical arguments.

Photo credit: Gary Lisbon

3. I'll assume you had played many rounds with your father prior to this one? Does any stand out for the world-class nature of the course?

We have had some great trips. Usually as stop offs on the way to St Andrews such as Silloth on Solway but also down to Kent at Prince’s. Birkdale was a stand out when we played there.

However it has to be St Andrews. Dad introduced me to the place when I was 16. He took me there on my first golfing holiday after my exams.

The history, the course, getting a slot in the ballot. At that point I didn’t even know there was a university there. Dad took me on a tour of the town on our last day and the tour guide soon educated me. Two years later I returned as a history student and spent four really happy years there. We had several rounds on the Old Course in that time.

That’s a place where I will accept personal context affects my review. It will always be number one in the world for me. No other place where you can say you’ve played the same course as Mary Queen of Scots through to Cameron Smith!

4. Does any stand out for a wonderful experience at a relative gem of a course?

I have to mention the guys at Essendon here. They’re a great bunch and dad had many happy days there. Of course, it was their own “old course” that was his favourite.

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

In normal circumstances I’d be looking at the quality of the test and design, the condition, the visual appeal of the course, the history that comes with it and the overall experience.

The history of a course is a big thing for me. It’s brilliant to feel you are treading in the footsteps of the greats. There are not many other sports in which you can do that. Yes, you can book a court at Flushing Meadows, but a tennis court is a tennis court. Golf courses are things of beauty in and of themselves.

Photo credit: Gary Lisbon

6. What's one course that you'd love to write a review for in the near future (or plan to)?

I have a very good friend who hails from Belmullet and has recently taken up golf. I’ve been waiting for him to get the bug as I’d love to go and play Carne (and spend time with Sean as well of course!)

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