Some courses receive praise from golfers because "you feel like you're the only one on the course." This week's entry is not about those types of courses.
While I have no problem with a feeling of isolation on a course - in fact, I enjoyed it recently at Circling Raven Golf Club in northern Idaho, where every hole on the back nine is in its own discrete space, and reflects the expansiveness of the environment of the course - I really appreciate golf course routings that seem to dance around a central point or two. Most often the clubhouse is that nexus; the first and 10th tees and the ninth and 18th greens are close together. But some courses have a different spot where several tees and greens converge.
Hartford Golf Club, where I spent parts of two summers caddying, has one of the best social gathering spots of any course I've seen. The snack bar sits at the nexus of four greens and four other tee complexes. You pass by on the way to the third, seventh 14th and (via a slight detour, in case you need something for the closing trio) 16th tees. Groups greet each other, chat about the weather, plan future matches and kibitz about past rounds. At this private club, it helps bind the membership (and caddie corps) a little closer. While courses that make me feel like the only one out there are cool, I prefer ones that remind me that I'm part of a bigger community.