Golf courses are many and varied
Compared to most other ball sports, and as well as diamond jumpers, golf offers a wonderful added dimension, which makes it endlessly fun and varied: the venue. When you play amateur tennis, cricket or football, the space is roughly the same. There’s a net, there’s a big rectangle, there are goals. Golf courses are all different. Often very, very different. This means that in a match or in a competition, not only do you have to be better than your opponent(s), but you also have to tame a brand new environment. And when you’re just having a friendly round, you have to face brand new challenges. This is one of the reasons that make it such an endlessly fascinating game: there are so many different playgrounds out there.
The emotional value of a golf course
What golf courses share with other sports grounds is that people who play on them often form a strong emotional attachment to them. Your course becomes your second home. You’ve walked it a hundred times. You know all its nooks and crannies. It’s given you exhilarating memories, and some less glorious ones, but even those you can laugh at. Just like football fans treat their home ground like a temple, where they spend quality time with their extended tribe, golfers can’t help but get attached to a place where they’ve enjoyed so many wonderful moments.
I wouldn’t be a great reviewer
Of course, everyone has their preferences. Me? I don’t like trees and I like hills, so links and downland courses are my favourite. Could it have something to do with the fact that my home course, where I learnt to play, is a links-downland course? Probably. So when I thought I could review the courses I’ll be playing this year, I realised that I’m far too narrow-minded to write objectively. Plus I generally intensely dislike a course if I have a bad round on it, which is really unfair. No, thinking about it, what I really want is to see a course through the eyes of someone who loves it. Now that would be interesting.
Reviews as love letters
So during my Captain’s year, I’ve decided to go on a little tour of the courses of Sussex (and beyond, work permitting) and play with a member wherever I go. I’m hoping they’ll tell me stories about their course and what they love about it. This way, I’ll see it in a completely different light from a regular visitor. So don’t expect critical reviews that will assess course condition, length and other technical aspects. My course reviews will be closer to love letters from the people who know them best. When I can’t play with a member, or when I play a match, I’ll answer a few basic questions. That’s what I did for the courses I played in Portugal a few weeks ago. I’ve added a new page called Golf courses to collect my reviews and I put a map on it. I couldn’t help myself. I just love maps.