A Ridiculously Easy Way To Enjoy Golf More

Here's more from our managing editor, Tim Gavrich...

Have you ever read a book you loved so much, you sought out every other book by that author?

I recommend approaching golf the same way.

See, there are probably certain types of courses you enjoy more than others -- classic/minimalist or more modern styling; bigger, undulating greens, or smaller and flatter ones -- and playing them is going to maximize your good time.

Here’s a quick, handy intro to some architectural styles and the types of courses to seek out, no matter where your travels take you.

Jonesing for a Good Test
Do you like more traditional courses? Ones where pretty much everything is right in front of you? Tree-lined fairways, straightforward strategy—a fairway bunker here, a couple greenside bunkers there, generous but usually gently contoured greens that will hold good shots? If it was designed by a Jones—Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Robert Trent Jones, Jr. or Rees Jones—chances are you’ll be in heaven. One of RTJ Sr.’s most famous courses is the Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, which you can play if you stay at certain area hotels. Elsewhere, Jr.’s CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, California is an exquisite course at the center of a luxe resort. And Rees is responsible for a number of top courses, such as Waldorf Astoria Golf Club in Orlando.

A Taste for the Classics
Golden-Age names like Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast, C.B. Macdonald and William Flynn are usually more closely associated with old-line private clubs, but some of their best work is accessible to the public. Classic courses such as theirs often feature the opportunity to run approach shots onto greens, which make them particularly popular among female and shorter-hitting male players. Pinehurst No. 2’s status as one of the world’s great courses is well-known and, naturally, is one of Donald Ross’ best. Ross’ course at Bedford Springs Resort is another excellent track that was also worked on by Tillinghast. Macdonald is perhaps best known for the ultra-private Chicago Golf Club and National Golf Links of America, but you can play his recently restored Old White (TPC) course at The Greenbrier and experience massive, undulating greens and trench-like bunkers.

Modern Marvelous – Minimalism and the Others
The explosion of golf course openings in the last 40 years or so gave rise to a number of different styles of courses. If you like holes that have been sculpted in grand, complex fashion, then seek out the courses of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Fazio. Pete Dye belongs in a category of his own, due to the almost lunar landscape of some of his courses, like Whistling Straits and The Ocean Course. On the other hand, there is a more recent movement among the likes of Tom Doak, Gil Hanse and Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, whose courses are more subtle and harken back more to the aforementioned Golden Age architects. Bandon Dunes and Streamsong Resort are havens of this type of golf, and Gil Hanse’s newly-opened Blue Monster at Trump National Doral has received great reviews as well.

What kinds of courses do you like to play? Do you seek them out or designs by certain architects?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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A Ridiculously Easy Way To Enjoy Golf More
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